Gilmore Music
1935 E. 7th St.
Long Beach CA 90813
Phone: (562) 599-1369
Mon –Thurs: 10am – 7pm
Fri–Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 11am – 4pm
Clinton Gilmore, Owner

Clinton Gilmore is the second-generation owner of Gilmore Music, which has been serving the Long Beach CA music community from the same location since 1944. Gilmore’s father, Glenn, first opened the store as an instrument repair shop and music school.

“During World War II, he worked at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, and he got used to working with his hands,” Gilmore explained. “As a musician, he was then able to turn that into an instrument repair business.”

Slowly but surely, instrument sales were introduced into the business as customers would drop their instruments off for repair and neglect to pick them up. “He would have to sell them in order to make up for the cost of the repair and, eventually, we turned into a full-line music shop,” Gilmore said.

Although Gilmore didn’t officially take the reins at the store until the late 1980s/early 1990s, he was involved with the store from an early age, making extra money by coming in after school to sweep the floors and, eventually, working days at the store while playing with his band at night. He was there to witness the rise of rock ‘n’ roll music, noting on the store’s Web site, “The Beatles and the Rolling Stones influenced the youth and young adults who came to Gilmore Music for VOX and Fender electric instruments. It was so cool to actually stock the same instruments that these super groups used.” Gilmore was also there in the 1970s to witness a change in the music industry that, he said, forever altered Gilmore Music’s business model.

“It wasn’t the same as it was before,” he began. “There was a new corporate structure in place that had more to do with numbers than with customer service.” He continued, “Suddenly, these companies started wanting my father to order more product than he could handle, so he had to start canceling lines. Whereas, before, we carried all the major lines, we now have only a few of them.”

That shift hasn’t hurt Gilmore Music at all. The store carries a wide variety of instruments from some lesser-known manufacturers, as well as others that have grown into household names since the store took them on. Examples include Mackie, Peavey, Shure, Audio-Technica, AKG, George Vincent, Stagg, Recording King, Johnson, AXL and Vineyard Guitars, among many others.

“We can’t complete with the brands that are sold online for cutthroat prices,” Gilmore admitted. “We basically stuck to the idea that, if we can’t make a profit on it, we won’t carry it.” He noted that customers seem less focused on brand names now than they were in the past, saying, “Our research brings us to sturdy and reasonably priced instruments that we can put our warranty behind.” He added, “Most of our customers want something that catches the eye and meets their needs. Usually, that’s the mid-priced instruments.”

come in
every day bringing in turntables to be fixed. It’s turned into quite an interesting addition
to our

The willingness and freedom to experiment with brands has come in handy as Gilmore expands his product offerings to keep up with customer demand. One instrument in which he has seen a lot of growth is the ukulele. “We now sell one or two every day, and we have a wall full of them,” he said. Gilmore carries instruments from Makai, Ohana, Kukui, Woodnote and Luna.

Recently, Gilmore Music has also gotten into the turntable business. The store not only sells new and used turntables, but also offers accessories like needles, belts and cleaning supplies as an add-on to its growing record player repair business.

“People come in every day bringing in turntables to be fixed,” Gilmore remarked. “That’s something that was initiated by one of my employees who was really into vinyl, and it’s turned into quite an interesting addition to our business. Ten years ago, you would have never expected that to be the case.”

Gilmore makes sure to leave a store card at nearby record stores because, as he said, “The record stores are more likely to sell records if people have turntables that work. It’s beneficial both to us and to them.”

Another area in which Gilmore Music has expanded is ethnic instruments. A large Latino population has developed in the area over the years, creating a demand for mariachi and ranchero instruments, such as the button accordion and the guitarron.

“Ethnic instruments add to our presence in that community,” Gilmore affirmed. “We found out about them, we stock them and, now, the Latino community comes in to buy and repair them. We are always looking for instruments like that.” He has also altered his customer-service strategy to assist this growing demographic. “At the time, I had one Spanish-speaking guitar teacher, and I always needed him to translate,” Gilmore said. “Now, I make sure to hire employees who speak Spanish and who can relate to that population.”

Customer service is a big part of Gilmore Music’s overall, long-term success strategy. The store currently has two employees in the sales department, as well as two in repairs and eight music teachers. Gilmore makes sure that each of them knows to treat customers with warmth and respect.

“If you go to a music store like Guitar Center, you are overloaded with gear, but no one is there to talk to you,” Gilmore lamented. “And, if you do find someone, they pressure you.” He continued, “Ours is a low-pressure approach; we offer great knowledge and we have good quality merchandise.”

According to Gilmore, “I was talking with one of my long-time customers and I asked him what it was about our store that kept him coming back. He said trust.” He concluded, “That customer trusts us to steer him right and be fair in our pricing. He also trusts our repair service to the degree that he doesn’t even try the instrument before he leaves the store. Now that’s what I call trust!”

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