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.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.