Allen Merrill is a trained guitarist, focusing on multiple styles that vary quite a bit. Recently, he opened The Guitar Studio of East Hampton in an effort to open up the community’s hearts (and ears) to what he believes to be two somewhat lost arts—classical guitar and flamenco. While any number of songs might contain your standard rock guitar stylings, the artistry and beauty of the flamenco guitar is typically reserved for more Latin-inspired tracks, where the sweet strumming of the strings sometimes becomes fast and furious.
“We just opened in January and had a really great opening event of sorts. We had a number of people from the music community, along with some friends of our studio like Dick Johansen, musician Michael Weiskopf and a few others,” Merrill said during a recent interview.
When asked about the turnout for the opening of The Guitar Studio, Merrill laughs. “We were really surprised as many people came to the opening as they did, considering it’s the middle of January. There was a possibility that no one would’ve come, you know? We had several dozen people over the course of the day, it was great.”
Talking about music and the guitar with Merrill, his passion really comes across. As someone who has spent over 20 years in the music industry, Merrill knows what it takes to build and maintain a proper studio. The Guitar Studio features a wide array of guitars (of course), along with state-of-the-art recording equipment. You can’t help but be impressed with the guitars that, quite literally, are all over the place. Makers like Hauser, McPherson, Cordoba and Fender are all represented in The Guitar Studio’s current slate of instruments.
So what makes The Guitar Studio different from other music studios in the Hamptons? According to Merrill, “It’s a multi-purpose studio, though it is oriented toward guitar, our intentions are three-fold. One is guitar instruction: Teaching young and old, beginners to advanced, teaching a wide array of styles from folk to pop. The idea is to stimulate interest in the guitar. Our place provides an alternative, as we offer classical and flamenco guitar lessons, which not many other places do.
“Our second intention is to provide an alternative location for recording and music production. This includes mastering and distributing music, if people are interested. The facility here is all new and first-rate. Is “world class” an overused term?” Merrill asks, laughing, adding “Fortunately, technology nowadays allows us to provide a lot of services without taking up a lot of space, which is nice. We’ve got some tremendous tech going on here.”
While technology has certainly made home-based recording easier, the equipment provided by a large facility like The Guitar Studio is truly invaluable. “The impression I’ve gotten from smaller groups out here is that home studios aren’t typically open to them, so I’d like to open my studio up to acts and help make their recording facility aspirations happen. Supporting the community in terms of production is a goal for us here.
“The third thing that sets us apart from another studio is our high-end guitar collection. With over two dozen on display here, we’re the exclusive dealer for a few brands. I’m the only McPherson dealer on Long Island. These guitars are probably the nicest, in my view, acoustic steel-string guitars made in the country. You won’t find those anywhere else in the Hamptons. We also feature a wide range of vintage flamenco guitars on the market today.”
With so much to offer the recording community, The Guitar Studio is ready to meet any need in terms of instruction or recording capability. “I’m really happy with the positive reaction from the community here in the Hamptons. It’s nice to share my passion with the Hamptons, as well as start a new business. The music community is such a collaborative community out here, it’s really something special.”