Spindrift sidles into city's music scene

Mike Stryker, owner of the new Spindrift Guitars at the corner of State Street and Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London, plays a guitar in the showroom Monday.
Mike Stryker, owner of the new Spindrift Guitars at the corner of State Street and Eugene O'Neill Drive in New London, plays a guitar in the showroom Monday. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

New London - Among guitar lovers, it's well known that the urge to buy guitar after guitar can barely be contained.

The affliction even has a name: Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.

"No known cure," said Mike Stryker, whose guitar shop opened this month at the corner of State Street and Eugene O'Neill Drive.

Stryker does suggest a treatment, though, a regimen he believes can keep G.A.S. symptoms at bay.

"Frequent visits to Spindrift Guitars," he said.

Hundreds made such a pilgrimage Feb. 2, crowding the spacious new shop during its first day of business, John Van Ness, Spindrift's general manager, said last week. At no point did fewer than 25 customers occupy the store, he said.

Stryker, Van Ness and Michael "Whit" Whitney, Spindrift's technical adviser, broke out Spindrift's inventory in the last couple of days before the opening, arranging guitars on freshly painted walls, stands and racks. The shop features acoustic and electric guitars and amplifiers, a ukulele display and all manner of guitar accessories, including a line of custom straps.

Guitars fill big bay windows looking out from the front of the shop at 107-115 State St. and on Eugene O'Neill Drive, where some 10,000 vehicles a day pass by, according to Van Ness. Drivers entering the city on Eugene O'Neill encounter a big rendering of the Spindrift logo on the back of the building - diagonally across the intersection from Caruso Music's familiar lettering.

Stryker, a financial adviser with UBS Financial Services, and Van Ness, a former Caruso employee who has worked for major musical instrument manufacturers, discussed opening a guitar shop soon after Caruso's owners decided last year to devote their business to pianos.

Stryker and Van Ness considered sites on Bank and lower State Street before 107-115 State St. became available.

Spindrift's founders have paid much attention to detail, starting with the name of the shop and the design of its logo. "I wanted a nautical theme, went online and came up with Spindrift," Van Ness said. "It's the spray of white on top of the waves at sea, or blowing snow. It's an elegant word."

The "S" in Spindrift is fashioned after the f-shaped holes cut in the front of guitars and other stringed instruments.

Inside the store, Van Ness' 25 years of experience in the music business are evident. Spindrift feels like a guitar store for serious players. Van Ness pointed out a special room where a customer can try out instruments in private.

"Even good players don't want to play in front of people," he said.

Spindrift will cater to both acoustic and electric guitar players, offering high-end instruments costing more than $2,000 as well as a selection of guitars for under $1,000. Online sales will represent a major part of the business. Spindrift will produce its own high-quality photographs of the inventory it makes available on its website.

One wall of the shop will feature photos of customers and their guitars, part of an effort to "help people feel as though they belong to a guitar community," Van Ness said.

One member of that community sang Spindrift's praises last week while trying out an instrument in the store's bass room.

"I think it's absolutely fantastic," said Jake Kaeser, a harpsichord-maker who owns Kaeser Instruments on Jay Street in the city. "There's great synergy with Caruso's across the street. Music is so big in this city, with all the bands that pass through.

"And this is a fabulous lineup of instruments - very high quality."

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Jake Kaeser tries-out an Epiphone Jack Casady Signature series bass guitar at the new Spindrift Guitars on State Street in New London Monday.
Jake Kaeser tries-out an Epiphone Jack Casady Signature series bass guitar at the new Spindrift Guitars on State Street in New London Monday. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Business Snapshot

Spindrift Guitars

Owner: Mike Stryker

Employees: 3

Address: 107 State St., New London

Phone: (860) 444-2112

Website: www.spindriftguitars.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Additional hours available by appointment.

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