Over the life of my blog, we’ve ventured into Memphis music studios, shrines and stages. Today, let’s add another dimension to the Memphis music experience: guitar factory tours.
There are two options in town, each with its own vibe and possibilities for side trips. (Translation: If you’ve seen one, you haven’t seen them all, so time permitting, see them both – and their surrounding neighborhoods.) Let’s go!
St. Blues Guitar Workshop
Background: St. Blues embodies handicraft and Memphis music history like no other instrument-maker. On tour, you’ll get the story behind this boutique manufacturer (which produces about 500 guitars annually by the hands of just six people). It’s a saga of highs and lows rooted in Memphis’ legendary music shops (Mike Ladd’s Guitar City and Strings & Things), with ties to some of the city’s legendary music personalities (Tom Keckler), and associations with some of music’s legendary performers (Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page). Since the late 1960s – when Keckler started making a name for himself as the guy who made guitars sound better – the music shops have closed; the brand name and ownership have changed. But St. Blues’ expertise and reputation remain – guaranteed by Keckler’s continued involvement and the commitment of new ownership to create electric guitars of the highest quality. Part of that ownership, Jeff Cox, relays the story on your tour.