From teenage angst to music lessons, Bluebond Guitars has held its pick for more than 20 years.
With its walls lined with guitars of all shapes, sizes and brands, Bluebond Guitars gives new meaning to the average guitar store. An old mom-and-pop store at Fourth and Lombard streets, the shop considers its customers to be more like family than sale prospects.
“We help more than sell. Instead of a service, we try to maintain a relationship with the customer,” owner Richard Chodak said. Bluebond Guitars, which has been in existence for more than 20 years, not only sells guitars, but it serves as a repair shop and music school as well.
Chodak said his love for music began when he was a teenager in the 1980s.
“It was typical teenage angst that I was getting out on the electric guitar,” he said.
He said he loved the idea of rebellion and the punk lifestyle and just wanted to take his frustrations of youth out by blasting his electric guitar.
The guitar shop first opened in 1989 by one of Chodak’s close friends, whose last name was Bluebond. Chodak began working at the store for his friend in 1991, but two years later, his friend was killed in a car accident. Chodak found such potential in the store that he began to run Bluebond Guitars himself to further customers’ love for music in his friend’s honor.
Currently, the vintage guitar store sells used and affordable equipment, as well as items that big name stores do not typically carry.
Chodak said the store’s repair shop has proved quite successful as well. More than half the store is covered with unrepaired equipment that customers are waiting on.
“We don’t even advertise,” Chodak said. “Word of mouth pretty much covers it.”
Throughout the years, the Bluebond music school went from teaching a few students to its currently enrolled 180 students. The program places teenage musicians into groups that create original songs together. After three months, the groups perform their music at the Balcony at the Trocadero. It’s not uncommon for the bands to stay together after the program ends.
The instructors at Bluebond offer the bands guidance and encourage the students to fully express themselves through their music. Chodak described the instructors as the student’s creative coaches.
The school also holds open-mic nights for its adult students at local bars, which offer an encouraging environment for the performers.
Chodak and his staff play nearly every instrument necessary for a typically rock band, and most employees have worked at the Bluebond for 10 to 15 years. Chodak said he believes the workplace is enjoyable and hardly feels like work at all, which has made Bluebond Guitars more like a family than simply a place of employment.
“We have created a community here where people can come in and just hang out,” Chodak said.
“It doesn’t matter how young or old or rich or poor someone is. Anyone is welcome to come in and jam out on any guitar they please.”
Chelsea Wargo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.