Businesses We Love

These are a few of the Businesses and Companies we highly recommend

An American icon, Fender was founded in Southern California and has established a worldwide influence that extends from the studio to the stage—and beyond. Everyone from beginners to the world’s most acclaimed artists have used Fender instruments, amps and gear, making the company not only a revered industry leader but a cultural symbol that resonates globally. Nearly seven decades since founder Leo Fender built his first electric guitar, Fender’s reach transcends instruments and accessories, encompassing a range of innovative digital experiences that fuel musical expression and serve players at every stage–on every stage.

Gibson Brands, the world’s most iconic guitar brand, has shaped the sounds of generations of musicians and music lovers across genres for more than 100 years. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, TN, Gibson Brands has a legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships, and progressive product evolution that is unrivaled among musical instrument companies. The Gibson Brands portfolio includes Gibson, the number one guitar brand, as well as many of the most beloved and recognizable music brands, including Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger, and the Gibson Pro Audio division, KRK Systems. Gibson Brands is dedicated to quality, innovation, and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands.

Leo Fender† passed away on a rainy day in March 1991, an event that shook the music world: the father of modern music was gone. It was on that very day that Leo had completed his last prototype, testament to his passion for improving his instruments.

“G&L Guitars and Basses are the best instruments I have ever made.” – Leo Fender

Why did Leo feel this way? Because he had endowed G&Ls with tone and technology breakthroughs that players still rave about.

Epiphone is one of American's oldest and most revered instrument makers. Since 1873, Epiphone has made instruments for every style of popular music and in 2013 will celebrate its 140th anniversary.

The name Epiphone evokes both history and the spirit of invention. The “House of Stathopoulo” has played a central role in every great musical era from the mandolin craze of the early 1900s to jazz age guitars of the 1920s; from swing era archtops through post-war pop, jazz, r&b, and early rock n' roll; and from the "British Invasion" to heavy metal, punk, grunge, and thrash. And now, in the 21st century, new Epiphone technical breakthroughs such as the ProBucker™ pickup, series parallel switching, built-in KillSwitch™ pots, the Shadow NanoFlex™ and NanoMag™ pickup systems, and premier acoustic/electric guitars with the eSonic™ preamp have brought Epiphone to a new generation.

The story behind Epiphone's improbable rise from a small family repair shop to a worldwide leader in the manufacture of quality instruments could easily be transformed into the great American novel. But this story is true.

The story of Epiphone begins in the mountains of Greece and threads its way to Turkey, across the Atlantic to the immigrant gateway of Ellis Island, and into the nightclubs, recording studios, and coast-to-coast radio broadcasts of Manhattan in the 1920s and 30s. It's the story of both hard earned craftsmanship passed from father to son and the ceaseless American drive for innovation.

The variety of musicians that walk through Epiphone's history is remarkable. Jazz greats like George Van Eps, country pioneers like Hank Garland, bluesman John Lee Hooker, and scores of mandolin, archtop and steel guitar players used Epiphone instruments daily over nationwide broadcasts. There are unlikely heroes and tinkerers in the Epiphone story too, like guitar pioneer Les Paul, who worked nights in the Epiphone factory in New York City to create "the Log", his primordial version of what would eventually be called the "Les Paul." The Beatles' bassist extraordinaire Paul McCartney choose an Epiphone Casino as his first American made guitar and John Lennon and George Harrison quickly followed. The Casino appeared on every Beatles album from Help through Abbey Road. And today, Epiphone can be heard on albums by Gary Clark, Jr., Alabama Shakes, My Chemical Romance, Joe Bonamassa, Nirvana, Johnny Winter, Zakk Wylde, Machine Head, Dwight Yoakam, The Strokes, Slash, Jeff Waters, Paul Simon, Radiohead, The Waco Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, and Paul Weller.

If a time machine could transport today's Epiphone players to Epi Stathopoulo’s Manhattan showroom of 60 years ago, when it was a gathering place for all the Big Apple's best players, generations of musicians would agree that Epiphone has always been the “House of Stathopoulo.” And today, Epiphone is still innovating, still delighting musicians, and still frustrating competitors with daring designs and superb quality.

C. F. Martin & Co.® has been Inspiring Musicians Worldwide® for nearly two centuries with their superior guitar and string products. Martin guitars and strings remain the choice for musicians around the world for their unrivaled quality, craftsmanship, and tone. Throughout the company’s long history, Martin products can be seen and heard across all genres of music and in all segments of pop culture, from concert and theater stages to television and movies.

With an unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible manufacturing practices, Martin continually drives the acoustic guitar market forward, introducing innovative features that have become standards across the industry. These groundbreaking innovations include the introduction of X-bracing, the 14-fret guitar, and the “Dreadnought” size guitar.

Martin has also led innovations in strings, such as introducing the first high-tensile strength steel-string core wire; the first nickel acoustic strings (Martin Retro®); the proprietary Titanium Core strings; and now the groundbreaking, new Authentic Acoustic line, which offers unmatched stability, tone, comfort, and longevity.

Guitar Center is a leading retailer of musical instruments, lessons, repairs and rentals in the U.S. With nearly 300 stores across the U.S. and one of the top direct sales websites in the industry, Guitar Center has helped people make music for more than 50 years. Guitar Center also provides customers with various musician-based services, including Guitar Center Lessons, where musicians of all ages and skill levels can learn to play a variety of instruments in many music genres; GC Repairs, an on-site maintenance and repairs service; and GC Rentals, a program offering easy rentals of instruments and other sound reinforcement gear.

