12 QUESTIONS WITH JIM DESTAFNEY – BLUES ANGEL MUSIC

Can you give a brief history of your store?
Blues angel music opened it’s doors in Pensacola Florida on Aug 15, 1997. We started as a one man operation in a 2500 sq ft shop with a couple of guitar teachers and a part time amp tech – and after 2 years I hired my first full time employee. We specialized in used gear mostly, and offered high quality guitar and amp repair. In 2007 we relocated to an adjacent space and increased our floorspace to 6500 sq ft. We also gradually broadened our focus to include drums, keyboards, and PA. On March 1 of this year, we opened up our new store in a spectacular 14,000 building! We now have a total of 18 employees, including myself and my wife. I’ve got 4 repair techs, 8 teachers, and a full time webmaster.

Was there a particular person — a teacher, another store owner, a family member or friend, etc. — who inspired you to go into this business?
I got into this business after I retired from 25 year career as a Navy Fighter Pilot. I made the decision a couple of years prior that I wanted my second career to be “FUN”! I was a guitar junkie, and for many years had harbored the fantasy of having my own music store. Like so many “old guys” like me, the inspiration to learn to play the electric guitar came from the Beatles and British invasion in general, and the Ventures. So now I’ve come full circle and am playing in a Beatles Tribute Band, “Not Quite Fab”.

What instrument(s) do you play personally? Do you have a band?
I have all the George Harrison guitars that I use in my Beatles Band. I also have a Reverend Jetstream 390 with Wilkinson trem that I absolutely love. It’s probably the most versatile electric guitar that I own. For amps I’ve got a ’74 Vox AC-30 and a ’79 Deluxe Reverb. They’re both great amps.

What makes your store different from the average “Big Box” music store?
Just like “Reverend Guitars”, we’re very different from the ‘Big Box” competitors. We put customer service ahead of everything else. I literally hear from customers on a daily basis how much they dislike dealing with “The Music Center” across town. Unlike most independent store owners I DON’T want “Music Center” to go out of business…..They make me look too darn good!!! We have also always emphasized used gear, trades, and fair pricing to make the deal. Heck, this week I did 2 sales that we took a $50 guitar Center gift card in trade, and a $50 Best Buy gift card in trade. Gave them face value on their gift cards!!! Try doing that at your local music store!

What has been your proudest moment as a musical instrument dealer so far?
My proudest moment since I’ve been in business was definitely the recent purchase of our new building and our Grand opening on 3 March. In spite of all day pouring rain we had over 1000 people come in! We had the best single day of sales in the stores history, and had a charity raffle of over $16,000 worth of new musical gear, including the absolutely stunning candy apple red Jetstream 290 that Ken, Penny and the Reverend family was kind enough to donate! Thanks again for that Ken. We raised $9000 that was given to the American Red Cross and the USO at the event!

How did you hear about Reverend?
I’ve been with Reverend from the very beginning when Joe Naylor started the guitar business back in 1997. I remember reading about the guitars in a magazine and gave Joe a call. We’ve been onboard ever since.

What Reverend models do you stock regularly?
We usually stock almost everything, but my personal favorites are the Manta Ray, Double Agent, Buckshot, Jetstream, EastSider, Gil Parris, Reeves Gabrels, Six Gun, and Flatrock.

What do you like about working with Reverend Guitars?
I’ve always loved working with Reverend Guitars – Ken Haas and Joe Naylor.They are first and foremost good people and a pleasure to do business with. And, of course, their instruments are consistently superb.

What amp brands do you sell? What pedal brands?
We carry a lot of used and vintage amps. My best selling new amplifiers are Blackstar and Vox.

Blackstar has been an especially strong performer this year. They’re taking away a lot of the Marshall business and I can see why…..Like Reverend guitars, a great value for your money.

With respect to pedals, we are the primary retailer in the world for John Landgraff and Bob Burt Pedals! These are amazing products…I believe John Landgraff’s Dynamic Overdrive may be the best all around overdrive/distortion pedal ever built. They are one of the few boutique pedals that are hand wired and point to point. We also carry Fulltone, Pigtronix, Boss, Cruizer, and Electro Harmonix.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?
What are my hobbies??? Working primarily. Playing with my Beatles Tribute band is a joy, and I also love to kayak and paddleboard. We live close to Pensacola Bay so I’m usually on the water 3-4 times a week. Also enjoy taking care of my 2 dogs, 3 cats, and our store mascot, JoJo….a blue and gold macaw!!!

Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
Advice from me???? HAHAHAHA!!! I’m a horrible guitar player….my advice is don’t spend your life “wishing” you could play a particular style…DO IT!! Practice every day….turn off the television and computer and PRACTICE!!!

Please tell us about any events you have coming up?
Our vision in this new store is to make it a music making center as well as a retail, repair, and lesson center. We keep our in store stage ready to be used by anyone at a moment’s notice. We just had Fred Gretsch and Joe Carducci stop in and give a presentation on the history of Gretsch Guitars and the making of the George Harrison DuoJets. We’ll do anything to make this a fun, events driven music center. So Ken & Joe….when can I schedule you guys to come down and do a regional clinic on Reverend guitars!?!?

Thanks Ken and Joe for making a great product and being a great company to do business with!!!

Jim DeStafney
Blues Angel Music