EAST GREENWICH – A very, large comfortable sofa awaits any and all customers who shop at King Guitar, 176 Main St. It’s a ‘king’, of course, for relaxation purposes.
In other words, there is no pressure.
Why wouldn’t you lounge, converse or buy a guitar from an ex-Marine who just let Slash of Guns ‘N Roses borrow a couple of amplifiers to make his newest song?
Wickford native and King Guitar owner Brad King, 42, graduated from North Kingstown High, joined the United States Marine Corps and, while stationed in Virginia, attended Old Dominion University. His newest dominion, with wife Pamela and daughter Katelyn, is a Suite on Main Street where guitar aficionados, experts, beginners and the curious can “pic” the brain of a guy whose heard it all, musically at least.
King started out as a drummer, converting to guitar at age 12. He played in several bands before opening his first vintage guitar store in Virginia Beach, Va. in 1990. He has been in the guitar business his entire adult life.
Self-taught, King actually learned how his craft by playing with older musicians better than he was. “The only way to get experience is to hang around soul,” he said.
Operating an online guitar store and maintaining a small loft and warehouse previously, he chose his small boutique showroom on Main Street in EG because of its “ideal” location in the state and to his home.
“We have been an internet-only company for years. I was fortunate enough to start a gear forum on the web at www.rig-talk.com  that became wildly popular,” added King. “That is our base for sales with over 20,000 members worldwide. The retail boutique in East Greenwich is just an extension of that and a warm intimate place for people to come by and try some of the gear, although 90 percent of our business is still online-based.”
Music has always spoken to him. “I was always enamored with the power and feeling in a well-done song. The crushing riffs of a loud guitar or the gentle melodies of an acoustic guitar, I loved it all,” said King.
The first song that really “got” him, he said, was “Over the Mountain” by Ozzy Osbourne, a childhood favorite, along with Black Sabbath.
“I am very into acoustic delta blues music and love ‘Son’ House and Robert Johnson, ‘Blind’ Blake and all those cats, who laid the groundwork for all that came after,” added King of his musical odyssey.
“(Jimi) Hendrix was a revelation, but I didn’t get him at all until I had more experience under my belt. Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi wrote great riffs, and Randy Rhodes was a maestro, who redefined the electric guitar with classical influences in rock music. Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eddie Van Halen also dropped nuclear bombs on the guitar landscape when they hit as well.”
He also riffed on the best riffs. “For a straight-up anthem riff that is perfect, ‘Iron Man’ by Sabbath hands down,” he said. “The most perfect guitar solo in the context of a song IMO is ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles. (It’s) just perfect. The best LIVE riff I ever heard was ‘Dazed and Confused’ by Zeppelin.”
This is the kind of eclectic, expert string-based conversation that customers discourse on a visit to King Guitar. It is part of the parcel that sets Brad’s store apart from others.
“We are the most laid-back guitar shop on the planet. It’s more like a warm living room vibe with no pressure at all. Because we have a worldwide customer base, we are not relying on the traditional staple of lessons, string sales, etc.,” added King. “We carry best-in category, very specialized guitars and amps and our clientele knows what they want usually. Our prices are competitive, but we are not built on price. We are more of the experience, and having top flight gear that is not price-driven, but quality-driven, and with our large internet following that allows us the be able to carry guitars at a price point that would not work in a ‘Mom and Pop’ regular music shop,” he said.”
King is also well connected in the industry, traveling often to Hollywood and Los Angeles to buy and sell vintage guitars and amps. “I sell to lots of known, famous guitar players. I have been able to keep very connected in the industry, which allows me to bring in some brands that have not been seen in Rhode Island before,” said King. “I also have a warehouse in North Hollywood and provide amps and guitars for artists and studios.
“I was fortunate to be in the studio with Slash of ‘Guns and Roses’ when he recorded his latest solo release, ‘Apocalyptic Love.’ He was kind enough to thank me on the album notes for loaning them some amplifiers. So, we have lots of inroads for cool gear.”
All are welcome at King Guitar. “You can come try anything without fear of being pressured into buying. We don’t do that here. The sofa and guitars are waiting,” he said.
For more information, go to www.kingguitar.com  or call 884-2363.