Rich Tone Music

I recently had a Wayne’s World moment. Upon strolling into the emporium of axes they call Rich Tone, I caught the attention of a chap by the name of Joe and stated my desire to try out the guitar of my boyhood dreams; the mighty and versatile Telecaster. I had, many years ago, made myself the solemn promise that one day, it would be mine. Oh yes, it would be mine. This, dear reader, was that day.

Joe, not knowing my life’s ambition and, to the best of my knowledge, possessing no powers of clairvoyance, could not have known this in advance. I was expecting the experience I had wearily endured ad nausea at countless other shops to begin in earnest the moment I stood from the stool. The sycophantic reassurances about my distinctly average playing ability. The offer to show me ‘what it can do’. Then, inevitably, the up-sell to the more expensive model as an ‘investment’ and all the extras they can convince me that I need.

So, when Joe very cordially asked if I was happy with it, then – having been told that I was – walked me over to the till, I naturally expected the music from the Twilight Zone to start coming over the P.A. system. It never did.

I now sit gazing adoringly at my butterscotch blonde Tele, having decided to give all the credit where it’s due to Joe in the form of this little yarn. I also popped back in to get a few words from the man himself. That and to plot the acquisition of a suitable amp to do justice to Sharona. (C’mon, you’ve got to name it.)


Joe, I’ve got than an inkling that this is more than just a job to you,
Ohh, yes (broad grin)

So can you tell me a bit about your background in music?
I first got into music when I started playing the Clarinet at the age of about eight; I was in a woodwind orchestra. Then, when comprehensive school came around, I was given the option of continuing with the Clarinet or to start something new. I was at that crucial age of around eleven and the electric guitar had that special appeal. So, I found an old electric guitar in my brother’s wardrobe – it had three remaining strings – and never looked back.
A beat-up, three stringed, hand-me-down as your first guitar? That’s a rock ‘n’ roll beginning right there
(Coy smile) Well…

So, about the shop itself. Since I’ve been telling all that will listen about my experience here, I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t know of it. Something of a Sheffield institution… How long have you been open?
(Laughs) yeah, we hope so. We’ve been open seven years now, here. The two directors, James and Rich, started with an online business, then a small, appointment only store. Then around four years later they were able to get a place that could act as a retail outlet, or hotspot, and as a showcase for all of these instruments.

Well they’ve landed right on with this place. What would you say was the specific ethos of Rich Tone, if anything, which makes it so popular?
I like to think that, well… When I was first coming to guitar shops, I could find them quite intimidating. I was completely new to it all and the people working there could often make you feel like you couldn’t ask them a question, because it may seem like a stupid one. I, and the rest of us, don’t want anyone to feel like that. Like they can ask us anything, have a play on anything. We want to be a guitar shop for anyone, of any ability, I suppose.

What would be your top choice from either end of the spectrum. Your ‘star guitar’ and your ‘budget hero’, if you will?
Ooof. Well, for me personally, my dream guitar would be the Gibson Flying V. It just embodies that rebelliousness that gets kids playing, and looks and sounds amazing. And the ‘budget hero’, would have to be the Squire range from Fender. In the last decade or so they’ve become so playable and easy to get to grips with. They also sound great and make a perfect model to customise, play about with. Spray paint it and no regrets!

Joe, it’s been a pleasure and I’ll see you soon for that orange amp. It will be mine, oh yes…


Words: Ben Jackson
Images courtesy of Rich Tone Music


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