Stay in Tune Vol#101
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec
It seems as though that my trip to Ireland has set off another adventure to meet other entrepreneurs in the music business. I just got back from Rochester New York from visiting a couple of great music stores.
I repaired a beautiful 1928 0-18 Martin for a good friend of mine back in April. Since that time, my friend Jim and I have been planning to take a trip up to a renowned guitar shop named Bernunzio Guitars in Rochester N.Y. The owner John and his wife Julie run a very respectable guitar store that specializes in vintage Martin guitars and does professional appraisals for all types of vintage instruments. Jim wanted to get an appraisal on the Martin and a few other vintage guitars that he owns. So finally after all of these months the trip finally came to be. John Bernunzio turned out to be as knowledgeable as his reputation claims him to be. He is a walking encyclopedia of vintage (especially Martin ) guitars and there value in today's market place. He has a staff of very talented repairman and sales people who take a very special interest in the music business. It's full of vintage banjo's , mandolins and Martin guitars along with being the largest Eastman dealership in the country. Eastman is a company that produces very high end instruments of all types from China at very affordable prices. These are by no means “cheap” instruments. If you have not had the chance to play one I highly recommend that you try them out. You won't be disappointed. My hat is off to Bernunzio Guitars for their kindness and true professionalism and freely sharing their knowledge of instruments with us. Of course there is a fee for the written appraisals, but it is certainly worth the cost.
Our next stop was to another famous guitar store called “House of Guitars”, or better known as H.O.G. I have never seen more guitars in one place in all my life. This place has been around since the 60's and is known in the area for all of it's unique form of advertising. They were doing wacky T.V. commercials before car dealers were. Through all of there persistent advertising and 49 years of buying, trading and selling everything that even smelled like music they have now grown into one, if not the largest retail music store in the country. They have another very large section of the store that is dedicated to cd's, albums cool old music posters, very cool tee shirts, etc. In that room there is a wall about 30ft long 10 ft high with many thousands of signatures from famous musicians that have passed through the doors and have signed the wall. Names from Steven Tyler from Areosmith to Chubby Checker All through the store there is countless pictures and articles old albums signed by the original artists. The amount of inventory in the music room is mind boggling.
Along with the music room there is another very large, very nice section upstairs that houses a whole “Music School”. There are teachers for every instrument and separate private rooms for each session. There is also a full, state of the art digital recording studio in the basement where they have their own record label called Mirror Records. In the back of one section there is an area where a stage is setup and they have live music most every weekend. Most any week you could run into some famous band member signing autographs, passing out posters, maybe playing on stage or just talking music. Of course, above the guitar section they also have a full service repair shop run by two very highly qualified luthiers. (my favorite part).
It is still a family run business that was started by Armond Schaurbroeck and his brothers. His brother Bruce works along with his son and sister in the store most everyday. H.O.G. has a very close and long lasting relationship with Gibson Guitars. They have the ability to special order guitars from the Gibson's Custom Shop.(and they have quite a few in stock too, call for info 585-544-3500 ) That is not a privledge that all music store are capable of . Everyone that works there is a seasoned musician and is very help- full with any questions you have . They go out of your way to help you find, play, or just let you browse and fill your soul with music. It's kind of like walking into a “Musical Candy Store”. This is a “real” music store. Even though this place is “huge” it does not even come close to what we now call “Big Box” music stores. (I'm sure you know the ones I'm talking about). You should plan on spending the afternoon or more when you visit because there is no way you can take it all in with just a few minutes.
I want to thank Bruce, the owner, and his staff for his very hospitable tour and allowing us to take up so much of their valuable time. Make sure you put this place on your bucket list of places to visit www.houseofguitars.com You will not be disappointed.
Patrick from Liam Guitars/Wood-n-Strings