Longtime East Sacramento guitar store to move to Curtis Park

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Longtime East Sacramento guitar store to move to Curtis Park

By Monica Stark



Because of the likes of corporations like Amazon, John Green, the owner of the Fifth String says he’s winding down the store’s retail operations to focus more on teaching and to offer performance space – something that only a personal touch can offer.

Green secured a location near Broadway that will provide more space for live performances and will benefit customers with adequate parking. “I like it down there (near Broadway) because it’s between city college and Sac State and it’s a really great location – it’s just a wonderful building.”

Green acquired 2900 Franklin Blvd., the former location of the short-lived ESH Gallery owned by estate sales mogul Jennie Krausse who told the Land Park News the gallery had been vacant since around the first of the year. “We just didn’t have time for it (the gallery). We’re just too busy.”

In addition to that location, the Fifth String will also occupy 1,500 square feet next to it on 4th Avenue, near the barbershop.

While Green’s leaving a charming 1920s building at 3184 N St. in East Sacramento, the price is high for what’s he’s been getting. “The problem with this building is the archaicness of how old it is in terms of its heating, air, plumbing and electricity. And the rents are high. The building doesn’t have adequate heating and air for the really hot days. All of that is a little bit of a problem.”

With a passion of teaching, he’s bringing along his seasoned staff to Broadway. “They are very happy with it. They love the feel as I do.”

And with that, he says it doesn’t feel weird to leave East Sac. “My passion and that of everybody here is teaching… It’s just crazy how long this business has been around, but retail changed. Retail’s pretty much a dying market. Everything about the store is great. It’s just time to move on. Going to the teaching side, that’s one thing you can’t get online very well, although I have a bunch online. God, I’ve been teaching the world how to play guitar the last three years on YouTube.”

A Certified Public Accountant, Green makes his money “fighting the IRS and tax preparation.” Many musicians in town receive accounting services from him and he plans on moving his CPA practice, along with the music school to the Broadway location. “Catch you all on the flip side,” he wrote in an announcement on his personal Facebook page.

Asked about some of his favorite memories of owning the Fifth String, Green’s stories are endless, however a couple of them really have really stuck with him. “It’s crazy actually how many people have played at the Fifth String or who are associated with the Fifth String. It’s just crazy.”

Recalling one such memory, Green recalled when Chris Hillman from the Byrds, Jerry Scheff who played bass for Elvis Presley, Bernie Leadon from the Eagles, and Al Perkins, session musician for Linda Ronstadt, walked into his store. “They were doing a Christian show at Warehouse Ministries and they just happened to drop in because they knew about my store. After that, I became a supplier of picks for them. They stayed all afternoon.” A favorite story of that day, he said, was when Bernie spoke about what it was like to have a No. 1 hit on the radio, but that he was too broke to buy a burrito. “It was their first hit. Walking down the streets of LA, listening to themselves on the radio but they were so broke they could barely get by.”

A Rio Americano High School graduate, class of 1972, Green said he began guitar playing after a ski accident. “I broke my knee on the ski slope and my uncle who had polio used to teach mildly mentally challenged kids how to play Jazz. So, he gave me a guitar because he didn’t walk well and told me to quit whining, that I’d walk again. He gave me a guitar and I took it up at 17 with a broken leg, or a broken knee to that effect.”

As local guitarist and Fifth String former employee Ross Hammond wrote in Midtown Monthly back in 2011: “The Fifth String isn’t really the type of place where you walk in, buy a set of guitar strings, and walk out.  The laid-back atmosphere and the staff’s warm encouragement to try all of the instruments on the wall is enough to keep a person there for the afternoon.  Green keeps the coffee pot brewing all day for customers, and will often find himself teaching free lessons on a variety of instruments on Saturdays. It’s more of a clubhouse or a musical barber shop than a guitar store.”

Bringing along his talented staff to Broadway, Green praises each one highly.

Staff include: Steve Randall (who has taught guitar to adults and older children for more than a decade), rock and metal guitarist and store’s manager of at least a decade Steven Ward; violinist and fiddle player Fiona Pulskamp, singer/songwriter Sherman Baker; local musician Julie Meyers who since 2004 has taught guitar, piano, ukulele, voice and bass; Scott Mota (musician who plays multiple styles on guitar and bass and teaches anything from rock to pop, jazz to blues, classical to metal) and Dave Shapiro (whose lengthy biography includes working with Jerry Garcia and Merle Saunders on music for the ’80s revival of the classic TV series “The Twilight Zone.” According to the bio on the Fifth String website: “Shapiro has worked with many well-known artists throughout a long career in the music business. Live performances, recording sessions, dance companies, musical theatre, television, and symphonies have all benefited from his skill as a player of fretted string instruments and his scores ranging from folk and country to R & B, swing, be-bop and big band jazz charts. He is one of the few musicians who is as knowledgeable about folk and roots music as he is about writing full scores and advanced music theory.”)



Also, of note, Hop Gardens Taproom starts construction this week inside the old Coffee Garden, which will be next door to the Fifth String. Hop Gardens hopes to open in late September to mid-October. It will feature a 25-foot bar top serving 24 of the best taps out there.

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