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As an industry leader, Chicago Music Exchange is often referenced and recognized by the press when it comes to gear news and vintage guitars. With the most knowledgeable vintage experts in the industry, we are a regular go-to source when it comes to vintage gear and the ongoing movement to allow musicians to buy, sell and trade gear at fair prices.
Chicago Music Exchange also has the most beautiful guitar showroom in the world which attracts local musicians, vintage collectors along with many of the biggest rock stars in the world. You never know who might be stopping by. Between having the growing startup Reverb.com right next-door and regular celebrity sightings, almost every day is a newsworthy event.
Chicago Music Exchange and Sandberg Guitars are excited to announce a new collaborative project—the Sandberg Forty Eight bass. Holger Stonjek of Sandberg and Chicago Music Exchange’s Marc Najjar joined forces to cook up one hell of a bass, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Taking cues from the futuristic lines of the Explorer and Thunderbird body styles, Sandberg and CME looked to fine tune some common shortcomings while keeping a foot firmly planted in tradition. The bass was recently featured in the February Edition of Premier Guitar.
Sandbergs switchable on-board preamp system gives the player a massive range of tonal options. The traditional build and heavy relic finish gives the feel of a well-loved closet classic, making this a true go-to instrument you’ll play for the rest of your life.
Check out the Premier Guitar’s full review of the CME Exclusive Sandberg Forty Eight Bass here.
Chicago Music Exchange (CME) has been selected for Music Inc. magazine’s prestigious Excellence Awards, an honor bestowed annually upon suppliers, retailers and products with a unique and profound impact on the musical instrument industry. Featured in the publication’s December 2016 issue, CME was hand picked by a panel of voting industry peers as a standout in the Retailer Excellence category.
Associate Editor Alex Harrell accentuated the store’s “destination” status, passionate staff and established social media presence as commonly cited reasons for the nomination.
“The store is still the coolest music shop I’ve ever visited in the U.S.,” said one voting retailer to Harrell. “People shop at CME for the atmosphere and the experience as much as the product.
“They’ve brought us a lot of business, and we’re grateful,” said one supplier. Another voting supplier stated that their company’s growth with CME has been “very steady and healthy,” and reports that business is up 10 percent in the year to date. To read the full story on CME in Music Inc. magazine, you can view the digital version here.
Chicago Music Exchange is honored to be included in the Inc. 5000 in 2015, and we're in great company, too! Read more »
"Chicago Music Exchange releases the brand new exclusive Fender American Special Jazzmaster in limited edition colors, Olympic White, and Sonic Blue. Only fifty of each model will be produced." Read more »
"We're surrounded by song, from concerts in Chicago to a growing list of record stores. The city's list of great music stores is lengthy too. You can find just about anything you need–from fine violins and vintage guitars to sheet music and traditional musical instruments. Who knows. Maybe you'll be taking the stage at one of the city's best rock music venues soon." Read more »
"Chicago Music Exchange wanted to be a part of the unique model, so they had fifteen exclusive Great Lakes Blue Charger 290 LEs made for their store. The CME exclusives also come with a special Souldier Strap." Read more »
"Serial entrepreneurs are critical to a thriving tech ecosystem, and Reverb CEO David Kalt is proof of how the city's startup community is gaining steam." Read more »
"The first 50 Silver Rose pedals in an exclusive sexy white enclosure will be shipping out to Chicago Music Exchange May 2015." Read more »
"In your standard rock quartet, the rhythm section consists of electric bass and drums. Paired together, these two partners in groove can come up with some sizable contributions to pop music history.
Case in point: the 17-minute-and-change video Chicago Music Exchange's Marc Najjar, on the bass, and drummer Nate Bauman made of 100 classic bass riffs and drum beats." Read more »
"CME is back to honor those who keep the groove going by showcasing the 100 most famous bass riffs and drum beats, again, in just one stunning take." Read more »
"Chicago Music Exchange already was a magnet for guitar collectors, wannabe rock stars and actual rock stars when David Kalt bought the Lakeview shop in 2010 from founder Scott Silver.
