Passion, Strings Attached
local luthier celebrates one year of guitar services in Eau Claire
Some people never chase their passions, instead perhaps choosing to work a stable 9-5 job they resent for their entire life. But one small-business owner chose passion over security and just hit a major career milestone.
“Your career path should follow where your passion lies. If you don’t, eventually the fire will burn out and you’ll grow cold.” – Dallas Bennett, Bennett Guitar Company
Bennett Guitar Company is a full-service fretted instrument repair shop nestled inside Artisan Forge Studios in Eau Claire. They offer repair services and sell consigned instruments and new products such as guitar strings. Above all, they pride themselves on doing it all with the best customer service in the area.
The shop opened its doors on April 1, 2018, and is celebrating being open for one year in the Chippewa Valley. Dallas Bennett, the owner, said it has been a pleasure being able to do what he loves in a city he loves for more than 365 days now.
“Being open a year means in my mind that I’m doing the right things business wise, I’m treating the customers well, and I’m providing a needed service to the community,” Bennett said. “It is a privilege to be open for a year and keep going, and no matter how many years I stay open, it will have been a privilege to have a service shop in Eau Claire.”
Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, music has been important to the 31-year-old Bennett his entire life. As the son of a singer and a trumpet player, the house he grew up in was engulfed in rhythms and melodies. His first hands-on foray into music came at 10-years-old when he snuck secret jam sessions on his older brother’s guitar. A love for playing and fixing guitars began to form.
When Bennett saw Angus Young, lead guitarist of AC/DC, play his famous Gibson SG guitar, Bennett knew his love for the instrument went beyond just playing. Drawing guitar designs, tinkering with existing guitars, and imagining owing his own guitar brand came to the forefront of his mind.
Bennett was working at the airfield in Eau Claire years ago when a pilot overheard him playing and asked him if he would fix his guitar. Bennett agreed, and unknowingly found his calling.
“I got to do the two things that I enjoy, working on instruments and getting to play a new style of guitar that I’d never played before,” Bennett said. “It snowballed from there. He told somebody, and that person told somebody, and all of a sudden I’d show up to work and there would be guitars in my office waiting for me.”
At the age of 28 Bennett attended Southeast State College in Red Wing, Minnesota, to participate in their luthier program. Upon graduation, he decided Eau Claire was the best option to open his own repair shop because of its booming musical culture and his established connections within the community. He hopped back into town and set up shop.
Bennett said the key to standing out in the musical community, and as a business in general, was to offer the best customer service he and his employees possibly could.
“Customer service, I feel, is dying in this country,” Bennett said. “My number one goal is to have whoever brings an instrument into this shop, we help fix the issue they have with it and help make it play better than it ever has.”
Bennett regularly stays up into the wee hours of the morning to get jobs done in time. He thoroughly explains the problems with the instruments his customers bring in, as well as the potential fixes.
One of these customers, Kyle Culver, is a prime example of this. Culver needed a Taylor acoustic guitar for an important performance with his longtime band, The Millenium, and Bennett fixed the guitar in time for the guitar to grace the Pourhouse stage in Minneapolis one last time.
“Dallas is seriously a wizard,” Culver said. “… Quick, efficient, and goes the extra mile. And, if you’ve got the time, he’ll talk shop with you for hours. I always leave there knowing something I didn’t previously.”
Now that the Bennett Guitar Company has been open for a full year, Bennett said the goal for his business is to continue expanding. He wants to produce and sell his own line of guitars, purchase a larger facility, hire more staff, and help more musicians get the most they can out of their instruments.
“Your career path should follow where your passion lies,” Bennett said. “If you don’t, eventually the fire will burn out and you’ll grow cold. You won’t produce quality work, you won’t care as much about your customers and you won’t care about the products you’re selling as much. If the passion isn’t there, you are doing yourself, and the people you interact with every day, a disservice by continuing on that path.”
Learn more about the business at bennettguitarcompany.com or by searching for it on Facebook.