Fri., Feb. 14, 2020
By Johnathan Curley
There’s something about the charm and personality of a family-owned music store. Here’s a quick tour of some of the local shops around town who keep Spokane sounding so good.
Amend Music Center
South Hill: 1305 W. 14th Ave.Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. SaturdaysNorth Side: 6301 N. Regal St.Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays
The Amend Music Center, with locations on the South Hill and North Side, offers band and orchestra instrument rentals, sales, sheet music, repairs and private lessons.
Owner Robin Amend, an instrument repairman since 1976, started the shop with his wife, Debbie, in 1980 and has since enlisted the help of sons Paul and Mark.
The store includes a staff of 10 music instructors offering private lessons in trumpet, clarinet, guitar, saxophone, percussion, piano and more, according to its website.
“I like the fact that it’s different all of the time,” said Robin Amend of running the music store in its 40th year of business.
“It seems like it’s old-fashioned and has a good feeling. It’s like going back in time a little bit.”
1430 N. Monroe St.Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Hoffman Music opened in 1913, making it Spokane’s longest-operating music store. The shop hosts walls of guitars, keyboards, percussion, orchestra instruments and sound systems.
Company president and owner Earl Smith, whose history at Hoffman began when he took trumpet lessons there at 12 years old, now operates the store with son Allan Smith and Kevin McLeish, son of original Hoffman associate Ernie McLeish.
“Music is just plain hard to beat,” the senior Smith said.
“Over the years, we’ve been pretty progressive and have grown with the times. The band and orchestra programs that are in this area, Spokane and all the surrounding towns, have always been very, very good. We’re fortunate to have such good music instructors.”
In 2019, local artists Todd and Cain Benson created a new mural for the store’s exterior featuring some of music’s greatest figures, from Tom Petty and Miles Davis to Yo-Yo Ma.
Mark’s Guitar Shop
918 W. Garland Ave.Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
Right next to the Garland Theater is Mark’s Guitar Shop, one of two guitar stores that operate in the Garland District and specialize in vintage guitars, basses, ukuleles, amps and repairs.
Founded in 2002 by the late Mark Morse, the shop carries a variety of guitars ranging from used to boutique and an assortment of effect pedals.
“As a guitar player, as a gear lover, you kind of get excited,” said owner Nate Corning of working in the guitar shop.
“We really focus on service, just taking care of the customer. That to us is more important than anything we could have on the wall for sale at whatever price,” Corning said. “Everything comes as a result of that.”
113 E. Magnesium RoadHours: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturdays
Born out of a basement in 1995, Clearwater Music has since bloomed into one of the North Side’s largest providers for orchestra and band instruments.
With 40 years of instrument repair experience, founder Cyn Orosco has become one of the Northwest’s most respected repairers and a consistent advocate for the community and local nonprofits, like Music Innovates and the Lilac City Homeschool Band.
“Our motivation is to raise more musicians,” Orosco said. “The more musicians our community has, the fewer problems we have. I have lots of police friends, and they don’t ever wind up arresting the band and orchestra kids. My goal is to make my community better through the arts.”
The store currently enlists the help of about a dozen private instructors where the first lesson is always free, according to the shop’s website.
Clearwater Valley Music
321 N. Pines Road, Suite CHours: 12 – 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturdays
An extension of the Clearwater business, owner Ed Gavras worked on and off with brand founder Cyn Orosco for 22 years before receiving her blessing and support to branch out into his own business in the Valley in 2016.
“’You guys are going to use my name, I’m going to give you some stock to start with, you guys will do great,’” recounted Gavras of Orosco’s help with starting his business, “She has been mother bear-ing us ever since.”
“She’s just an amazing person and has helped us greatly, and I pretty much owe the whole store to her.”
The location offers musical materials, instrument sales and rentals, and repairs for brass and woodwind instruments, according to its website.
Gavras gives private music lessons and runs the store with the help of his wife, Monica.
Cole Music Co.
816 W. Garland Ave.Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
Eben Cole, the son of a luthier and guitar shop owner, continued his father’s legacy when he opened Cole Music Company in the Garland District in 2006.
Since then, Cole has dealt in high-end guitars, basses and amps in addition to his own line of handcrafted Hollowtop guitars that fetch a $3,800 price tag.
Following the development of the Hollowtop while his shop was under repair from a 2014 car crashing into the front of the store, the luthier has since introduced Silver Hand Pickups and the Paradrive Parametric Overdrive effect pedal, which earned a front-page online story on premierguitar.com in December.
618 N. Monroe St.Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Established in 2016, the Senator offers a distinct assortment of used, rare and boutique guitars, basses, effect pedals and accessories.
