Jamie Faletti’s sense of humor and charm will win over you the moment you walk into The Guitar Bar in the Funk Zone. After a long history working in mostly hole-in-the-wall music stores, this longtime resident of Santa Barbara decided to build the ideal showcase for selling guitars and accessories.
See, for most musicians, even the average establishment becomes a destination, where they don’t mind jumping over cords and sitting on top of amplifiers to try out the new equipment. But Jamie felt that handcrafted guitars deserved a great environment. “You don’t go to Kmart to buy a Coach bag,” he explains with a smile.
At the same time, he wanted to create a place where non-guitar geeks would feel comfortable. “A guitar is music and is art,” he said, “and a place that sells them should be inclusive.”
The Guitar Bar is definitely one of the most unique music stores — strike that, it’s simply one of the most unique places to hang out. It’s set up like a lounge, with a warm vibe and comfortable couches that invite you to relax and linger. It features boutique guitar manufacturers like Teye, Taylor, and Paul Reed Smith as well as Santa Barbara guitar maker Tom Kelly, whose vintage reproductions are world-class. They also offer guitar lessons, repair, and the opportunity to design your own custom instrument.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, I chatted with Jamie for a while. Visitors new and old kept streaming in and out, most of them greeting Jamie by name.
The Guitar Man “who draws the crowd” answers the Proust Questionnaire.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m a little bit too handsome. But then again, I’ve dealt with it this long so why change?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
James Bond — Connery era, of course.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my gig is helping a kid pick their first guitar. It’s a great thing to see the world of music open up for someone. Also, being able to give the town I grew up in the guitar shop I always dreamed of is fantastic.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being near the beach, with my family, having or just having had a great meal, anticipating doing something great.
What is your greatest fear?
Not trying. I was given a plaque that had a quote by Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” It’s hard sometimes to not let fear of failure take over.
Who do you most admire?
My wife. She’s a total badass. She’s a great mom to our kids, very successful and well respected in her field, a fantastic partner and the most honorable person I know. She’s also hilarious.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Having lots of guitars. And having all the movie channels.
What is your current state of mind?
Happy, proud, and wanting more.
What is the quality you most like in people?
A good sense of humor and the ability to keep up.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
The need to talk about nothing.
What do you most value in friends?
Honesty and a sense of humor. Make me laugh, laugh at my jokes, don’t BS me and we’re good.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I have a big nose. I’ve also been told I’m pretty funny.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Like, it’s probably like… like.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To play piano. Or breathe underwater. I’d be stoked with either one.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My two kids are by far the crowning achievement of my life. They are awesome people. I want to be them when I grow up.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara, California
What is your most treasured possession?
Why? Get your own stuff.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My kids have me rolling on a consistent basis. Two of the funniest people in the world.
What is your motto?
On what occasion do you lie?
A few questions back. Just kidding. Maybe.