Larry Garris opened Corner Music in 1976 with an eye on services for the professional Nashville session player. Garris noticed that while instrument stores opened at 10 am, most sessions started at the same time and musicians were not able to pick up things before the day’s work – like strings or a cool new guitar pedal that they wanted to use on the next recording.
Corner Music first opened in the Berry Hill area before finally moving to their current location in the 12th Street District, just a few minutes south of downtown. The area has changed over the years, from being a little scary after dark to becoming a trendy neighborhood with upscale burgers, fish and local brew, and an emerging music scene all its own.
Corner Music is an independent full service dealer, where everything from well-made Chinese Eastman brand instruments are offered alongside the latest boutique handmade LSL guitars shipped fresh from Van Nuys, California.
Nashville is a town of “monkey see, monkey do.” A perfect example is when session guitarist George Greenberg bought a certain type of Stratocaster on a Monday and by the end of the week Pat Buchanan and Mac McAnally had one also.
Corner Music’s core base is still comprised of string players – guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele and everything in between, and one of the biggest things buzzing right now are low wattage tube amps. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibson recently came in and bought a Carr Raleigh amp after seeing it in sessions around town. It’s nothing to see Keith Urban purchasing a bouzouki or a roadie picking up 1500 custom picks for a well-known country artist on any given day. While relic finish Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars seem to be the hottest items nowadays, George Harrison’s favorite songwriting tool, the ukulele, is so hot that store employee Billy Jackson says, “If we put it on the website, we wouldn’t have any to sell to our day-to-day walk-in customers.”
The repair team of Joe Hinchliffe (guitar set up) and Jeff Marple (repair) not only service local musicians, but traveling bands with problems such as Peter Stroud of Sheryl Crow’s band, who said his Gibson Firebird was set up better than it ever has been. They have shipped instruments as far away as Germany of to be worked on. The Pro Audio department starts with everything for the recording musician to another division that features professional sound installations, known as Corner AV.
Jackson, who also handles promotions and workshops, has his own “Billy’s Blog” on the store’s website to give a Zen perspective to the current music gear environment. Corner Music sponsors workshops that have featured guitarists such as Albert Lee and most recently, bassist Saul Zonana. Attendance is high, especially when a world-class bassist or drummer is giving his perspective and instruction. Needless to say, guitarists in Nashville are a little more finicky with so many hotshot pros around.
photos courtesy of Billy Jackson