Chicago Music Exchange – Epic Guitar Store Tour

If you’re a guitar enthusiast who’s been following things online for awhile, you’ve probably come across the Chicago Music Exchange before. Their contests, videos, and stories usually pop up several times a year. If you get to see glimpses of the showroom and don’t live in the area, you probably just get jealous like I do.  Now you can get a more in-depth look at the store thanks to this video tour that Premier Guitar put together.

From the video:

Shawn Hammond: Hey guys I’m Shawn Hammond with We’re here in Chicago at Chicago Music Exchange. David Kalt. David, you’re the owner of Chicago Music Exchange right? You bought it like five years ago. Tell us a little about the history of it.

David Kalt: Chicago Music Exchange was started in 1990 by Scott Silver and Scott was just crazy for vintage guitars. He’d been buying guitars for a long long time and he was very very on the hunt for vintage everywhere. He built the store around four blocks from here on Clark Street. Over the years I bought a bunch of guitars from him and he became very iconic in the vintage world as one of the pioneers in vintage. He big vision and when he built this store that we’re in right now in 2007 he had a real big vision for a lot of quality inventory all under one roof. Large ceiling, chandeliers, couches, and really making it comfortable for the musician when they are shopping for gear. Really taking you outside of what you’d expect of a guitar store. When I bought the shop from Scott in 2010 I really wanted to build on that experience, really take that wow experience, and always make sure that customers could always come and try gear that they are not going to be able to find locally. And then be able to supplement that with lots of more affordable inventory in the used market as well as new inventory from all the top brands like Gibson, Fender, Rickenbacher, Martin, Taylor, etc.

We look at our store as a flagship destination. So a lot of people travel through Chicago, a lot of bands travel through Chicago, a lot of tourists travel through Chicago. So we want to build a relationship with you when you’re in town but we’re happy to service you when you are back at home. And that’s why we spend a lot of time on our online channel, on our video, our website, as well on selling on Amazon, eBay, and Reverb. We really want you to find the gear where you want to buy it. We just want to be able to service you wherever you are most comfortable buying. Whether it’s in your bathrobe or in our showroom.

Is Your Street Performance Breaking the Law?

Recently, a video was posted of a NYC subway busker getting arrested for apparently violating a law which would require a permit for a public performance. This video has since gone viral, and has stirred up a lot of controversy as to the rights of performers and entertainers.

After watching the initial video, as well as a subsequent interview, I have mixed emotions on the event.

If the street performer, Andrew Kalleen, was previously aware that controversy and confusion surrounded busking laws, he could have easily cleared his performance with authorities prior to taking the “stage.” The fact that he did not do so, and an issue with a police officer ensued, could be argued that Kalleen was baiting the police for the sole purpose of media exposure. Whether or not that was the case, it worked.

There are many instances where people may be detained by the police, but are not charged and are ultimately released. As there was an issue regarding the legal code, the arresting officer may or may not have followed protocol in arresting the performer. Is it unfortunate? Yes. However, if Kalleen had obeyed the officer in the first place, he could have filed a complaint later, contacted the media then, and avoided the entire incident. Granted, the event does make for a better story.

Opinions aside, if you’re going to perform in public, you need to know your rights and make sure that others are aware of those rights. Never assume, especially when it comes to higher authorities.

If you live in these cities, Guitar World has some information on busking laws:

• London’s Underground? They have a limited number of licenses and require auditions, which are held once each year.
• New York? Unamplified busking is allowed almost everywhere in the city, except within 50 feet of monuments. Performing on a subway platform is protected by the First Amendment, but not if you step onto a train.
• Chicago requires a permit for every single public performance, and there are designated hours and “noise” limitations.
• Boston requires an audition, a criminal background check and liability insurance in order to play in some parts of the city.

In my own city of Atlanta, as long as it’s not amplified, it’s fairly lenient. One must be careful though, to not use aggressive tactics to obtain money, as that would constitute commercial solicitation (which is a gray area for the legality of busking).

Have you ever been a street performer? What is your experience?

Want Better Tone? Try Changing Your Pick!


No need to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on new guitars and electronic gear to improve your tone. The power to change your tone may literally be in the palm of your hand!

What is this dark magic?

Quite simply, it’s your guitar pick. And with different shapes, sizes, and materials available, they can have a major impact on your tone. You might find that your go-to pick for your Les Paul may not be the best for your Stratocater, and so on.

Different picks can accent various frequencies—sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Mark Marshall over at The Pro Audio Files has written a great article with audio examples of how different picks can alter your tone. Best to listen on larger speakers to really hear the difference.

While we’re on the subject of picks, if you’re having trouble keeping a good grip on it, read this article on making your guitar pick easier to hold.

Quickly Change to Altered Tunings

Peter Vogl’s new quick tip will show you a different method for changing your guitar to an altered tuning.

So now that you know about partial capos, what can you do with them? Check out Ian Ethan using Kyser capos to play some crazy stuff

Using partial capos is a great way to explore different sounds without having to dedicate time or a second guitar to an altered tuning. You can play a song in a altered tuning on stage and then switch back to standard tuning in a few seconds.

Is the Music Industry Better or Worse than It Was 30 Years Ago?

484182085LM00050_John_VarvaSeveral big-named artists have been in the headlines recently proclaiming that rock is dead. Most notably, of course, was Gene Simmons in his interview with Esquire back in September. Simmons was quick to point out that rock didn’t die of old age, “It was murdered,” blaming for the most part, file-sharing.

In response to this and other statements about the utter despair of the music industry, recording engineer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) recently delivered the keynote address at Melbourne’s Face the Music Conference and his main opinion was that the music industry is doing great, saying to even be thankful you weren’t in a band twenty years ago. He does have some interesting viewpoints, and being as seasoned as he is in the industry, one can’t help but reluctantly nod in agreement.

From all quarters we hear that, this is the platitude: “We need to figure out how to make internet distribution work for everyone.”…..

I disagree with this rather inoffensive platitude. It’s innocuous and vapid and fills the air after someone asks the question, “How is the music scene these days?” And it maintains hope that the current state of affairs as mentioned, presumed to be tragic, can be changed for the better. For “everyone”. That word everyone is important to the people using the sentence. In their mind the physical distribution model worked for everyone. But the new one does not. Not yet, not yet. Not until we “figure it out”…..

I disagree that the old way is better. And I do not believe this sentence to be true: “We need to figure out how to make this digital distribution work for everyone.” I disagree with it because within its mundane language are tacit assumptions: the framework of an exploitative system that I have been at odds with my whole creative life. Inside that trite sentence, “We need to figure out how to make this work for everyone,” hides the skeleton of a monster.

Count Eldridge is currently directing a documentary called Unsound about how musicians and creators survive in the age of free. Given his research on the topic, Count decided to write a rebuttal to Albini’s statements, and he has quite a solid argument.

Instead of perpetuating the myth that artists make money touring, those in the music industry who know better should be focussing hard to make the delivery and monetization of recorded music better for artists by making it more efficient. This means less middlemen (or no middlemen) taking a smaller cut, rather than allowing a few giant corporations and rogue pirates to profit enormously from our work.

Read the full articles and then decide for yourself. But more importantly than your position…what are you going to do about it?