For the musician looking for quality instruments and classic design, Homewood Music is an invaluable resource. Proudly declaring themselves “behind the times,” Homewood Music offers a variety of instruments, from vintage finds to faithful recreations, as well as a few items made in-shop. Owned and operated by musician/repair expert Bob Tedrow with the help of banjo specialist Jason Burns, the shop doubles as a repair station for well-worn instruments.
Located next door to Nabeel’s Market in Homewood, the music shop has a colorful assortment of guitars, banjos, mandolins, and more. Specializing in old-style acoustic instruments, it’s the perfect supply for Birmingham’s throng of folk enthusiasts. Homewood is also home to Tedrow’s own hand-crafted concertinas. Resembling accordions, these beautiful pieces are meticulously assembled in the store’s repair shop, a testament to Tedrow’s ability.
Tedrow began his tinkering as a teenager, when curiosity got the better of him and he disassembled his banjo. Upon reassembly, the banjo played out of tune for years. The interest only grew over time, though. It’s safe to assume that Tedrow’s crafting skills have improved considerably since then, as he now repairs instruments brought in from around Birmingham and beyond.
In the late ‘80s, he moved to the Birmingham area with his wife and began repairing instruments for downtown pawn shops. After renting his current space in Homewood, he built a work station consisting of a bench and sawhorse for a stool. During this early time at the shop, Tedrow also repaired instruments for the education department of the Alabama Symphony and Birmingham City Schools.
The music shop has become a regular stop for bands passing through town and local musicians looking for a skilled repair, with the likes of Joe Bonamassa and other touring acts coming to pay a visit. “If you do this sort of thing in Birmingham, you get to know musicians,” says Tedrow. “When performers come through, many will drop by and look around. It must be a good way to kill time before a show.”
“I used to hang out here as a teenager,” says Jason Burns, who now works with Tedrow. “I bought my old National here.” A fixture of the shop for over 15 years, Burns spends much of his time there at his work bench making banjos. A fellow craftsman, Burns grew up with an interest in instrument repair and alteration. Burns understands that banjos have historically been unique to their player, and builds custom instruments for each order.
Many instruments that come through the shop receive a custom set-up to ensure quality. Instruments played right out of the box may have slight issues with intonation or other sound-influencing factors. Tedrow takes it upon himself to take these instruments to his bench and make the necessary adjustments. “You wouldn’t find us working in a factory,” he says. “They’d never hire us- we take so much time on each instrument. It makes such a difference, though.” The Tedrow treatment noticeably increases the performance of these instruments.
Homewood Music is open to buy, sell, and trade, which has led to the acquisition of some interesting items. Among the shop’s vintage instruments, many visitors are drawn to a 1930s National guitar brought in by the owner’s grandson. “To me, it’s living history,” says Tedrow.
“There’s something attractive about an instrument with some history,” says Tedrow. “The consensus is that the older ones sound better.” That’s not to say that only the most ancient items in their inventory should garner attention. In fact, the shop specializes in modern recreations of classic instruments. Among Homewood Music’s selection, there are a number of guitars and mandolins by Loar. This company builds instruments inspired by tried and true classics, particularly old Gibson models designed by the great Lloyd Loar. Rest assured though, if you want to rock an electric guitar or relax with a ukulele, they have those in stock as well.
Tedrow’s affinity for vintage styling extends to the parking lot. His own ride, a Model A Ford, is hard to miss. It may also be spotted by Hart and Soul on occasion, as Tedrow is known to perform there.
Homewood Music is located at 1712 28th Avenue South, Homewood, Alabama 35209.
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