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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member Guitar Whiskey's Avatar
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    Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Being that I'm pretty much an old guy now I often think back fondly to being a kid around 1970 and hanging out in the best guitar shop I knew of at that time. Little did I know that this would shape the rest of my life. Back then, Ace was a store front on Santa Monica Blvd just up from Ocean Avenue, probably about 4th street. The two owner brothers (Hank and Jack) were great guys who answered all my juvenile questions and offered advice that I still live by to this day. It was amazing to be there and watch them work the deals with guys. This was a lesson in salesmanship for sure. I remember Jack was the one who I felt more connected to; he'd demo stuff for me and anybody that walked into the shop. Most of the guys that came in were older than me so a great opportunity to watch and learn from the more experienced. In the late 70's I moved from the area but went back years later to visit but the store had moved to Wilshire and the brothers were no longer there; don't know the history on this.

    Wondering if anyone knows what happened to Jack and Hank, or has any old photos of the shop (inside or outside) they can post. Would love to see pictures to relive some of those memories. So many amazing stories must have evolved from this excellent guitar shop.

    Side note; I remember agonizing over 2 guitars that I wanted to buy there which would become my first ELECTRIC guitar. One was a 64' Mustang for $75, the other a '65 Strat for $225 (too expensive for me then). Jack told me the smart thing to do is save up and get the Strat. Months later (seemed like years) my dad conviced me to get a new 71' ES 335TDC which was actually more expensive than the Strat, but sold it 5 years later. In hindsight should have got the Strat because #1, I would probably have kept that one because it was such a great guitar and #2 we all know which would cost more to purchase today.

  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member Jeff West's Avatar
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Isn't that where Albert Collins got his tele as used in his Alligator Records years? I'd heard that, back then, maybe from them.

    I used to drop in, in the later '70s, ca. '78 -'81. They had cool stuff, for prices that seem quaint now. I distinctly remember a pair of '50s P90s from an early goldtop they had for sale, which I nearly bought, complete with covers. $30 apiece, or maybe it was 30 for the pair. I intended to go back for 'em before flying out of LAX, but I didn't get around to it. I remember regretting it, jumped on one a little later for $50, which I still use constantly.

    As long as we're reminiscing, there was also a little music shop on Washington Blvd (I think- it might have been on Venice) near Venice High. When I would visit my parents near Palms and Sepulveda, I'd jog down there. It's long gone now, but at that time, ca. 1980 they always had several original Fender tweeds right on the floor, some in remarkable shape. This was before vintage amps really took off, even in L.A., so prices were modest. I did come out of 1981 with my tweed Champ (which I could just carry onto a plane), but sometimes wish I'd been a little more expansive at the time.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member K_L's Avatar
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    FWIW I found this little bit on the Internet:
    Truetone Music was founded in 1998 by co-owners Ken Daniels and Paul Flynn. After working for many years at Santa Monica's legendary Ace Music, Ken and Paul decided to open Truetone when the owners of Ace Music decided to close up the shop and retire. Through the years, we have built our reputation as one of the best music stores in Santa Monica.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member BGReed2's Avatar
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Do you remember Sol Betnun Music in Hollyweird?? I loved that place. Traded my '62 Bassman to Sol for a '58 Bassman (recovered in Tolex) that had "Crazy Horse 6" stenciled all over it. I regretted it because the '62 Bassman actually made a better guitar amp!!

    Ah, the old days!!
    Last edited by BGReed2; 10-17-19 at 02:02 PM.
    "Know tubes, know tone. No tubes, no tone"

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member Guitar Whiskey's Avatar
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Quote Originally Posted by BGReed2 View Post
    Do you remember Sol Betnun Music in Hollyweird?? I loved that place. Traded my '62 Bassman to Sol for a '58 Bassman (recovered in Tolex) that had "Crazy Horse 6" stenciled all over it. I regretted it because the Bassman actually made a better guitar amp!!

    Ah, the old days!!
    Yes I remember this was on Larchmont. Basically an old house used as a guitar shop. I bought a nice sunburst Gretsch Double Anniversary there without a case in 1975 or so for $175. Not really a top tier shop but certainly a great place to buy old guitars we now call vintage guitars.

