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First String grows in new spot

Music store moves from Lincoln Avenue to Loggers Lane

— Since Steve Boynton opened the doors to First String Music in spring 2007, two thoughts have driven his business: This place should be a gathering spot, and this place is small.

"When I was growing up, there was the music store. And anybody who played ended up there at some point, and that's where you met people," Boynton said Tuesday afternoon, giving a tour of the new, vastly expanded First String Music at 1880 Loggers Lane.

First String owners Steve and Colleen Boynton closed on the space in July, spent about a month sketching plans and started construction early this fall. The new location opened for business Monday.

"About a year after we opened the first store, I was thinking about a bigger space. It became immediately obvious that we were going to outgrow that," Boynton said.

The new First String Music follows the same all-purpose music model as the original store on Lincoln Avenue west of downtown. It features expanded retail space, a small stage, expanded recording space, twice as many rooms for music lessons, a loft with storage, an office and a repair desk.

"They all serve the same purpose, which is not just to sell a package of guitar strings, but to give people a place to come to share their love of music," Boynton said.

There are six small rooms dedicated to music lessons. Boynton has several teachers on the roster now and hopes to expand to a variety of instructors and instruments. Jennifer Herzog plans to offer Kindermusik classes for children ages 6 months to 3 years and their parents starting in January. Boynton said he's looking forward to seeing students interacting with one another.

"There's something about the energy of having a bunch of people in our space doing it, and I think that's the foundation of the music community aspect of this," Boynton said.

The inventory basically is the same, with a wide selection of electric and acoustic guitars, and a full complement of bass, drums, mandolin, banjo, electric pianos and related accessories. New to the scene are a nook for songbooks and other sheet music and plans further down the road to set up a rental system for band and orchestra instruments.

Boynton said he has two or three projects lined up in the next few months for the recording space, which is sound-isolated from the rest of the store and has nonparallel surfaces to keep facing walls from echoing badly.

Employee Trevor G. Potter will put the store's corner stage to use starting in January, with plans for a monthly concert series and an occasional group song-learning night.

Potter, also a guitar player and songwriter, will be in charge of booking the concert series. He hopes to bring in musicians with a variety of styles who want to play a "listening venue," as opposed to a restaurant or a bar.

The store is open from noon to 6 p.m. Mondays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Hours might be expanded during the holiday shopping season or as lessons demand, Boynton said. An open house with live music is scheduled for early evening Dec. 2.