Formerly known as: GUITARS R US
From 1987 - 2001, I was located here at 7404 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, California. Prior to that time, the original store was a few doors west (to the right) at 7414 Sunset, which was later occupied by the Carvin Store.
about ELITE GUITARS (formerly Guitars R Us)
…the original store was an idea I had come up with in late 1983. Before this time I was playing music and gigging around the LA area playing Bass while simultaneously buying, selling and learning about Vintage Guitars, (which for me started in 1972 while I was still in high school). To pay my bills and support myself, I had also been working in the Graphic Arts industry for a small and successful, independently owned company that specialized in Movie advertising (remember, this is Hollywood).
Shortly after arriving in LA in 1977, I had met a guy called Howie Hubberman, who had a small, used guitar shop in North Hollywood. Howie had arrived in California during the same late 1970's period that I came, and by 1983, he had already opened and closed two stores. The LA music scene was blooming in the early 1980's, and Howie had started losing interest in running a retail store and wanted to pursue Music Management. My music career was not very fruitful, and by the time I turned 28, my ambition and desire to work for myself and pursue my own business grew stronger. I decided the timing was right and in early 1984 I approached Hubberman with my idea to open a used and vintage guitar shop in Hollywood. I had decided that a partner would be helpful as I had no prior experience running a Store or any business, but I did already have some Vintage Guitar knowledge and expertise. I approached Hubberman with my idea, and he acknowledged that having another guitar store was an idea which he'd consider if He would not have to “run” it. He stated if I was willing to do most of the heavy lifting and handle the day to day operations, freeing him up to pursue Music Management, that he would agree to a partnership, and off we went.
We procured a small retail space on Sunset Boulevard in 1984, which was the front half of an already existing and small Guitar Repair shop owned and operated by Roman Rist of Rist Guitars. This particular Hollywood location was helpful to us as there was already a very active music scene on Sunset Boulevard. As I recall, there were 8 or 9 other music stores already in existence down there, all operating within a two block area, so there was a lot of existing activity and foot traffic with many musicians, producers and recording artists coming and going at that time. We signed a lease, moved in, put up a sign, bought some inventory and started doing business as Guitars R Us (there were 2 of us, and at that time, the name seemed like a good idea back in 1984).
Just a couple of years after we started, we had outgrown our very tiny 400 square foot retail space. The Guitar Center store was a close neighbor on the street (just a few doors away), and they occupied three storefronts which they eventually outgrew (this was before there was a chain of them). When they expanded and moved across the street into what used to be the Oriental Theater building, we decided to procure one of their former storefronts and relocated our shop, moving a few doors east. We moved into the larger store, business continued to grow, and life was better having more space. Within four years of opening, Hubberman’s music management business had begun to get some traction. Guitars R Us was also quickly becoming a Vintage Guitar resource among many of the well-known LA bands, studio musicians, producers, actor/musicians and many major pro touring acts who frequently came through town. Additionally, being in Hollywood, the visiting International Tourism business also contributed to our fast-paced guitar sales. Simultaneously, Hubberman had been finding more success as a manager and began managing the band Poison. He was also working with Vicky Hamilton, who at that time had started working with Guns N Roses, whom she and Hubberman worked closely with to help keep them going until they could procure a record deal, the band's local club following had grown VERY large as I recall. It was at about this time that I decided Hubberman’s management business, albeit somewhat helpful in bringing guitar business to our store, was sadly also interfering with it’s day to day operations. A year or so later, after much patience, tolerance, and deliberation, I decided that parting ways would allow us to pursue our passions independently and more efficiently. It had become difficult for Guitars R Us to be a Vintage and Used Guitar store and a Music Management office with just one telephone line! So, in 1989, just several years after we opened, Howie and I mutually agreed to split up, go our separate ways and to this day we remain friends.
From 1989 until closing my store in late 2001, I ran Guitars R Us as a sole proprietor and then voluntarily closed the store and decided to take a much needed and long overdue break from a hectic and bustling retail business. Since closing the store, I have been fortunate to continue working “privately” with so many of the talented music industry professionals with whom I established long-standing relationships that continue today. I have additionally worked on many guitar related publications, books, and special industry projects. Through study and exploration, I have also expanded my vintage guitar knowledge, music knowledge as well as enhanced my guitar photography and editing skills but I have never stopped loving, playing, collecting, learning about and teaching about Vintage Guitars, a topic, passion and business that is very near and dear to me and one that I take very seriously.
