Getfiddle Custom Shop on Making Guitars and Building a Music Community

 

Emily C. Roush

The Ashland Beacon

   Getfiddle Custom Shop is the passion project of owner Travis Piatt. For years, he built and worked on guitars as a side business. On July 13, 2018 he opened the store at 1549 Winchester Avenue. Piatt is originally from the Ashland area and operated a guitar business out of his home in Grayson before moving to Texas. His job in Texas became too demanding and time consuming to continue working on guitars. He made the decision to move back to Kentucky and open a full-time store. There was no question that he wanted to be downtown in Ashland. He remembered the downtown area as a bustling place of stores and activities in his childhood. “There were people downtown. I can remember when I was a kid going downtown to get a Christmas tree, and there were people downtown,” he recalled. Piatt also noted that when he was younger, there were places in the community that had open mic nights and encouraged musicians. It was in his teenage years that observed a shift where fewer people spent time downtown. He noticed the efforts in recent years to bring people downtown including a variety of street fairs and festivals like First Friday, Poage Landing Days, and Firkin Fest. He wanted his store to be part of that momentum.

   Getfiddle Custom Shop sells both new and used guitars, guitar parts and accessories. In the store’s basement workshop, Piatt and staff build guitars in-house as well as service and restore any type of guitar, including vintage ones.   “I don’t think people quite understand the full extent of what we can do to their guitars. We do custom builds. We can paint them and do all that. They can buy pre-painted, and we can just do the setup.”

     In addition to merchandise, the store also sells gift cards and vintage records. For this holiday season, they will be offering sales such as 10 to 20% off on guitars during Black Friday. On Small Business Saturday, the 10th customer to enter the store will receive a $25 gift card they can use that day. Getfiddle offers 0% financing through Affirm, as well as layaway options. Customers can also view the store’s items and shop online at getfiddlecustomshop.com.

   Among the benefits of shopping at locally owned businesses are the connections and relationships that customers can build with store owners and employees. Piatt’s goal with Getfiddle Custom Shop is to provide a personalized experience, building guitars that will best meet the needs of their new owners.   “We are a custom shop, 100 percent,” explained Piatt. They can build guitars from scratch as well as make custom additions to any of the premade guitars they stock. Parts and accessories can be added to guitars purchased elsewhere. Piatt will help customers find the best options for them. “When you buy strings, you may not like it, but I’m most likely going to tell you everything I know about guitar strings in the time period that you are looking at guitar strings,” Piatt laughed. He continued, “I want you to know what you are buying and that it will work with your guitar.”

   Whether a guitar is completely built in-house or pre-assembled and enhanced with some customizations, Piatt and his team strive to offer an instrument that is of superior quality than what can be purchased through big box stores and factory websites. Piatt explained that a guitar sold in these places is often made in large scale factory operation. “It has been assembly lined. No one that really plays guitar probably put that guitar together. That was just their job to put the neck on it or the pickups on it.” He gave the example of a stock Fender guitar that is sold on the company’s website for $900. “We buy all the parts through Fender. We buy necks, pickups, bodies, all of that stuff.” Getfiddle takes the Fender parts to create a one-of-a-kind guitar. “On our guitar, we have upgraded the pickups compared to what the $900 model is. We have upgraded the neck. You couldn’t buy these parts individually for $900.” Because the guitar is now assembled in-house at Getfiddle by one to two experts, the prices are comparable if not cheaper than what a shopper can find at big box enterprises. He also added that setting up the guitar is included in the price. Making the guitar this way also ensures its quality. “The guitar is going to be 100 percent better. It’s going to play better because we’re not going to put it out on the floor if it doesn’t,” said Piatt.    

   In addition to providing high quality instruments at competitive prices, Getfiddle Custom shop can create or tweak a guitar to meet the needs and specifications of each individual player factoring in their skill and experience level. Piatt explains that buying a guitar from a big box store or chain website can mean that a customer is taking a chance as they do not know what the guitar will sound like. People often bring stock guitars purchased elsewhere to shops like Getfiddle to be serviced and repaired until their instruments sound and feel right. This process is especially daunting for a shopper buying a customer for the first time. Piatt noted that first-time buyers often do not know where to begin. He joked that they will often say. “Just give me whatever. I just need a guitar.” Getfiddle’s staff guide customers through the process. Piatt will let customers hold and sit with different guitars to find the model that feels right. He explained, “I will sit a guitar in their lap and teach them a G chord and say ‘strum.’” He does this with multiple models so the customer can get a feel for the different instruments. “I will ask, ‘what felt better? Which one felt more comfortable?” Piatt believes it is important for a new guitar player to feel at ease with the guitar they chose, because feeling comfortable will make them confident with their learning process.

   In addition to making, selling, and servicing guitars, Piatt wants Getfiddle Custom Shop to be a collaborative and community building space. “We are trying to bring the community together. We would like to build our community around music. We want to be at the forefront of trying to get other venues to take in musical acts, whether it be a restaurant or whatever it is. We also have a stage. As soon as we are allowed, we would like to utilize that as much as we can. We want to do more than just have a band play. We want to have musicians come in, meet, greet, and hang out.” Additionally, he plans for the store to be a place where local musicians and bands can sell their merchandise. Piatt also sees music has a way to develop the local economy and draw visitors to Ashland. “If we want this place to thrive, music can do it. Music brings people.” His dream is to build a thriving music scene where multiple downtown locations have performances. He feels this would encourage people to linger downtown, hopping between restaurants and stores to check out performances. Piatt believes in Ashland and the downtown, “We have a really cool place.”

   Getfiddle Custom Shop is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information about the store can be found online at getfiddlecustomshop.com and on social media on Facebook and Instagram.


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