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MEET THE TEAM
Meet the folks who make it happen! Sales, customer service, and beyond—see and hear it from the people behind the scenes! Here at Chicago Music Exchange, we're all musicians or music fans so feel free to ask any of us your burning questions! Check out our Staff Picks while you are here, as well!
Well I ain't always right but I've never been wrong, and it seldom turns out the way it does in a song. Once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right!
Favorite Gear: 1959 Gibson ES 355 in FACTORY BLACK!!
Favorite Concert: 2017 Farm Aid
- Neil Young's set with Promise of
the Real as his band. INSANE.
Jonathan is dedicated to making CME one of the coolest places to work and your best local music store no matter where you live. On the weekends you might catch Jonathan blowing out his eardrums through a series of old Marshalls with his local tribute band. He is an avid AC/DC, Gibson SG, and Mini Cooper fanatic, so be sure to not mention any of these things to him.
Favorite Gear: 1965 Gibson SG
Favorite Concert: AC/DC at Wrigley Field 2015
Dallas raised, Chicago livin’ — Tanner’s a guitarist, audio engineer, and all-around music nerd. Actually, just a nerd in general… When he’s not playing guitar or mixing, you’ll probably find him hanging out with his wife and two dogs, playing Pokémon Go around the city, or hunting for Star Wars action figures for his collection. He’s on the lookout for the best Italian beef Chicago has to offer, so give him your recommendations!
Favorite Gear: Constantly changing… Currently, Gibson SG, Jext Telez White Pedal, and pretty much any chorus pedal ever.
Favorite Concert: Paul McCartney at Austin City Limits 2018
1965 Gibson SG
Favorite Concert: Smashing Pumpkins 1997
A native to Chicago Jason has been involved in the Chicago studio scene since 2010 after graduating from Full Sail's recording arts program and has spent the last 14 years playing guitar in several bands around the city.
Favorite Gear: My Custom TSmith 7 string tele
Favorite Concert: Whitechapel 10 year anniversary tour at the Rave
A hoarder of gear and records, Phil is often found riding motorcycles, baking pastries, and playing psych rock and ambient electronic music.
Favorite Gear: Korg Monopoly, Vox Royal guardsman, 2002 MIM Strat, Jordan bosstone fuzz
Favorite Concert: Damo Suzuki, Empty Bottle 2007
The more amps and pedals you have on stage at one time the better!
Favorite Gear: Banker Guitars, Victoria and Matchless Amps
Favorite Concert: Pearl Jam- Wrigley Field- Aug 24, 2016
As a Chicagoland native and bassist, Scott has spent the last few decades playing in bands he's sure you've never heard of. But these days, you can find him hanging in Humboldt Park with his dog, watching an NBA game, or arguing about how underrated Spider-Man 3 is.
Favorite Gear: Every Fender P Bass
Favorite Concert: Motion City Soundtrack - Metro - September 18, 2016
As a Minnesota native, Zach began playing in bars around the Twin Cities at age 13. He earned his chops playing Rock & Blues and eventually lead two bands to compete in Memphis’ International Blues Challenge. He now fronts the Zach Avery Band and plays all around the city of Chicago, while slinging some of the finest guitars and amplifiers at CME!
Favorite Gear: Heritage H-535 Custom & Fender Vibrolux Amp
Favorite Concert: Rolling Stones at TCF Bank Stadium (2015)
Roland has been into synthesizers before he knew what a synthesizer was, when he heard the main riff of Beverly Hills Cop at the tender age of 5! (which was played by the Roland Jupiter 8) Always being fascinated with electronic sounds, Roland became interested with hardware when he was introduced to underground electronic music in high school and since then he knew that music will be the main aspect in his life. At CME, Roland is dedicated to making it the most accessible synth shop in the city and will be more than delighted to help clients find the sound they have been always looking for.
Favorite Gear: Juno 106 and Prophet 5 rev 4. Fantasy\will get: Juno 6, Korg ps3100, and OB-xa
Favorite Concert: Joris Voorn in Chicago or Christian Loeffler in Brooklyn.
