Cole Coleman Designs Comfortable Guitar Slide
Many musicians have ideas about how to improve equipment, from guitar picks to drumsticks, pick-ups, strings, turntables, amplifiers, you name it. Guitarist Cole Coleman actually designed a solution and successfully went to market with it. Frustrated by most guitar slides, he came up with a guitar slide that was more practical and comfortable, the Thimble Slide.
Coleman has plenty of hard-won advice for anyone out there who’s got an idea for a unique new piece of gear. “The first real step is to find out on your own what your demographics are,” he says. “The product has to have its own legs. I did test-marketing with several guitar player friends before selling the Thimble Slide.”
Yes, many blues players and their emulators are happy with a broken beer bottle as a guitar slide, but Coleman is of the modern world. He knew there was a need for a practical, comfortable, size-adjustable metal guitar slide that looks cool and allows guitarists to fret while also being able to slide.
After learning how to create a wax caste and manufacture the decorated metal guitar slides himself, Coleman realized he could not create the volume necessary for a viable business. “It was a two-year process tackling mass production,” he says. “The initial design could not be efficiently mass produced because of the intricacy of the design.” So he simplified the design. “I was very reluctant to go to the public, but through a Kickstarter campaign I have been able to purchase equipment to do a different die-stamping. The guitar players I reached out to were very happy to contribute.”
Coleman reached out to several social media guitar forums to generate awareness for the product and to raise funds. As recommended by Kickstarter, he asked for $25 individual contributions.
He also networked through NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants). “Joining NAMM was essential,” he says. “The contacts that are made at the NAMM conference and through the organization are extremely helpful in getting a product out to musicians.”
Coleman advises anyone with a new product to “Sell it directly, at first.” The next step is to tackle patenting and manufacturing issues. “I employed an intellectual property attorney and acquired a patent for the Thimble Slide,” he says. Coleman relates that to acquire a patent, the product has to be qualified as “new and improved.”
He adds, “Leave no stone unturned.”
Needing $30,000 - $50,000 to have four machines created as customized equipment, he researched online and eventually made a deal with a foundry located in Gardena, CA. “They were very enthusiastic, although it wasn’t something that they were familiar with manufacturing.”
Recently, as announced last month in Music Connection, Coleman made a worldwide distribution deal with D’Andrea USA–OMG Distribution. The Thimble Slide is currently for sale in 50 stores in the U.S. and also in Japan.
Coleman’s additional advice to anyone looking to launch a product for fellow musicians: “Be prepared to promote the heck out of it. Be loud, be proud!”
Contact Coleman via thimbleslide.com