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Cover Story

Guitars on George: Gadgets & Gizmos and Plenty of Stories to Go With It

By Rachel Rocks

   Jerry Duncan’s Guitars on George, or maybe better known as Jerry’s Guitars, has been Jerry Duncan’s dream since 1981. His first plan was to open a small recording studio where he had a few nice vintage pieces that people would use for recording, with some guitars he would just have on display. Eventually musicians’ instruments would break or they would forget something, so then he started carrying “back-up” supplies. Before he even knew it the “back-up” supplies were expanding into his garage out back and his equipment was selling more than his records, and Jerry’s Garage was born. Jerry’s Garage was a play off the old Zappa album ‘Joe’s Garage’. It seemed like a cool name for a guitar shop. Then as he expanded he got a real shop, so sticking with the theme that was called, The Guitar Shop. Throughout the years and with a story behind each one, he’s now on Lucky Store #7, and it happens to be right on George Street in York, so naturally it’s called, Guitars on George.

   I had the privilege to go down to Guitars on George and sit and chat with Jerry. It was quite an interesting day with plenty of customers in the door, and plenty of stories to tell. It was so ironic Jerry and I were both laughing and Jerry kept saying, Seriously, I didn’t pay these people to come here and say these things today!” They all had something nice to say about Jerry and how he had helped them in their musical endeavors. When I got there, Russ Brooks from Dirt Cheap was there hanging with Jerry. Here it turns out Russ was one of the many guitar maniacs that have graced Jerry’s stores for years. Wherever Jerry went, the guitar maniacs followed. Russ took the time to tell me about how when he was about 14 or 15, before the days of YouTube, Jerry had a nickel juke box (which he still has today), he would come in and pump it full of nickels and listen to all kinds of amazing music. Then they would play guitars and Jerry would teach them how to play by ear and figure out what the “pros” were doing to make all of those cool riffs!

   Russ wasn’t the only kid that Jerry affected in a positive way, there was also a guy you might have heard of, Chad Taylor, that came in when he was about 15 years old. Jerry happened to have a 1954 Les Paul that Chad couldn’t take his eyes off of. Jerry got it down and put it in Chad’s hands and let him play it! That moment changed Chad’s life. He came back years later after his financial situation changed a bit, told Jerry how that guitar impacted his life, and bought the guitar from Jerry. A few months later, Chad came back to the store with a picture of him on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine holding the 1954 Les Paul. Pretty awesome! Just like Russ said, it’s such simple actions, but Jerry just always makes everyone feel special and welcomed. Jerry would put the young guys to work tuning guitars, keeping everything clean and shiny, and other odd jobs, but there was always time to jam!

   One of the reasons this is lucky store #7 is it’s the first building that Jerry has ever owned. He has tenants upstairs whose rent helps pay for the expenses of the building, so he basically has very little to no overhead which is an awesome business plan. His shop is basically a glorified storage space for his toys, if he happens to sell something great, but he doesn’t have the extreme pressure of always having to make sales to survive. Because of this awesome situation it helps him keep his costs down and his equipment affordable. He prides himself in the fact that most of the guitars in his shop are under $500, and a lot of them are really nice and even $250 or LESS! He wants that shop that a kid can mow grass for the Summer and come in and be able to afford a nice set up, or a place a parent can bring their kid and know that they can afford to leave with an instrument. Another cool part about Jerry’s store is everything can be played! Guitars aren’t locked up and untouched, it’s a come play it, check it out and see if it’s something that makes you happy kind of store. Jerry likes to make sure you get what you need and what you can afford.

   One group of young musicians came in and two of them were regulars, but one was a newbie. He just walked around in shock, checking it all out. Jerry does currently have over 200 guitars, 80-100 amps, gadgets, pedals, accessories, and he has full drum kits, ukuleles, banjos, violins, PA Systems, etc.. the list could go on forever! Don’t let the pictures fool you, his store looks small on the outside but once you get inside it goes on forever…

   Jerry does buy Used Equipment of all kinds, old toys, and even Coins! Basically, if you have something to sell, give Jerry a call. He’ll be open and honest and straight to the point. I had the opportunity to see a guy come in with a trade so I got to see how a trade goes down. In the end the customer and Jerry were both happy and now Jerry has another guitar to add to his collection and the customer has cold hard cash and more closet space! The guitar you see on the cover is a 1956 Les Paul Special. Jerry has quite the story about how he acquired that one, stop in and ask about it, I’m sure he’d love to tell you! 

   Listening to all of the different customers coming in throughout the day I heard many reasons about why they keep coming back: the huge selection that varies all the time, the reliability that he’s actually open, the great customer service, and just the overall nice guy. Plus a big one, that was repeated quite a few times was, Jerry knows his stuff! Jerry has been playing guitar for over 50 years and still plays in a band at least once a month in his local church. He loves playing guitar and collecting cool things, and Guitars on George is definitely his dream job. He does have a website www.guitarsongeorge.com, where you can check out some items he has for sale online, but his main passion is selling and trading things in person, right there in the store at 1121 N. George St., in York, PA.

  If you’d like to call Jerry about something you have collecting dust in your house, you can call him at 717-650-2007 or email him at jduncan01@comcast.net.