Luthier and founder of circle ropes and Isis Guitars, Adam Buchwald, has teamed up with guitar collector Benjamin MacIntyre to open Ben & Bucky Guitar Shop. The store’s grand opening this weekend includes equipment and instrument demonstrations, live performances, raffles and an art exhibition on Friday October 28 and Saturday October 29 at its Williston Road location in South Burlington.
The shop is located next to Buchwald’s workshop, where he makes his custom instruments. The luthier, who built a custom acoustic guitar for Phish’s Trey Anastasio last year, started thinking about having a showroom to display his wares.
“Originally, I was just going to convert one of our offices into a showroom,” Buchwald explained as he sat next to MacIntyre in his new storefront. “But we were growing so fast as a company that I really needed the office.”
When his landlord alerted Buchwald that space next to his business was opening up, he jumped at the chance. He and MacIntyre had become friends in recent years, and he knew the latter was considering opening a store to show off his growing collection of vintage guitars.
“I was thinking of starting a kind of walk-in shop in my own house,” MacIntyre said. “But then Adam came to me with this idea and I had to go. This kind of store hadn’t existed in Burlington – or Vermont, really – for years.”
Buchwald and MacIntyre fondly recall the days when vintage and boutique instruments weren’t so hard to come by in Vermont.
“When I went to UVM, there were stores like Calliope and Vermont Folk Instruments,” Buchwald said. “Places where you could play quality, handmade gear, as opposed to a bunch of imports and mass-produced crap.”
“Now you basically have two guitar centers here,” MacIntyre said. “There’s nothing wrong with going to a place like this for a lot of things, but we want to offer something different.”
Indeed, the inventory at Ben & Bucky’s is made up of some hard-to-find, custom-made brands such as D’Angelico, Superand Harmony guitars, as well as boutique amplifier brands such as His milkmandirected by Burlington expat Tim Marcus.
The majority of the guitars snagged in the new showcase come from MacIntyre’s collection or from his online hunting trips browsing sources like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for vintage instruments. Shopping online has shown her how vital it is to have a physical storefront like Ben & Bucky’s.
“It’s so important to go into a store and play these guitars,” MacIntyre said. “A 1965 Fender Stratocaster won’t sound the same as another 1965 Strat. You have to have the guitar in your hands before you know.”
This logic works the same way for Buchwald and the custom ISIS and Circle Strings guitars he makes.
“I’ve never had a place where I could bring a client to a nice place and have them play the guitar I made for them,” Buchwald said. “We really wanted that. The idea is to have all kinds of our guitars hanging in the showroom with all the different brands and types of wood, all that stuff, so customers can see what they might like. in their custom build.”
In addition to vintage inventory and custom instruments, the store offers unparalleled instrument repair resources. Buchwald has one of only two Plek Machinery throughout New England, a computer numerical control system used to service and repair guitar frets.
“When I returned to Vermont in 2008, there was nowhere to see vintage gear and high-quality custom stuff,” Buchwald claimed. “Ben and I want to provide that and provide service to all the amazing musicians in the community.”
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