But Mr. Kalt, who co-founded OptionsXpress Holdings Inc. in 2000, managed to make the pull of the storied shop even stronger by uploading YouTube videos that showcased his musician-employees riffing on his merchandise. A 12-minute clip of salesman Alex Chadwick playing 100 famous guitar riffs in one take went viral in 2012, attracting more than 9 million views to date." Read more »
There’s a social media powerhouse on North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. On the outside, Chicago Music Exchange — a retailer of new, used and vintage music equipment — appears to be a relatively unassuming store on a well-trafficked street with some pretty cool guitars in its window. Nothing about its facade would suggest that it’s the gold standard of social media marketing for independent businesses. Read more »
Bass players are treated like the middle children of rock music, feeling ignored while their siblings get all of the attention. As a result, bass guitars and gear often get little more than a tiny corner of a guitar shop staffed by people with only a cursory knowledge of all things bass. Read more »
Search “guitar riffs” on YouTube, and you’ll find a muscular dude in a Chicago Music Exchange T-shirt plowing through 100 of the most recognizable licks in rock ’n’ roll history. In one take, Alex Chadwick, 29, works seamlessly from the 1954 classic “Mr. Sandman” all the way to St. Vincent’s 2011 hit “Cruel.” It’s transfixing, virtuosic, an exercise in tip-of-the-tongue recognition. Read more »
The mix of gear is already supported strongly by , a website Kalt launched in January 2013, where musicians and dealers can buy, sell, or trade used gear. At press time, the site had done about $1.2 million on 3,500 transactions. With Reverb only taking 3.5 percent of each transaction, Kalt said that the goal of the site is to remove the price friction that exists in such platforms as Amazon and eBay. Read more »
David Kalt has always loved guitars. As owner of the iconic store Chicago Music Exchange, he’s surrounded by guitars all day. Recently, Kalt combined his two biggest passions, music and technology, and founded Reverb.com, an online marketplace for musicians. Read more »
Stage shows come and they go, and as many of the productions that wind their way through Chicago, cast members may or may not find the time to explore all that the city has to offer. For those who venture forth on their days off, there is much to discover. Read more »
Chicago Music Exchange wants to take bass players out of the corner.
The guitar shop — well-known for being a stop for bands passing through town — plans to dedicate its basement to basses by the end of the summer, including doubling its selection. Read more »
David Kalt left OptionsXpress Holdings Inc. and bought a guitar store. For a hotshot fin-tech entrepreneur, that was tantamount to retirement—and, in fact, Mr. Kalt sometimes brings his dog to work or takes breaks to play the $400,000 vintage Les Paul electric guitar sitting a few feet from his desk. Read more »
Nowadays, every company must be a social company. But what does an effective social-marketing campaign really look like? Crain's asked readers to nominate the Chicago companies they think are doing the best job of using social media to communicate with customers, promote products and services, and find new audiences. Among the scores of ideas that came our way, these social media campaigns emerged as among the very best. Read more »
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Instead of top line growth, Chicago Music Exchange's new owner David Kalt is looking to deliver an outsized expeerience for customers and a meaningful career for employees. View PDF »
Chicago Music Exchange Owner David Kalt discusses investments in musical instruments. He speaks with Deirdre Bolton on Bloomberg Television's "Money Moves." Watch Now »
Our David Kalt discusses the Fender IPO and vintage Fender guitars - "I think the appreciation of a rare instrument from the '60s that will never be created again, has a certain vibe, and a special uniqueness to it will appreciate probably 8-12% a year".
