It’s fitting that I chose a Christmastime photo to show our Clearwater Sam Ash Music Store, because I always felt like a kid at Christmastime browsing through Sam Ash and drooling over all the beautiful guitars on display.

We sadly lost Sammy Ash recently. Sammy was a good guy. I helped him with their website back when I was in the software business. He was so greatful, he sent a gift.

My 20 year old (at the time) daughter was visiting and had just packed her bag for her return trip when a delivery man brought a canvas “Sam Ash” bag stuffed with goodies – t-shirts, picks, strings – you name it, it was in there!

Suddenly, she’s tossing her clothes out of the bag and replacing them with the goodie-bag contents! She had a punk-rock band at the time and I’m sure they were well stocked after that!

Now, on top of losing Sammy, we’re losing our Clearwater Sam Ash store. It’s sad. Yeah, I guess they were a competitor in a way. I mean, they sold guitars and had a way bigger inventory than we could ever dream of having.

And they had a guitar tech shop with some decent techs. But we beat them in that category! There are just some things where a small company, dedicated to a single skill, can out-compete the “big-boys” and guitar repairs and setups is one of those things.

With Guitar Center having been on the ropes for several years and now Sam Ash closing 18 stores, it’s a sad time for guitar afficianados.

Some fine, local guitar techs have passed away over the last several years. I’ve purchased their left-over parts and tools from widows and girlfriends. The field is dwindling, and filling the vacuum is a new crop of You-Tube trained beginners, well-meaning but not experienced nor skilled.

At Hank’s Guitar Shop, in Palm Harbor, we’re trying to help fill that void. Besides myself, we have a journeyman tech – Rick, an apprentice tech – John and another apprentice is set to apply this weekend.

We’re also offering hands-on Guitar Setup Workshops at the end of every month. Only eight students per class, so sign up online while you can.

The actual closing date for the Sam Ash Clearwater store hasn’t been determined yet. I think they’re going to try to wring all the marketing publicity they can out of their “Closing – Everything Must Go” sale, and set a date once sales dwindle. But, of course everything does not have to go because they can just move inventory to their Tampa store.

It seems that one of their techs is already trying to divert Sam Ash customers to his personal cel # and strike out on his own for supplemental income, since he seems to be a song-writer and singer first. Like rats scurrying to depart a sinking ship!

Good-bye Sammy and Clearwater Sam Ash Music Store – you are dearly missed!