Owner/Operator Jeff Keithline and manager Michael Samos started Empire Guitars about seven years ago when they expanded a growing pawn shop inventory of vintage (and rare) guitars into a specialized player oriented guitar shop.
You can let your imagination take over looking at the assorted offerings hanging on the walls. They represent famous axes from rock, R&B and rockabilly history. But don't let these collector pieces scare you away from browsing; there are plenty of affordable instruments and accessories always available.
On a recent visit to their 1271 North Main Street location in Providence (entrance @the colorfully painted 9th Street loading dock) we sat with Mike Samos who explained the stores overall vision.
"While we have an inventory of vintage guitars that could make all boutiques in NYC take notice; our dream was to have a guitar shop where a beginner could buy a quality, professionally set up instrument for as little as sixty dollars. We want to grow with a customer as they grow as a player"
Samos credits the store's knowledgeable staff as eager to "talk shop" about any aspect of gear. "We try to keep a community atmosphere around here. Everybody knows about what we sell , but we're also ready to discuss things we don't sell. We're not pushing a particular product line."
Empire Guitars also offers quality and experienced repairs and restoration that will not compromise the authentic collect ability of the instrument. They can also provide regular maintenance on your guitar or bass such as: intonation work, pick up balancing and parts replacement.
With such a streamline focus, Empire Guitars also has a reputation nationally with well known professionals. Mike doesn't like to drop names, but he modestly confirmed that legendary Door's guitarist Robbie Krieger stopped in on a recent RI visit and that Green Day's Mike Dirnt and local blues legend Duke Robbilard are customers.
"It's fun to have that reputation", states Samos, 'but we just want to be here for anybody who loves the guitar. We're a "player's" vintage store."