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Cover Story

Cover Photo and Article By: Rachel Rocks

Talkin’ Shop with Creter Guitar Shop

   Buy, Sell, Trade, Teach, Speak, and Fix Guitars… Since 1984 Creter Guitar Shop in Jonestown, PA does all of that, and so much more. Mom and I had the opportunity to stop in and visit with Matt Creter and his right hand man, Ron Yantz to find out everything that Creter Guitar Shop has to offer. They were closely protected by their shop mascot, Arlo.

   As soon as you walk through the door you are quickly amazed by the amount of guitars hanging on the walls, acoustic on one wall, electric on the other. Matt has plenty of guitars for everyone from beginner, all the way up to the professional level. Plus, in every little space they have all the gadgets and gizmos you can imagine for fixing and accessorizing your guitar. If they don’t have it, chances are it doesn’t exist! Since they also trade guitars they have a few extra special ones in special cases throughout the shop. One of the super special guitars is a Fender Stratocaster signed by the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not only does it have his signature, but he also wrote, “Play her with a feelin!” This particular guitar was signed in February of 1991, just six months before Stevie Ray died in the plane crash. Matt has quite the story on how he acquired the guitar too that I’m sure he would love to tell you about.

   Matt grew up in a family that loved music. His Dad, Fred Creter always had music playing, he was a big BB King fan, and always had a harmonica in his pocket. Matt’s passion for guitar happened many years ago around the age of 10 when he would sneak into his big brother Steve’s room to play his guitar. At 12 years old he finally got his first guitar, an Emenee Tiger! By 15 years old he was playing in Southbound with his brother Steve and other great musicians. He played in a few bands through the years, Grain Exchange, and Applejack. AppleJack played 100s of shows, sometimes playing as many as 6 nights a week. He currently still plays with his band, The Matt Creter Band. With all of the years of playing guitar, obviously things break, back in the day there weren’t places you could easily ship your guitar to be fixed, you had to do it yourself. The Creter boys took many trips down the road in Reading to go to Fred’s Music. Fred unfortunately had to close his doors in the beginning of 2017, but for years Matt would ask questions about how to fix his guitars and Fred would give him pointers and advice to get his guitars up and running with the help from his Dad and his big brother Steve. After quite a few years of playing and a lot of discussions with his brother, Matt and Steve decided to open Creter Music in Palmyra, and attempt to settle down a little bit and start a family.

   Their little tiny shop in Palmyra worked good for the first year but when his current location at 19 W. Market St. in Jonestown was available Matt jumped on the opportunity. He also started at the new location under the name Creter Music & Video. In 1985 videos were very new and exciting. After 6 years in business, they sold the video side of the business to Pop Video and started to just focus on guitars and changed the name to Creter Guitar Shop, which it still is today. 

   Creter Guitar Shop focuses a lot of his business on repairing guitars. Not only does he do the repairs himself, but if it’s something little and quick, and if you’re interested, he’ll even talk you through how to do it yourself, just like Fred did for him years ago at Fred’s Music, it’s just one of his ways of ‘Paying it Forward’. He’s gotten so busy as a guitar repairman that back in October of 2016 he hired his right hand man, Ron Yantz to help him keep up with the repairs. Ron has been coming into Creter Guitar Shop for years as a customer. He would come in for the parts needed to do his own guitar repairs, they would talk about what needed done, and Ron would do the work himself. Eventually after years of talking about it, everything lined up so Ron could join Matt in the shop. While we were there talking they were repairing a guitar and it definitely looked like a job much easier to do with four hands rather than two.

   Creter Guitar Shop also has a lesson program with five teachers. Mike Ondrusek, Marq Ortiz and Tim Jesiolowski all teach guitar and bass. Corey Woodcock teaches pedal steel and banjo, and Chance Hurley teaches mandolin and guitar. All of the teachers are prepared to teach a beginner student the basics of playing their instrument, but also can help an advanced student develop their own signature style. You can check out all of the teachers on the shop’s website, www.creterguitarshop.com. Under “lessons” each teacher has a little bio and a video to show you just how talented they all are. You can also call for teacher availability at 717-865-3677.

   Outside of the shop Matt is also the entertainment coordinator for the Fogleman’s Wounded Warrior Music Fest. The mission of this festival is to address, educate, coordinate, and provide aid and relief to offset the burden bore by Veterans and their families that have been wounded in the Service of the United States of America. Last year this one day festival raised $34,000 for the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors. The festival is held on the Fogleman Farmstead at 1536 Old Forge Road in Annville, PA. This year it will be held on September 9th from 9am to 11pm, Rain or Shine. Live entertainment starts at 2pm. There is also a pig roast, open pit chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. This is a family friendly event with children’s activities too. Bring your own lawn chairs, pop-up canopies, and blankets and come have fun on the farm while supporting a great cause. You can get all the information you need about this special event at www.foglewwfest.com.

   If you don’t have time to drive to the quaint town of Jonestown to check out Creter Guitar Shop in person, you can also check it out online at www.creterguitarshop.com. Their website is updated weekly, and they even make it easier for you by listing sale items in red, and new arrivals in blue. If you are looking for something in particular, you can let them know and they will contact you if it just so happens to roll through their door. They are always buying, selling and trading gear, if you have anything you’d be interested in selling or trading you can give them a call at 717-865-3677.

   If you love guitars as much as Matt does, do yourself a favor and take a trip to Jonestown and check out his shop. Matt and Ron would love to talk “shop” with you, and help you on the right path to rock and roll.