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Guitar Center, Inc.
Type Subsidiary, Bain Capital
Founded 1959
Headquarters Westlake Village, California
Key people Marty Albertson, CEO
Eric Mason, CFO
John Zavada, CIO
William Deeney, CLO
Greg Trojan, COO & President
Norman Hajjar, CMO
Gene Joly, EVP of Stores
John Bagan, EVP General Merchandise Mgr.
Industry Specialty Retail: Musical Instruments
Products Musical instruments, Recording equipment and accessories
Revenue $ 1.78 billion USD
Employees 10,000

Guitar Center is the largest chain of musical instrument retailers in the world with 214 locations throughout the United States. Its headquarters is in Westlake Village, California.

Guitar Center's sister companies/subsidiaries incorporate Music & Arts Center, Musician's Friend,, LMI, Giardinelli,, Private Reserve Guitars, Woodwind and Brasswind and Harmony Central.



Founded in Hollywood by Wayne Mitchell in 1959 as The Organ Center, a retailer of electronic organs for home and church usage, it became a major seller of Vox electric guitars and guitar amplifiers, changing its name to The Vox Center in 1964. Toward the end of the 1960s, Vox's line—whose sales derived largely from its association with The Beatles, who made extensive use of its amplifiers—fell in popularity as Marshall amplifier users Eric Clapton and Bob Marley captured musicians' imaginations. Accordingly, Mitchell once again changed its name, to Guitar Center.[1]

Guitar Center, Pico & Westwood, Los Angeles

The popularity of rock and roll in the 1970s allowed Mitchell to open stores in San Francisco and San Diego, as well as several suburbs of Los Angeles. Ray Scherr, previously the general manager of the San Francisco store, purchased the company from Mitchell in the late 1970s and Scherr owned and operated it until 1996 from its Westlake Village headquarters.

Although synthesizer-driven disco and New Wave pop sapped rock's audience in the late 1970s, the 1970s "guitar rock" revival led by Van Halen and a concurrent influx of Japanese-produced instruments brought guitar sales to unprecedented levels.[2] Guitar Center took full advantage of this sales bonanza, and by the end of the decade began an ambitious program of expansion across the entire United States.[3] Using its size as leverage over the musical instrument business, it developed into the largest musical instrument retailer in the country, and made an initial public offering of stock in 1997.[4]

In 2005, Guitar Center, Inc., started The Guitar Center Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports music education.[5]

On June 27, 2007, Guitar Center agreed to $1.9 billion buyout from Bain Capital, totaling $2.1 billion including debt. The deal was led by Goldman Sachs and amounted to a per-share price of $63, or a 26% premium on June 26's closing price. The deal was approved by shareholders on September 18, 2007 and closed October 9, 2007.[6]

Activision partnered with Guitar Center in 2006; all purchases made during game play of Guitar Hero, beginning with the second installment, are made in a virtual Guitar Center store.

In mid 2009 Guitar Center open a rehearsal studio facility in Woodland Hills, CA. The 8 studios with full backline range in size from 350-550 sq ft.


A Guitar Center retail store in Houston on Westheimer Road (this store has since relocated)

In 2000, it purchased mail order and Internet retail house Musician's Friend for $50 million, further consolidating its dominance over the sector, although Musician's Friend remains a wholly independent subsidiary headquartered in Medford, Oregon; Robert Eastman remains as CEO and serves on the Guitar Center Board of Directors. Musician's Friend has increased in sales to over $350 million in the past 7 years.

In 2005, Guitar Center Inc. acquired Music & Arts Center, and merged their subsidiary Band and Orchestral chain American Music Group into Music & Arts Center.[7]

In mid summer 2006 Guitar Center purchased 4 stores in Texas from the popular South Texas and Central/South American company, Hermes.[8]

In February 2007, the direct response division of Guitar Center, Musician's Friend, purchased assets of the Indiana-based company Dennis Bamber Inc. which included leading band and orchestra retailer, the Woodwind and Brasswind, plus Music 123 and Lyons Music.

Hollywood's RockWalk

RockWalk detail

The Sunset Boulevard location in Los Angeles hosts Hollywood's RockWalk, a hall of fame honoring over 170 notable musical artists ranging from Black Sabbath and Aerosmith to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden as well as others who have been instrumental in the music industry's history like Robert Moog and C.F Martin III.[9] Artists are invited to place their handprints into cement blocks that are put on display at the Guitar Center.[10]

A complete list of all inducted artists can be found on the Rockwalk website.




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