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The House of Guitars - Rochester, NY

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bullitt5135, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    I had a chance to visit The House of Guitars in Rochester, NY (in the town of Irondequoit) over the weekend. I grew up in the neighborhood, and spent a good deal of my formidable years digging through piles of LPs, waiting in the cold for Rush tickets, and drooling over an unbelievable selection of instruments. I bought my Fender Jazz Bass Special (pre-Duff McKagan) around 1986, and still have it today. The only thing that's changed since I was a kid is that they've added a lot of square footage by annexing adjacent buildings, and piling up more inventory -- a lot more inventory. A few years back, the Wall Street Journal printed a story about HOG where they estimated some 11,000+ instruments in stock! When I was chatting with the owner a year ago, he kind of laughed and said "we're way past that now." I tried to get a rough count of basses on display... kind of difficult because they are scattered round -- but there were easily 120 or more. Rumor is that the basement warehouse is packed to the gills with more stuff. Enjoy!

    It's hard to get a good pic of the front of the store where all the guitars are. The room is probably 50'x70' with a 15 foot ceiling. There are display cases stacked two high, with more guitars displayed on stands up top. The aisles are lined with more instruments and amps. In most places, there is less than 3' of clearance to get by. Customers are encouraged to pick stuff up and plug it in.



    Not sure if these are vintage or reissues? Nice variety nonetheless...

    Some Hofners mixed in...

    This is half a cabinet packed full of Fender Jazz and P-basses. I'm sure this makes a lot of people cringe... they pack things together like sardines, increasing the chance of scratches and dings.

    Assorted licorice sticks

    Autographed Victor Wooten Washburn (I think)



    Hofner Contemporary

    I saved the best bass pic for last... a Rick autographed by Geddy Lee. Pictured in the photo below the bass with Geddy are HOG owner Bruce Schaubroek and Andy Babuik, bassist for the Chesterfield Kings, former HOG employee and author of the "Beatles Gear" book (the definitive guide of Beatles gear). I bought my Fender bass from Andy 25 years ago.
  2. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    The amp room. Lots more equipment out of frame, plus there are amps spread all over the store. Tons of tons of vintage tube amps and cabs.



    I saw a bunch of Bassman amps.



    Plush heads... never heard of 'em. Stacked in a hallway full of vintage amps and cabs.

    I'm not sure, but there could be a bass buried in the drum room upstairs. I also ran into their guitar tech up there... he said he's been working there since the early 70's.
  3. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    "House of Guitars, dubbed "the Hog" (for its initials) by local teenagers, appears more rummage sale than successful business. The facility, formerly a feed store, sprawls through five cavernous warehouses connected by passages so labyrinthine that even employees get lost. Mountains of concert T-shirts and piles of new and used CDs fill one room. Autographs of famous customers adorn a wall, and ceilings are plastered with rock memorabilia including a pair of Elvis Presley’s leather pants. When pressed, Mr. Schaubroeck first estimates that his inventory includes 9,000 guitars; but after a stroll through the packed basement, he changes that to 11,000."

    Full article:
  4. octaverazor


    Jun 3, 2009
    Houma, LA
    The term "cluster-f*@#" comes to mind.
  5. Mad Russian

    Mad Russian

    Aug 25, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    How do they insure a place like that? Imagine if that placed burned down - the $$ that would be lost!
  6. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    HOG is a must-visit store if you're in Rochester! The music collection is amazing as well.
  7. Wow...I'm going to take a trip there one day...What were the prices like? fair?
  8. ha - that's crazy! I have a couple of friends in Rochester, maybe I'll visit them and go to HOG as well.
  9. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    I used to visit the HOG every year and usually leave with something in tow...Prices are negotiable.

    Yes, items are all stacked together but it's right up your alley if you are one of those used basses type of folks...
  10. pringlw


    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    Wow! How on earth can they afford to keep so much inventory! I've never seen anything like it. That's clearly millions of dollars tied up in inventory. Have to check it out when I'm in Rochester (which is basically never, but you never know)
  11. I need to go back there, it's been a long time!!
  12. ok all those old bassman's have given me a hardon
  13. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    HOG is a great conundrum. I'm pretty sure they don't have any kind of computerized inventory. Receipts are still hand-written. Some stuff has a price tag, but a lot does not. As far as pricing, I've heard both sides of the story... some people say "I got a great deal" while others say "they must be on crack." I'd imagine if you go in there armed with some knowledge of pricing, they will be happy to negotiate. I bought an beginner's Epiphone guitar there a few years ago which they sold me for less than any advertised price I saw online. They also threw in a small practice amp for what must have been cost, plus the owner told me to stop by the back door and grab some free t-shirts.

    By some accounts, the staff can be hit or miss. Some have been there for ages, others are younger kids. Experience and expertise varies. I've always found them to be exceedingly friendly and accommodating. This past visit, every employee I passed greeted me and asked something like "are you finding everything" and "let me know if you want to plug anything in." I always make it a point to say hello to Bruce, one of the owners. He's always gracious and willing to point me in the right direction. Given his decades of experience and relationships with Gibson, Fender, etc., I would imagine that he has a vast knowledge. I have heard stories about cocky, dismissive salesmen, although I have not experienced it myself. I have also heard that they can be indifferent about trade-ins... given the amount of inventory they have already, I can understand if they don't want to pay top dollar for your used bass or amp (unless it's unique). More to the point, you are just free to help yourself.

    If you plan on visiting the HOG, it is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway... about a 20 minute drive from the exit. Google the address and load it into your GPS. Grab some lunch next door at Irondequoit Hots, then prepare to dig in. I strongly suggest leaving the wife and kids at home - non musicos may bore quickly after the initial shock and awe wears off. You can easily spend an entire afternoon in full immersion. If you are looking for something specific, I suggest calling ahead and ask questions about availability and pricing -- write down the name of who you talked to, and ask if they will be working the day you plan to visit. Weekdays are best since they are likely to be less crowded -- this place can be a nightmare to navigate once there are a few people in the aisles (have you seen the show "Hoarders?" -- it's like that).
  14. Sgt Baker

    Sgt Baker

    Aug 20, 2010
    I was just there about a week ago, diidnt see any of those fretlesses!
  15. ZekeO


    Jan 13, 2009
    Hope they pass the savings from not renting a place 5X that size ONTO le customers! :hyper:
  16. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream

    Oct 5, 2009
    Greatest Guitar Store in the WORLD. I grew up in Upstate NY and that was always my favorite place to go.
  17. TomA1234


    Jul 27, 2009
    Fareham, England
    Why can't there be any stores that size near me!:bawl:
    The biggest is Nevada and they don't care about customer service, they're basically the British equivalent of a stereotypical GC.
  18. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science! Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    It's a VERY "traditional" brick & mortar type store. Don't expect to get something for nothing & be aware of what things cost. They will absolutely negotiate on stuff. Just don't get in an internet-hizzy fit when you don't walk away with a 1963 Gibson EBo for $500.

    You'll rarely find such a wide & varied selection under one roof. Sure, there are places with more 'high end' basses, etc... But there is a very wide range of instruments there.
  19. TimboZ


    Jan 4, 2009
    South of Buffalo
    I live about an 1 3/4 hours SW of there. When ever I am close by it is a must stop. You can get lost in there.

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