Born in Park Ridge, IL, John studied music and percussion at Northern Illinois University. He was an in-house studio drummer/percussionist at Solid Sound Studios from the late 90’s to 2019 and has toured the United States, Europe, and Canada for the past 18 years with various artists and bands.
Favorite Gear: C&C Drums & Zildjian Cymbals
Favorite Concert: Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails at Red Rocks Colorado July 21st, 2014
A native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, Pete recently moved to Chicago after 21 years in New York City, performing primarily as a jazz drummer and teaching music. Even though jazz is his specialty, he loves all types music. He has toured throughout the USA with his band and has presented over two dozen masterclasses at various collegiate jazz study and percussion programs throughout the country.
Favorite Gear: Vintage Zildjian K or A 20 or 22 inch Ride Cymbal w rivets
Favorite Concert: Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band at Birdland Jazz Club NYC (2005)
Hailing from the Chicago land area, this singer/songwriter and headbanger began playing guitar at the age of 12 after his Uncle exposed him to thrash metal and NWOBHM. Mario's main areas of expertise are most genres of hard rock/heavy metal, high gain amps, and effect pedals. You can catch Mario fronting his folk band or standing too close to loud amps for his own good.
Favorite Gear: Dunwich DA120, Strymon Timeline, Friedman Butterslax, 1975 Les Paul Custom
Favorite Concert: Gigantour 2008: Megadeth, In Flames, Children of Bodom, High on Fire
Born and raised in Chicago, Eric has spent most of his life with drums, guitars, and in a mixed martial arts gym. He is a Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom enthusiast, and a brother to all. Forever remorseful of selling: DW Collectors 3pc (10x8, 14x11, 20x18) natural with gold hardware 1999.
Favorite Gear: My Mayones Duvell Black Limba 7-String
Favorite Concert: Ozzfest 2004 and An Evening w/ Opeth March 2nd 2006
After growing up in a tiny town in rural Illinois for most of his life, Kyle moved to Chicago in 2010 to pursue music. He’s a self-proclaimed lover of loud music and loud drums.
Favorite Gear: Ludwig & Gretsch Drums
Favorite Concert: Wu Tang Clan 2019
A Chicagoland native, Singer-Songwriter-Guitarist, and pizza aficionado has played various instruments since he was 6 years old. A lover of all things Blues, Jazz, and Classical. On his off time he loves spending time with his family and his two Miniature Schnauzers affectionately named “Fender & Jackson”
Favorite Gear: Fender Custom Shop Journeyman Relic Clapton Stratocaster
Favorite Concert: '94 Eric Clapton 'Nothing but the Blues' Tour - United Center
As a lifelong musician and all around appreciator of the arts, Wrenn received a Bachelors degree in Audio Design and Production from Columbia College Chicago in 2019 and has since worked in a few different studios in Chicago, working on studio recording and audio archival work. Outside of audio work, she also was a talent manager for a local band playing in the Chicago indie/DIY scene! When she's not working on music, she loves to cook, hangout with her cat, and do anything outdoors!
Favorite Gear - Martin D-15M
Favorite Concert - Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the Ogden Twilight Amphitheater
A life long musician and decade long audio engineer, Jared is always in search of that elusive "perfect tone". Whether it be finding the right wood pairing for a dreadnought acoustic or the cleanest vocal chain for one of his artists, the quest will never end.
He has a real passion for helping others discover "their sound" as well. Find him in the acoustic room talking about the tonal differences between Sitka and Adirondack Spruce, Jared will always take the time to make sure everyone that walks through our doors leaves with a little more knowledge and a new favorite piece of gear!
Favorite Gear - My 1938 Leo Master Mahogany Parlor Guitar, Neve 1073, Boss CE-1
Favorite Concert - Theo Katzman in Nashville (featuring Joe Dart on the Fender Bass)
I am obsessed with guitar. I spent many years traveling the world playing music and even got a degree in jazz guitar to take my playing to the next level.
Favorite Gear - My 2015 Gibson Custom Shop Byrdland in Wine Red
Favorite Concert - Cory Wong in 2018 at Thalia Hall
When not searching for more gear she doesn't need, Sylvia self records and fronts her indie rock project, Lithia.
