Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to open the store?
Peter G. Fisher, 34, Troy, New York
I became fascinated with the idea of building a parts guitar on my own. After barely making it through the build, I decided to look into further training for guitar building and found Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, in Phoenix, AZ. After graduating from RV, I got a job at a large corporate store as their in-house tech. A year and a half later, I was done with the big box and decided to venture out on my own and opened Collar City Guitars in Troy, NY. Six year later, Collar City Guitars has grown to three employees and settled in to a “larger” location.
Who are the other partners in crime at the store? How did you guys meet?
That would be John Harney, the shop manager. We met on my first day at the corporate store we both worked at years ago. I left to start Collar City Guitars and a year or so later I asked him to come in and watch the shop for a few weeks while I was on tour as a guitar tech and tour manager. After I came back from tour, I had lots of work that I needed help with and I just kept asking him to stick around. About six months later we made him an official full time employee and he’s been here ever since. He is a huge asset to the shop and updates all of our online listings and does our shipping and receiving. We would not be as successful without him or his attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge. He is our go-to-guy when it come to all things pedals and effects.
What instrument do you play?
I mainly play guitar, but dabble in other stringed instruments for the purpose of repair.
I heard a certain famous guitarist would only use specific voltages, ie. 7.8v, in his effects pedals to achieve his desired tone. I always thought about the tech, sitting there and measuring all of those batteries
What’s the name of your band, and what kind of music do you play?
What’s your favorite pedal?
I would have to say the Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper.
The greatest song using the Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper pedal is…?
“Bye Bye Blues” by Les Paul. Although he didn’t use an EXH 720, he invented the concept of what this pedal is capable of. His use of sound on sound and his ability to control the pitch and speed is what, to me, makes the 720 so great.
What pedal do customers ask about the most? Any sought-after pedals that have proven particularly hard to get?
The most discussed style of pedal is a Fuzz, right now the Big Muff Pi clones are popping up all over the place. Earthquaker Devices have been hot, especially with their most recent releases. We always seem to have one less than we need.
What pedal do you sell the most? Has that changed since you began working?
The EHX Big Muff Pi has always been a strong seller and the closest competition is EHX’s own mods and re-issues.
Is there a pedal or company that’s currently under-the-radar that you think could be the next big thing?
Tell us about your most famous/most memorable walk-in.
I often end up in conversations about my building and its location in Troy. One Saturday, while talking with a customer, we decided to venture outside so I could show her some features of the building. I left her friend inside, and jokingly told him to watch the store and not to steal anything. When I came back in, I asked the guy what type of guitar he played, and he asked if I was familiar with Reverend Guitars. I pulled up the website and he pointed to the Space Hawk and RG1 and said “these are my signature models”. Usually people come in and tell you they have that model in blue… Needless to say I was surprised and delighted to meet Reeves Gabrels.
Tell us a favorite urban legend.
I heard a certain famous guitarist would only use specific voltages, ie. 7.8v, in his effects pedals to achieve his desired tone. I always thought about the tech, sitting there and measuring all of those batteries… About 10 months ago, I ended up meeting the player’s tech, short story long, it isn’t true.
If you could have any pedal, regardless of price/availability, what would it be?
What is currently the most common song for customers to play when they’re trying out a guitar or pedal? Is there a NO list?
Clapton, in general, is pretty popular, followed closely with John Mayer songs sung while demoing acoustic guitars. Anytime someone starts playing “Stairway,” they’re told they can only play it if they know the whole song.
Whose pedal would you like to see in Stompbox book?
Les Paul’s The Les Paulverizer.
Describe an imaginary perfect day at the store. An euphoric dream.
Start the morning off with a fresh bagel and coffee from down the street. Pack up the orders from the night before, and lay out a completable repair schedule. Do a bit of fret work while hanging out with regulars, as they drink the private stock behind the counter. Take in a few unique trades and geek out on set-ups, with lots of “quality control testing”. Introduce a beginner to the various styles of pedals and get to watch their face light up when they hear the re-creations of sounds of their favorite band. End the day with the shop closed up, but customers and friends still inside, talking about music and playing.
Tell us about one special item in the store.
The acoustic pictured with the signature was purchased by my father through a PBS fundraising telethon. It’s signed and by Peter Yarrow, one of the founding members of Peter, Paul, and Mary. A few months after he purchased this guitar we went to see him in concert. He then called up all the “children” on stage and I was the only person there under 30 so I got to sing “Puff The Magic Dragon” with Peter Yarrow and a few others who where “children at heat” on stage.
When you’re not here, where are you/what are you doing?
I’m in school full time for advanced manufacturing to expand the shop’s capabilities. Most of my free time is spent going to concerts and shows with my special lady friend, Jess, or hanging with my cat Scooter.
How would your customers describe you?
Guitar Pete! Always down to talk details.
What’s your comfort song? The one that always gets you back to the right place.
Favorite guitar player?
Django Reinhardt. He could take a simple melody and really open it up and find notes you wouldn’t necessarily think were supposed to be there. He composed compositions that stood on their own and didn’t mimic any other style. Not to mention, he mostly used two fingers due to a severe burn on his left hand.
Most memorable concert you’ve been to?
Getting to see Jerry Lee Lewis in NYC.
Would you say your parents raised you well?
Most definitely. My parents rock! Without their support I wouldn’t be where I am today.
The best musical gift you’ve ever received?
From my Dad, my first acoustic bought in Japan, a Yamaha FG-401B.