To me, there is no greater establishment than a guitar shop. For some it’s record stores, vintage/used clothing shops, coffee shops (same) or the ever daunting mall. My favorite thing is going to cool guitar shops offering an array of used and vintage pieces. If you were to ask what my end goal in life was, it would be to own and operate a vintage/used guitar and repair shop. For now, I will visit as many of them as I can and absorb as much knowledge while I travel across this great planet of ours.
On tour, I usually make a point to stop at as many guitar stores as I can get to. That being said, it can get a little dangerous as I have an addiction to spending money. I’m trying to have more self discipline, but nobody is perfect. This tour has been a lot easier than most due to the fact that we are touring on a bus. I can wake up at our destination, grab a cup of coffee and be on my way to play some cool gear!
A few days ago I woke up in one of my favorite cities, Seattle. It was a typical day in the Northwest. Rain clouds looming overheard, however there were numerous moments throughout the day that allowed for a nice stroll through the Public Market Center. We had a show later that evening at the Showbox (located right next to the market), so it was a great area to see some touristy spots.
I purchased some coffee from the local Starbucks, a bowl of seafood chowder at the market, and was on my way to Emerald City Guitars with Luke. I have been following this shop on Instagram for some time now and have always swooned over the gear they post. It seemed like they had a pretty extensive inventory of vintage guitars and amps. A lot of players I admire like David Bazan, Bill Frissel and other Seattle natives have mentioned this shop in the past, so I knew it was worth the visit.
A 10 minute walk from the market and I was approached the old brick building, neon guitar sign hanging overheard. As soon as we walked through the door that sense of relief and pure excitement hit me like it does with any shop I go to. The staff was welcoming right from the start, which is always great sign. Right away I was in conversation with one of their techs about where we were from, what brought us to Seattle, and most importantly their shop. Meeting people in these environments and getting to know the people inside the guitar gear community is just as important (if not more important) than the gear itself.
I soon turned around and saw myself staring into a glass chest of guitar pedals. Used, vintage, boutique…. all mixed together, which is always fun sifting through. From my vantage point I could see into the main showroom- tons of guitars hanging on the exposed brick walls, with amps lined up in rows underneath. A force was pulling me into that room and I could sense that some very nice, very expensive guitars were to be played. That isn’t always the case when going to these shops. Often times there is an uncomfortable tension in the air that you’re not allowed to touch anything, ask anything, or even look long enough at an old expensive guitar. But at Emerald City that is NOT the case. They welcome you with open arms, filled with guitars.
What first caught my eye was a plethora of Jazzmasters and Jaguars in the center of the room surrounding a selection of old Fender tweed amps. Offsets almost always intrigue me, for obvious reasons and especially after switching to primarily using Jaguars. With the help of Trevor Boon (one of the employees working), I was able to get my hands on a ’59 and ’63 Jazzmaster and I gotta say, they were unbelievable. I have played Jazzmasters from that era before, but for not nearly as long, so I never got aquatinted in the right way. The first thing that I noticed is that they have a certain vibe to them that screams out at you “I’ve been played, so PLAY ME!”. The necks were so worn in and the bodies resonated in a way new guitars just don’t do.
By this point Luke and I struck up a lot of great conversation with Trevor about music (David Bazan being the main focus), and he continued giving us vintage guitars to play. He was really excited to tell us each guitar’s story, so I played them as they continued their conversation. One of the best sounding pieces was a ’57 Strat plugged straight into a ’64 Deluxe Reverb (my favorite amp of all time). Strats are not normally my main bag, but when I find an old one that sings and plays just right, there is no better sound on earth.
All in all I would say that I had an pleasant time visiting Emerald City. I highly recommend stoping by if you’re in Seattle visiting or a local that has yet to check it out.