Favorite Gear - My Re-201 Space Echo, 66' Jag, Juno 106
Favorite Concert - Adrianne Lenker at the Cedar
As the manager and head buyer of the vintage and used inventory here at CME, Daniel tells people all the time that he has the best job on planet Earth. He enjoys working closely with his fantastic team as they acquire inventory and obsess over curating the best vintage collection possible, while sharing enjoyable experiences through transparent transactions with clients.
Favorite Gear: Gibson L-00 from 1932 and Carstens Black Flag
Favorite Concert: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Vic in Chicago (2011)
Born & raised on Chicago's Northside, Mike is a lifelong bassist & vintage gear fanatic. Specializing in Fender & Gibson history, he's also a connoisseur of the rare & obscure. When he's not scouring the earth for the the coolest vintage gear, you can probably find him watching the Hawk's game, playing bass in local alt-rock band, LFN, or hanging out with his english bulldog.
Favorite Gear: 61 Stack Knob Jazz Bass
Favorite Concert: Fearless Flyers at Concord Music Hall (2018)
Dog lover, Formula 1 fanatic, and verified nerd for all things vintage gear and BBQ. If you want to know about the many versions of the EHX Big Muff, the difference between pre-T and T-top pickups, or how to properly trim a brisket, I'm your guy.
Favorite Gear: 1960 Les Paul Standard "Scarface"
Favorite Concert: David Gilmour Chicago Auditorium (2016)
Favorite Gear: Fender Jazz Bass & that new pedal that does the thing.
Favorite Concert: Pat Metheny Unity Band, 2012
Meat and potatoes bassist, session player, and folk instrument enthusiast with a love of makin' records. Miles seems pretty smart until you get to know him.
Favorite Gear: When I finally have enough dough for a custom Serek Midwestern, I'll let you know what's all on it!
Favorite Concert: Weird Al Yankovic
Singer, writer, coffee addict, mom, and a walking musical. Val loves all things acoustic, following local music scenes, and being a foodie. Life is a work of art; Why not make it my masterpiece?
Favorite Gear: Atkin The Forty Seven Aged Baked Sitka/Mahogany Sunburst
Favorite Concert: Alison Krauss & Union Station at Rosemont Theatre
Grown from spores that fell from space, Bob has lived in Chicago all his life and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. He received a bass from his Gram-Diddy (grandma) for his 20th birthday and it was all over from there. "I love all music!"
Favorite Gear: Darkglass microtubes 900
Favorite Concert: Summer Slaughter 2009 or The Black Crows and Tom Petty
Aaron is a Michigan transplant. He loves the Detroit Red Wings and is a Prince super fan.
Favorite Gear: Gretsch drums, Dream Cymbals, Fender basses, Technics 1200
Favorite Concert: The Specials on Warped Tour '98
Born into a family of musicians and producers, music and its creation has always been a part of Jim's life. Since 2011 he has been an intricate part of the growth of CME and he is 100% dedicated to getting you the right gear, faster than anyone else in the business.
Favorite Gear: Blue Hofner Shorty
Favorite Concert: 1st Concert - Evanescence
Grew up on the South Side, now dwelling on the North side. Guitarist in Home Entertainment. My life has been about music and music making since I was a toddler, with no end in sight.
Favorite Gear: Fender Super Sonic 100
Favorite Concert: Recently? Green Day at the Metro and OSees at Thalia Hall, both in 2022.
Anthony is a music lover, creator of stained glass pieces, lover of all things four legged and furry, and a traveler.
Favorite Gear: DW Collectors Series Snare, any of them.
Favorite Concert: Rancid - I’ve seen this band most than I can count and they’re never a let down.
Bill is a professional musician and educator in the greater Chicagoland area. He received a Bachelors in Music from Elmhurst College and a masters from DePaul University. Primarily a guitarist, Bill enjoys performing all styles of music and geeking out about music theory and harmony.
Favorite Gear: Gibson L-4 CES, natural finish.
Dodd is a lover of music- from Black Metal to R&B, and everything in between! He is a proud dog dad to his standard poodle, Boogeyman.
Favorite Gear: His 2003 graffiti yellow Tom Delonge Fender Stratocaster
Favorite Concert: Any of the many times seeing Rancid with his Dad
CT born and raised, Chris has been playing and recording music as long as he can remember. When technology meets music, that's when he gets excited!
