The Story of Folkway
Established in 1999, Folkway Music began life as the guitar repair and building shop of Luthier Mark Stutman. Soon after opening, Mark became an Authorized repair person for C.F. Martin & Co., and it wasn’t very long before the demand for high-quality repair work was greater than he could handle on his own. He made the decision to hire Jesse Merrill, a guitar-builder of the highest caliber and all-around Renaissance man. With a passion for vintage guitars, as well as a sincere appreciation of modern instruments of old-world quality, the pair made the decision to expand the scope of Folkway Music to include instrument sales.
There were always old guitars to fix and sell, and the store’s customers always seemed to appreciate the pair’s upfront and honest approach. Locally, and through the first incarnation of the store’s website, instrument sales became a much larger focus of the store. Searching out the best vintage guitars, learning how to accurately photograph instruments, describing tone in words, and mastering the art of guitar packaging took up much time, and more staff were soon required. Folkway Music became authorized dealers for the Santa Cruz Guitar Company early on, and soon established dealerships with Larrivee, Taylor Guitars, National ResoPhonic guitars, and many others as the demand for quality new instruments grew with the store’s reputation. We became an Authorized C.F. Martin & Co. Guitars dealer in 2011, and added Collings Guitars to our lineup in late 2012.
Within 5 years of opening, Folkway Music had grown too large for its 1000 square foot home, and we embarked on a renovation that would ultimately triple the size of the store. There would never again be banjos hanging from the ceiling!
At the end of 2012, a second Folkway Music location was opened in Waterloo, Ontario - a half hour’s drive west of the original store. Built in 1906, the building at 22 Dupont St. East was once the home of Charles Fredrick Thiele, legendary Canadian band leader and composer. It was in this building in the early 1920’s that Thiele founded Waterloo Music, one of Canada’s first music stores, and went on to build the nation’s largest music publishing house.
Today, our repair department occupies about a third of our floor space in each of our locations, and every instrument we offer for sale spends time on one of our repair benches before being made available. New instruments are carefully set-up, while used and vintage instruments are repaired as required. Our repair department is world renowned for the high quality of our restoration work to vintage instruments. Many customers ship their instruments to Folkway Music from all over North America and Europe thanks to our expertise and vintage sensitive approach to repair.
Live music has always been one of the pillars of Folkway Music, and we continue to present concerts and workshops on a regular basis. We offer instruction in all of the instruments we sell (and even in some we don’t), and employ a teaching staff of the highest caliber. Our instructors are great musicians, but more so are great teachers.
We hope to have something to offer to everyone who walks through our doors or clicks through our website. We love music and, particularly, the instruments that help make it! Please let us have the opportunity to share with you our passion for the instruments we sell, the restorations we undertake, and the performers we present. Whether it be in person, on the phone, or through email, we’re thankful you’ve chosen to visit us.