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The “World’s Largest Music Store, the Great Great House of Guitars” (Rochester Blog)

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House of Guitars in Rochester

The HOG: a Rochester Landmark

Me in Front of the House of GuitarsThe House of Guitars in Rochester is one unique place. Not only is the actual business itself a little strange and fun, but tons of famous musicians from all different types of music and all over the world have visited this place – including Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Cheap Trick, Metallica, Matthew Sweet, Zakk Wylde, and MANY more national recording artists as well. In a way, it has become the official Rochester meeting spot for national recording artists who visit the area.

The House of Guitars (HOG) has been around since the 1960s, started by owner Shaurbroeck and his brothers in the basement of their mother’s house. Though they started small, they found a way to climb onto the musical stage – by being the first American vendor to sell the guitars and amps The Beatles were playing. They also soon became known for (and still are) their odd TV commercials, starting in the ‘60s by playing rock music and encouraging their viewers to grow their hair long.

Over the years the HOG has become more than a place that sells guitars and amps. While they are still known for their vintage instruments, they also have what surely must be the largest collection of CDs, cassettes, vinyl, etc. in the area. When shopping for a CD, concert t-shirt, keyboard, amp, or guitar, this is definitely the place to go – if they don’t have it, they’ll know where to find it.

Albums and Memorabilia for SaleBut the HOG has also become more than a store. Split into three sections, the store dedicates one room to guitars, one to amps, and another to CDs. There are also side rooms, a stage, and a second floor. Having been visited by tons of national recording artists, the HOG also has signed memorabilia and pictures all over their walls and on display. Tons of signed guitars hang all over each room of the building. Signed photographs cover one wall as you enter the CD room. Artists have even signed the actual walls of the building, from the floor to the ceiling.

I’ve visited the HOG many times and remember their unique TV and radio ads from the ‘90s – “The Store that Ate my Brain,” “Come to the World’s Largest Music Store, the Great Great House of Guitars,” and their unique claymation Christmas TV ad where the House of Guitars saves Christmas by providing Santa with gifts and a “Blue-Nosed Guitar Man” to light the way. They have become a music icon in the Rochester area and a hub for all national recording artists. In many ways, it has helped put Rochester on the map for national tours and serves as a priceless museum for the history of some of the world’s best recording artists.

Here’s one of their TV commercials from 1978.

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James Hallahan is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.


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