Underground USA
The Best of Rock Culture Coast to Coast
by Cara Jepsen

Best Guitar Shop:

If you want to avoid the corporate anonymity of buying an ax at the North Side’s Guitar Center, Specimen Products (1728 W. Division St., 773/489-4830) offers a great way to fight back. Proprietor Ian Schneller, a sculptor and musician (he’s in the local band Falstaff), makes one-of-a-kind guitars for a discerning clientele that includes Red Red Meat, the Coctails, and Tar. They aren’t cheap (prices start at $1,000) and custom jobs take a while to complete (two to six months); but Schneller’s handmade, usually fretless instruments have a sound quality and visual charisma that can’t be matched. If Frank Lloyd Wright made guitars, they would have the clean lines and lack of superfluous ornamentation of a Schneller ax. A few models are usually available for purchase at the store, which triples as the creator’s workshop and living quarters. Bonus point: Schneller also makes cellos and violins.