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December 06, 2012

Musical Musings ›


An AP Literature and Composition essay about Chicago Music Exchange

Michael, a fan of Chicago Music Exchange, decided the focus of a descriptive essay assignment for his AP Literature and Composition class would be a visit to our showroom. He sent it our way, and we decided to post his experience here on the blog.

As I walk into Chicago Music Exchange in downtown Chicago, my inner guitar-sense kicks in. I immediately see through the glass window a beautiful, wonderful world, seemingly more vast and large inside than outside. This world I enter, through the large glass doors, a portal into my dreams. This wonderful place I enter into is just the place I would want to spend eternity in as a musician. This is a safe place; a haven for guitar players, a place of understanding, of sweet memories, and of swirling dreams this small Chicago store becomes.

Walking in, I see a panorama of guitars hanging on the wall. Fender, Gretsch, Gibson, Martin, and Taylor guitars in a glass-enclosed acoustic room; Warmouths and so many more, all hanging in rows of six or seven vertical, are gleaming at me with pride. In the center of this huge circle of the world’s finest instruments is a center section divided into four rooms, all small and soundproofed and cozy. Around the back I see quite a few Fender guitars, but what really attracts me before any Telecaster is the carefully arranged, treasured trinity of guitars: three vintage Les Paul Gold tops. Immediately I am captivated by their splendor, their majesty, the reflection in the lacquer faded, the pale rosewood fret board that has seen many more moons than so many of us guitarists. A tear rolls down my trembling cheek, and one of the kindest people walks up behind me and utters the words I was hoping to hear in the back of my mind:

“Wanna play one?”


The gentleman of a salesman grabs a ladder and reaches up to the one in the center, a ’57 Gold top Les Paul. Holding the weight of the world in my hands, I treat it as if Spanish Gold could have been worthless. This was it – this was the height of my guitar playing experience. He leads me into one of the small sound proofed rooms in the center of the circular utopian haven, hands me a cable, and says,

“Have at it. The Marshall and the Orange are plugged up to cabs, just let me know if you want to play through any other amps. Haha, you look pretty excited.”

“Y…Yes, sir…”

As I plug the Les Paul into the Orange Rockerverb head, the sounds that come after are those only dreamed by the world’s greatest guitarists. I was beyond simply heaven; I was in a place where the sounds in my head finally came alive, singing, crying, yelling, screaming in pain and in joy and in agony and in heartbreak and in pure amazement. It was no longer a guitar store; this was where my voice came out for the first time. This was where I learned what the “feel” was. This was where I felt my heart pound in my chest, my eyes leaking tears of joy and sadness. This was where I could be me, not Joe Satriani, not Steve Vai, not Joe Bonamassa, not Gary Moore. I was me, and I was beautiful. I found myself there. I made the guitar cry, I made it sing. No other place have I ever been able to let myself go so freely. No other place have I been so sonically and emotionally safe.

This is truly a fantasy land, unbelievable at least. I walked out of the store holding a wah pedal and a dirt box, but I left the store with much more than just that.

Chrissy Hansen
Chrissy Hansen