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60 Cycle Hum podcast mines gold from guitar gear

670K views for opening a box

Still from 60 Cycle Hum, a podcast born from instant messages about Craigslist ads.
Still from 60 Cycle Hum, a podcast born from instant messages about Craigslist ads.

Ryan Burke was in his early teens when he began playing an acoustic guitar that was lying around his family’s house. It was the ‘90s though, and his heart was set on playing an electric. When he finally scored one a year and a half later, he did something a bit out of the ordinary. “Within the first month of getting my first electric guitar, I had completely taken it apart and put it back together.” By way of explaining the dissection, he says, “I wanted to see what all the parts were. I wanted to see how it worked.”

Burke would go on to play in local bands such as a surf outfit called Dinosaur Ghost that gigged in local haunts The Ken Club and Tower Bar. By 2014, he was ready to embark on a different sort of adventure, this time with a former bandmate, Steve Rowe. “We would always sit around at our jobs on our computers, instant messaging each other Craigslist ads. We would just chat back and forth about used guitar ads and anything else that was going on in the guitar gear space and whatnot. Around that same time, we were both starting to listen to podcasts, and were like, ‘We’re having these big conversations about individual pieces of gear, and the conversations really aren’t that different from a podcast. We just need to record ourselves talking out loud, and we have a podcast here.’”

Just like that, the 60 Cycle Hum podcast was born. Around this time, Burke was transitioning from a career in graphic design to video production work. When companies such as guitar effects manufacturer JHS started sending the duo pedals to review, Burke decided to put his new skills to the test. Around six months into their run, he published a very basic video review of a DOD guitar pedal on YouTube. It would be the first of many such clips.

“I got hooked. I enjoyed the rewarding element of working on something, and then releasing it and getting comments, and views, and all that sort of stuff. The podcast and the video channel kind of grew alongside each other.” The first three years were a bit of a slog for Burke, as the YouTube reviews (which he does solo) were slow to catch fire. He was working hard to build subscribers, views, and likes, but was having a tough time breaking through. His luck would flip during a trip to Nashville for the summer 2017 edition of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants). “I didn’t have any sort of real rig to film anything in any real way while I was there,” he explains. “I ran into the Epiphone SL, which was a budget line guitar. It was going to be $99, and no one had had their hands on them yet, but they had them on the floor at Summer NAMM. So, I set up a little travel tripod I had. I put my phone on it, and I just filmed myself holding it and talking about the general details of it. I strummed it a little bit, but no one could hear it because nothing was plugged into anything. Then I published that on YouTube, and that was the first video I ever had blow up on me.”

These days, a 60 Cycle Hum video that is “really cooking” for Burke will generate over 20K views. The Summer NAMM Epiphone SL clip is up to 150K. A follow-up video, where he talked about whether or not he should buy the guitar, has 110K. Both pale in comparison to the unboxing and first impression video that he did after actually purchasing the instrument — that clip has netted 670K views. Burke ended up shooting 43 different videos that focused on the SL before he grew so tired of the guitar that in 2018, he literally threw it off a bridge. This, of course, was documented for 60 Cycle Hum. That former Pacific blue Epiphone put Burke’s YouTube channel on the map, and since then, the views, subscribers, and likes have piled up. He currently produces 18 to 22 videos per month for the channel. (That tally includes the weekly podcast episodes, which are now videotaped and available on YouTube as well.)

He’s currently at around 97K subscribers and expects to hit 100K in late-April or May. Not bad for a DIY business operating out of a garage in Mira Mesa. “You definitely can do this anywhere where you have a mailbox. You need internet, and you need a mailbox. That’s all you need to make a living doing this.”

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Still from 60 Cycle Hum, a podcast born from instant messages about Craigslist ads.
Still from 60 Cycle Hum, a podcast born from instant messages about Craigslist ads.

Ryan Burke was in his early teens when he began playing an acoustic guitar that was lying around his family’s house. It was the ‘90s though, and his heart was set on playing an electric. When he finally scored one a year and a half later, he did something a bit out of the ordinary. “Within the first month of getting my first electric guitar, I had completely taken it apart and put it back together.” By way of explaining the dissection, he says, “I wanted to see what all the parts were. I wanted to see how it worked.”

Burke would go on to play in local bands such as a surf outfit called Dinosaur Ghost that gigged in local haunts The Ken Club and Tower Bar. By 2014, he was ready to embark on a different sort of adventure, this time with a former bandmate, Steve Rowe. “We would always sit around at our jobs on our computers, instant messaging each other Craigslist ads. We would just chat back and forth about used guitar ads and anything else that was going on in the guitar gear space and whatnot. Around that same time, we were both starting to listen to podcasts, and were like, ‘We’re having these big conversations about individual pieces of gear, and the conversations really aren’t that different from a podcast. We just need to record ourselves talking out loud, and we have a podcast here.’”

Just like that, the 60 Cycle Hum podcast was born. Around this time, Burke was transitioning from a career in graphic design to video production work. When companies such as guitar effects manufacturer JHS started sending the duo pedals to review, Burke decided to put his new skills to the test. Around six months into their run, he published a very basic video review of a DOD guitar pedal on YouTube. It would be the first of many such clips.

“I got hooked. I enjoyed the rewarding element of working on something, and then releasing it and getting comments, and views, and all that sort of stuff. The podcast and the video channel kind of grew alongside each other.” The first three years were a bit of a slog for Burke, as the YouTube reviews (which he does solo) were slow to catch fire. He was working hard to build subscribers, views, and likes, but was having a tough time breaking through. His luck would flip during a trip to Nashville for the summer 2017 edition of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants). “I didn’t have any sort of real rig to film anything in any real way while I was there,” he explains. “I ran into the Epiphone SL, which was a budget line guitar. It was going to be $99, and no one had had their hands on them yet, but they had them on the floor at Summer NAMM. So, I set up a little travel tripod I had. I put my phone on it, and I just filmed myself holding it and talking about the general details of it. I strummed it a little bit, but no one could hear it because nothing was plugged into anything. Then I published that on YouTube, and that was the first video I ever had blow up on me.”

These days, a 60 Cycle Hum video that is “really cooking” for Burke will generate over 20K views. The Summer NAMM Epiphone SL clip is up to 150K. A follow-up video, where he talked about whether or not he should buy the guitar, has 110K. Both pale in comparison to the unboxing and first impression video that he did after actually purchasing the instrument — that clip has netted 670K views. Burke ended up shooting 43 different videos that focused on the SL before he grew so tired of the guitar that in 2018, he literally threw it off a bridge. This, of course, was documented for 60 Cycle Hum. That former Pacific blue Epiphone put Burke’s YouTube channel on the map, and since then, the views, subscribers, and likes have piled up. He currently produces 18 to 22 videos per month for the channel. (That tally includes the weekly podcast episodes, which are now videotaped and available on YouTube as well.)

He’s currently at around 97K subscribers and expects to hit 100K in late-April or May. Not bad for a DIY business operating out of a garage in Mira Mesa. “You definitely can do this anywhere where you have a mailbox. You need internet, and you need a mailbox. That’s all you need to make a living doing this.”

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