Axe Music
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Par Bob Keelaghan

The Giant Guitar Marks The Musical Spot

Axe Music is Calgary’s largest music store, carrying a vast inventory of instruments, PA equipment, DJ decks and recording gear as well as offering lessons and repairs. “You want to be able to buy the instruments, learn how to use them and get them serviced. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop,” says Brian Cymbaluk, the Calgary store’s managing partner since 2003.

Regardless of the variety, the giant guitar in front of the store on Macleod Trail is the tip off as to what's inside. Often it acts as bait for guitar collectors, as Brian recounts. “I’m sitting in my office, out of the corner of my eye, I see this guy come in and I do a  double take. I look closer and it’s Joe Walsh!” The legendary guitarist from The Eagles, James Gang and “Rocky Mountain Way” fame just happened to be passing by on his way to the Saddledome and impulsively wanted to see if Axe had any instruments he could add to his own massive guitar collection. Indeed it did, as he found a Fender Stratocaster to his liking.

You want to be able to buy the instruments, learn how to use them and get them serviced. Basically, it’s a one-stop shop. - Brian Cymbaluk, managing partner
Axe Music carries hundreds of guitar makes and models.
Axe Music's selection of electric and acoustic guitars numbers in the hundreds.

A Warehouse-Size Instrument Selection

Inside the main show room of the 21,000 square-foot music store, just about every brand of electric guitar is displayed upon its walls. Walsh had a lot to browse, like any Axe customer. Brian estimates the store carries between 600 and 1,000 electric, bass and acoustic guitars at any given time, be they budget, beginner guitars or high-end Paul Reed Smiths and Fenders.

Venture into its side rooms, and just about every type of popular musical instrument is available. Of course, there is an amplifier room in which pickers and strummers can try out the electric guitars. Another houses drum kits by Pearl, Tama and Yamaha. The keyboard room features electric pianos, synthesizers, samplers and recording gear. At the back of the shop, one finds an arsenal of PA gear, lighting equipment and DJ turntables and mixers.

Brian, who started at Axe’s Edmonton parent store in 1989, is a mutli-instrumentalist and drummer for local rock band Suicide Blonde. Like him, the rest of the store's staff are experienced musicians who are able to help customers make informed choices when purchasing musical gear.

“Keyboardists and drummers, like me, play guitar because we want to write melodic things. There are a ton of guitar players. But electronic dance music (EDM) is huge. One of my guys who works in my technology room is not a musician, yet he makes albums. He uses technology to realize the music in his head.”

Axe Music is Calgary's largest music store.
The drum room at Axe Music features top-brand drums kits, parts and accessories.

Musical Lessons and Equipment Repair

As far as getting customers to the level of making their own music, Axe offers a variety of lessons for guitar and drums as well as DJ teaching labs. The store also employs guitar-repair and electronic technicians to keep its customers' musical gear in top shape.

“Basically, if we can’t fix it on-site, we find out where it can be repaired and we send it off for you,” says Brian, adding that the store’s central location and comprehensiveness makes it an ideal destination for musicians across the city. “We want to be everything to everybody, so it gives them as much reason as possible to come here.”

Axe Music is located on Macleod Trail Southeast.
The musically conspicuous giant guitar on Macleod Trail marks the location of Axe Music.
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