Oak Creek's Beyond Eleven guitar shop plugs into the Third Ward
Guitar shops are quite literally on the move in Milwaukee these days.
As Distinctive Guitar, which got its start online, was getting ready to open in Bay View, a local guitar vendor that got its start on the internet was getting settled in new digs in the Third Ward.
Beyond Eleven – which spent about two years in a location on Rawson Avenue in Oak Creek after founder Scott Hrdlicka launched it online in 2006 – has moved its bricks and mortar shop to 318 N. Milwaukee St., next to the Smoke Shack in the Third Ward.
The shop is yards away from where Lo Duca Bros. sold guitars, amplifiers, accordions and other instruments and supplies for decades.
Though there are a couple bits of drum kits perched way up high in the Beyond Eleven shop, the focus is on guitars, amps and parts and accessories for them.
"We specialize in high-gain guitars, amplifiers, repair and parts," says the shop's Brad Beck.
"We try to keep a large selection of parts available for walk-in customers, but also have access to an enormous inventory of parts for special order for almost any repair or upgrade job."
At the moment, the store is specializing in brands like Ibanez, Schecter, Washburn, Orange, Blackstar, Cort and Fernandes.
When you enter, there's a huge wall of Randall amplifier speaker cabinets along the north wall, which really makes you feel like the shop goes "beyond eleven," as the name – which riffs on a famed "This Is Spinal Tap" quote – says.
High-gain gear is popular with metalheads and other guitarists and bassists who prefer loud, distorted sounds.
"Specializing works well when your specialty is popular," says Beck.
"Interest in heavy metal guitars and music has shifted immensely the past couple years. Acoustics have exploded with the new interest in bluegrass and American roots music. We're trying to roll with the punches but we still cater to a niche market in the music industry. Our name is Beyond Eleven, after all."
Rolling with the punches in this case means bringing in a range of instruments that will appeal to players – and potential players – who might prefer other styles of music.
Beck says some Epiphone electric guitars (used by the likes of the Beatles and Oasis, for example) and Washburn acoustic guitars are currently on order and en route to the shop.
"We're making strides to soften our image a bit to appeal to a broader audience," says Beck.
"We're planning to bring in more lines with a broader appeal. We're focused on bringing in lots of used instruments to make our stock more eclectic and unique."
It's been a while since Downtown neighborhoods were home to a guitar shop, so in a sense Beyond Eleven has the musical instrument market cornered in its area.
"We're all guitar players and felt that this area was under-served in terms of a music/guitar store. Arts, culture, dining, and shopping drive the Third Ward – but a guitar player in the Third Ward or Downtown area might have had to hop in car and travel to the suburbs for gear, accessories or parts," says Beck.
"We're happy to bring even more diversity and choice to Milwaukee's Arts District. We're here to be inspired and cater to musicians in the core Downtown area."
The shop also does repair work on instruments. It's open noon to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10-6 on Saturdays.
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