Guitar Aficionado recently caught up with Guitar Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee.
When did you open?
We opened in 1997.
What's the coolest guitar you have in your shop right now?
A new, Brazilian Rosewood Dudenbostel 000 we've waited eight years for. He's a Tennessee luthier who really gets that vintage sound with his instruments. The demand for his work is high, but the eight years were worth it.
What's the rarest guitar you've sold?
Hmmm … I'm fortunate to have many rare and unique instruments come through the shop; but it's probably a John Arnold Jimmie Rodgers Weymann Special. It's still on our website.
Have you had any celebrity encounters at your shop?
Although it's not uncommon to run into laid-back celebrities in Nashville, when it comes to buying their guitars, the tables turn a little bit. They want privacy to audition and listen to the guitars they are considering, without interruption. We're "by appointment only," and that brings them here. Now, to keep them coming back, I will stop at "Yes — many."
How did you get involved with Guitars 4 Troops?
Here's the Readers Digest version. We received an email in 2009 from a soldier deployed in Afghanistan named Sgt. Robert Persch, who asked for a guitar. He told us about how little there was for the troops to do when they were't on duty and how low morale had become in his unit. I wasn't his first ask; apparently there were many shops before Guitar Gallery, all without response. My family has many service people in its history — some of whom were lost in action. It was a no-brainer for me to send an instrument. One became two, people began donating funds and guitars in good working order … before we knew it, we had this wonderful portal of resource finding need, with 470 guitars given to date. I'm sure guitar aficionados reading this understand how meaningful the presence of a guitar can be. If someone wants to help provide that experience to soldiers, they can check out guitars4troops.com.
What guitar have you been looking for and haven't been able to find?
None. I'm a good digger. I've been able to find any guitar I was really looking for! Now, my glasses — that's another story.
What makes Guitar Gallery unique?
Our uniqueness is that we are highly specialized in matching the client's "wish list" with the right guitar. We know what we're doing. I've spent decades learning tonal properties and nuances of woods, gleaned all sorts of helpful knowledge from my fabulous builders; I've seen first hand how these instruments express in a living room, a concert hall, a recording studio, etc. I know our inventory well, and I know how to let the guitar find the person and vice versa. Our "by appointment only" status helps provide the player the room and space they need for it all to happen, as well as our great system for purchasing if you are too far away.
Did I mention our vast inventory of established hand-made builders, "up and comers" soon to be "rock star" builders, and eclectic vintage instruments too?
If someone started playing "Stairway to Heaven" in your shop what would you do?
Oh, the "try out" classics! Who can blame them? It's a lick that makes everyone feel accomplished! I prefer it over the classic double-stop "Smoke on the Water' intro!
What's the most important part about matching up a customer with the right guitar?
A great question — and our specialization at Guitar Gallery. So many factors go into the matching of guitar and player. There are the expected factors like what they want in a guitar, but also many other determining elements like their style of play, their ultimate usage for the instrument and the correct size for their frame. Even knowing the right strings to use can take a guitar from "That's beautiful," to "Wow, I'm in love!" When someone comes in, I watch them play, and from that I can tell their proclivities and suggest (if they want) the guitars that would be magic for them.
How much maintenance and prep do you do to the instruments for sale at Guitar Gallery?
Every guitar that comes through the store gets inspected and setup and repaired as needed before being offered for sale.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about Guitar Gallery?
We're passionate about guitars. We love wood, good music and great musicians!
For more information about Guitar Gallery, visit http://www.guitargal.com. The store is at 718 Thompson Lane, Suite 108272, Nashville, Tennessee 37204; firstname.lastname@example.org; BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: Please call in advance (615-672-7733) for questions or purchases. To be featured in "Shop Talk," email Anna Blumenthal in the Guitar Aficionado advertising department at email@example.com or call 646-723-5404.