Growing up near Allentown, PA, Kyle Bollendorf remembers the soundtrack of his childhood car trips being filled with rock music. “I have distinct memories of hearing certain songs on the radio at an early age, maybe 4 or 5. Before they called it “classic rock”, this was in the early ‘80s. I just remember getting so excited when certain songs came on the radio like “Gimme Three Steps”, “Sultans of Swing”, or “Crossroads”. When I was a little older, I discovered my Dad’s album collection and especially the Allman Brothers’ Live at Fillmore East, which just blew me away. Hearing those lead guitars and the way they were improvising really had a huge impact on me.” In listening to groups like the Allman Brothers Band, Cream, the Grateful Dead, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles and ZZ Top he heard sounds that would later inspire him to dust off a cheap mail-order acoustic from the 60's found in his attic around age 14. “The strings were about half an inch off the fretboard and when my parents took it to the local music store to get re-strung, they just about refused. But from the day I brought that guitar home I was determined to be able to play like Duane and Dickey someday.”
Bollendorf has played and recorded in various projects and bands covering a variety of styles over the years from an acoustic trio with Brother Jenkins, to blues with the Average Blues Band, to a jam band with Fulton's Last Flight. The latter featured his former jamming partner, Chris Metaxas, on drums who would go on to collaborate with Tom Marshall (Phish's lyricist) on Amfibian's 2004 follow up record From the Ether. Recording that album in his studio, Metaxas called upon Bollendorf to play both the lead and rhythm guitar for the track "Isolate."
With the Ty Faherty Band, he plays mostly electric guitar but has recorded acoustic, mandolin and electric lap steel for the band’s debut album. “I try to use whatever guitar or instrument I feel will fit the song. The emotion of the song and the melody are everything. While I really love playing through tube amps, I had to rely on a lot of direct recording for this project due to the pandemic and being limited in how loud I could record without driving my family nuts. Buying a Macbook and discovering Guitar Rig 5 was a game changer. I was able to find really great tones that sounded and felt very amp-like, inspiring most of the parts I wrote.”
For electrics, Bollendorf relies heavily on a Tele-style guitar he built from 150 year-old barn beams that he named the “Beamcaster”, an ’86 Gibson ES-335, a ’59 Silvertone U2, a ’94 ’54 Anniversary Reissue Fender Strat and a ’50 Oahu lap steel. His main acoustic is a ’98 Guild DV52. For amplifiers, he uses a ’68 Fender Deluxe Reverb, a ’68 Fender Super Reverb, and a 2001 GDS Marshall 18 Watt Clone. The main pedals he used to record were a Timmy Overdrive, Maxon OD9, Way Huge Havalina Fuzz, and a Fulltone Deja Vibe.
Besides music, Kyle has many interests and hobbies including building and repairing everything from guitars to forging knives from spring steel. He documents some of his projects and builds on his YouTube channel Vintage Wood Workshop (below)
His woodworking skills and love of old Fender guitar amps were brought together by the purchase of an original ’68 Fender Deluxe Reverb that needed a new cabinet in 2019. “The amp turned out to not be what I thought it was. I bought it off Reverb and I missed the fact that the cabinet wasn’t original, but homemade and was falling apart.”
His video of building a new, exact replica of that Fender cabinet led to an email about a year later from Zac Childs, former guitar tech for Brad Paisley. “He asked if I might be interested in building a custom 1x12 cabinet for a ’64 Vox AC10. I said, of course!” Childs’ amp was purchased from his friend Dan Strain, of Danocaster guitars and while he loved the sound of the amp, it was missing the original cabinet and instead was housed in a heavy, oversized homemade cabinet with cheap tolex covering that was deteriorating. Zac was hoping Kyle could build a more vintage correct looking cabinet that could fit a 12” speaker; not a version Vox ever originally offered in the 1960’s. “The biggest challenge was getting the amp and speaker to fit in the rare thin-sided version of the original Vox AC10 Twin 2x10 cabinet that he was going for. There was a lot of problem solving and super detailed work to get it just right but it ended up turning out great and Zac was thrilled with how it looked and sounded.”