The one-man operation of Taylor Roff, the store features one of the most extensive inventories of boutique guitar effect pedals in town and services a range of repair and modification options.
“I never originally thought I’d get super into repairs, but now it’s the most common thing I do,” Roff said.
“My main goal is to make people feel comfortable when they come in. It’s kind of daunting walking into a guitar store because they always make you feel like they know 10,000 times more than you do.”
Roff also offers private guitar lessons and a downstairs space for band rehearsals.
10627 E. Sprague Ave.Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays
Finger Swagger has been selling guitars, basses, effect pedals and servicing repairs in the Spokane Valley since 2013.
“The coolest aspect of our jobs is the new people who move into town and find us and all of the new gear and instruments that we get to deal with regularly,” employee Andrew Figueroa said.
“It’s cool to see the new and different things that people have and people bring in for service or to sell or buy.”
The store also offers merch from local bands, with 100% of the proceeds going back to the artists, according to their website.
12415 E. First Ave.Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Pirate Traders is one of Spokane Valley’s best-kept secrets when it comes to vintage guitars, amps, turntables, vinyl, audio speakers and accessories.
“When I first started, vintage audio was just going to be one little area of my store,” owner Jason Weikleenget said. “Within three months, it took over half the place.”
Weikleenget has handpicked all of the records and amplifiers that line the walls of the shop since opening in 2013.
“I just stick to things that I like and know work really well. I’m really nostalgic for everything ’70s and ’80s and ’90s, too. I have a lot of gear in here that reflects that.”
818 W. Garland Ave.Hours: Noon-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, noon-8 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
With clientele ranging from principals in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene symphonies to local novices, Violin Works has been an accredited source for repairs, restoration and sales of bow-stringed instruments since 2003.
“It’s the anticipatory response or feeling of something unique or interesting coming in instrumentwise. … The challenge of doing particular restorations on particularly or historically important instruments,” said owner James Kytonen of what keeps his job fresh.
As the only apprenticed violin workman in Spokane, it isn’t unusual for Kytonen to serve renowned musicians from Atlanta to London who are just passing through town.
Burt’s Music and Sound
1123 E. Sherman Ave., Coeur d’AleneHours: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
Established in 1974, Burt’s Music and Sound has been selling and repairing orchestra, band, folk and percussion instruments as the oldest-running music store in Coeur d’Alene.
According to its website, Burt’s Music is the only qualified repair facility in North Idaho, with a full-time repairman for band and orchestra instruments and two repairmen for guitars and electronics.
The location also hosts eight independent instructors, with specialties ranging from piano and guitar to vocal and folk lessons.
Northwest Music Academy
700 N. Government Way, Coeur d’AleneHours: 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays
For the past 31 years, the Northwest Music Academy has been teaching young children to learn, play and create music in addition to selling instruments and servicing repairs.
“We’ve educated thousands upon thousands of students in the last 31 years and created all kinds of people who are doing music as a lifelong passion,” founder Tina Stevens said.
“That’s been the most exciting thing. I’ve never gotten tired of teaching it myself or administrating programs with our teachers.”
The site has 300 students, from 18 months to 6 years old, who get weekly lessons from a staff of instructors including the internationally acclaimed composer Bogdan Ota and the conductor of the Coeur d’Alene Symphony, Jan Pellant.
River City Guitars
2910 E. 29th Ave.Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
The newest addition to the Spokane guitar store scene, River City Guitars opened in 2018 and specializes in vintage, rare and premium guitars, basses, effect pedals and drum kits.
The store hosts a catalog of vintage guitars that range from $500 to $59,999 and has attracted touring musicians and collectors like Vince Gill and Joe Bonamassa to pay a visit.
“We encourage people to come in because it’s almost like a museum sometimes,” owner Bobby Kluss said.
Most recently, the store carried a 1979 Fender Stratocaster once owned by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Yardbirds fame.
Steve’s Drum Shop
908 E. Ermina Ave.Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays
Steve’s Drum Shop has been supplying the beat to the local music scene through drum sets, percussion and accessories since 2009.
The location offers brands like Tama, Mapex, Sonar and Gretsch in addition to giving lessons in all forms of rhythm.
“The gear is only part of it. It’s the people walking in the door who make it interesting,” founder Steve Croteau said. “Whether it’s a touring band or whether it’s somebody picking up the sticks for the first time.”
“I do it for one reason, it’s because I love it. It’s the only thing I want to do,” said Croteau of running the shop.
“It’s those small, local music shops that do it because they love it. And that’s the only reason to do it – because you love it.”