Guitar Center’s Pro Audio division, GC Pro, helped with audio and visual installs throughout the chain’s new flagship store in New York City’s Times Square. NEW YORK, NY—In August, Guitar Center opened its new 2,800-squarefoot flagship store in the heart of New York City’s Times Square. To help enhance the experience expected by the millions of tourists that flock to the neighborhood each year, Guitar Center’s Pro Audio division, GC Pro, helped with audio and visual installs throughout the new store.
Upon entering Guitar Center at 218 West 44th Street, guests descend down escalators decorated to give the illusion of entering onto a stage at a concert, with a QSC loudspeaker system projecting the sounds of a cheering crowd, controlled by QSC’s Q-Sys system. “The idea is to give the illusion that you’re entering onto a stage,” said Rick Plushner, vice president, GC Pro. “We wanted to create a crowd noise that completely surrounds you.”
From a Pro Audio standpoint, the most impressive part of the new store is in the Platinum Club, a customized room that houses a number of specialty and vintage guitars, and also acts a performance space and recording studio for musicians passing through. For the room design, GC Pro hired Horacio Malvicino of Malvicino Design Group as a consultant for the room acoustics, to make sure the sound was as isolated as possible for performance and recording purposes.
“This will be a functional live sound club,” said Plushner. In the main space, an Avid S3L controls the FOH, with a set of JBL VRX speakers installed for the club. For recording, the S3L sends the mix to an Avid S6 controller in a separate studio control room that includes a set of Adam S3X studio monitors and a variety of outboard gear including a Manley Pultec, Universal Audio LA-2A, and Empirical Labs Distressor.
Beyond the expected walls of guitars, drums, keyboards and other musical instruments for sale, the new store also houses nine customized lessons rooms, each treated with Auralex acoustic panels for soundproofing. The store’s pro audio section includes a powered speaker wall, where visitors can test out the PAs on site before a purchase, as well as walls of microphones, production/recording software, and more.
And to give the music history enthusiast a reason to stop by, the new Guitar Center store will be the permanent home to two of Eric Clapton’s guitars, including his famed “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster. In 2004, Guitar Center bought the guitar for US$959,500 at a Christie’s auction held to raise money for the drug and alcohol rehab center founded by Clapton, the Crossroads Center. At the time, the bid set the record for the world’s most expensive guitar.