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Business

Citing Expense, Jensen’s Silences Sounds from Its MainStage

Popular amateur performance venue forced to close as Jensen Guitar & Music Co. consolidates operations

Exit, MainStage.

Early this month, Jensen’s MainStage, 2905 De la Vina St., closed after several years of providing a small performing venue for South Coast musicians and a RockCamp for youngsters who wanted to learn to play more than air guitar.

“The expenses were just too much,” said owner Chris Jensen, who has been in business since 1973. “We are going to move all the electric stuff back into the original shop by the end of the month.”

Jensen expanded his original shop, Jensen Guitar & Music Co., 2830 De la Vina St., in 2005 to include the electric store just up the street.

“The MainStage kind of morphed a few years after that and we gave it that name about two years ago,” he said. “Dave Hekhouse did a great job.”

Perhaps better known as guitar player and singer with The Tearaways, Hekhouse was the driving force behind the MainStage, which also featured open mike nights, film screenings and other activities. The building is up for lease. Hekhouse was the subject of a Noozhawk feature in May 2010. Click here for a previous Noozhawk feature on Jensen Guitar RockCamp.

A year after starting his first shop in a row of storefronts across a parking lot from Ralphs supermarket, Jensen expanded into a second storefront in the same building because of his success at selling musical instruments and giving lessons.

By 2003, the business had a total of eight lesson studios for some 500 students each week. The students learned to play various types of guitars, drums and other instruments.

Jensen opened a shop in Solvang in 1993 and in 2000 started another store in Orcutt. The Solvang shop closed a few years ago, but the Orcutt store still operates at 1130 E. Clark Ave.

In 1976, guitar accessory mogul Seymour Duncan, another South Coast businessman, joined Jensen’s for a while repairing guitars, performing modifications and winding pickups. Duncan could be seen at the MainStage giving workshops on the finer points of electric guitar parts.

Other guitar notables, such as C.F. Martin IV of the Martin Guitar empire, have visited Jensen’s store, which is crowded with instruments hanging from the ceiling, stacked against the walls or being repaired on the counter near the cash register.

Noozhawk business writer Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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