Fast forward to today, I am introducing my 1st website, a new name and a professionally run online business. With it, I bring 45 plus years of vintage guitar experience and expertise, including 33 years as a known professional industry vendor, author, collector and expert appraiser in the Vintage Instrument realm, which includes nearly two decades as an Owner/Operator of a high-volume Retail Vintage Guitar business in Los Angeles. I plan to begin displaying and offering many instruments from my private, preserved and uncirculated instrument collection which I have been assembling for the better part of 35 years. Some of it has appeared in Calendars, Magazines, Internet Stories and many of the Guitar Specialty Books that we all know and love and some of it has also gone out into the world, appearing on stages and in studios around the planet in the hands of many well respected and talented artists.
The name “ELITE GUITARS” comes from my grandfather, who as a youngster migrated from Italy to the U.S. with his family in the early 1900’s. He later developed into a rather entrepreneurial individual. He proceeded to flourish, opening and operating his own local business and later as he continued thriving, he began procuring Real Estate too. The local business was a neighborhood barbershop which he started in the late 1940’s and operated into the 1960’s called the “ELITE BARBER SHOP” which existed in Newark, New Jersey. I have many memories of going there as a kid (although I hated haircuts and today wished I had more hair), but I remember the name was painted on the front window in large letters, and it always stuck with me. So as an homage to him and the business he started and ran up until his death in 1968, I opted to use the family business name that he created and today “ELITE GUITARS” is born. Albert Molinaro
To All of our Present and Previous Customers and Friends of the last 3+ Decades
Thank You ALL for your help, support, friendship and business!
In First-Name Alphabetical order, culled from an aging memory bank.
Abe Laboriel Jr., AC/DC, Adam Day, Aimee Mann, Alan (Bugs) Weidel, Albert Collins, Albhy Galuten, Alan Rogan, Allen Woody, Alex Alvarez, Alex Schultz, Al Kooper, Alphonse Kettner, Andrew Farriss, Andrew & David Williams,
Andrew Gold, Andy Slater, Artie Smith, Axl Rose, Beck, Ben Harper, Benmont Tench, Ben Taylor, Bernie Larsen, Big Elf, Bill Asher Guitars, Bill Frisell, Bill Overstreet, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Corgan, Billy Duffy, Billy F. Gibbons,
Bill Horn, Bill Lynch, Bill Mumy, Bill Thomson, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Idol, Billy Zoom, Blair Tefkin, Bob Glaub, Bob Mann, Bob Margouleff, Bob Mithoff, Bob Rock, Bobby Carlos, Brendan O'Brien, Brian Blade, Brian Ray,
Brian Setzer, Bret Michaels, Bruce Kulick, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Judge, Buddy Miller, Buddy Whittington, Buzz Feiten, Capital Records, Carla Azar, Carla Olson, Carlene Carter, Carol Kaye, C.C. DeVille, Cesar Rojas, Char,
Charlie Drayton, Charlie Sexton, Cheap Trick, Chris Bruce, Chris Chaney, Chris Isaak, Chrissie Hynde, Chris Robinson, Chris Stills, Clint Black, Coco Montoya, Corey Stevens, Counting Crows, Craig Fruin, Craig Ross, Craig Sharmat, Curt Schneider, Dan Lanois, Dallas Schoo, Dan Schwartz, Danny Ferrington, Danny Bennett, Danny Kortchmar, Danny Quatrochi, Darryl Jones, Dave Amato (REO), Dave Edmunds, Dave Grohl, Dave Immerglück, Dave Jerden, Dave Matthews, Dave Rawlings, Dave Rouze, Davey Faragher, David Byrne (Talking Heads), David Hildago, David Tickle, Dean DeLeo, Dean Parks, Debbie Davies, DiVinyls, Don Boyette, Don Henley, Don Kirkpatrick, Don Smith, Don Was, Doug Fieger, Doyle Bramhall II, Drac Conley, Dreamworks, Duff McKagan (GNR), Duke Levine, Dweezil Zappa, Dwight Yoakum, Elliott Easton, Edward VanHalen, Eric Bazillian, Eric Johnson, Ethan Johns, Foo Fighters,
