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Strumming along 

Jacksonville’s mom-and-pop guitar shop

PICKING AND GRINNING: Bob Tanner makes customers happy.
  • PICKING AND GRINNING: Bob Tanner makes customers happy.

When I was but a young lad, back in my college days, something was missing. With a lump of cash burning a hole in my pocket I decided, like a lot of young men do, that a new guitar would fill that hole in my life.

When I walked into Jacksonville Guitar, one of Times' readers favorite music equipment stores, I knew exactly what I wanted. I was all set to buy a Gibson Les Paul, but the cream-colored Fender Telecaster was calling my name. Sometimes the guitar picks you. With a little guidance from the salesman, I walked out the door that day, Fender in hand, and never looked back.

Steve Evans opened the store right after he graduated high school in 1975. Bob Tanner and Bobby Appleby were customers before they were both hired 16 years ago. The store itself is cozy, packed wall-to-wall with electric, acoustic and bass guitars, dobros, mandolins, ukuleles, straps, amps and tuners. There's even an old-time cowboy guitar museum that Evans has built up over the years. 

What sets his shop apart, Evans says, is a relationship with the customers.

“We try to match their pricing,” he says “and a lot of times we can do better. Plus, if you come in here you'll always get the same guys.”

Tanner says a smaller, independent store can offer things the chains can't.

“When we call the big vendors, we're talking to our inside people,” he says. “Big box stores have to go through their buyers. So if a customer's looking for a particular item, I can just call up the company and have it delivered in a couple of days.  It's pretty hands-on.”

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