If you haven’t yet noticed, there’s a new addition to the Olde Town Conyers business district. It’s “The Guitar Shoppe” and it recently moved from a previous Conyers location to 923-B Commercial St. next to Creamberry’s Ice Cream and across from the Celtic Tavern.
When you enter his store, even if it’s your first visit, you’ll likely be greeted by a huge smile and a greeting like, “Hey, man . . . what’s goin’ on?”, or something similar from Craig Poole, the owner-operator of the store. Poole not only lives in the area, but has connections to other folks from Rockdale County.
Poole worked in guitar repair with Bert Foster at Bert’s Guitar Shop, which could be found on Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain back in the 1980s. It was there that he met Foster’s friend, the late Peter Jones, an extraordinarily talented instrument repairer – who he credits with honing his repair skills. Both Foster and Jones resided in Conyers.
Since then, he’s been putting his expertise and experience to good use helping those all over metro Atlanta with guitar and amplifier repairs, set-ups, restoration, re-stringing, custom built instruments, and his own special effects pedals and electronics. He also buys and sells, as well as consigns select instruments. “I refuse to put any junk on display, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider more economically priced items.” Poole has extensive experience working on Fender, Martin, Gibson, Taylor, Paul Reed Smith and other acoustic and electric guitars.
“If it’s made of wood and wire, and created to play music, we can fix it”, said the constantly upbeat Poole. With several decades of experience working as a “guitar tech” in music recording studios and on tour with famous producers, singer-songwriters and bands, Poole has acquired mastery of tweaking instruments and amplifiers. When you visit his store, you’ll see awards and memorabilia from groups like Matchbox 20, Sister Hazel, and others, and he’ll gladly share one (or more) of his “road stories” about working with Willie Nelson, Edwin McCain, Collective Soul and more.
Poole describes the duties of a professional guitar tech as being similar to a NASCAR chief mechanic. “My job was to make sure that all the instruments, amplifiers, and the related electronics (special effects pedals, etc.) were all setup and working effectively together. There are so many variables to keep watch over, so a general rule for making certain that once everything was ready when the rehearsals and sound checks were finished, I kept the band members away from their equipment and instruments until showtime!”
According to Mr. Poole, the goal with this business is to provide the same high quality service to any area pickers and local metro bands that has always been available to the top names in the music industry, and at an affordable price. “Whether you own a $100 guitar or one costing in the thousands, you deserve an instrument that you enjoy playing, has the ‘feel’ you like and has the very best sound it’s capable of producing.”
Author’s note: I know many string players, myself included, who have trusted him with both inexpensive and premium custom instruments to have Craig work on them. I’ve seen items when brought to him that looked more like firewood than anything else, and he’s repaired them. You can do the same with complete confidence.
One of the points made by Poole was that there are scores of “closet” or “under the bed” instruments out there that may have been in someone’s family for decades. “These are often in poor condition because of the wear and tear that time and environment can have on them. In many instances, the owners may not know if there is any value in these, whether they can be repaired, and if they are interested in selling them, what they may be worth. We can help with that – bring ‘em by and I’ll take a look. I’m thrilled when I can tell someone they’ve got a real gem that with a little bit of my special TLC [tender loving care!] they can have a great playing instrument or something that can generate some serious cash.”
Even though his trade is related to the behind the scenes segments of music, Poole is also a self-described “pretty good picker” who plays lead guitar in several bands, written original music and “even laid down some tracks on CD”. He describes his favorite style of music as hard rock, but he revealed that he listens to practically any variety.
Joining Poole at The Guitar Shoppe is another area native, Jeff Griffin. An experienced music instructor, Griffin has been teaching students wishing to become more proficient in guitar, mandolin, bass and banjo, each of which he plays quite capably. He has worked as an instructor for nearly two decades providing 30 or 60-minute, one-on-one lessons usually once each week. Griffin, a full-time teacher, has a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences degree in Jazz Performance Guitar from Georgia State University and specializes in teaching music theory. Griffin noted, “I teach students from absolute novice to advanced players all styles of music including, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, jazz, classical and heavy metal.”
Griffin’s lessons include teaching tablature, sight reading music, detailed theory, fundamental scales, arpeggios, chord theory, rhythm, ear training, and improvisation. He will also assist performers and pickers in playing songs they chose. He added, “My goal is to keep it fun and educational at the same time.”
Griffin is a founding member of original music projects, “Crop Circle 7” and “Phrenic”. You can view video and sound clips of Griffin’s work on his Facebook page Griffin Music, Inc. at these weblinks I’ve shortened: HYPERLINK “http://on.fb.me/1zTC3fP” http://on.fb.me/1zTC3fP and one of my favorite videos at HYPERLINK “http://on.fb.me/1nJkLbq” http://on.fb.me/1nJkLbq. If you are interested in lessons, you can reach Griffin at (770) 846-9251 or stop by the shop to meet him personally and learn more.
Author’s note #2: I speak from experience here . . . I have been working with Jeff for several years taking lessons on guitar theory. I find him to be an incredible resource and someone who is not only a knowledgeable instructor, but a gifted musician as well. He is able to work and manage a student’s development no matter if they are seven years old or in their 60s like me.”
Along with the core segment of Poole’s business, repairs, restringing, the sales of used American electric and acoustic guitars, he will also sell high quality custom-made music related art, guitar string jewelry, LP record clocks and other “cool and unique” music genre items, which have been hand-crafted by his talented wife Lisa. A Conyers native who attended Pine Street Elementary and Rockdale High School, Lisa is the Director of Massage Therapy at The Georgia Career Institute located on Flat Shoals Road between Ga Hwy 138 and Parker Road.
Poole noted, “I’m really excited about becoming part of a true business community like Olde Town. I like knowing that I can contribute to, share and connect with my business neighbors.” He added that everyone is welcome at the shop, “Whether you’re an accomplished player or an occasional picker, someone who is mildly interested, or just interested in the art, come by and have a chat. At the very least, come say ‘hi’ to my resident guard cat, ‘Gibson’, who might be sitting in the front window”.
The Guitar Shoppe is located at 923-B Commercial Street in Olde Town Conyers. Poole noted that his website, HYPERLINK “http://www.theguitarshoppe.net” www.theguitarshoppe.net, is undergoing renovation and should be up and running again within the next month. Telephone: (678) 650-0444
About the author: Brian Howe is a professionally-trained executive, business and life coach, a writer and speaker, who owns ThinkTank Coaching. He is also a Certified Mediator, and holds the highest human resource certification, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). He has worked with over 500 business owners and professionals, coaching and consulting with them on leadership development, workforce performance and other aspects related to people in business. He can be reached at (770) 922-6007 or via his website HYPERLINK “http://www.coachbrian.com” www.coachbrian.com.