Francis Stueber, Frank Simes, Frank Stallone, Frank Sullivan, Garry Beers, Geddy Lee, George Doering, George Drakoulias, George Harrison, Gerry McGee, Gilby Clarke, Gillian Welch, Gin Blossoms, Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull),
Goo Goo Dolls, Greg Leisz, Groove Masters, Guns N' Roses, History For Hire, Hard Rock Cafe, Hole, Hollywood Joe, Howie Epstein, Hutch Hutchinson, INXS, Izzy Stradlin, J.W Black, Jack Daley, Jack Joseph Puig, Jackson Browne,
Jakob Dylan, James Guthrie, Jane Wiedlin, Jason Falkner, Jason Sinay, Jay Baumgardner (NRG Studios), Jeff Foskett (Beach Boys & Brian Wilson), Jeff Golub, Jeff Harlan, Jeff Lynne, Jeff Ross, Jeff Trott, JellyFish, Jerry Finn,
Jetboy, Jim Jannard, Jim Peterik, Jimmy Crespo, Jimmy Earl, Jimmy Vivino, Jimmy Wilsey, Joan Armatrading, Joe Arthur, Joe Henry, Joe Walsh, John 5, John Ciambotti, John Depp, John Doe, John Fogerty, John Frusciante,
John Jorgensen, John Mayall, John Mayer, John McEnroe, John Neff, John Nelson, John Shanks, John Stamos, Jon Brion, Jon Marx, Jordan Tarlow, Jorge Calderón, Juke Logan, Julian Raymond (Big Machine), Junior Watson,
Keith Nelson, Keith Richards, Keith Scott, Kenny Edwards, Kevin Augunas (Fairfax Recorders), Kevin Buell, Kid Ramos, Kiefer Sutherland, Kirk Fletcher, Kirk Hammett, Kiss, LA Guns, Kurt Cobain, Larry Carlton, Larry Cragg,
Larry Klein, Larry Taylor, Lenny Kravitz, Leon Gaer, Limp Bizkit, Line 6, Los Lobos, Lyle Workman, Maestro Alex Gregory, Maple Burn, Marc Copely, Mark Browne, Mark Goldenberg, Mark Howard, Mark Karan, Mark T. Williams,
Martha Quinn, Matt and Gunnar Nelson, Matthew Sweet, Metallica, Michael Anderson, Michael Landau, Michael Lockwood, Michael Penn, Michael Rhodes, Michael Ward, Mick Mars, Mick Ralphs, Mike Campbell, Mike Clink,
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Mike Reilly Band, Motley Crue, Mychael Bates, Need To Breathe, Nelson Guitarwerks, New West Records, Nick Lashley, Nikki Sixx, Niko Bolas, Nirvana, NiteBob, Olivier Le Baron, Oliver Leiber,
Parthenon Huxley, Patrick Warren, Pat Smear, Paul Ackling, Paul Brown, Paul Bryan, Paul DeVilliers, Paul Gilbert, Paul Stanley, Perry Margouleff, Pete Anderson, Peter Buck, Peter Curry (Los Straitjackets), Phil Chen,
Pierre DeBeauport, Pino Palladino, Poison, Quince Buteau, Ratt, R.E.M., Randall Wallace, Randall Marsh, Randell Kirsch, Ratt, Ray Gomez, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Reeves Gabrels, René Martinez, Richard Gere, Richard Harrah,
Rich Mazzetta, Rich Robinson, Richard Cousins, Rick Holmstrom, Rick Nielsen, Rick Perrotta, Rick Vito, Rick Young, Rob Allen Guitars, Rob Laufer, Robben Ford, Robbin Crosby, Robert Cray, Robert DeLeo, Roger Manning,
Ron Blair, Rufus Wainwright, Russ Titelman, Rusty Anderson, Ry Cooder, Sam Jones, Sam Phillips, Scott Thomas, Scott Thurston, Seal, Seymour Duncan, Sheldon Gomberg, Sheryl Crow, Simple Minds, Slash, Smokey Hormel,
Social Distortion, Soul Asylum, Stan Lynch, Steve Carnelli, Steve Earle, Steve Farris, Steve Gornall, Steve Hoffman, Steve Hunter (The Deacon), Steve "Jonesy" Jones, Steve Jordan, Steve Stevens, Steve Soles, Steve Vai,
Steve “Chinner” Winstead, Steven Hufstetter, Stevie Gurr, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Sting, Stone Temple Pilots, Survivor, System Of A Down, T-Bone Burnett, Tad Wadhams, Taras Prodaniuk, Tchad Blake, Ted Greene, Ted Landau,
The Bangles, The Beach Boys, The Black Crowes, The Cardigans, The Church, The Cult, The Edge, The GoGo’s, The Rolling Stones, The Traveling Wilbury's, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Wallflowers, Thom Lowry, Tim Pierce,
Tito Larriva (Tito & Tarantula), Todd Wolfe, Tom Petersen, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Tonic, Tony Berg, Tony Gilkyson, Tony Marsico, Toru Nittono Guitars, Tracii Guns, U2, Val McCallum, Vicky Hamilton, Victoria Williams,
Vincent Gallo, Vinnie Vincent, Waddy Wachtel, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Weezer, Wendy & Susanna Melvoin, West Arkeen, William Olvis, Will Lee, Winona Ryder, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zack Smith