Herb David Guitar Studio remembered by loyal and thankful customer
Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com
My own connection to Herb David was pretty recent. Just less 10 years ago, I began taking guitar lessons there. I was a tremendously shy 12-year-old who had little self-confidence and not much to be proud of. I wasn't athletic in the slightest, I didn't have many friends, I wasn't the most strikingly handsome kid in school, but playing guitar was something I could hang onto, something that set me apart. Sure, there were other kids who played — and better than I did — but it still was pretty limited in those days.
It wasn't for another year or so that it seemed like everyone and their brother knew how to play guitar. I wouldn't even say I got particularly good for quite a while, but it was something to strive for, something I kept with and didn't give up even if it took a while to catch on.
During my time taking lessons, the studio was the only place to go for pretty much anything music-related. I got an electric guitar there for Christmas. A mandolin for a later Christmas. My instruments went there for repairs, and I was always satisfied with the results. I didn't have much interaction with Herb himself, but when I did, he was gracious, funny, and approachable.
I was in awe of a man who had repaired the guitars of Eric Clapton, let John Lennon take a seat in the shop (in an old wooden chair that was there presumably to the last day), and probably had interacted with countless other legendary musicians. Basically, if a guitar player came to Ann Arbor and needed repairs, they went to Herb. In reality, I was in awe of all the employees; all of them were friendly and incredibly knowledgeable.
My guitar teacher, Sean Rogers, was terrific. I regret that after moving away to college, I lost touch with him and with the store as a whole, but it was never far from my heart. I think I owe a lot to Sean, and to that little shop on the corner.
It may be clichÃ© to say that learning an instrument gave me self-confidence, a sense of purpose, discipline, patience, etc., but I believe all those things are true, both for me and for millions of kids out there. I hope that each and every employee of Herb David Guitar Studio, even if they are out of work for a while, walk away knowing they inspired countless people to pick up an instrument and start playing. And while I'm tremendously sad to see it go, I congratulate them for 51 years in business. That's no small feat, no matter where you are.
I don't play in bars. I don't have a band. I've tried writing songs and have been less than successful. But music is still an essential part of my life, and every time I pick up my guitar, I'll know that every note I play comes from that place, and I'll never forget it.
Conor McShane is an Ann Arbor resident.