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Walnut Creek Music Shop Owner Hopes His Ergonomic Guitar Is A Hit

Shawn Steen sells his ergonomic guitar along with 150 others at The Jam Brothers Fine Musical Instruments

Shawn Steen with his ergonomic guitar at his Walnut Creek musical instrument store
Shawn Steen with his ergonomic guitar at his Walnut Creek musical instrument store
You've heard of ergonomic chairs.

How about an ergonomic guitar?

Shawn Steen has come up with one and he's selling it at The Jam Brothers Fine Musical Instruments, the shop he and his wife, Valerie, have owned for two years on Boulevard Way.

Steen started making the guitars himself this summer. He's sold a few and has a couple on hand at his store.

The guitars are light weight and balanced, so the neck of the instrument never dips suddenly. The instruments fit well on the musician's shoulder as well as their hip.

The ergonomic guitars are part of the 150 guitars Steen sells at Jam Brothers. They range from Fender to Ibanez to Martin.

The shop also stocks a few banjos, mandolins and ukeleles. Steen also fixes instruments and has a studio in back for music lessons.

"Guitars are our main business, though," said Steen. "This is a guitar town."

Steen grew up in the Boston area with a love for music.

"It's always been a passion of mine," said Steen. "Music is either in you or it's not."

Steen has been in the music business for 20 years. He's played in a number of bands and worked for Gibson Guitar as well as at a music store in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

He was working for Gibson in Los Angeles in 2004 when he met his wife, Valerie, who was studying at a culinary school at the time.

In 2011, Steen decided he wanted to open his own music store. He and his wife studied various locations and decided Walnut Creek was a good spot.

"Walnut Creek didn't have anything like it," said Valerie Steen.

They leased the building on Boulevard Way that used to be a clothing store and, before that, a pharmacy.

Steen said they have three times as many instruments in the shop as they did when they opened. They've also seen steady growth as the store has become better known.

The guitars are mostly new and they range in price from $75 to $6,000.

The customers are mainly men from 30 to 70 years of age. Most are recreational musicians, although a guitarist from Metallica has purchased a couple guitars from Jam Brothers.

The store is open seven days a week and Steen is always there. His wife works three or four days a week, too.

She doesn't have music in her blood like her husband, but she does find the work interesting.

"It's still a foreign thing to me," she said. "When he talks about some things, it might as well be a foreign language."

Steen does close the shop on a few days, including holidays and Super Bowl Sunday.

"Nobody's buying guitars on that day," said Steen.

On those rare days off, Steen just tries to relax.

"When I do get a day off, I really enjoy it," he said.

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