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Rick Nielsen Signature 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Sunburst Signing Event

On Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016, Chicago Music Exchange had the pleasure of hosting Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Rick Nielsen, for an exclusive in-store event. The night was a celebration for the release of the brand new aged Gibson Custom Shop Collector's Choice Rick Nielsen 1959 Les Paul Standard Sunburst electric guitar. Only 50 of these instruments have been produced worldwide. Select guests had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Nielsen as he signed their new guitar.

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Chicago Music Exchange Celebrates Fred Gretsch's 50 years in the Music Business

On Thursday October 1st, we opened our doors to celebrate Fred Gretsch's 50th year in the music business. The excitement was undeniable as people of all ages started to fill the room, coming as far as Minnesota, for a chance to meet and listen to one of the music industry's finest.

The night started off with a multimedia presentation on the history of Gretsch, dating back to 1883. Fred Gretsch and Joe Carducci, Gretsch's Product Marketing Specialist, did an incredible job of showing the audience how the company began and taking them through the past 100 plus years. They tackled how the company has grown and evolved, not just with guitars but drums, folk instruments, and beyond. The interactive evening included plenty of giveaways that were earned by the audience for participating with the talk. The grand finale was a raffle in which two lucky attendees received a brand new Gretsch guitar and a beautiful Gretsch snare drum.

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Brendan Grieve Gets A New Treat For Lolla 2015

Lollapalooza madness continues! Sam Smith's bassist, Brendan Grieve, visited our bass shop yesterday and picked up a kick ass EKO bass. The bass went straight to our Repair Shop where it was converted into a lefty.

Our Bass Guitar Manager, Marc, shared a moment with Brendan before heading out. Catch him tonight with Sam Smith at Lolla. Show starts at 8:45 PM.

Good luck tonight, friend!

To see who else has graced our presence, visit our Celebrity Guests page.

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Lollapalooza: CME Friends Perform at the Festival

It's Lollapalooza weekend here in Chicago, and we are pumped all around for this year's performances. Among some very obvious favorites (Paul McCartney) are other exceptional acts that we're happy to call our friends. Chicago Music Exchange loves to assist players of all levels, but our heart's skip a beat when we're gifted with the presence of a celebrity guest. Check out some of the Chicago Music Exchange veterans that will be gracing Lollapalooza's stages this weekend:

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James Bay visits CME

It's Lollapalooza weekend in Chicago, and it has the whole city buzzing! With so many musicians and celebrities in town, you never know who you'll run into. Just ask any of the James Bay fans who spotted the talented gent in our showroom this evening.

James spent time playing in our practice rooms and handpicking several guitars to try out. Bay is a true vintage guitar lover and referred several times to the CME showroom as "magical". We couldn't agree more! As any musician knows, it isn't just about liking the way a guitar looks, it is about how it makes you feel when playing it. James tried out many models but kept coming back to this Fano, which he ended up taking home.

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Radiohead's Phillip Selway talks drums with Chicago Drum Exchange

It's a pretty great day when rock and roll royalty strolls through your doors. That's exactly what happened today when longtime Radiohead drummer Phillip Selway and stopped by our shop with Otto Hauser. 

The two hung out in our drum shop and grabbed a mix of Istanbul 30th Anniversary cymbals and Istanbul Xist ION crashes in preparation for their Friday performance at Lollapalooza. They also talked vintage kits, drum accessories, and Lolla with our crew.

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Billy Sheehan Bass Clinic

On June 8th, we had the pleasure of welcoming bass legend Billy Sheehan to CME. Sheehan is known for many things, including his work with Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, and The Winery Dogs. He has won "Best Rock Bass Player" not once but five times for his lead bass playing style. Needless to say, everyone was pretty pumped to have him in the store for the night.

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LIVE from the BASSment: the Bryan Beller Bass Clinic

On May 28th, we had the pleasure of hosting Bryan Beller for an evening of all things "bass." The crowd eagerly piled in, many arriving more than an hour before the scheduled start time and coming as far as Minneapolis for the event.

Beller quickly made everyone comfortable with his easygoing demeanor and started the night off reflecting on growing up with his family in New York and attending a great public school that was academic and sports centered. The school was prepping its students for the Ivy Leagues but didn't have much in the way of fine arts. Because of this, he learned how to play on his own, started a band, and kept on going from there.

While he thought he was quite good by hometown standards, once he got into Berkley College Of Music, Beller realized he "sucked" (in his own words). Not to be defeated, he quickly took that as a challenge and started learning as much as he could. His first audition out of school was with Dweezil Zappa.

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Four Year Strong & The Story So Far Hang Out At CME

Four Year Strong and The Story So Far strolled into the shop today while passing through Chicago on their US tour.

The guys hung out for a few hours with our selection of fuzz pedals, including Earthquaker Devices and Fairfield Circuitry. Our vintage Marshall amps were also part of their CME "tour". They had a blast playing music and diving into our gear for inspiration before their show tonight at Concord Music Hall. They will be sharing the stage with Terror and Souvenirs;  that is sure to be one killer show!


The Story So Far are set to release their next self-titled album on May 19th. Four Year Strong are releasing their next self-titled CD/LP shortly after, on June 2nd. To hear their music, head on over to The Story So Far and Four Year Strong.

You never know who will pop up here. Have a great show, guys. And come back soon!

To see who else has graced our presence, visit our Celebrity Guests page.

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Showtime Documentary Features CME Gear

This past November, Showtime launched a new documentary series that goes behind the scenes with some of today's most talented songwriters as they create and record new music based on recently discovered lyrics from Bob Dylan's legendary Basement Tape sessions. Among the artists is friend and customer of Chicago Music Exchange, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons.

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