Local Fabricator Lends A Hand

Jer Lile of de Lisle Guitar Co.

Courtesy Jer Lile

When Jer Lile, owner of de Lisle Guitar Company in Zionsville, got a call from a good friend—an ICU nurse—he first understood the gravity of the coming coronavirus pandemic.

“She was scared, even before the numbers started going up,” he recalls, “and they were really worried about running out of N95 masks.”

Lile donated the six he had in the shop where he builds retro tube amps, axes, and pedal accessories for the likes of Jimbo Malthus (frontman for the Squirrel Nut Zippers) and Justin Adams (guitarist for Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters), then went on the hunt for more.

“Hardware stores, auto parts stores—couldn’t find one.”

And then Lile’s wife showed him a picture of a protective box, an acrylic contraption with armholes that provided a physical barrier between doctor and intubated patient. “She figured I could make something like that with the laser cutters in my shop, and she was absolutely right.” After posting the concept on social media, Lile got requests.

Lile, who started his company in 2008, went looking for folks to donate the raw materials, which turned out to be pricier than he’d anticipated. “I wish I’d known that a sheet of acrylic runs around 135 bucks before I started this,” he laughs. Friends and family have begun pitching in, and Lile’s built two so far for the intensive-care unit dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak at Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis. He doesn’t charge anything for the labor: “I wouldn’t think of it.”

Once he’s got the materials in hand, Lile needs about 90 minutes to construct a box, and it’s been a nice diversion. “Nobody’s buying amps right now, y’know? But we’ll be OK.”