What's in Store

Rock On at King Guitar

The East Greenwich store is home to an impressive collection

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

Nothing can change my state of mind like great music. I may not be musically inclined, but I appreciate a good tune and the power it holds over me. So, when I was cruising down Main Street in East Greenwich last week and heard the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan swirling off the curb and into my car, I had to check it out.

As a blues-rock kind of gal, I expected to find a funky venue complete with a piano, drums, bass guitar and the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan himself strumming his heart away on an electric guitar. What I found instead was equally intriguing – King Guitar, a guitar lover’s paradise, a showroom featuring well over a hundred premium guitars and gear from manufactures such as Tom Anderson, Guitar Works, ESP, EVH, Bogner, Engl, 3 Monkeys, Gibson and more.

For you guitar enthusiasts, this shop is the piéce de resistance of all things guitar related. Located in East Greenwich, the store’s atmosphere has a definite studio feel but is melded to that of a sensational art gallery. Owner Brad King has been in the guitar biz for over 20 years and is pretty much a one-man show at the store. “My place is all about one thing – the very best in guitar deals,” he says with cool enthusiasm. “When folks come in to check out our guitars or look for guitar-related info, they’re going to get to chat with me, and I have a real good memory when it comes to remembering people and their guitars.”

As someone who has played guitar all of his life, Brad knows his stuff and has made a popular name for himself in the industry because of his immense knowledge of all things guitar. Big name bands from Boston, New York and all over the country seek his expertise on a near daily basis because of his understanding, enthusiasm and super-eclectic inventory, which includes both vintage and cutting-edge high-end guitars.

A perfect day in his world is when he can buy a-half-dozen guitars to add to the store’s already impressive range. “Buying guitars to sell is my passion, and helping folks put their hands on that perfect one, no matter how many times they want to stop in and visit, play and try things out before they make a purchase, is what King Guitar is all about,” he says.

King Guitar has been open in its Main Street location for a year now, but guitar buffs know them from their previous Ladd Street digs, which was a mega warehouse for collectible guitars of all makes and models, many from Brad’s on-the-road travels. Before that, King had a popular shop in Virginia and admits that some of his best memories are the long road trips he would take in search of guitars that couldn’t be found any place else but in old country pawn shops that still had sawdust dancing on the plank floors.

Though the internet and on-line shopping such as eBay changed all that, he still travels regularly between Hollywood and Rhode Island where he continuously adds to his stock with everything from cool, vintage 1 bass guitars to sophisticated boutique items such as Tom Anderson guitars – an Eric Clapton favorite.

There is something very casual and relaxing about this place, and though I should feel totally out of my league with such refined inventory like Fender and Gibson, I’m like a kid in a candy shop wanting to hold and touch as many of these awe-inspired beauties as I can.

Not knowing one guitar from the next, I’m intrigued by the astounding display of vibrant, soulful guitars artfully arranged in the long, narrow store which totally evokes a ‘50s, retro vibe. In the center aisle is the unexpected – a homey sofa where I plop down easily and scope out these smooth and sleek instruments that surround me.

Brad is more than accommodating with guests like myself, who visit his shop out of interest and who are not necessarily “in the know” about guitars. His low-key and generous manner offer a zero pressure invitation to those who want to hold and even play any guitar in the shop regardless if a sale is going to be made. “We’re not really an outfit for beginners, but I am happy to share my insight and recommendations to anyone in the market for a good guitar,” shares Brad with a grin. It’s the true guitar lover, however, who frequents this unique haven for quality merchandise on a regular basis. The average priced guitar is $1,500 and long-time players visit often because the inventory is so rare, and they know they can pick Brad’s brain for as much info as they want, and that he will always deliver.

But regardless of whether customers are window shopping like myself or ready to walk away with a pricey Fender, Jimi Hendrix’s go-to guitar, you’re
guaranteed a colorful experience. “Guitars are like paint,” equates Brad. “You need a variety of colored paint to make a room come alive just as you need many different guitar types to capture the range and balance of sound.”

176 Main Street, East Greenwich. 884-2363.

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