Echo Tone Guitars

Before opening Echo Tone Guitars last year, Matthew Liveriadis and Ash Blakeney wanted to create something different, and they also had a fair amount of experience with what they did not want to replicate.

“Matt and I have had a long history in and around guitars for many years and worked in stores together,” says Blakeney. “We saw room for what our vision of a guitar store would look like, the way that we would approach dealing with customers and the way that it would integrate with the grass roots musical community in Melbourne.
“Outside of the kinds of instruments that we wanted to do, the fundamental thing was making a place that had a connection for the music scene and bands, and also people who aren’t necessarily on the inside of that whole loop – being able to get a student guitar at a place that’s stocking quality instruments with service to back it up and not have it be an intimidating experience,” he said.
With an equal amount of floor space dedicated to new instruments as well as vintage and second hand, a major part of Echo Tone’s game plan is that they are able to tailor the kind of stock they carry to ensure it’s the best quality possible.
“That’s a little bit of a gamble because you’re not going after the quick sale, you’re going after the long term,” Blakeney says. “We’re in the privileged position where we’re not a big store, we don’t have huge overheads and we’re doing it ourselves. That means we can be very selective with what we have, whether it be secondhand and vintage stuff that we source or it’s stuff that comes in on consignment.
“Say there’s 20 $100 guitars out there, two of them are good and then you can go anywhere and buy any one of these 18 others, and you’re getting an instrument that’s not good,” he says. “We’re in a position where we don’t have to placate wholesalers and meet extreme sales budgets and sell whatever crap we’ve got a deal on that week. We can actually pick and choose everything, from our entry level guitars and ukuleles through to effects. It’s the fortunate thing about not trying to be a big store and being a local community store.
“I’ve never really been comfortable with selling as a thing, but I’m totally comfortable with showing somebody something that I think is a great product and is a reasonable price. So for us, we have to shape the vibe around the store and the stuff that we carry to avoid becoming that place where you’re trying to shape somebody’s decision to benefit yourself.”
The amount of effort that Blakeney and Liveriadis have invested into creating a welcoming atmosphere and a well thought out product list has quickly rewarded them with both recurring customers and locals who come to see the monthly instore performances. With this Sunday marking the shop’s first birthday, the pair will be celebrating the occasion with pop-up stalls from the likes of Bedroom Suck Records, Tenth Court and Poison City Records and a lineup of bands that includes Sydney’s Sachet, Brisbane’s Thigh Master and locals Gonzo and Banana Step.
“I suppose it’s less of a, ‘Hey let’s have a big sale for our first birthday’ type vibe, and more just come and get involved with the store, generally come down for a yarn,” says Blakeney.
“A music shop should be a place where on any given day you can walk in, feel welcome, have an interesting conversation about music and if there’s something that you need you can get it. When you lay it out like that it’s a pretty straight forward formula. Somewhere along the line it got a bit muddled up, but it should really be that simple.”

Echo Tone Guitars’ first birthday is on Sunday July 9 at 497 High Street, Northcote. For more information see www.echotone.com.au.