No matter what the price, Mr. Kalt says, "you always want to buy guitars in excellent or good condition with all original parts. Modifications or refinished bodies can dramatically impact the price and resale value." And, as important as buying the right guitar may be, the real issue for collectors is often storage: If the instruments aren't kept in the ideal humidity-controlled environment, they can easily deteriorate. Read more »
David Kalt, former CEO of OptionsXpress, discusses the ins and outs of investing in rare, vintage guitars. "When investing in vintage guitars look for reputable dealers because there are issues with counterfeit items." "Store your guitar properly, lack of humidty can cause damage." "Get insurance on your guitar." Watch Now »
Do great guitars ever go out of style? No — but prices tend to fall in hard times. And that's just what happened to prices of vintage guitars — which might make them a good buy now. Vintage Guitar magazine created an annual index based on the sales prices of 42 vintage axes. As of last October, the index was at $750,800, 23% below its peak in 2007. David Kalt, founder of OptionsXpress and now owner of the Chicago Music Exchange, thinks you can find some good deals in vintage guitars, although the very best can come with steep prices. For example, the iconic 1952 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top sells for $23,000 to $26,000. Read more »
David Kalt, owner of Chicago Music Exchange, which sells, among other things, new and vintage guitars. He was previously a founder of the online broker optionsXpress. “The government isn’t necessarily enabling better access to capital for small businesses,” says Kalt. However, he adds, “I don’t think they should make it harder for banks and financiers to run their business.” His suggestion: Creating a system of financial incentives to motivate lenders to make more loans to small businesses... Read more »
I met David Kalt on the sailboat docks at Belmont Harbor in the Summer of 2001. I remember it because he mentioned he had recently started a company called OptionsXpress.com and I had recently taken over as vice president of marketing for the now defunct financial data feed company, Hyperfeed Technologies. We supplied option price data to OptionsXpress.com They were an important client mostly because in the months following 9/11 they seemed to be the only company that was growing and paying their bills on time. Read more »
When David Kalt graduated from the University of Michigan in 1989, he followed his dream of working in the music business by taking a job at a Chi-cago recording studio. He burned out after only two years. “The glamour of working with rock stars and rock star wannabes gets old real quick when you’re working 100 hours a week,”... Read more »
The staff of CME didn't have to go hunting to bag this beast. "This was acquired in one of those incredible moments when a random person walked into a guitar show with a large and odd case. We bought it off of him without knowing any details of its rarity." View PDF »
Professional and amateur guitarists alike know that the place to go for an incomparable instrument is the Chicago Music Exchange. Guitars possess seductive powers. Maybe it’s their curves. Maybe it’s their dazzling array of colors. Perhaps it’s their long, graceful necks. Whatever it is, they beckon to lovers, who become helplessly entranced and hopelessly smitten. Read more »
David Kalt sees his Roscoe Village retail guitar center as more an art gallery than a store."(The store) literally is 20 years of slaving to get these guitars, so it really has become an institution because of that," said Kalt, owner and chief executive of The Chicago Music Exchange on Lincoln Avenue. "I'm sort of like the curator. I just want to keep it alive." Read more »
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Here’s some market insight: you might find a great buy this season in vintage guitars. According to “The 42 Guitar Index” put out each October by Vintage Guitar Magazine, American-made collectable guitars have taken a beating. The index, which is the total value of 42 guitars from three top brands, is at $750,800. That’s 23% off its October 2007 peak of $976,200. (The S&P 500 is down about 20%.)... Read more »
Chicago Music Exchange, located in the Lakeview neighborhood, has gained a national reputation for a used and vintage guitar selection that rivals even the big-boxes. According to owner David Kalt, his company has struck the ultimate balance of selection and service... Read more »
This place is truly Guitar Nirvana! Visiting CME is a not-to-be missed experience for the guitar aficionado. It boasts a staggering collection of the very finest vintage guitars as well as new and used instruments, and stands as one of the most impressive operations of its kind in the world. For almost 20 years... Read more »
Premier Guitar readers have spoken! Chicago Music Exchange is being featured among the "20 Coolest Guitar Shops in the US" as voted by PG readers (in no particular order). Read more »
Somewhere between ogling the eye-candy, and digging into some fine guitars musical instruments, ABC's 190 North crew took the opportunity to talk to the staff about the store, and the most important things about getting into your next instrument. We also may have reenacted some classic movie scenes while we were at it.
Chicago Music Exchange owner David Kalt and store manager George Coutretsis stopped by the WGNTV studio in Chicago to talk with Midday Fix about "How to Buy a Guitar." See the video segment and read the story by clicking the link below. Read more »
David Kalt was a successful serial entrepreneur before the age of 40. He sold his first company, a software maker for the travel industry called Third Party Solutions, in 1999 and took his second business, online options brokerage optionsXpress, public in 2005 with a market cap of more than $1 billion... Read more »
A strange sort of masochism seems to drive broke-ass musicians to take two buses and a train across town just to stew in unrequited gear lust at Chicago Music Exchange, where most... Read more »