Wisconsin’s Cream City Music started out as a home-based online business in the late Nineties, the early days of eBay. Within a few short years, it opened as a brick-and-mortar shop in Milwaukee’s historic Bayview neighborhood with a focus on new, used and vintage guitars, basses, amps and effects. In 2006, Cream City moved to its current location, a 6,000-square-foot mid-century-style building in Brookfield, just west of Milwaukee. It’s a true “one stop shop,” welcoming everyone from beginners buying their first guitars to high-end vintage buyers. The staff has created an enjoyable online experience for their customers and offers a level of expertise and customer service that’s simply hard to match.
NUMBER OF INSTRUMENTS CURRENTLY IN STOCK
(Brian Douglas, owner/general manager): Close to 1,000 new, used and vintage guitars and basses, over 600 effect pedals and more than 300 amps. Don’t even get me started on accessories!
STRANGEST REQUEST FROM A CUSTOMER
We had a customer come to our repair department and ask our master luthier to build him a semi-hollow 12-string Gibson SG-style guitar. That was a wild one!
COOLEST INSTRUMENT CURRENTLY IN THE SHOP
I’m a bass player, so for me, it’s an incredibly unique un-assembled Gibson Thunderbird bass that’s unfinished and was an auction prize at a Les Paul benefit. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone to build their own custom Thunderbird in whatever finish they desire.
THE ONE PIECE OF GEAR EVERY PLAYER SHOULD HAVE
A good tuner. Keeping a guitar in tune is the key to everything.
FAVORITE INSTRUMENT YOU’VE SOLD
A 1976 Fender Thinline Telecaster in black, which was a custom color for that year. It played and sounded amazing. I should’ve bought it. Instead it sold almost immediately and I’ve dreamt about it ever since. Moral of the story? If you pick up a guitar and you love it, find a way to get it.
BIGGEST PET PEEVE AS A SHOP OWNER
I don’t have one! I truly love what I do, so every day is a blessing.
MOST COMMON SONG OR RIFF WHEN TRYING GUITARS
It depends on the year, but they tend to cycle around Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.” As far as the best song to try out a guitar, it should be one of your favorites that you know how to play. That will tell you everything you need to know about the instrument.
ADVICE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO BUY A GUITAR
Try to get a sense of what sound you’re looking for and share that with the salesperson at the shop. If they know their stuff, they’ll be able to point you in the direction of the appropriate guitar, amp or pedals to get the tone you’re searching for. That approach is what we’re known for.
Cream City Music, 12505 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield, Wisconsin | Established November 1998. creamcitymusic.com