Johnathan Ruder grew up in University City, and though he lives in Chesterfield these days, he always feels more at home on the Delmar Loop.
Back in the day—when they had hair, he joked—he and his buddy Lee Shalinsky played with a college band called Backenroad. They played hotels, school proms and even a few bar mitzvahs. After a couple years the band broke up and Ruder went on to become an architect. Shalinsky got a day job with the government so he could keep playing guitar professionally.
“We dreamed of opening a music store,” Ruder said. Thirty-five years later they finally got around to doing it. They bought Go Music StL, formerly known as Baton Music. The store has been around the Loop since 1947. They are doing some remodeling to the shop and are in the process of adding a do-it-yourself recording studio for customers. In March they’ll have a grand re-opening.
The shop’s main product is musical accessories—the little parts that musicians are always breaking, wearing out or needing to upgrade on their instruments. Things like strings, reeds, oil, straps, picks and cables.
“We have all the stuff they need and keep it in stock. Then when they want an instrument…we’re here,” Ruder said.
He said over the years the store gained a reputation as the place to go for quirky and exotic instruments. He plans to continue that trend and has a selection of odd looking instruments on his shelves. There are huge wooden pipes, hand-crafted drums, triangular Russian balalaikas and even a guitar with five necks. Ruder said he can’t find anything that’s too unusual to sell.
He said they came up with the tag line “Your diverse musical instrument store” to reflect the shops assortment of wares.
“We have all the instruments, plus the bizarre,” he said.
Ruder and Shalinsky are planning to add to the “bizarre” aspect of their shop by offering what they call “mutant” and “hot rod” guitars.
The hot rodding is fairly obvious. Shalinsky said they can take a kid’s starter electric guitar and soup it up so it plays much better.
“You’re buying a lot of name,” Ruder said of some well known brands, like the Fender Stratocaster.
Starting at $130 Go Music StL can build a custom guitar, using either stock or recycled parts. This is where the “mutant” guitars come in to play. Shalinsky brought out an example of a guitar with a broken neck they were able to save by reattaching a new head.
“Nobody in St. Louis admits they can do this kind of build,” said Ruder. He said most shops would tell you your broken guitar is ruined and try to sell you something new. “We’ve got all these parts. You can say you want this, this and this and in a month you have a killer guitar.”
“No two will be alike. Guitars have a personality. We want to bring them to life,” said Shalinsky.
Go Music StL buys and sells used instruments, rents student instruments and carries accessories for every sort of musician. They offer repairs, consignments and lessons in voice, guitar, piano, drum, harmonica and any sort of school instrument. They also sell unusual and exotic instruments both in the store and online at eBay.
For more business stories on University City Patch, please see the following articles:
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