Kent’s Ohio Music shop provides handmade guitars, weekly performances



Nicole Delsanter

Woody James—famous for his handmade guitars and career in the rock ‘n’ roll industry—works methodically with all of his tools laid out on the cluttered bar which doubles as his work bench. His hands are steady as he puts together the wires of the electric guitar in the music shop, Ohio Music in downtown Kent.

In the shop, classic rock hums through the radio, and guitar magazines and newspapers line the bar. Later in the day, James takes a break to teach a short guitar lesson to a 7-year-old Kent resident.

At night, the shop changes into a bar and small concert venue. The lights go down, and the beer starts flowing.

The small stage lights up and an enthusiastic crowd gathers to share their talents and watch other performances. Everything from high school garage bands to old guys and their guitars come to perform. The store, with its many followers and customers, brings a little life to the downtown Kent area.

Ohio Music, located next to Acorn Alley, celebrated its one-year anniversary in May, and the business owners have some big plans for the future. When it was first opened, Ohio Music sold Woody James guitars, which were previously sold online.

“We were building guitars in Woody’s house until his wife said ‘Get out,’” said Jeff Fulkman, one of the business partners.

Woody James guitars feature 22 different models of guitars in electric and acoustic. All instruments are built in house, and made with 100 percent American parts. The store also makes their own pedals brand named Old School Effects. While the store carries other brands of guitars and equipment, other instruments are not available.

Guitars hang from every inch of the walls and Woody’s handmade guitars sparkle and shine, just begging to be played. Throughout the day, James works on building and refurbishing old guitars and gives short lessons to the locals.

“Depending on the type of guitar, it usually takes me about seven hours to build a new one from start to finish,” James said.

The shop just expanded and is as busy as ever. Fulkman was working on a fern garden for the new addition, which will house the store’s collection of acoustic guitars.

“Guitars need to be kept in a moist environment and instead of using a humidifier, we’re going to have a garden,” he said.

The garden will be small, and ferns are being used because they give off the most moisture, Fulkman added.

“We are a guitar store that happens to have beer and live music,” Fulkman said. “We are a guitar store first and foremost.”

The store was just renovated and is no longer hidden from the road. Before, the shop didn’t have a front window display, and it often went unnoticed.

“People don’t know we’re here ‘cause they can’t see us from the road,” said business partner, Jeff Fulkman before the remodel.

Music fanatic and Columbus resident Chris Alverson, frequently visits downtown Kent for its array of music stores. He said he did not know about Ohio Music until he literally fell into their sign on the sidewalk.

Tuesday nights the store hosts Jazz night. Various jazz bands and performers from the area come to perform. Every Thursday, the store hosts an open mic night that also includes different acts and performers.

“We see some great acts on Thursday,” said Fulkman. “All kinds of people come and perform; young and old attend. We have a very big following.”

Every weekend, rock bands play live music. The owner’s band, Reil Young, a tribute to Neil Young, also plays on occasion.

“We’re all just old hippies who have been playing since we were 12 and can’t seem to give it up,” Fulkman said.

Ohio Music also offers repairs and will buy gently used guitars and equipment. In the basement of the store, there is a large space that is rented out for a small fee to bands looking for rehearsal space.

The owners plan to add theater seating to their live stage and a selection of wine to their bar menu. A new line of amps called Bullet Proof Amplifiers will also be ready for the summer.

Nicole Deslanter is a Summer Kent Stater reporter. Contact her at [email protected].