The Guitar Works story begins in 1971 when Terry Straker, a struggling grad student at UIC, dropped his guitar on the way to giving a lesson. His beloved 1933 Martin 00-17 hit the ground and cracked down the side all the way from the neck block to the butt block. Living as he was on a TA’s salary, there was no way he could afford the $100 it would cost him to get it fixed. So Terry did the only thing he could do — he decided to fix it himself. He succeeded and soon friends wanted work done on their instruments, too. Before he knew it, Terry found himself with a thriving little home business.
After leaving school and continuing to work at home for a year, Terry decided to go to work for a local music store, whose owner was a violin builder. There, he learned more about the art of instrument repairs as well as the business end of running a music store. Terry stayed there, gathering experience and knowledge, until 1979, when fate came calling again. On his way home from work, Terry’s motorcycle, stalled out right in front of 739 Main St—an empty storefront with a “FOR RENT’ sign in the window. He rented the store that same day and Guitar Works was born.
Starting a new business is hard work, but early encouragement came in the form of a telegram from Chet Atkins congratulating Terry on the new enterprise and the arrival of legendary mandolinist Jethro Burns who taught at the store from 1980 until his death in 1989. By the mid 80’s, business was good enough that Guitar Works was able to expand, taking over an adjacent storefront. The store’s hard-earned reputation for quality and service continued to expand and soon, professionals and novices alike were coming in from all over the region. Things were great, but rapidly becoming cramped.
On August 1st, 2000, Guitar Works opened in its new location at 709 Main St. Roughly twice the square footage of the old location, the new store provides an open, airy feel without losing the intimate, homey feel of the old store. Tucked in a corner across from the giant wall of electric guitars, you will still find a small, quiet, room full of the finest acoustic guitars. Teachers give lessons out of state-of-the-art studios in the back. And the expanded shop allows for greater volume of repair work without sacrificing quality.
At Guitar Works, one of our greatest assets is people. We know that our customers are the life-blood of the store and we base our business philosophy on that knowledge. At some other stores, the goal is simply to move inventory. At Guitar Works, our aim is to help you find what you want—the guitar that will suit your playing style, the reason your amp keeps blowing tubes, or the coolest sounding distortion pedal around. Essential to that process is our staff. Unlike other stores where commission-based sales promote high turnover and low knowledge, we take care to develop a loyal staff of knowledgeable employees. Whatever your question, there will always be someone on hand to give you an informed, honest answer. And that makes all the difference in the world.