Back in the early 90s, Chuck Bloom had an inspired thought: If we can buy books and CDs and all sorts of stuff online, why not sell guitars online? You see, back then, no one else was doing this—the big corporate online stores were not yet even a twinkle in the eye of some CEO. But Chuck managed to pull it off: In early 1995, he founded Shoreline Acoustic Music, the world's first online guitar store. To give you some perspective, his registration of this shop's original domain, "samusic.com", predates eBay, and roughly coincides with the launch of Amazon (with whom we now partner). The shop was originally located in Santa Barbara, CA, and you could see a reference to the Santa Barbara pier in the store's original logo.
The online store was at first quite small—basically just Chuck in his living room—but his impact was large. Not only was Chuck selling a lot of guitars (one of the largest Lowden dealers in North America, for example), but within a few years, a number of one-guy-in-his-living-room online guitar stores cropped up, several of them following in Chuck's handmade-guitar footsteps.
You can check here and here for a few examples of the early incarnations of Shoreline Music, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. The guitars you see there—Goodall, Larrivee, Santa Cruz, Eichelbaum, Froggy Bottom, Bourgeois, Lowden, Blanchard, Everett, McCollum, and more—are now household names among acoustic guitar fanatics. But Chuck's website was really the first place where anyone in the world could go to check out pictures of all these instruments. It was certainly my first exposure to handmade guitars, exotic tonewoods, and the notion that I could buy a guitar sight unseen, based entirely on the testimony of the seller. Long before I bought this store, I spent many hours drooling over the guitars Chuck was selling.
Well, after many years in the guitar business, Chuck put his store up for sale. And his timing could not have been more provident. I had worked as a philosophy professor and had launched an independent company several years prior, but at the time I ran across Chuck's "For Sale" sign, I was doing hard time in corporate management, praying for a way out. In a personal sense, the music business was an obvious choice: I have spent 40 years making music on stage, from my high school and college garage bands, to my brief and uneventful professional career, to my more recent unpaid gigs (they're far more fun that way) doing backup bass and guitar work for other musicians. More importantly, I have been leading live worship in churches of all sizes for the better part of 30 years.
So, with the help of several investors, I bought Shoreline Acoustic Music in 2001. And while the business model has grown up and modernized a bit, we have stood by Chuck's original vision of cool, hard-to-find handmade guitars, fair prices (I know what it's like to be a starving musician!), and a clean, intuitive, fast-loading and informative website. By the grace of God, our business has grown tremendously since those early days. Our most notable changes in past years have been our relocation to Durango, Colorado in 2004, and our name change from "Shoreline Acoustic Music" to "Shoreline Music". Not only is the shorter name easier to remember, but our lineup these days includes a few electric instruments, so "acoustic" in the title would be a bit misleading.
I decided very early on that everything that makes it into this shop should be something that I actually like, or even better, something that I use. I've adhered steadfastly to this principle, even though we surely would have made a lot more money by now if I had just said 'Yes' to all those guitar, pickup, headphone, speaker, and string makers who sent me their stuff to try. This has meant that our selection has always been small compared to national chains, but it also means that all the stuff here is really, really good. It also makes it pretty nice to come into work each day, knowing that some of the world's best gear awaits me.
Most of what you read on this website was written by yours truly, so I hope you enjoy your visit here. If you're ever near the southwest corner of Colorado, please do stop by.