Favorite Gear: Pioneer RT-707 Analog tape Machine with Auto Reverse
I'm Dave. I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. I play bass in Two Moms. I live in Wicker Park with my partner Sarah, and my step-dog Thor. I love music, comedy, and French onion soup.
Favorite Gear: Fender Player Jazz Bass in 3-tone Sunburst
Favorite Concert: Weird Al at Vic Theater in 2018. Incomparable.
Chicago native. Music Machine. Bandleader of Local Motive, purveyors of "funk for all." Lead guitar player in female-fronted band, badcandy. Former CPS special education teacher. Mental health advocate. Dachshund dad to Professor Minerva McGonagall. Cat dad to Luna Lovegood & Gandalf the Grey.
Favorite Gear: My tattered stratocaster, my workhorse, a Japanese made Fender with the controversial Foto Flame finish from the early 90s.
Favorite Concert: Either Medeski, Scofield, Martin, & Wood at a smaller club in Indianapolis called The Vogue in 2007 or Childish Gambino at Lollapalooza in 2019.
Chicago native. Bass player first, pesky noise maker second.
Favorite Gear: All fuzz, all the time.
Favorite Concert: Toss up between Dillinger Four and Jawbreaker.
Professional moron. Amateur life force
Favorite Gear: Spaceman Apollo VII
Favorite Concert: Kenny Hoopla at Schuba’s Tavern
Chicago born and raised. Music maker and record collector. Support local music!
Favorite Gear: Dunable Gnarwhal
Favorite Concert: Within the past 5 years it has to be the REZN/Lume show at the Empty Bottle in 2019
Born and raised on Chicago's South Side, Tom was snuck into bars and pubs by his parents on school nights to play covers since the age of 14. While his main instrument is guitar, he will try to play anything he can get his hands on. When he is not optimizing business processes, you can find him backpacking or fishing in the north woods or wherever he can get off the grid.
Favorite Gear: Tom does not play favorites.
Favorite Concert: Neil Young - Chicago Theatre 2008
Disco made me do it.
Favorite Gear: 1969 Gibson SG Standard Walnut
Favorite Concert: Christian McBride's New Jawn (2018)
Liam Mcghie is a 23 year old sound engineer and music producer from Chicago. He graduated from Drexel University in 2021 with a Music Industry degree, and is applying his knowledge to help contribute to the CME team! His dream guitar is a Custom Shop aged Fender Strat!
Favorite Gear: Universal Audio Apollo Twin Interface
Favorite Concert: Kanye West at the United Center - Life of Pablo Tour.
Favorite Gear: Gibson SG
Favorite Concert: Bon Jovi or Rolling Stones
Alec was raised on a small farm in Iowa. He studied anthropology in college, but followed his love of music and lutherie to Chicago. Now he spends his days finding the perfect combination of neck relief, string action, and intonation that makes a guitar feel and sound phenomenal.
Favorite Gear: His own one-of-a-kind creations
Favorite Concert: Daddy-O and the Demolition Band at the Yacht Club in Iowa City
"I fix broke stuff."
Favorite Gear: Fender J Bass
Favorite Concert: Radiohead, Lolla ‘08
An Illinois native and University of Illinois alum, Dustin began working on guitars from a lifelong interest in taking things apart and putting them back together. He developed his tech skills while an apprentice at Specimen Products in Chicago, and now makes sure every guitar he touches at CME plays and sounds the best it can. He's also big on cats and can absolutely crush some Simpsons trivia.
Favorite Gear: Skreddy Lunar Module fuzz
Favorite Concert: Glen Hansard at Millenium Park in 2014
Brody was born and raised in Naples, FL and loves to work on guitars.
Favorite Gear: My 2016 Gibson Flying V
Favorite Concert: Metallica, Orlando 2017
From Minneapolis, Alec likes playing tasty tunes and hanging out with his dog.
