Mystic Music lets you jam before you buy at downtown Fresno shop
Tom Walzem is a bit bummed out.
He just opened Mystic Music, a shotgun shack of a music shop on Van Ness Avenue in downtown Fresno.
It's full of vintage gear; guitars and amps and pedals, mostly from the 1960s and '70s, though some of it dates back to the '40s. There's a 1962 Magnatone amp and a Fender Deluxe from the early 1950s and for a guitar nerd like Walzem this is heaven.
It's the music shop he's always dreamed of opening and the thing that has him down is that he's been too busy with the work to really play with any of the stuff.
"I want to make sure we all stop during the day and play some music," Walzem says.
Most everything in the shop is sold on consignment, though a few pieces come from Walzem's own collection.
For instance, an Echoplex EP-2 tape loop machine.
Elvis Presley's guitar player used a version of the Echoplex in the 1950s. Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd relied heavy on it in their heyday.
This particular machine was one of those rare Craigslist finds that people always talk about, but no one really believe exists.. Walzem was the first person to respond to the ad and was so quick about it, the seller was shocked.
It's one of the few things in the shop that is not for sale, Walzem says, though it could fetch $1,200 or so.
There are many guitar players who have never even heard of an Echolex, much less heard one used like this, Walzem says.
It's exactly the type of stuff they want to have in the store.
Mystic Music is rare in that way, says Mike Scott, a Fresno musician and Walzem's band mate in the surf rock group The Neptunes. There are some great music shops in town that sell new stuff. There are few that offer this kind of vintage gear. Fewer still have a repair department that can bring that gear into playing shape.
For that Walzem brought in Dave Cole, whom longtime Fresno musicians will remember from his work at the repair shop Backline. Cole has a workshop set up in the back of the store and offers a full array of repair services, not limited to a complete refretting.
Scott likens the shop to Lightning Joe's Guitar Heaven in Arroyo Grande, where everything out on floor for sale has been looked at and worked on by Lightning Joe himself.
It's what customers come in for and expect.
In Fresno, Cole is the guy who works at that level, Scott says.
"It's nice to know where he's at."
Of course, Walzem wants the shop to be about more than retail. He hopes to build a community around the shop, something similar, in overall vibe at least, to what Gazebo Gardens has done with its weekly food truck gatherings.
"Music stores are usually like, 'Kid, do you wanna buy something? No? Then get out," Walzem says.
Mystic Music isn't that. There's a stage set up next to the front window and on the other side of the sales counter a stand with beer taps. The shop will eventually have a license to sell, Walzem says, for those looking to hang out some.
So, there's space for that too. There's a couch and chairs set up and around mid-century modern coffee table and on any given day you'll likely find someone noodling away on a guitar.
"It's just kinda like someone's cool house," Walzem says.
1822 Van Ness Ave.