Guitars may seem like too narrow an inventory for a whole store, but not if the guitars are top of the line, unique, and appeal to the best players nationwide.
That’s the business model of Custom, Metal & Classic Guitars, which for four years has sold incredible guitars online and this year opened a shop on Landis Avenue in Vineland.
“The bread and butter of what I do is rare guitars you’d ordinarily have to go to L.A. or New York to see,” said Stephen McQuaid, CMC Guitars owner and a lead guitarist.
Some examples: a guitar previously owned by Adrian Belew of King Crimson, or one specially built for Scott Ian of Anthrax.
Or one of the holy grails of classic axes, an original ’57 Fender Stratocaster priced at $15,000, McQuaid said.
“It’s kind of banged up but that’s the way a lot of players like a guitar, worn in,” he said.
In fact, Fender makes replica Stratocasters that go for $3,000 and up, and many guitarists prefer “relic” models that are pre-aged much the way jeans are distressed, he said, a practice started by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.
“Me personally, I’d rather play a beat up Strat than a new one,” McQuaid said. “They wear the finish off the back of the neck so your hand glides over it, and on the fret board they’ll rub some finish off so it has a nicer feel.”
Within Fender’s custom shop there’s a Masterbuilt division, “the elite special forces unit,” he said.
“You can have your dream guitar built by the same guy who builds for Eric Clapton,” McQuaid said, giving it details and refinement you’d have to be a top player to appreciate.
Custom, Metal & Classic Guitars is also a custom shop for Jackson electric guitars, favorite brand of heavy metal bands.
On Wednesday, the shop will host one of just six Jackson clinics nationwide given by the lead and bass guitarists of Megadeth, which played Yankee Stadium in New York last month, McQuaid said.
“Dave Ellefson and Chris Broderick will teach, play, show off guitars, give pointers and talk about the state of the music industry today,” he said. The event will be held at Hangar 84 in Vineland to handle the expected crowd.
Other brands stocked include Charvel, Parker, Washburn and Guild, he said, and the shop also has entry-level guitars that range from $200 to $1,000.
Just guitars, though. About 100 of them. “You won’t find a clarinet reed or a drumstick,” he said.
McQuaid — born and raised in Vineland and now living in Franklinville — has been playing since he was 10 and has been lead guitarist for popular local bands such as Eleven Eleven.
He did that while he spent 11 years in his first career as vice president of sales for a Philadelphia-area technology company — until it became too much.
“I played with them in my 20s, but as I got into corporate America the schedule became too much,” he said. “It’s hard to get in at 3 a.m. and be at work at 8 in the morning.”
Then the corporate life got old and he realized he wanted to work as well as play in music.
McQuaid currently plays with a band called Rellik “doing real heavy metal,” he said.
Even though he now fronts a business, he’s still got his chops.
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