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Dealer Spotlight

MH: Neal, tell us how you got your start in this business.
NS: I started as a musician just trying to get the best deals on gear for my personal use. Picked up a few guitars at great prices, played them for a while, then sold them at a profit! So I started out doing the buying and selling of music gear as a part time thing while I was doing roofing with my father. I was just about ready to get my own contractors license and realized I was starting to make more money buying and selling music gear than doing roofing, so I quit the roofing and went full time with dealing in used music gear and built my business.

MH: Tell us about your musical influences and if this affects the guitars you search for.
NS: I have been playing guitar for 25 years now, started at age 15 in the late 70s. My first influences were Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Rush Then the 80s came and I fell in Love with the new hard rock and metal bands like GNR, LA Guns, Ratt, Poison, Motley Crue and Metallica. I was in a band at the time called Scorch. Scorch was similar to GNR and LA Guns etc. We played the Whiskey, the Roxy, The Central "Now the Viper Room" etc. I saw Motley
Crue at the Whiskey, Ratt at Gazarries, Metallica at the Country Club in Reseda when they were just starting out! So of course I wanted to play the guitars these metal bands were playing and that's how I began collecting BC Rich, Jackson and Charvel guitars. I have a real passion for the music of the 80's and I think that because I do, it really helps to sell these instruments to my customers.

MH: What best describes your average customer?
NS: I think my average customer is the semi pro musician. The guy who goes to band rehearsal a couple nights a week and plays his local bar on the weekends. I also deal with some professional musicians in signed bands like Metallica, The Wallflowers, Green Day, LA Guns, etc. Then there is the collectors, not the vintage guitar collectors, but the Jackson, Charvel and
BC Rich collectors.

MH: What do you feel is unique about Neal's Music and the selection you offer?
NS: I feel that the thing my customers appreciate most is that I offer a good selection of quality used guitars, amps, effects, pro audio and keyboards at reasonable prices. The kind of gear that a working musician needs. Also I have been told that my customers appreciate the fact that I am
a working musician myself and can give then insight on what works best. In other words I try to point them in the right direction for there needs and budget. I am also a low-pressure salesman, so they feel comfortable.

MH: You have always collected Jackson and early Charvel model guitars. Tell us about your collection and your quest to collect these guitars.
NS: I currently have about 70 guitars in my collection. The majority of my collection is USA Jackson's and Charvels, but I also collect Gibson's, BC Rich and a few other 80's metal guitars. My prized possession is the Red and White Striped Kramer that Eddie Van Halen played in the Hot for Teacher video! I also have the straight jacket he wore at the end of the video as well as personal items and photos from there first world tour. I also have the yellow and black Jackson double neck Soloist that was used by the Christian metal band Stryper, a Jackson gold sparkle Strat head that belonged to Jake Lee when he was in Badlands just after leaving Ozzy. I have a beautiful 1967 original Gibson Sunburst Flying V. Also a very rare 1978 Kramer Gene Simmons Axe guitar. I also collect Rock memorabilia, such as an Alice Coopers Stage outfit from the early 70's and a ton of KISS collectibles. As well as many other cool 80's guitars and rock memorabilia!

MH: Tell us about your original "Black Triangle".
NS: Black Triangle is what the kids now days call an OLD SCHOOL METAL BAND! We are influenced by bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera. Our music is good old heavy metal with a lot of good hooks, good melodies but also heavy bottom end rhythm. We had the first song on our CD "No Way Out" used on the NBC TV show "The Pretender" on the 1999 season finale. We also had some of our songs used by the Ultimate Pro Wrestling Federation. I am also currently in an Aerosmith Tribute band called Pump as well as a Def Leppard Tribute band called Pyromania! Just check out www.aerosmithtribute.com and www.defleppardtribute.com.

MH: Neal's Music has also established itself as an e-tailer. How has the Internet expanded your business?
NS: The Internet has really help to make Neal's Music into a smooth running machine. My sales have grown tremendously since the Internet has become so big. The Internet is a good thing if you can conform to the ways you have to do business, as opposed to having a storefront. The thing that works best is to be honest with your customers as far as condition and originality and provide plenty of photos.

MH: How many people do you employee and what is their function with the company?
NS: This is a husband and wife business. My wife Cathy is a major part of this business, she has been working with me for about 4 years now and has been a great asset and has really helped in the growth of our business. She handles the books as well as all of our Ebay auctions and sells. I don't know what I would do without her! We have one part time employee, Bryn Anderson who helps with packing, repairs and some customer service. Bryn is also a guitarist as well as a great live sound engineer!

MH: Besides guitars and amps you also handle a fair amount of pro audio, recording and keyboard gear. Is this becoming an increasing segment of your business?
NS: Yes it has been, what with Hip Hop, Rap, DJs, Techno, Karaoke and modern music, Pro Audio and Keyboard sales have really grown.

MH: In closing Neal, what do you feel has attributed to your success and your longevity in offering quality used gear?
NS: Mostly just being fair and honest as well as trying to be patient with my customers and doing my best to meet their needs.