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BadAxe Boutique offers equipment for serious musicians

by Rich Lewis

Real guitar heroes play real instruments. Now, thanks to Greensboro’s new BadAxe Boutique, professional and accomplished pickers have a local place where they can get the best gear available in the business.

The store was designed and built by music professionals for music professionals. You can tell it from the concert barricades lining the entrance to the red, black and white color scheme, to the display stands that can be reassembled to create an on-site 12×12 stage with concert lighting. The place hits all the right notes, as it should since it took over a decade to bring this all together.

“We wanted this place to be modern and have that wow factor,” co-founder Stephen Harris said. “Everything was sketched out about 20 times before we actually built it in here.”

Harris brought a career’s worth of musical equipment retail experience into the concept. Working alongside fellow co-founders Jim Bonham, one of the great local musical instrument retailers, and Jim Gray, a longtime authority on the manufacturing side of the business, they were able to bring something really special together. Their focus is on the artists and the serious equipment they need.

“The focus of BadAxe Boutique is to connect the player or collector with the right instrument, the right amp the first time,” Harris said. “We share in common what they are looking for, so we created the kind of place we wanted to shop in.”

Gray explained that a guitarist can come in, select a guitar they like and take it to one of the shop’s sound isolated rooms and really give the guitar a workout. “They can even pick one of the amps off of the floor and take it in there with them to get the right sound. You can work as long as you want on your own.”

A lot of work goes into it before a person even gets to try one of the guitars, though. Each guitar that comes in goes through a 25-point certification process under the watchful eyes of guitar tech Jason Myers, Harris explained. “If there is even one flaw, the guitar is turned back around to the manufacturer. We want them perfect.

“And all of the original candy and cartons are kept here to go with each guitar,” he continued. “We want to keep the integrity of the instrument, it’s important to artists and collectors.”

The electric guitars, including basses, come from the industry’s greatest manufacturers: Fender, Gibson, Roscoe, Gretsch, Nash, Grosch, Knaggs, EVH, Charvel, PRS, Mike Lull and Framus, along with Warwick basses. And these are not beginner’s models.

These are the types of guitars that eventually get their own names like Lucille, Old Boy, or Lenny. They’re meant to travel from gig to gig, soaking in the limelight, developing their own unique voices””lifelong tools of the trade for the serious musician. And they don’t come cheap. Prices begin in the high hundreds and run well into the thousands.

“We’re offering instruments for the working pro musicians, aficionados and collectors,” Harris said. The staff onsite (Wil Andrews, Josh Breth, Adam Caudle, Jason Staton and Jason “Buddha” Myers) are seasoned musicians themselves: teachers, technicians and touring musicians, so they understand the importance of the right instrument and setup.

They also offer a selection of top of the line amps from companies like Bogner, TopHat, Dr. Z and others.

Gray said BadAxe prides itself on offering the best in pedals, pick-ups, cables and strings, as well, so that the quality of the guitars can be fully realized. Many times, BadAxe is also the only supplier for some of these brands in the state, if not the region.

“We really want this to be a destination shop,” Harris said, “with people coming from states all around.”

They also want to show off equipment made right here in North Carolina, offering brands like TopHat amps out of Fuquay-Varina, Dusky Electronics pedals from Durham and Greensboro’s own Roscoe guitars and basses.

Roscoe Guitars held a Meet and Greet event at BadAxe on November 7, where patrons met with the owners of the company along with the guitar builders themselves. Events like this, and a recent professionals’ clinic performed by the rhythm section of country star Luke Bryant’s band, are a part of what the store wants to offer regularly.

“We’re here for everyone from country guys to headbangers,” Gray said.

Even with a great local and regional music scene, Greensboro is still a small market for such an upscale guitar shop. The founders knew this would be a

factor in the overall success, though, and designed a website right alongside the store, guided by web designer Tim Hooker, who also helped with branding and development of the look and logo. !

WANNA go?

BadAxe Boutique is located at 1410 Westover Terrace, suite 100, Greensboro, NC 27408. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Mondays by appointment only. You can give them a call at 336-383-1717 or stop by their website at: www. badaxeboutique.com.

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