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Rocky Mountain Slides


It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. If that's the case, then Doc Sigmier, with the help of his father, created the guitar slide of his dreams. And what a dream. "I never dreamed the slides would be so popular, and this would become a full-time business."

Rocky Mountain Slides Company, headquartered in Concha Springs, Colorado, was "born" when Doc complained to his dad that he didn't have a slide he liked. "I grew up in Southern California and saw all the bands that played in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s," he says. "From Buffalo Springfield to The Byrds, and so many more. I grew up loving music."

While Doc describes his family as "artistic," he says they weren't very musical. "They were visual artists. I was the black sheep because all I really wanted to do was music. I always volunteered to play the parts in the band that required a slide – a lot of Marshall Tucker and Allman Brothers tunes. I would play records over and over to learn sound-tuning. But I always had a love-hate relationship with slides."

Doc worked in radio off and on but really wanted to make his own music. "When I complained to my dad that I didn't have a slide I liked, he said we should make one." Doc's dad was a potter, mainly selling functional pottery in art galleries. "He played with the slides as a side project for a number of years until one day, BAM! I told him that was the one."

They started with one color and one size. "I realized there needed to be different sizes to fit different-sized hands," Doc says. "Otherwise, it could be like pulling off a Chinese finger puzzle in between songs that didn't require a slide."

Doc began talking to other artists. "I loved listening to blues and jam bands, and also Americana. I would ask if they wanted to buy a slide, and most people I asked wanted one to try. And people liked them."

Explaining the majority of slides that are considered ceramic are porcelain slips. "The clay is poured into molds. They look good, but no R&D went into those slides. A friend gave me one, and it was OK, but not very resonant." Doc says he went in another direction. What makes Rocky Mountain Slides different is they are made of stoneware, a dense clay. Doc pairs them with custom glazes he and his dad created. "Between the two of us, we were able to get it right. Once we did, we never looked back. We worked together for 13 years."

Each slide looks like a work of art. "They not only look good, but the sound they provide is exceptional," Doc says. "Some of the biggest changes in your tone can come from the smallest additions."

In addition to ceramic slides, Doc has stone and brass slides available. "The stone slides are from our Element series. We made finger slides and tone bars from moonstone, a kind of smoky quartz that makes colors fragment when under light. It's amazing."

Rocky Mountain Slides also offers handcrafted guitar picks made from various materials, including buffalo bone, buffalo horn, brass, graphite, mother of pearl, tiger eye, coconut husk, and polysynth (a nylon/resin material).

And once again, Doc saw a need and created a new kind of pick. "I had the idea after I kept dropping my guitar picks. I created a new kind of pick I call the Bear Claw. It's a tri-pick, and the center of the pick is thicker and tapers down towards the edges. It's ideal for people with arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, or people who have had strokes. A lot of folks like them to prevent fatigue. With the Bear Claw pick, you don't have to grip it as tightly. I thought it would work, and when I got the first samples in, I realized it did the job very well."

Doc says he likes to keep his prices reasonable. "Bluegrass, Americana, and folk artists all spend a lot of money on guitar picks and other additions. I try to be cost-effective for musicians."

As a musician, Doc says he loves to experiment. "I love hearing the variations that different materials can provide. For example, one material can give a bright tone while another gives a warm tone. It just depends on the sound you prefer. Steel-on-steel was the go-to from the early days of the Hawaiian steel guitar. I offer a non-traditional, artisan-made alternative. I design tools for musicians, and I offer them in a variety of materials. I have been fortunate through the years to have a number of loyal artists who have supported my business. My mantra has always been, 'Try it. You may like it.' I am always experimenting."


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