Vancouver company will rock you

Brothers prepare to make a big noise as electric guitar manufacturers

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor



If you go

• What: Clark County PubTalk, business networking event.

• Where: Artillery Barracks, 600 E. Hathaway Road at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

• When: 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

• Cost: $25.

• Registration:

Marcus Young, 35, plays electric guitar while kid brother Ben, 28, prefers a piano. Together, they’ve created Young Electric Guitars, a startup that combines their musical and business passions and has ties to a family-owned Vancouver music firm.

The two men are busy developing and refining new models of Young guitars and are aiming for what they call a “production boutique” niche in the higher-end electric guitar market. Marcus Young will demonstrate one of his company’s creations at the business networking event Clark County Pub Talk, 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Artillery Barracks, 600 E. Hathaway Road at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The Youngs operate their company in a corner of a manufacturing and distribution building in Orchards that houses the Young-family-owned Syndyne, which produces components for pipe organs. Last year the brothers purchased an ailing Wisconsin company called U.S. Masters Guitar Works for a bargain price, and their goal is to move that small manufacturing operation to Clark County.

Marcus Young spent several years as a guitarist in the Portland rock band Ill Lucid Onset, an experience that allowed him to think about ways to improve guitar sound quality. He has designed a pickup — the device that converts the vibration of a string into an electrical signal — and created a simple tool called a winder to build the pickups. The pickup is one of the selling points for Young guitars, Marcus Young says.

He also wants to continue designing guitars for the company, creating “models that excite and attract people,” he says.

The Young brothers’ next task is to tap into a market of semi-professional musicians who will recognize quality and be willing to pay for it. Their guitars sell for $1,399 to $3,000, a price point significantly

below Fender and Gibson brands, but boast quality competitive with those famous brands.

“When an artist picks up one of our guitars, they recognize the quality,” Ben Young says. “The issue is getting them out there.”

While they want to expand their retail presence beyond their current handful of dealers, Marcus Young says, the Internet has been a boon to the custom guitar industry.

Young Electric Guitars will send employees to display the company’s wares at the National Association of Music Merchants trade show that opens Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif. There, the company will show off an eye-catching instrument: a deep blue guitar commissioned by Intel and painted with the word “Thunderbolt” to promote a new Intel interface product that will connect peripheral devices to a computer.

PubTalk is open to the public, at a cost of $25. Registration is available online at