Loog Guitars – If You Build It, They Will Play

by Paige Tutt • in
  • Fretted
• Created: July 2, 2015

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“If you build it, they will come.” – Field of Dreams, 1989.

It sounds pretty simple in theory, at least it did to Rafael Atijas, founder and CEO of Loog Guitars.

He created a concept, drew up a design, crowd-sourced funding through Kickstarter, and lo and behold – Loog Guitars was born. This idea came to Atijas years and years ago, back when he was 13 years old. “I decided I wanted to play in a band, I thought that I was too old to learn how to play guitar,” explains Atijas. “I thought it might be better for me to pick the bass. I figured out that if it had less strings then it should be easier to play. And that’s how I started playing. Along the way I did learn to play the guitar, but that was my rationale for picking the bass and I think it wasn’t an entirely crazy reason. 20 years later I find myself having to pick a subject for my master’s thesis and the only thing I knew was that it had to be something I’m passionate about, as I knew I would spend the next few months absorbed by it. So nailing it down to music was easy and somehow I came back to the idea of using fewer strings to make it easier, faster, and less intimidating to play music.”

Atijas was able to bring his project to Kickstarter not once, but twice. “I learned about Kickstarter in 2010 through one of these technology blogs and I immediately realized that apart from being a funding tool, it was also a platform that could give us great visibility,” he says. “Very valuable for a project that had absolutely no budget for marketing, PR, or things like that. I was lucky enough to run two successful campaigns: the first one in 2011 for the original acoustic models and the one for the Electric Loog in 2013.” Because this all started as a school project, Atijas and his team approached design with only one true goal – to make the best possible guitar for kids and beginners. They had an advantage of being able to design a product without being influenced by commercial factors. It took nine months from idea to first prototype where Atijas says they put their best effort into every single aspect of the design. “Every material, screw, angle, radius, everything was decided with only one goal in mind: to make it better for children to use,” says Atijas.

Loog started off simple with three acoustic models, The Loog I, II, and III. The switch to making electric guitars has created an entire new market for the company. “We started with our acoustic guitars because that’s usually the starter’s guitar,” comments Atijas. “But when we realized we had a company and not just a project, we knew we had to expand and start thinking of new models. Making electric guitars was a natural next step and the response has been very positive. From the beginning we had many adults buying Loog Guitars for themselves, and now with our Electric Loog that percentage has increased even more.” Atijas believes the core demographic that Loog targets is comprised mostly of parents. “It’s usually parents who really like music and want to buy a guitar for their children, and don’t really feel comfortable buying a guitar that’s just a cheap, downsized replica of an adult’s guitar,” he explains. “They value design, not just for the aesthetics, but also because of functionality: our guitars really make it easier, more fun, less intimidating for children and beginners to play music, and that’s important to them.”

Loog now has the same three acoustic models they started with – a rectangular one, a triangular one, and a two-cutaway offset shape – in addition to the electric version of the Loog II, which comes in a fresh vintage palette: green, light blue, pink, yellow, white, natural, Lucite (made of acrylic), and two new colors they are introducing at Summer NAMM: red and black. Each guitar comes with a lipstick-style pickup and a rosewood volume knob, as well as a maple neck and rosewood fretboard. But the most unique quality is that all guitars come unassembled as kits. “We do this because we believe that when you get to build your own guitar, you end up developing a much stronger, emotional connection to it,” says Atijas. “It’s also a bonding thing between parents and their children: they build the guitar together, they share their love of music, and they also end up understanding more about the guitar, its parts, et cetera.”

If you’re a fan of Jack White, The White Stripes, or Third Man Records, there is also a Third Man Electric Loog, which was made in collaboration with Third Man Records. “I am so proud and happy about the Third Man Loog,” says Atijas. “I think that Jack White is a hero: he rescued music with the White Stripes, he did it all over again with his other bands and with his solo albums, and on top of that he is rescuing the romance in business too: releasing unique products, selling them in an amazing store, communicating with fans in such a natural, honest way… I once read that he said that he created Third Man Records so that he could release things that otherwise would not exist. I read that and I felt so identified. With that and also with that strange balance between being childish and very serious at the same time; I reached out to the folks at Third Man Records, explained what we were doing and proposed making a Third Man Electric Loog. We worked together for a few months on the design specifics (that vinyl pickguard, the packaging, et cetera.) and I’m thrilled they released it last April for Record Store Day.”

Though Atijas thinks it will be a while before Loog can top the milestone of collaborating with White and Third Man Records, they sure are actively trying, and learning along the way. “We have a lot of ideas and new projects on the pipeline,” he says, “but we also learned to pace ourselves. We are constantly trying to improve the things we already do: trying to be more efficient in our manufacturing processes, getting better at logistics, and trying to catch up with backorders! We want to say thank you to all our customers, backers and to MMR for the opportunity to share our story. This is a tough industry and we really feel grateful for the privilege of working on something we are so passionate about.”

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