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Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Longtime Herb David Guitar Studio sells inventory quickly as it prepares to shut its doors

By Kody Klein


Spencer Chako looks at acoustic guitars at Herb David Guitar Studio during their liquidation sale on Wednesday.

Courtney Sacco I

Efforts to liquidate inventory at Herb David Guitar Studio were in full-force Wednesday evening, after announcing Tuesday the store would be closing after 50 years of business at the corner of Fifth and Liberty streets, in Ann Arbor.

In the 24 hours following the announcement, customers have flocked to the store to scoop up instruments and accessories at a marked-down rate. By Wednesday evening, it appeared that nearly half of the guitars usually lining the southern wall of the studio were gone.

A customer walking through the shop asked about a Fender Jazzmaster and was told by an employee that it sold that morning.


Aaron Smith looks over the banjo he has purchased during the Herb David Guitar Studio liquidation sale on Wednesday.

Courtney Sacco I

Of the remaining inventory, the most expensive items were marked down by $100 or more.

Adrian Smith said he and his daughter have taken lessons at the studio for five years and he bought both of their guitars from there.

"It's a shame," Smith said. "It's really an Ann Arbor institution."

Smith was playing a banjo that he was considering buying. Given the markdown, he said the deal might be too good to pass up.

Sean Rogers, the store's general manager, said even though the retail store is closing, he is hoping to rent the building's second floor so lessons can continue.

"I'm in the process negotiating with Herb and (his wife) Andrea, trying to figure out what they would want to rent the second floor to teach lessons out of," he said. "If it's going to happen, my hope would be to do it as soon as possible so there's not a lot of time for students to find other places to go or lose interest. I'd like to make it a clean transition."

The studio will officially close its doors on March 31.

Kody Klein is an intern for Reach him at


John Henry

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

Congrats to Herb David on a great career and a great store. Enjoy your retirement because you deserve it. To everyone else---lighten up!! Nothing lasts forever, things come and go. One nice thing about A2 is that great things always come and go. Herb's store is gone, somewhere somehow something new in this town will touch our hearts as it always does. Stop complaining about the underground parking, lol. Even if it had never been built, do you think Herb would never have retired?? Thanks, Mr. David. Great store and cool vibe!!

Jessica Webster

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

I am very very sad to see this world class guitar shop disappear from downtown, but I was thrilled to pick up a new bass at a very low price this afternoon.

John Counts

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Sad to see this place go. If I didn't already have my fair share of guitars (4), I'd be inclined to snatch one up. I've heard of some folks who got some killer deals.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

People do not sit under trees and play guitar anymore, unless you want to go to the Diag and hang out with the teenage runaways. Herb has decided to retire and someone will be very successful in that spot, now that hundreds of people can park right next door.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

...I see that the reason (retirement) was sited as being given by Herb's wife in a separate article. Still, it would be nice to have had that mentioned here too.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I'm sad to see this insitution go. Does Herb have no public comment on the reason for the closing? The report should at least mention if that's the case. Sorry if I missed that part, but it's an important piece of information, even if all you can say is that Herb didn't care to publicly comment.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

He's retiring.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Oh i see... the only truth thats fit to print is that its the DDAs fault, not Herbs choice

Alan Haber

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Repeating yesterdays comment when i heard of the store closing: Herb is a beautiful man. a big heart, a fellow craftsman who spreads music, provides service and cares about the community, what could be better. As near as i could tell he was disrespected and ill treated by the powers that be, and the process that is, and may well have gotten tired of dealing with them and it. Maybe the DDA could help seed and spark a start-up of young musicians to move the studio music and culture service into a second half century on its cherished corner of Liberty and Fifth. It would be nice if the workers could take over the store, or something like it could be its successor, but there is no replacing Herb David, 50 years plus of integrity in business gives a man a sage perspective. i hope Herb will be more about town, and people will listen to what he has to say.

Milton Shift

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Why are they closing? What a bummer.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Hi Milton- The owner, Herb David, is retiring:

Mike Nowak

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

How do you know the parking garage is a factor? Plus the parking garage has been open for months now. If it was a factor, wouldn't they have rebounded by now?


Sun, Mar 17, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

So Johnny, the drop of 50% in business was the economy, not the big dig that coincendentally affected neighboring businesses in precisely the same way?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

Oh please. A guitar is one of the first things people will cut during a recession. It could be that Best Buy opened a music store in their facility and other competition are kicking their butts. I would say a guitar shop is probably one of the LEAST effected businesses by lack of walk by traffic.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

There's no rebound in a few months from a several YEAR long decimation.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Earthen Jar has reported something very similar. Very low business during construction, and only slowly returning now.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

I wonder if the 50% drop could have come from a former employee of his opening a very successful high end destination guitar shop (Detroit Guitar) in birmingham.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

I don't "know", but I have been following the story all along so it's pretty obvious. Here's a quote from the previous article: "David told in December 2012 that the closure of Fifth Avenue during the construction of the underground parking garage led to a 50-percent drop in sales, although lessons and repair business held steady. At that time, he said, the business returned "little-by-little" as traffic on the street was restored." Tough for a small business to weather an extended period of half of their normal sales. What do you think?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

But we sure have a swell parking garage. So now Barracuda is downtown (deal of the year!) and Herb David is going out of business. Welcome to Neuvo Ann Arbor.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

"Nuevo". I'm dyslexic, but only in Spanish.

Mike Nowak

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

I'm glad Oz Music is still around.

T Wall

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

In 1967 I traded in my banjo and electric guitar to Herb for a beautiful Guild guitar with the serial number 1967. I still use my Guild today when I play a character called "Captain Driver Ed." and sing a song called "Crap In Your Head Causes Accidents" It's unfortunate to see that the Herb David Studio is leaving our community, in part, because of an underground garage this our city did not need at this time. To this day I am saddened when I drive by and see the underground parking garage, I always felt that the city of Ann Arbor needed a Common Area with lots of shaded trees where we could enjoy concerts in the summer and ice skating in the winter. There was a way the City could have done this and not lost any revenue. I am certain if the people of Ann Arbor would have been able to vote on building the underground garage, it would have never been built and maybe Herb would still be in business today.