It sounds like another vocal in the band. It can put you at ease after a hard day’s work or gently whisk you onto the dance floor. You could be spacing out and picking at the label on your beer not even realizing you’re being reeled in by it. It’s the steel guitar and they’re born out in the middle of nowhere (or middle of everywhere, depending on the song).
It all started with a kid out on the plains who was enamored with his older brother’s lap guitar. If he’d had the money to buy one, maybe Mullen Steel Guitars would never exist, but he had to build his own. He kept refining his work and practicing his playing until two things happened. One, Delmar Mullen ended up in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame and, two, he has a long line of people waiting for their own Mullen.
The Mullen G2 is a common sight on Country & Western stages, but what’s less common is how the guitars are made. You’d think there’d be a big factory somewhere cranking out these note-swelling marvels. Instead, somewhere between Siebert and Flagler, Colorado there’s a nondescript shop that looks like it would house a tractor or two. But here you’ll find a small team of craftspeople trying to keep up with demand. Right now the wait is 4-6 months.
That kid who built the first Mullen is living right across from the shop. It’s on land he used to work as a child. The company is now led by his grandson and John Wilson, its vice president, who has his hands on every step of the process. Wilson takes us on a tour of the process and even gets the steel prodigy to come across the driveway to bend some notes around the experience.