When did you first become interested in guitars?
I became fascinated with the guitar in the 70s after seeing concert footage of Kiss and Foghat. At the time I was just a kid banging around on my store brand drumset and enjoyed riding the skateboard. But it was 40 years ago on my 12th birthday that my parents bought me an acoustic guitar. I didn't take to it right away. I wasn't sure how to get started.
Then one day my fate became clear. While still in the seventh grade, upon hearing the song Stairway to Heaven at our jr. high school dance gatherings I knew then that I wanted to be a guitarist. I purchased the album Led Zeppelin IV and the Led Zeppelin Complete guitar book that showed me what chords were being used to play the song.
After countless hours of listening to the tune and scratching up my record by replaying sections of the song over and over, I taught myself how to play the acoustic parts of one of the greatest rock ballads ever. Growing up in the guitar-driven age of music just inspired me more. As a teen, bands like Rush, Yes, Alice Cooper, to name a few kept my interest.
How long have you been in the guitar business and what brings you to Mount Joy?
October 2009 I started my guitar lesson business Robert Putt Studios on Wilson Ave in Lancaster. At the time I was a gigging musician playing several shows per week and working as a self-employed carpenter. Giving lessons was my ticket to phasing out of my carpentry business and to make a full-time living in the music industry.
I got into music retail after about a half dozen students asked me where they could buy a guitar. I decided then to stop sending them to Guitar Center and start selling guitars at my studio. It just made sense. I could help students choose the right instrument and service it for them when it needed maintenance.
As far as ending up in Mount Joy, it was by accident. The building where I rented my studio got sold, and the new owners needed my space to grow their business. My lease renewal was coming up at the beginning of the new year, and I was handed notice to vacate my shop by the end of January 2018.
With only a little more than 2 months to vacate, I went on a frantic search to relocate the business that I have grown for the past 7 years. It was not an easy task to have thrust upon me right before the holidays. Fortunately, 84 E. Main Street, Mount Joy, seemed like a sound choice to facilitate my business. It was close enough to Lancaster that most of my students were willing to migrate with me. At least I wouldn't be starting from scratch. Also, with the storefront windows displaying guitars 24/7 catching the eyes of many who wait for the traffic lights to change, the location alone would be a great marketing vehicle.
Mount Joy is also a community that I am familiar with. So it has some comfort zone qualities right off the bat for me. Having entertained for years at Beanies and the American Legion with acts such as AnacanA and Hippie Gun Club, I got to know a lot of locals, and it's indeed a friendly town that I enjoy spending time in.
Can you tell us a bit about the types of products and services you can provide to your clients?
We sell brands that you don't see too much of in other Lancaster guitar shops. While Fender, Gibson, and Martin are great guitars, many musicians cannot afford them. We're focused on brands like Schecter, Godin, Seagull, Michael Kelly, Dean and BC Rich. There are so many good builds out there that have comparable quality to the biggest names in the industry. You can get an excellent guitar for under $1,000.
In addition to selling guitars, amps, and accessories, I have a team of seasoned techs that help me with the servicing of the instrument and electronic repairs. I don't always have the time or the expertise for every repair that comes into my shop, but they comfortably take on those particular projects.
Finally, we provide private guitar and bass lessons in the evenings and Saturday afternoons. Teaching is the foundation of Guitars On Main. It's how we got started and will always be an essential part of our operations. It's very rewarding to help others reach their goals. I could not think of a better way to have a more positive impact on a musician's life. The skills we teach stay with our students for a lifetime, and as they grow as musicians we grow as teachers. It's a beautiful circle to be part of.
What is your favorite part of owning and running Guitars On Main?
Making people happy. Their joy becomes my joy. When I connect a musician with new gear they are beaming with happiness that absolutely fills the room. When a student makes a breakthrough on a new song or skill they've been learning, we both feel great about it. When a musician brings in an instrument for repairs or upgrades and then walks away pleased with our service, we are then content that we delivered the right results that our customers seek.
After all that, it's just super cool to be surrounded by walls of guitars!