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Gudlow, who is self-taught, basically got tired of schlepping instruments to stores and them not fixing them right. Soon, people were asking him, “What do I need to do to my instrument to get this kind of sound?”
A woman brought in a Flapper-era banjo belonging to her grandfather. He’d taken it apart and couldn’t put it back together again. She brought the thing in in several bags. Gudlow does a lot of that, too: rescuing someone’s project that went awry. “This banjo sounds like a trumpet,” he said.
If you go, you’ll probably see Paul Kim, or “PK Fuzz,” the store’s electronics guru. “He also promotes the store a lot,” says Gudlow. Kim grunts. “He’s into doom metal and he goes to shows that most people can’t tolerate. Shows where you have to wear two sets of earplugs.”
Or 16-year-old Sebastian, who works weekends, whose band mate Gray Tolhurst is the son of Cure drummer Laurence Tolhurst. When Sebastian and Gray performed at the nightclub next door, the Good Hurt, they projected slides on the wall, old family photos of Gray’s dad and Robert Smith as teenagers shortly after they started the Cure.
Sometimes, on show nights, Gudlow drives by and sees 350 people staring in his shop window.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Plug in the Wurlitzer reproduction 1940s “bubbler” jukebox currently sitting in that window and its 200-watt amplifier fills the room, shaking the dust off the drums piled in towers. Gudlow originally thought he’d sell it, but he’s gotten used to it being there. That’s one of the problems, letting go of the cool things that come into the store. He picked these things for a reason. It’s bittersweet when an item sells.
“Motherfucker,” said a guy whose band had come in for a gig from New Orleans. “You have that guitar. I’ve been all over the country looking for that guitar! That’s the only guitar I’d cut off my arm for.”
“Of course, you won’t be able to play without your arm,” said Gudlow. The guy bought the guitar for $4,500 and played his next set with it.
Gudlow has big plans to turn the space into a School of Rock–style music academy. Demolition is under way in the adjoining space, a former bank. He was giving a talk on the history of guitars to a group of students the other day in the tiny, cramped space where the store is right now. “Does anyone have any questions?” he asked. One girl raised her hand urgently. “Um, why is there a hole in the ceiling?”
My question is: How is he expanding when the recession seems to be shutting everyone else down? “Musicians will always find ways to get things they want,” he says, shrugging. And yet there are pressures, too. Not least of which is finding wow-factor items that keep people coming back.
A Grammy-nominated children’s artist eventually bought the toy piano from him. Gudlow took apart the wobbly plastic thing at her request and made it play tight and strong as a Steinway. She clapped her hands in delight, promptly sat on the store’s grubby floor and busted out with the Bach and Beethoven.
Timewarp Music, 12255 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (323) 600-5050 or www.timewarpmusic.com.