Bulger's Beat: Guitar Center gives venue for all performers - WSMV News 4

Bulger's Beat: Guitar Center gives venue for all performers

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There is an important piece of Music City that doesn't always wind up on stage.

Back in the 1960s, The Lovin' Spoonful sang about the 'Nashville Cats' and the 1,352 guitar pickers in Nashville.

We know there's a lot more than that today. Just go to a place where they are selling those strings.

Most everyday inside Nashville's Guitar Center, the show is under way. You can just grab an instrument and find some space and play.

"They've got so much variety of different things. You're like a kid in a candy store," customer Roy Goldtree said.

Goldtree trekked to aisle five to play the blues to take away his Monday "blahs."

"Happy, just a happy mood," he said. "Get that beat going right there, you can't stand still." Like a car lot, many of the customers are just wanting a test ride. Some have zero intent to buy.

And in this music world, that's just fine.

As an instrument fixer, Ron Matthews has an everyday, front-row spot for the show that goes on around him.

"Sometimes we have the opportunity to hear very, very good guitar players," he said. "Then there's the other times."

He says the set list is sometimes lacking.

"I hate to think how many times we hear Crazy Train and Smoke on the Water. Of course, the interesting thing about 'Smoke on the Water,' most kids these days have never heard the original song. But they did see School of Rock," Matthews said.

That includes 20-year-old Justin Connors, who says he digs two kinds of music.

"Like metal, basically metal," he said.

You will likely find him in aisle seven, turning his amp up to eleven.

"Yeah, I like my music loud," Connors said.

It's the guitar game in a guitar town, where these days anyone is invited to play.

"The quality of guitars has gotten so much better that for $150 you can get a good guitar. Back in my day, you'd get junk," Matthews said.

Nashville's Guitar Center, at 721 Thompson Lane, sells a little more than 15,000 guitars every year. Only the New York store and the one in Los Angeles sell more, but obviously they have much larger populations.

But 15,000 sales in a bad economy prove that in Music City, the guitar is still a growing industry.

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