It’s not hard to miss J&R Electronics and Music World–it only takes up an entire city block in lower Manhattan; mere footsteps away from the WSorld Trade Center site. One of Guild’s newest dealers, J&R has only been in the musical instrument business for two years now, even though the enormous retailer itself is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in the heart of New York’s historic Park Row retail music district.
Store manager John Keenoy knows his Guild history, too. It’s not lost on him that Park Row figures significantly in Guild history–that’s where Guild founder Al Dronge’s original shop was in the early 1950s.
“It’s very interesting that one of the first Guild dealers stood right here in Park Row way back when,” Keenoy said.
Indeed, Dronge founded Guild in Manhattan in 1953, and moved the company to nearby Hoboken, N.J., in the mid-1950s.
“It’s cool because Hoboken is just across the river,” Keenoy said. “You can see it from here.”
J&R picked up Guild about a year ago because the retailer’s recent entry into musical instruments had proven successful and they knew they were ready to move up to a top-notch acoustic guitar line.
“We wanted to offer our customers a higher-end instrument that you don’t necessarily see everywhere else,” Keenoy said. “Guild isn’t found in every big-box store, and so I thought it was a natural fit.”
And a great fit Guild and J&R have turned out to be; a success that Keenoy attributes to the quality of the guitars and their lush, resonant sound.
“Guild has some kind of magic thing about it,” he said. “The tone is fantastic; you really can’t duplicate it. They’re just really good guitars; really beautiful guitars.”
Ted Hechtman of Westbury, N.Y., has an entire room dedicated to his vast guitar collection, but it’s his three Guild guitars that are “the delight of the bunch.”
Hechtman, a guitar player since the ‘60s, when “everyone played protest songs and went to rallies,” had no idea what he was missing out on until about two years ago. He was on his way to hike in nearby Valley Stream State Park when he decided to make a quick stop at the Guitar Center in Carle Place.
“I was in the main room and this one odd guy who used to work there showed up magically at my side holding a guitar,” recalls Hechtman. “I’m sure his real name was Anthony or Tony, but he went by Tone. So he hands me this guitar and says in a very laid-back voice, ‘You should play this.’ He then disappeared in a sort of fairy tale way. It was a 1994 Guild DCE-1. I pulled up a stool and played it, and my fingers were finally home. It was an incredible experie
As founder and guitar hero of alt-rock pioneers Dinosaur Jr. J Mascis could easily be content with sticking to the sonic formula that’s worked so well for his century-old band, his long string of side projects — Deep Wound, Gobblehoof, Velvet Monkeys, the Fog, Witch and Sweet Apple, and during his innumerable guest sessions. Instead, the 45-year-old seasoned vet left behind the comforts of his stacks of amps, sidestepped his gargantuan guitar tones, blistering solos and balls-to-the-wall hard-rock drumming, and entered the Bisquiteen Studios in Amherst, Mass., with only his acoustic guitar in tow.
“I used to play a lot of acoustic shows and my friend Megan (Jasper), who worked for Sub Pop, was always asking me to do an acoustic album because she liked the shows,” Mascis explained when he visited our Fender digs at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. “I just hadn’t gotten around to it because Dino got back together. So it’s been probably eight years or so in the making.”
The result, Several Shades of Why, is significant not only because it marks the first solo studio album in Mascis’s 25-year recording career, but because its acoustic setting reveals a whole new vulnerability and delicacy that’s not usually associated with the Dino Jr. mastermind. See this new side to Mascis in this exclusive performance of Several Shades of Why cut “Listen to Me.”