Rainforest Music is a little different from your traditional music store.
Instead of focusing on the usual guitar brands, owner Sigmund Johannessen said he is trying to stock his new shop with as many B.C.- and Canadian-made instruments as possible.
“There are a lot of great builders,” he said. “Why buy a guitar from elsewhere when we have so much locally?”
While handmade guitars usually start off more expensive than those that are mass produced, Johannessen still thinks there is a market for them.
“With a handmade guitar, it’s one guy doing the whole process,” he said. “The customer gets something a little more special.”
He also pointed out that a guitar can be custom made to fit a person better; for example, the frets can be made wider for someone with bigger hands.
That being said, the handmade instruments at Rainforest Music start as low as $1,200. Johannessen said this is considered extremely inexpensive for such a guitar, but he wants to keep the prices down to make the shop accessible.
Some of those instruments were made by Johannessen himself. Aside from owning Rainforest Music, he has over 30 years experience as a luthier. He is part-owner and instructor at the Summit School of Guitar Building and Repair in Qualicum Beach, which he joined in 1996 after moving from his native Norway. Johannessen also currently builds instruments out of predominantly B.C. wood under his business/brand Summit Guitars.
“My wife said I have too many guitars at home,” he said, laughing.
That being said, the luthier said he isn’t trying to make his own work the main focus of Rainforest Music, which opened early last month.
“Over time, I’m hoping to have more local guitar builders,” he said. “I have a space if they want it.”
The shop also reserves room for items other than guitars. At the moment, Rainforest Music carries a selection of handmade amps, wood and other luthiers’ supplies and accessories for guitars and other stringed instruments.
The shop also has a selection of mass-produced instruments, including DIY guitar building kits for kids.
“There’s nothing wrong with a mass produced guitar,” said Johannessen, who owns one himself. “Everybody has a budget.”
The shop also hosts lessons in guitar, bass guitar, vocals and keyboard taught by local musician Andrea Smith. In the future, Johannessen also hopes to use the functional stage in the store’s window front for clinics.
And while Rainforest is still new, Johannessen said he hopes the combination of these services and products will make the shop a unique destination.
Rainforest Music is located at 6996 Island Hwy. in Bowser and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, call the shop at 250-738-9952 or visit the website rainforestmusic.ca.