POR David Starr March 22, 2009

Guitar Hero

David Starr, owner of Starr’s Guitars in Cedaredge says “it’s a challenge to keep a world-class music store in a small town going.”

CEDAREDGE — Occasionally chords from a guitar lesson at Starr’s Guitars in Cedaredge waft downstairs. Like stew cooking in a slow cooker, the music warms the whole place up.

The lone guitar store in a town with only one stop light is owned by David Starr.

Starr’s not from around these parts, but he has no intention of leaving. Even if business gets bad, he’s there for good.

“It’s a challenge to keep a world-class music store in a small town going,” he said.

But, “failure is not an option,” he likes to say.

The store sells guitars that range in price from $100 to $13,000, along with drums, amps, keyboards,  accessories, music books and more. Starr’s also offers music lessons, sound recording and repair services. The whole place is filled to the brim with shiny, new instruments, the nostalgic and the contemporary.

He applies the, “failure is not an option” mantra to any number of things and the idea has caught on with his employees too.

If there’s a problem with any of the equipment, they fix it.

If business gets slow, they get creative.

“I can’t (fail),” he said. “I’ve got all this stuff and good people that work for me.”

Starr seems to keep to himself. He’s brief when he talks about himself, and his friends are brief when they talk about him.

He lightens up when he talks about two things: his only daughter and his store.

His daughter is getting married in May, and the David Starr Band is playing at the reception.

Starr plays a number of instruments as well as writes, sings, records and produces his own songs. He is in the middle of writing a new song for his daughter.

“She’s a neat kid and I like the guy she’s marrying,” he said.

Starr was born and raised in Fayetteville, Ark. He said it was a good town to grow up in musically. The various bands he played with got plenty of gigs playing high school proms and fraternity parties.

Starr’s father was an executive with a poultry company, his mother was a philanthropist. He has two brothers and a sister.

His family instilled in him a hard work ethic by example, he said.

Even when Starr was young and in bands, his dreams never included becoming a famous rock star.

He wasn’t interested in touring the country with a band or being on the road. He chose to do what he likes: write music in the style of the Eagles, The Band and Steely Dan, and do the engineering for his own music.

When Starr was 24 he moved to Aspen with his first wife. Eventually he moved back to Arkansas and opened the first Starr’s Guitars store in 1998.

He chewed on the notion of moving back West. Someone suggested Cedaredge and here he is.

Starr’s Guitars in Cedaredge opened at 250 W. Main St. in 2001.

Starr lives on 40 acres of land at about 7,800 feet, he said. When he stands on his property, he said he’s eye-level with the San Juans.

“I’ve got a very good life,” he said. “I’m very blessed.”

Since the store opened, Starr has tried to give back to the community he now calls home.

“We just try to be really involved in the community, I think you get what you give,” he said.

The store started a monthly open mic night at the saloon next door. It’s become a meeting ground for musicians on the mesa.

Starr also had a hand in pumping up the town’s annual arts, music and food festival, Applefest.

“He’s got a real big heart,” Starr’s longtime friend, employee and bandmate Doc Adkins said about Starr. “He’s very generous in trying to enable people and events on many different

Adkins said Starr donates and furnishes musical equipment for schools, churches and civic events.

“He loves music on every level,” Adkins said.

Back when Starr was a kid he was a regular at Ben Jack’s Guitar Center in Arkansas. That’s where all the kids would hang out on Saturday mornings, he said.

He’d play the instrument instead of just look at them in catalogs, or read about them on the Internet like people do nowadays.

At Starr’s he invites people to come in and spend as much time as they’d like with a guitar.

“A guitar is something you’ve got to touch,” he said. “You’ve got to bond with it ... Pick it up and either it feels right or it doesn’t. Sometimes if you play enough guitars, the right one will pick you.”


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