Illinois is a hub for many robust industries, including music manufacturers and engineering companies. The backbeat of rock n’ roll was forged in these factory floors.
And if the walls could talk……

Drum makers Ludwig and Slingerland created signature sets for Ringo Starr, Buddy Rich, and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos. The Sears-Roebuck catalogs were the source of affordable music gear that inspired generations of blues artists. The Staple Singers patriarch Pops Staples was named Roebuck. His older brother was named Sears. Their names were a tribute to the Chicago mail order business that brought instruments to Black families in Mississippi.

The Shure Company has been making industry-standard microphones for recording and live performing since 1931. And many of the models first introduced are still made today. In the 1970s Guitar makers like Hamer and Dean used Illinois grit to challenge the big players like Gibson and Fender. Southern Illinois engineer and former theater organ player Bob Heil masterfully refined and marketed the “talk box” guitar effects pedal popularized by Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh.

More recently, Victoria Amplifiers in Naperville is making top-end guitar amplifiers for musicians like Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards. Singer-songwriter John Mayer even took the time to visit the Victoria plant. Illinois is indeed a gearhead wonderland for a world of musicians.

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