Favorite Gear: my 1974 Fender Twin Reverb Silverface amp
Favorite Concert: Ty Segall and The Muggers at First Avenue in Minneapolis. 2016
Favorite Gear: Fuzz
Blake was raised in Florida and started playing guitar when he found his dad’s copy of the Back In Black record at 11. He followed music and guitar to Chicago at 20, then to Seattle, and found his way back. He loves old Marshalls, coffee, and working on amps and guitars. Blake plays guitar in his local AC/DC cover band on the weekends. He attended Galloup School and is incredibly proud to be part of the CME team.
Favorite Gear: 1962 Gretsch Duo Jet
Favorite Concert: AC/DC in Orlando 2009
Country/Blues enthusiast with a love for guitars!
Favorite Gear: Gibson Hummingbird
Favorite Concert: The Rolling Stones @ Desert Trip fest 2016
I live to get home and play my guitar. Being able to work on some of the best in Chicago is always a treat.
Favorite Gear: Jerry Garcia's Wolf guitar, or Alligator strat that was his first custom guitar.
Favorite Concert: Grateful Dead Fare thee well concert at Soldier Field in 2016 with Trey Anastasio. It was a magical night.
Dan is a songwriter who has been in music retail virtually uninterrupted since the ripe age of fifteen! He is an uncompromising fan of the Buffalo Bills and all of his favorite music is Canadian.
Favorite Gear: Guild D-55 Antique Burst (mine is a New Hartford-era)
Favorite Concert: Alexisonfire at S.C.E.N.E. Fest 2006 in St Catharines, ON
Raised in Portland, Oregon, Gavin moved to Chicago in 2018. Aside from the obvious love of guitars and music, he enjoys comedy, baseball, and family.
Favorite Gear: 1972 Fender Silverface Dual Showman Reverb
Favorite Concert: July 27, 2013 Phish at the Gorge Amphitheater. Very tight that night. Super funky Sneakin' Sally and a 2001 jam that I believe eventually became the basis for Martian Monster. JJ Cale passed away that day and I was really sad about it, so the After Midnight cover was perfect.
Growing up just outside of Chicago, Mike has always known that he wanted a career involving drums. Now, between working for the Chicago Drum Exchange, playing drums for Blue Man Group Chicago and doing various freelance gigs, he is completely dedicated to working in the field that he is most passionate about.
Favorite Gear: 5.5x14" Ayotte Keplinger Snare
Favorite Concert: A Tribe Called Quest at Pitchfork
Saul was a dog in at least one past life.
Favorite Gear: Sony A6000
Favorite Concert: Dimmu Borgir at the Vic or Infected Mushroom at the HOB
Joe is an Indiana man who enjoys a warm vintage synth, a cool breeze, a good slow jam, and an occasional glass of wine.
Favorite Gear: Sequential Prophet-10
Favorite Concert: Tame Impala at Red Rocks
Gloria ad ecclesiam. Filii raptus in nomine deorum
Favorite Gear: Jackson 7-String Dinky with Reverse Headstock, Peavy 6505/EVH 5150
Favorite Concert: From First to Last at Pops in Sauget, IL in 2005
Cat enthusiast. Dog petting aficionado.
Favorite Gear: 1963 Jazzmaster
Favorite Concert: Fleet Foxes at The Chicago Theater, 2017
""Movies are 70% of my body." - Hideo Kojima" - Ian Szymankiewicz
Favorite Gear: Arriflex 765
Favorite Concert: The Slush Fund '05 - Ryan Cooper's Backyard (RIP Piotr)
Please read my shirt.
Favorite Gear: Anything that gets me those pictures of Spider-Man
Favorite Concert: My sleep paralysis demon
Growing up in the South Side of Chicago, you know his team is the White Sox! Jose doesn't have a favorite genre of music but if he had to pick, it would be anything loud, You can usually find him drinking coffee. That's him in a nutshell, any questions?
Favorite Gear: Custom 1977 Ibanez 2350
Favorite Concert: Run The Jewels @ Riot Fest 2021
Favorite Gear: A&F Drum Co.
Favorite Concert: The Felix Culpa, O'Brother, & The Dear Hunter at the House Cafe in DeKalb, IL circa 2011.
John was raised by wolves and the United States Navy in Kailua Hawaii, Virginia Beach Virginia, and Asheville, N.C. He can often be found chugging lukewarm coffee and playing with his Border Collie.
