Not so careful with that ax, Eugene? In a city that probably has more total guitarists than anywhere else on Earth, a good, reputable guitar shop is a major necessity, and not always easy to find.
Here's an overview of some of the better guitar techs, luthiers, and repair shops in Los Angeles.
Guitarists come from all around the world just to salivate over Truetone's extensive collection of guitars and vintage amps. One room of the Santa Monica shop is dubbed Club Fender in honor of the prized Fender guitars lined up in shiny rows. Such disparate guitar stylists as B.B. King, Johnny Marr and Kaki King have availed themselves of the store's impressive selection. One of Truetone's owners, Paul Flynn, is literally an ace repairman - he helped run the store's beloved previous incarnation, Ace Music. 714 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 90401; (310) 393-8232.
McCabe's Guitar Shop
This longtime Westside folk-rock bastion hosts an in-house music school and is well known for the stellar series of concerts in its back room. As the name makes clear, however, McCabe's is first and foremost a guitar shop. Bob Dylan, Nancy Wilson and John Fogerty are among the numerous celebrities who've had their instruments repaired by its staff, which specializes not only in guitars but many other stringed instruments, including mandolins, violins, banjos, cellos and ukuleles. 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 90405; (310) 828-4497.
Fren Asken has been at it for more than a decade, fixing the broken instruments of such performers as Wayne Kramer, Bow Wow Wow, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Neil Diamond and Smashing Pumpkins. Asken also specializes in acoustic-guitar repairs and is unafraid to "get into more complicated repairs and restorations than many of the repairmen in the area do," he says. 2730 Castle Heights Pl., L.A., 90034; (310) 838-3599.
John Wescott Guitar Repair
Based in North Hollywood, John Wescott sees himself more as a "blue-collar guitar mechanic" than a luthier (the general term for someone who repairs stringed instruments), and he proudly declares that his business has always been "a one-man operation." Working on "any kind of fretted instrument you can imagine," he considers himself an expert on vintage Fender axes but also has a fondness for "funky, cheap, older instruments," such as Kays, Harmonys and unusual Japanese guitars. Westcott has repaired instruments for people like Matt Bissonette, Phil Chen (Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck), Jimmy Vivino, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Rick Holmstrom, Joe Karnes and others. Customers who visit often encounter his large collection of turtles and tortoises. (818) 761-4156.
For those in the South Bay, repairman Dirk Vandenberg has been fixing guitars and amps for more than 20 years. Given his background in punk and underground music, it's no surprise that Vandenberg's roster of "high-profile lowbrows" includes such punk notables as the Alley Cats' Randy Stodola, jazz-punk maestro Joe Baiza (Saccharine Trust), power-pop icon Joe Nolte (the Last) and, especially, bass shredder Mike Watt (the Minutemen, the Stooges). Not a big fan of refinishing or doing gratuitous fret jobs, Vandenberg alternates between fixing vintage axes and "cheaper, trashy" guitars. 424 W. Sixth St., San Pedro, 90731; (310) 547-9355.
Long Beach Guitar Repair
Long Beach Guitar Repair has been around for only a year, but the veteran staff features former employees of the respected 50-year Long Beach institution World of Strings. Co-owner and luthier Chris Baird worked with Korn for 14 years, and co-owner and fellow luthier Guillermo Rios is a flamenco-guitar specialist. Recent customers range from the Blasters' John Bazz to members of the L.A. Philharmonic. 2930 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, 90804; (562) 621-9000.
California Vintage Guitar & Amp
Seth Mayer works out of this Sherman Oaks shop, restoring the thrashed guitars of everyone from Lita Ford and the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones to Eagle of Death Metal's Dave Catching and Troy Van Leeuwen, as well as the Ventures' Gerry McGee and jazzbos like Stanley Clarke and John Pisano. 5244 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 91401; (818) 789-8884.
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Former Green on Red bassist Jack Waterson's Highland Park shop is renowned for having more of a personal touch than larger, more anonymous music emporiums, and the joint features the respected luthier Greg Coates, who worked for many years at World of Strings. 5112 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042; (323) 344-0029.
Gabriel Currie is the man behind Echopark Guitars, repairing and crafting his own high-end, handmade guitars for Lucinda Williams, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Jackson Browne and members of Queens of the Stone Age. Trained by none other than Leo Fender, he also gained experience at Hosono Guitar Works in Glendale before starting his first business, G-String Guitar Works, in Pasadena, and eventually relocating to Echo Park. (626) 536-3317.
Larry Melero is a freelance instrument and amplifier technician based in La Habra who's helped out George Benson, Gwen Stefani and Sum 41. He's currently the personal guitar tech for Rick Nielsen - no easy task, given the large number of guitars the Cheap Trick mastermind goes through, hurls about the stage and otherwise abuses over the course of a single show. firstname.lastname@example.org