Music Insight Series // Matt Avitable

February 12, 2020

If you've ever played a live show, then you KNOW how much it matters to have good gear! Matt knows all about gear & what makes the live show sound really fantastic. In addition to providing music gear & instruments, he knows how to fix it! Whether you're buying or breaking stuff, consider Matt your go-to guy. 


How and why did you start One Three Guitar?

Years ago, I got my music degree from UR and promptly started a career in technology.  But I missed playing music and hanging out with musicians, so eventually in October 2018 I started getting my foot back in the door.  I played some open mics, joined a band, and started making cables for my pedalboard build. Eventually I started selling those cables locally and online.  


In January 2019, GuitarWorks over in Carytown closed after 40 years in Richmond, and soon after a space at Sound of Music Studios in Scott's Addition opened up. I have always liked the vibe of local guitar shops, and this seemed like an opportunity to create a unique and useful music destination for RVA.  Fast forward to October 2019 (long story), and voila, I'm running a full service guitar shop.  I'm optimistic that running this shop will be a realistic way to support my family and me, while staying involved in a field I'm passionate about.  


Describe a day in the life at the shop -- what are some of the common reasons people come by?

As the sole owner of a fledgeling business, I get to do a bit of everything!  I could be stressing about an inventory buy, making cables, stumbling my way through instagram, or reviewing financial reports.  But most of the time I'm either working on repairs or chatting with customers.  I *should* be doing more marketing ... 


The most common reason for a visit is service and repairs.  We have the advantage of being new, so our repair queue isn't backed up yet!  Custom cable builds, new instruments, and accessories are up there as well.


Often times people come in to fix up a guitar and their story sounds a lot like mine - they used to play in a band years ago, finished college, started a career, lost touch with the instrument, and now they want to start playing again.  I love that, partly because I remember being that person, but also because their journey is starting at an incredible period in music.  


As it relates to helping bands be their best, what do you think makes One Three Guitar stand out? 

I think it's how we personalize our service to the individual.  Every customer has different expectations for how their instrument should play, and we try to capture those expectations and make them a reality.  When someone isn't sure how they'd like their guitar set up, we'll make a recommendation and work with them on the fly.


Our size gives us an advantage of getting to know our customers, and I find I always learn something.  If this shop can serve as a place to connect with other humans in a positive and meaningful way, how great is that?


Surely you must have a passion for this stuff... how & where did your love for music begin? 

I think I have a passion for solving problems and being a reliable go-to person, and I'm trying to do that in the music space.  


I have been involved in music since I was very young.  I think my interest in guitar music started when U2 released Rattle & Hum.  That started a bit of an obsession with classic U2, which was finally upended by Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine in the early 90s, and then indie rock in the late 90s.  These days I'm checking out as many local artists as I can find - there's so much great music happening in RVA!


Are/were you ever in a band? If so, please tell us everything. 8) 

I recently started playing rhythm guitar in a band called What's Our Age Again?.  We play 90s and 2000's covers, and it's super fun.  Eventually when I have more time I'll get disciplined and finish my EP, which is perpetually at 70% done.  


What are some of the coolest things you've seen bands do to promote their live shows? 

I haven't been to one of their shows yet (and I hope they don't read this and decide to abduct me or something), but GWAR's marketing is amazing and impossible to forget. 


Red Light Romeo has an inflatable T-Rex mascot who appears at shows.  Second, the tone of their social media presence is so positive; it's a welcome contrast to the norm.  Before every show, their guitarist posts and says "first person to high five me at the bar gets a free beer!".  What a great way to connect with fans while doing some marketing.  


If you could give bands advice for their music journey, what would it be? 

Ego is one of the most destructive forces in the universe.  In my experience, ego most often manifests as an inability to listen, whether that be in a discussion or musically.   Learn emotional intelligence.  Learn empathy.  If you think you don't need to learn those things, you probably need to learn those things!

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