Favorite Gear: '55 Les Paul Jr.
Favorite Concert: Laura Jane Grace at 6th and I on Valentines Day 2016
A lifelong Illinois boy, David has been gear geek since even before he got his first guitar. After work, or on the weekends—if it's not a guitar or a book that he's got in his hands, it's probably a pool cue.
Favorite Gear: Heritage Golden Eagle
Favorite Concert: Against Me! / Mastodon / Cursive | The Riviera Theater, Chicago | May 12, 2007
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Drew moved to Chicago in 2014 to attend Columbia College Chicago and study film. He likes making ambient music, art and hanging out in the woods.
Favorite Gear: Moog One. Someday...
Favorite Concert: Aaron Carter's House Party Tour 2001
Since age 11, John's two passions in life have been music and filmmaking so it's safe to say this is a bit of a dream job. When he is not filming with Nathaniel and yelling at him to turn to the left to avoid light glare on guitars(the worst), he is probably running after his two kids or watching the cubs game.
Favorite Gear: Travis Bean TB-1000A
Favorite Concert: Sonic Youth at the Metro, 2003
From Recording Studio Manager to Record Company Executive to Director of Finance here at Chicago Music Exchange, Deb's been in the Music Biz her whole life. Toss in singer/songwriter, recording artist, producer and vocal coach and you get the whole picture.
Favorite Gear: Neuman U87 & Universal Audio LA-610 Tube Preamp
Favorite Gear: Gretsch Renown Maple kit with DW 6.5 x 14 Collectors Maple Standard snare
Favorite Concert: George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at The Vic 1999
Ben, a guitar player of nearly 20 years, found his way to Chicago from Minneapolis in 2018. You can find him gigging throughout Chicago, self proclaimed as "your dad's favorite guitarist." When he's not playing music he's quoting The Simpsons, waiting for the Minnesota Vikings to win a Super Bowl, and asking new CME employees if they could see any band or artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Favorite Gear: 1959 Fender Stratocaster
Favorite Concert: Rage Against the Machine - Minneapolis, MN - September, 2008
Sara escaped the Florida swamp in 2015, fled to Illinois, and never looked back. This reads like she's a fugitive, but she just couldn't live in a year-round humid sauna forever. Sara loves: Chicago, her dog Maurie (named after the dude hotdog atop the Superdawg drive-in, not Povich), taxidermy, singing, & cheeseburgers. Openly admits to an undying love for Third Eye Blind, but she wants you to know that this is balanced out by even more love for old emo, punk, & hardcore bands. When she's not crunching numbers, Sara is being a goofball, drawing, or working a crossword puzzle with a horror movie on in the background.
Favorite Concert: Sunny Day Real Estate at Florida Theater in Gainesville, FL 1999; Tom Petty at Amway Arena in Orlando, FL 2012; Lifetime at a crummy Elks Lodge in Cambridge, MA 2019.
"Beats for sale!"
Favorite Gear: Boss DS-1
Favorite Concert: Julien Baker at Pitchfork (2018)
With an interest in music starting at a young age, Felix fell in love with guitar early on. West coast born, East coast raised, Felix moved to Chicago to get a Bachelors of Music in Classical and Jazz Guitar Performance. Whether it's guitars, synthesizers, pedals, bass, or drums, he's always seeking out new avenues in music and ways to grow! Felix loves guitar, music production, traveling, and making new friends!
Favorite Gear: 1982 Gibson Les paul Gold Top 30th Anniversary w/ Tim Shaw Pickups
Favorite Concert: Jordan Rakei at the Bottom Lounge, 2019
Born in Portland, OR in 2001. Little did I know back then, as I was but a youngster, that my future step-father would end up being the second in command, and then in command, of Pro Guitar Shop. This event would kickstart my deep love of pedals and effects. Something that would extend beyond the life of PGS (2004-2017). A legacy that would carry into my brief stint in the fulfillment department at Reverb.com until I found a home at the Chicago Music Exchange. I joined the team in Fall of 2018 and in the brief time I've been here I can already tell how special this place is. If you want to buy from someone who has your back, buy from CME.
Favorite Gear: DOD FX25 Envelope Filter 1983