  6. #6

    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Whiskey View Post
    Being that I'm pretty much an old guy now I often think back fondly to being a kid around 1970 and hanging out in the best guitar shop I knew of at that time. Little did I know that this would shape the rest of my life. Back then, Ace was a store front on Santa Monica Blvd just up from Ocean Avenue, probably about 4th street. The two owner brothers (Hank and Jack) were great guys who answered all my juvenile questions and offered advice that I still live by to this day. It was amazing to be there and watch them work the deals with guys. This was a lesson in salesmanship for sure. I remember Jack was the one who I felt more connected to; he'd demo stuff for me and anybody that walked into the shop. Most of the guys that came in were older than me so a great opportunity to watch and learn from the more experienced. In the late 70's I moved from the area but went back years later to visit but the store had moved to Wilshire and the brothers were no longer there; don't know the history on this.

    Wondering if anyone knows what happened to Jack and Hank, or has any old photos of the shop (inside or outside) they can post. Would love to see pictures to relive some of those memories. So many amazing stories must have evolved from this excellent guitar shop.

    Side note; I remember agonizing over 2 guitars that I wanted to buy there which would become my first ELECTRIC guitar. One was a 64' Mustang for $75, the other a '65 Strat for $225 (too expensive for me then). Jack told me the smart thing to do is save up and get the Strat. Months later (seemed like years) my dad conviced me to get a new 71' ES 335TDC which was actually more expensive than the Strat, but sold it 5 years later. In hindsight should have got the Strat because #1, I would probably have kept that one because it was such a great guitar and #2 we all know which would cost more to purchase today.
    I was wondering the same thing. I used to shop at Ace a lot in the 80s, 90s. Bought a LOT of guitars and amps and other stuff from Hank and Jack. I've been wondering what ever happened to them as well. Hope they're doing good. The best guitars I ever bought from them were a Les Paul Studio, several Yamahas off the used wall, an Explorer, a mint condition early 80s Charvel strat with an original MJ wound Duncan JB which is the best pickup I've ever owned to this day. Wish I still had it. Also bought a number of strats, had a lot of work done on my guitars. They also saved my neck many times when I came close to buying absolute junk at other shops like DiMarzio pickups (pure garbage!). They always insisted, "Get Duncans!" and they were right. I was crazy about customizing my axes with pickups and tuners, brass nuts, etc. I also used to buy old fuzz boxes and other effects from their shop, like an MXR Distortion Plus and Tube Screamers, etc. The sheer number of strings and picks I bought from them was staggering! I tried a Dumble at ace too. Someone just wanted to show it off, wouldn't see it to Hank and Jack. Wow did that amp sound amazing! Great memories of that place, miss it so damn much.

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Whiskey View Post
    Being that I'm pretty much an old guy now I often think back fondly to being a kid around 1970 and hanging out in the best guitar shop I knew of at that time. Little did I know that this would shape the rest of my life. Back then, Ace was a store front on Santa Monica Blvd just up from Ocean Avenue, probably about 4th street. The two owner brothers (Hank and Jack) were great guys who answered all my juvenile questions and offered advice that I still live by to this day. It was amazing to be there and watch them work the deals with guys. This was a lesson in salesmanship for sure. I remember Jack was the one who I felt more connected to; he'd demo stuff for me and anybody that walked into the shop. Most of the guys that came in were older than me so a great opportunity to watch and learn from the more experienced. In the late 70's I moved from the area but went back years later to visit but the store had moved to Wilshire and the brothers were no longer there; don't know the history on this.

    Wondering if anyone knows what happened to Jack and Hank, or has any old photos of the shop (inside or outside) they can post. Would love to see pictures to relive some of those memories. So many amazing stories must have evolved from this excellent guitar shop.

    Side note; I remember agonizing over 2 guitars that I wanted to buy there which would become my first ELECTRIC guitar. One was a 64' Mustang for $75, the other a '65 Strat for $225 (too expensive for me then). Jack told me the smart thing to do is save up and get the Strat. Months later (seemed like years) my dad conviced me to get a new 71' ES 335TDC which was actually more expensive than the Strat, but sold it 5 years later. In hindsight should have got the Strat because #1, I would probably have kept that one because it was such a great guitar and #2 we all know which would cost more to purchase today.
    I just joined on here this morning. I use to work at Ace Music-when they moved to Wilshire. Jack was there until about 1980+. Not sure when Hank sold/closed the store. .I am told Jack has since passed away. And that Hank lives up in the Calif. mountains. Loved working there.

  8. #8

    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Ken and Paul decided to open Truetone when the owners of Ace Music decided to close up the shop and retire lowes employee portal.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member Guitar Whiskey's Avatar
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    Re: Ace Music in Santa Monica Ca

    Thank you so much Ammeast for your contribution to this topic. There is so much good that came from this wonderful store. Miss that place.
    Last edited by Guitar Whiskey; 05-31-20 at 04:09 PM.

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