Through the passionate pursuit of music, and the art of fine-tuning stringed instruments, Ant Hill Music has quickly become a mainstay for luthiers and guitar players alike. Just 8 years ago, Ant Hill started with an idea to sell quality, hard-to-find parts for guitars, and quickly grew into a full-fledged online business serving many international clients, as well as maintaining a stellar guitar showroom in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From guitars, to mandolins, and even accordions, they have helped thousands of professional musicians build, replace, repair and tune their prized instruments and continue to do so to this day.
We at Cleartone are fortunate to have teamed up with Ant Hill Music as they continue their successful journey. Dan Kwains, Operations Manager, sat down with us recently to give more insight as to how Ant Hill Music got started.
J: How did the Ant Hill name come about?
D: The owner’s father at one point had a business that had an ant as the mascot so throughout the years he adopted that and kept it going.
J: Have people been pretty receptive to the custom Ant Hill logo guitar picks out there, they like em a lot?
D: They’re great. It’s one of those items that we can give out and if people want them, great, they keep them and if they lose them, that’s cool too. At least our name is out there. We put them in all of our packages too. Also if anybody here is going to a show or a gig we make them take a handful to give out on stage and at the bar to get some promotion for our store & website.
J: They’re like business cards but they’re cheaper and you can actually use them for something.
D: Absolutely, You can use it, you can lose it, it’s an easy way to promote.
J: With that said, you’re all guitar players out there? You all seem passionate about what you do.
D: Yes, everyone here either plays guitar, bass, drums etc. We’re a hotrod shop for guitars. Our tech is really good at creating new mods. He is always working on different ways to wire a guitar, over the last couple of years we’ve built a strong reputation for wiring instruments, doing setups etc. and we have a much quicker turnaround time than what Sam Ash and Guitar Center offers.
J: They’re always the folks to beat since they’re leading the way in terms of music shop consolidation.
D: We’re not trying to compete with anybody. We do what everybody else isn’t doing… and do it well.
We’re a growing shop that provides great customer service to everyone in-store and online. We try to be that 1 stop shop. We got it all and give you the personal service you need to get it installed, or gladly explain how to do it properly.
J: I noticed you guys do how-to videos on YouTube, how are those going?
D: Yes, we are always working on that. We have our YouTube Channel, “Ant Hill TV” and a blog site, “Ant Hill Music Magazine.” We try to go over topics we find important for maintaining your instrument, or something cool that walked in the shop that you won’t see everyday. We also like to give you a bit of an education or a spotlight on new products. Most importantly its function is to keep people engaged with some of the fun things that go on at Ant Hill Music.
J: Sounds like you’re all experienced as luthiers as well as business owners. How has that played into everyday business?
D: We work hard to create a great customer experience and we enjoy doing it. We are fortunate to be a growing business in an industry we love so much. Everyone here brings their skills to the table and that combined is what makes us successful.
J: So as far as combined experience goes…
We have 50+ years combined experience, We Started Ant Hill 8 years ago with an idea to (originally) sell some parts online. From back then it’s grown. 4 years ago we opened a nice retail space in Fort Lauderdale, created a showroom for people to come in and check out the latest and greatest of what we’re selling and handle any services needed for your instrument.
J: I noticed you do a lot of international business as well. Has that been a challenge, or how has that been going?
D: We try to cater to everybody. There is a lot of business to capture out there, were trying to get our product to whoever needs it. It’s been successful. There are a lot of places that won’t ship internationally so we wanted to offer that service and do it right.
J: Any favorite guitarists out there? Any shout-outs?
D: We’ve had Yngwie come by a couple years ago. Also had an original member of Arrested Development. We’ve had some other local funk and jazz guys come in. One of the coolest visits we’ve had was a gentleman named Keith Levene. Keith Levene is a founding member of The Clash, PIL (Public Image Limited) and The Flowers of Romance (most notable for featuring a pre-Sex Pistols Sid Vicious). We sold him some Cleartone Reds and he loved them! He’s actually in Prague right now recording new PIL tracks & had us ship him some more Reds for his recording sessions. I think that’s pretty cool! The guy is a living legend and we got him to play Cleartones!
J: Of course we don’t build guitars like you all but when it comes to strings we could talk about strings for days.
D: Hands down your strings are awesome! We are always converting people, and we tell everyone, “If you don’t like them bring them back, well swap them for whatever you want.” So far people just come back for more.
You can check out Ant Hill’s massive selection of guitar parts at www.anthillmusic.com. We wish Ant Hill Music all the continued success the world has to offer, and we’re humbled to have them as an Authorized Cleartone Dealer.