If you are in the market for a new or used guitar, you won't find a better place to buy it than right here in Alpharetta, Georgia. Righteous Guitars on Hembree Road is more than just a guitar store; it is an experience.
Last year, I decided that I wanted to learn the guitar. What better way to pass the time under lockdown? So, I began my search, where I usually do, with Google. Of course, the big national chain dominated the search results. But since I needed to be able to look at a wide variety, I began there.
But soon, I realized, I needed to buy local. After all, I had been supporting local businesses as much as possible during the pandemic. Why wouldn't I do the same with what I considered a significant purchase? So, I switched over to Google Maps and found a shop just a few miles up the road. I showed up there, money in hand, ready to be sold a guitar.
A disappointing experience, to say the least. So, I'm back browsing the big box guitar store. Meanwhile, I'm on YouTube scoping out lessons and learning everything I can about buying and playing the guitar.
And that's when I got lucky.
I was watching another video about how to select and buy a guitar. The guy walks into the store with what looked like a thousand guitars. He was greeted at the door, taken on a tour of the store, and hand-held through the process. Just when I was wondering why I couldn't find a place like that and was about to click off the video, I heard it.
"...right here in Alpharetta, Georgia."
Wait, what?!? What was the name of the place?
It turns out it was Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta, Georgia. So, I Googled it, found the site, and made an appointment for the next day. And the rest, as they say, is history.
During the pandemic, they were only showing by appointment, but that was okay. It meant fewer people in the store, and I knew I needed and wanted some personal attention. I shouldn't have worried about that because that's the way Ben Calhoun runs his store.
My original budget for my new guitar was around $300 - I was thinking Yamaha. I could afford more, but I didn't want to spend a lot on the first one, knowing that I would upgrade once I knew what I wanted to play. Ben met me at the door and handed me off to Jeff, whom I would know as my personal sales guy and technician.
He talked a bit about the store and asked me what type of music I had in mind. I knew for sure that I wanted an acoustic, so he showed me the massive wall of acoustic guitars behind the counter. This was opposite the just as huge wall of electric guitars on the opposite wall.
As I gazed up at the first models on the upper left of the wall, I saw prices in the five-figure range. Thinking I had made a mistake, I continued down and to the right. Realizing they were all in price order, I immediately walked to the other end and looked at the two on the bottom right.
$500. Okay, I can do that. There were several Taylors in that price range. I hadn't heard of Taylor before, but then again, I wasn't familiar with most of the brands in the store. I talked to Jeff about the ones down there, and he told me about Taylor and the company. Impressed, I told him I wanted to try a couple.
t this point, when I was in the other store, the guy took the guitar off the wall and handed it to me. At Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta, Georgia, Jeff took two models off the wall and told me to come with him. I followed him into a private sound-proofed room, where he proceeded to make sure both models were in tune.
He then told me to have fun, shut the door, and left.
About all I remembered from my youth was how to play a couple of chords, so I strummed both guitars for a few minutes. To my untrained ear, they were identical. So, I picked one at random and took it out to Jeff and told him, "I'll take this one."
As he began writing up the order, I told him I would probably want a case. He said to me that this model comes with a free case. Okay, I thought, that knocked some money off the budget. I then asked about strings. I remembered playing when I was a kid; I broke a lot of strings. And that's when he really sealed the deal for me.
"At Righteous, all of our guitars come with free strings for life. Just bring it in every three months, and we will restring it for free and check the setup."
I didn't know what a setup was then, but I knew free. I could also do basic math and understood the investment they were making in their customers. I asked about a stand and tuner. Those weren't free.
By the time three months rolled around, I knew a lot more about what I wanted to play and the guitar models they carried at Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta, Georgia. So, I made my appointment to get new strings, still excited about this perk. As Jeff took my guitar up on the bench and started cutting strings, he asked, "Anything you want to look at while I finish this?"
Hook, line, and sinker.
They knew what they were doing, but the experience was so pleasant, I didn't mind. And I knew I would want a new one at some point. Given that he was also a fingerstyle player, I asked for recommendations and gave him a general budget. We were soon back in the same sound room with three new toys.
I left there with new strings and a commitment I made to myself. I would try out new guitars on the subsequent two visits. Then on my first anniversary, I would leave the store with two guitars.
That anniversary is a few weeks off, and I am pretty sure I know which model I will be buying. But I also know that Righteous Guitars in Alpharetta, Georgia, had made a customer, and a friend, for life. If you shop there, I'm sure you will feel the same.