The Nitty Gritty Legacy

Gayle Van Syckle blond lady with short hair in a red print blouse.

Our humble beginning...

Nitty Gritty was established in 1981 by audiophiles Ken Erickson, Michael Baskin and Elliot Buckler, with the sole purpose of providing competitive professional record cleaning products at affordable prices, worldwide.  Nitty Gritty’s incorporation followed in December of 1982.  Elliott opted out of the corporation the following year.  In 1990, Michael moved on to more actively pursue his own company, leaving Nitty Gritty in the able hands of Ken and dedicated production manager, Gayle Van Syckle, who had been with the company since its first month of operation.

The first Nitties were built right in Ken's home in Montclair, California.  They were—and still are—simple, effective and much more compact than the other units on the market.  In 1982, Nitty Gritty models were redesigned with an injection-molded head section, featuring a vacuum slot designed to produce a venturi effect, maximizing the velocity of the cleaning suction while minimizing contact with the record.  The vacuum slot is lined with a protective VAC-SWEEP—the industrial ‘velvet lips’ with thousands of individual fibers that reach in and clean the record’s grooves.  With the Nitty Gritty system, there is never a risk of re-contaminating your cleaned grooves by turning them onto a contaminated mat—the system cleans from the underside of the record (except for the Mini-Pro, which cleans both sides at once!), so nothing else touches that clean surface.

Between Ken’s design and Michael’s marketing, Nitty Gritty quickly earned its place on the map.  In 1985, Nitty Gritty Model 2.5Fi won the CES Award for Design and Engineering. Since that time, very little has changed in the basic design concept, though improvements continually evolve.  Nitty Gritty systems are well designed and built to last.  We hear regularly from satisfied customers with 26+ year old Nitties that are still going strong.

In October 1994, Ken Erickson sadly passed on, leaving Nitty Gritty in the hands of faithful employee and friend, Gayle Van Syckle.  Ken was an exceptional man, loved and respected by his friends and colleagues, comfortable with everyone, in any setting.  His love of life and of music was indisputable, as evidenced by his travels, his choice of wines, foods and friends, and his vast collection of music.  His sound system wasn’t bad, either!  He is still celebrated by friends in an annual commemorative dinner, with everyone sharing in tales and laughter.  Kudos to you, Ken!

Today, Nitty Gritty remains the intimate little company it has always been.  Gayle Van Syckle picked up where Ken left off—continuing the company’s dedication to quality customer service and hand-built record cleaning machines for music lovers everywhere. And thanks to our many satisfied customers across the globe, Ken’s legacy lives on.