About Kal-Tone

Kal-Tone is a stringed instrument workshop. We build our own guitars from board lumber and perform difficult repair and restoration work on acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles, double basses, lap steels…you get the idea! We also provide insurance evaluations and appraisals, wind our own pickups, and design and build many of our own parts with help from other makers here at the Jericho Town campus on Kalamazoo’s east side.



Kal-Tone (originally named “The Kalamazoo Guitar Shop”) was established in 2014 by Ry Charters and Jay Gavan.  At the time, Ry was moving back home from Seattle, where he had been managing the Dusty Strings repair shop. Jay was painting guitars for Heritage Guitar in Kalamazoo, which is where Ry and Jay first met and worked together in 2002.  Kal-Tone’s first location was at 248 N Kalamazoo Mall from June 2014-16.  The shop is on the Jericho Town campus at 1501 Fulford in the Kalamazoo Edison Neighborhood, where it shares a three-building complex with shops that build electric scooters, fix cars and pianos, wire electricity, make records, sell great coffee, and create fine smelling beard oils!  Come on down, get a coffee at the Fido Motors Cafe, and drop in to check out the shop.


Kaltone-Ry Charters Co-Owner and Luthier, Ry Charters has been a professional guitar-maker since 1998.  He has broad experience in repairing, designing, and building stringed instruments. Educated by Gibson designers/luthiers, he has run several workshops, worked on historic museum pieces, and is now focused on creating a new era of guitar-making in Kalamazoo. Click HERE to learn more about Ry and see his examples.

Co-owner and Finisher, Jay Gavan spent nearly a decade with Heritage Guitars, learning “whitewood” as well as lacquer finishing. Jay is also an experienced Kalamazoo musician who also teaches guitar and directs young musicians in the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock.

Meet Maggie Doele!  She began working here at Kal-Tone in 2017 as part of an internship program during her senior year at Kalamazoo College.  A recent graduate, Maggie has kindly stayed with us as an employee and, while she is primarily winding and wiring pickups, she has proven to be very helpful doing a wide range of things around the shop!