Big Change

Let’s see, we’ve got a Great Lake and a couple of big rivers. We have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Guardians (terrible name of the former Indians). It’s close enough to Canada in case I want to escape. Columbus has a pro hockey team-The Blue Jackets-so that might be fun (I played in college but only intramural).

Until three weeks ago, I lived on the East Coast. Been there my entire life. Grew up in upstate NY in the 50’s and 60’s. Went to college in upstate NY. Went to grad school in New York City. Moved to CT in 1988 (and continued to work in NYC). Then, in 2024, I moved to Ohio. Why would I do that? Well, my son and his family are here and we thought it would be nice for my grandson to have grandparents close by. After all, I can sell guitars anywhere and there are players everywhere. So, big change for me but just about no noticeable change for you. I closed my retail store in CT right at the beginning of Covid and never found a place to reopen. Online is easy but it isn’t nearly as much fun as having a real brick and mortar shop. You never knew who was going to walk in. Neil Young and Darryl Hannah came in one day. Michael J. Fox and his family one Thanksgiving Eve. The great Bernie Williams (NY Yankees) came in and bought an 58 Bassman. Steve Katz from Blood Sweat and Tears was the first person to walk in (the day before I even opened). It was truly a guitar shop for guitar players. If I wasn’t so damn old, I’d probably do it again.

Being online is dull. Finding and buying great old guitars is still often a thrill but the great joy of talking guitars with guitar folks in person is missing. A phone call isn’t the same. And it wasn’t just celebrities. Having some 17 year old whiz of a player come in and play way better than I can after 60 years of playing is both exciting and discouraging at the same time. I generally know who can afford a blonde 59 ES-335 and reaching up and grabbing that $125,000 guitar and putting into that 17 year old’s hands and watching him light up is a thrill that I hope will stay with him (at least until he can afford one). I did the same thing dozens of times-sometimes a 53 Tele, sometimes a Fiesta Red Strat and once, a half million dollar Les Paul.

Even after I closed my shop in CT, I still had some of my regular locals come by and play but I had a barn set up as my workshop and quasi showroom. Here in Ohio, outbuildings are not so easy to come by so even that small element of in person business will be gone. I’ve also gone from living in the country on many acres with no neighbors in earshot to living in a city with lots of neighbors. I think the days of cranking old JTM 45 to “11” are over. Maybe I can soundproof my basement.

But I’m here in Worthington, Ohio…right outside of Columbus with all of my wonderful inventory waiting for the locals to find me and, of course, taking care of everyone else by phone, email, text and any other means of communication they can find. Ohio is sort of in the middle of everything and the music scene is here seems pretty healthy. I’m told that Eric Clapton lives one town to the west of me in Dublin, Ohio. I haven’t run into him at the local coffee shop but I’ll make sure to say hi for you when I do.

Lots of brown cases full of cool guitars waiting for you to come and get them.

3 Responses to “Big Change”

  1. David Beckwith says:

    Congrats on next steps, Charlie! All the best to you and your family.

  2. Barney Roach says:

    I have faithfully- for many years – brought up your web site Charlie- always
    in anticipation of one of your OUTSTANDING posts- and any recent guitar or amplifier offerings you have found. SO- this post- just 5 (five ) days following the previous post . . .was quite a surprise.

    A most treasured memory for me was getting to meet you in person last year!

    This is a HUGE move for anybody to make- and for such a GREAT REASON!

    May you get to see your great-grandchildren in Ohio as well!

    But PLEASE . . . keep educating us all about the ES-335s / ES-345s / ES-355s
    Mr. Gelber! I have never met ANYONE that knows more about them than you sir!

  3. Nelson Checkoway says:

    Congratulations on your move, Charlie. It’s great that you’re close to family. Be well and, hey, it’s only a 4-1/4 hour drive to Kalamazoo. Keep your eyes on the classifies and Craigslist – I’ve heard of cool Gibson one-offs and the like continuing to emerge from basements and attics in those parts.

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