(I will never forget being a young kid watching all of my American television on networks run out of Rochester, NY. There were those hop-hop Record Archive idiots, that crazy mumbling “ham hock 99 cents a pound” J&E Grocery guy, those terrifying Carvel Ice Cream Cakes, and the wacky fuckers at The Great – House of Guitars. Every time I saw one of their commercials I could only think that American’s were right fucking nuts. As I got older, all I wanted to do was move to Rochester and hang out/work at that place. Here’s a little history from the interweb – FATS)
Started by Schaurbroeck and his brothers out of the basement of their mother’s home, House of Guitars established it’s credibility by stocking the exact instruments played by the Beatles before anyone else.
“When the Beatles came to America, we knew what they were playing,” Schaurbroeck said “We knew that George Harrison play a Gretsch Country Gentleman and Vox Amps that weren’t in the United States yet. I made an order to Vox in England, and they shipped them to us. So, we had the first Vox amps that came into the United States.”
To expand their community profile, the Schaurbroecks started running advertising and promotional campaigns that were received with contempt by parents and endeared House of Guitars® to their children.
“It started somewhat accidentally,” Schaurbroeck said. “In the early 1960s, we made our own television commercials before even car dealers were doing their own commercials. It had always been an announcer that worked for the television station and maybe professional models that would make them. We just turned on a 16-mm camera and had rock ‘n’ roll music playing in the background.
“The way we presented ourselves on television was a shock. This was during the 1960s and Vietnam. People viewed us as the underground, trying to relay messages about secret plots and bombing buildings. Television is a sacred thing, and we were just coming on and blasting rock ‘n’ roll music, doing whatever we felt like. People were shocked.”
House Of Guitars 1978 TV commercial
One infamous campaign was in response to a series of billboards sponsored by conservative groups in the ‘60s. Those billboards read “Beautify America. Get a haircut,” and they didn’t sit well with Schaurbroeck. He responded with eight billboards of his own proclaiming “Help Keep America Free. Let Your Hair Grow.” The billboards featured a picture of Schaurbroeck and the House of Guitars® logo. The billboards served as another Schaurbroeck shock, garnering mainstream media attention and further popularity with rock ‘n’ rollers everywhere.
1978 House Of Guitars commercial with The Ramones
The House of Guitars not only prospered in the face of controversy, but it also reveled in it, eventually becoming known as the place for professional musicians and those who want to sound like the pros. Aerosmith, Ozzie Osborne, Cheap Trick, Metallica and Matthew Sweet are among the major acts that shop at the House of Guitars®.
“People hear from major bands that we’re the place to go (for vintage and specialty gear), Schaurbroeck said. “through word of mouth, all the national acts know about us. They trust us because of our reputation.”