Additionally, Guitar Center’s sister brands include Music & Arts, which operates more than 200 stores specializing in band & orchestral instruments for sale and rental, serving teachers, band directors, college professors and students, and Musician’s Friend, a leading direct marketer of musical instruments in the United States. With an unrivaled in-store experience and passionate commitment to making gear easy-to-buy, Guitar Center is all about enabling musicians and non-musicians alike to experience the almost indescribable joy that comes from playing an instrument.

Doing the right thing...since day one.

It seems so simple: just make your customers happy!

In fact it takes a lot of hard work to make it happen — but not everyone is willing to make that effort. That very simple concept is the reason Sweetwater was founded in the first place. Since 1979, Founder and CEO Chuck Surack has committed to "doing the right thing", and this belief is at the core of Sweetwater's identity, ethics, and practice.

Sweetwater makes sure that shopping for a guitar or bass on our site is as exciting and reassuring as it is in person. That's why we go to great lengths to carefully inspect, play test, individually photograph, and weigh every stringed instrument we sell priced above $299. In fact, we put trained eyes and hands on hundreds of guitars and basses every day, because we want each one to arrive just as you had imagined, leaving you totally satisfied with your new instrument. We do this simply because it's the right thing to do.

Musician's Friend was founded in 1983 by Rob and DeAnna Eastman. Newly married, the Eastmans financed the start-up with a $5,000 loan from Rob's parents and ran the business out of their suburban California garage. Eventually relocating headquarters from San Diego to a dairy barn in Southern Oregon, Rob and DeAnna, along with brother-in-law, Al Dinardi, grew the business into a prominent direct marketer of music gear.

Our first catalog was just a simple two-color flyer offering discounted guitar strings and a handful of other accessories. With a combination of hard work and intimate knowledge of the music business, things quickly changed. We were among the earliest catalog marketers of music gear and the first to focus on rock-band gear, so we experienced amazingly rapid growth.

We’ve come a long way from our dairy barn. Today we have multiple locations around the U.S. to provide quick delivery and excellent customer service. Our corporate headquarters is based in sunny Westlake Village, CA. Our two support centers reside in Salt Lake City, Utah and Indianapolis, Ind. Finally, our 700,000 ft distribution center is in Kansas City, MO.

It started back in 1971, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sharon McInturff and I had both finished college, and we figured that if we searched for older fretted instruments, we could probably sell them, make a little profit, and have fun doing it. Within a year we had moved into a small (8' x 10') space in the basement of a retail building in East Lansing. The shop opened on July 5, 1972, with about 15 or 20 used instruments. We called ourselves Elderly Instruments because we planned to carry only vintage instruments.

We wanted a store where people could feel comfortable, be allowed to play the instruments — a rarity in those days — and find great prices and great customer service. Before we knew it, we were carrying strings, some accessories and (much to our surprise) new instruments, too.

Fast forward to 1975, and we had a 100+ page mail order catalog, plus a much expanded space in the building where we started. We knew a few things when we started, but we were constantly learning. We learned about instruments from experience, from talking with customers, and from the burgeoning world of vintage instruments. We learned about different kinds of acoustic and electric music from the LPs we were selling, from our customers, and from the many great musicians coming through town. We learned about running a business. As the world changed, we learned more and Elderly Instruments continued to grow.

By 1983, we had outgrown our original space, so we bought and renovated an old lodge hall in nearby Lansing. My partnership with Sharon ended in 1986. (In case you’re wondering, Sharon is currently in the antiques business, and still here in Lansing.) In 1988 we automated our inventory.

By the 1990s, our experience in mail order paid off when we created our first website. One of the challenging things about business is that every few years the technology changes dramatically. When we opened the original store, we did not have a cash register — we didn't even have a calculator. As crazy as it sounds, it was many years before even a hand-held calculator felt affordable. Now you can access our store through smartphones that fit in your pocket!

Even as Elderly Instruments has grown, the important things haven't changed. We're still a family business, with my wife Sandy joining the Elderly staff in 1990 and our daughter Lillian in 2014. The rest of the Elderly family includes over 60 stellar employees, many of whom have been here for well over 20 years. When you visit our Lansing showroom, we want you to feel like you are walking into our living room.

We still offer great new, used, and vintage instruments, as well as accessories, instructional materials, and even a few wacky things, all at great prices. We offer free advice, or we can write an appraisal that your insurance company will gladly accept. Our repair shop sets up most instruments (new and used), unless we are selling them AS-IS at a bargain price. The shop is also widely known for its professional restorations on any age acoustic or electric guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and more.

In 1966, Bob Gault founded what was to become the world’s largest loudspeaker manufacturing company after working as an engineer for Magnavox and CTS (Chicago Telephone Supply). Ironically, Gault started Eminence hoping to maintain three 18″ speakers per day, based on a commitment from Ampeg’s Everett Hull. Under the leadership of Gault and most recently his son, Rob, the company’s capacity grew to over 10,000 speakers per day, employing over 240 people by 1997.

Gault was the president of Eminence from the company’s inception until 1992. He officially retired in 1993, but continued to make valuable contributions to the company. Gault passed away on October 4, 2002. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. Gault was also an avid golfer. He is greatly missed by his family, the music industry, and the Eminence community.

Eminence, Kentucky (population 3000) is centrally located in the heart of Kentucky, between Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. Bob Gault chose this location as it was ideally situated for shipping products all over the USA. The Eminence and Henry County community could also provide the labor needed to manufacture products on a large scale. And after 50 years, Eminence, Kentucky continues to provide ideal conditions for the design, assembly and distribution of the World’s #1 Loudspeakers.

The first Eminence facility, located in downtown Eminence, employed around thirty people. The building was less than 6,000 sq. ft. and production was often less in one week than it is in one hour at our present facility. In 1972 Eminence Speaker moved to a new location in Shawnee Industrial Park on Mulberry Pike where we remain today. Take a tour of the factory.