Momoa and Me

Business owner calls star a client and friend
By Christopher Nagy
Photo By Damian Bray
As if handcrafting world-renown steel-bodied guitars used by the likes of musicians at all levels of success wasn’t time-consuming enough, Matt Eich also divides his time among superheroes and Dothraki warriors.
While musicians around the globe have sung the praises of Mule Resophonic Guitars as clients, the owner of the Saginaw business calls actor Jason Momoa both a client as well as a friend. Eich’s friendship with the man best known for his roles as Khal Drogo in the “Game of Thrones” television series and his star turn on the big screen as Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe film franchise started as a business relationship on Instagram.
“He saw the steel-bodied electric guitars we do called Mulecasters and then an ‘audition’ video we did for his series ‘Frontier’ where we ran around the parking lot throwing tomahawks very badly,” Eich explained. “He wanted a dirty-pink Mulecaster. I suggested a trade. He suggested I come to Bamburgh, U.K., and dress up like a redcoat (for the series) and run around a castle. I shoot some of his friends and he kills me on camera. So that happened. Now we eat pizza and watch boxing.”
In addition to the Mulecaster, Mule Resophonic Guitars is currently working on a second instrument, a wood-bodied MAVIS Mule model, for Momoa.
Eich started the business six years ago. He went to a guitar-making school in Arizona after graduating from Michigan Lutheran Seminary in 2003. After applying his craft for several years, Eich moved back to Michigan and saw musician and songwriter Kelly Joe Phelps play a resonator guitar.
“He played this old style of guitar in a completely new way and it really moved people,” Eich said. “I came away wondering about how I could build them in a new way, too.
“There’s nothing that sounds like a steel resonator guitar,” he continued. “It’s a whole different animal. … You’re hearing things you don’t expect; and if you can go with it, then you come up with something you wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s an incredibly valuable songwriting tool.”
Using steel from Alro Steel in Bay City and roasted maple from American Specialty Hardwoods in the village of Clinton, Mule Resophonic Guitars has earned a reputation for its quality and craftsmanship that has won acclaim, praise and a number of noteworthy fans such as Momoa.
“Jason is a big guy physically, of course, but he’s bigger in character. … Seeing his interactions with people in many different situations, he genuinely cares for people and acts accordingly,” Eich said. “He’s personable and fun and gentle and loving with his family. It’s inspiring. You think you’re busy and have a lot on your plate so you’ll call your mom next weekend, and then you see Jason FaceTime his wife and then buy the owner of a diner an expensive security camera system because she’s a single mom and then go shoot a movie. Makes you want to step up.”
Of course, there is one lingering elephant-in-the-room question that few others than Eich are in a unique position to answer: Who would win in a fight, Aquaman or Khal Drogo?
After careful consideration, Eich may have delivered the only diplomatic answer available.
“Maybe you’ll have to see how it works out in ‘Aquaman 2,’” he quipped.