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Old 02-06-2010, 03:03 PM
bluesbassdad bluesbassdad is offline
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Location: Arizona central highlands
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Default My Favorite Guitar Store: McCabe's of Long Beach

Shortly after I moved to Long Beach, CA in the late 80's, I discovered that Santa Monica wasn't the only city with a McCabe's. The one in Long Beach was owned by Kurt Wheaton and had no connection with the bigger, better known store.

During an average visit I would have the opportunity to play three or four quality guitars. Not only Martin, Taylor and Larrivée, but also Lowden, Santa Cruz, Collings and others. All I recall from the budget wall is Seagull; I bought an SM-6 mainly to keep myself from spending more than I could afford for all-Koa Taylor concert model. Come to think of it, my son prompted me to buy it. And he talked me out of that guitar a few years ago. Hmmm...

I wasn't (and am not) a very good player. If my son wasn't with me I would sometimes ask Kurt to interrupt a repair job and demonstrate a guitar that I found appealing. I thought he was a pretty good fingerpicker. However, he said guitar players as good as him were a dime a dozen, and that he was learning to play dobro, players of that instrument being a relatively rare commodity. I don't recall that he ever had one in the store, though.

Not only did Kurt introduce me to the world beyond Martin and Taylor, he also presented solo guitarists in concert right there in the store. Harvey Reid. Duck Baker. Duck along with Molly Andrews (?). Chris Proctor. Local artist, Tom Long. I had always been a fan of Chet Atkins and Doc Watson, but I had no idea how many superb players were out there.

A limited stock of CD's introduced me to several other artists: Laurence Juber, Bill Mize, Norman Blake, Martin Simpson, Phil Keaggy, Peppino D'Agostino, Catfish Keith, Adrian Legg, Pat Kirtley, Tom Ball, Pat Donohue ...

Perhaps the business was under-capitalized and would have ended anyway, but the devastating impact of the 1992 riots spelled doom for many businesses in that part of Long Beach. I don't believe McCabe's ever opened its doors after the fires were put out and life started to return to normal. I know I was reluctant to drive into the area.

I know that Kurt continued to do repair work elsewhere after the shop closed, but I eventually lost track of him. I'd like to think he's found a way to continue to make a contribution to the world through his love of music. A web search reveals old mentions, such as one on Kevin Ryan's site, but nothing to indicate what he's doing now.

I miss McCabe's of Long Beach. There'll never be another shop like it for me.
Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

A veteran is someone who at one point in his or her life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:09 PM
NWBruce NWBruce is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
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Smile McCabes

In 1976 I bought a Guild D-50 at McCabes in Long Beach. I assumed it was still there. I now live in Washington State (God's country). I'm taking lessons and playing my guitar daily for the past month. It has been neglected for years. I'm lovin it now and plan to keep progressing. Sorry to hear that the shop is no longer. I'm new to this forum.
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Old 08-09-2021, 06:49 AM
H165 H165 is offline
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Location: The Woods; OC, CA
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I'd like to think he's found a way to continue to make a contribution to the world through his love of music.
For a while after the shop closed, Kurt's was in Bend, OR. Might still be there. To the misfortune of many who dealt with him, he was a far better music lover than businessman.
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Old 08-09-2021, 10:25 AM
PatrickMadsen PatrickMadsen is offline
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Location: Blaine, Washington
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I remember hanging out at McCabes, in the late '50's or early '60's, when it was in Pasadena, Calif. on Colorado Blvd. Many a time we would go to the music room and sit and listen to the Sons of the Pioneers jammin' there for hours. It seemed like hours then.

They showed my brother and I how to play "Cool Water". I may have been 10 or 11 then. As long as we sat quietly, they'd let us sit in and listen. Even got to carry a few instruments out to their cars when they were done.
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