NORTH LIBERTY- After playing for 25 years, Darwin Lindahl should know guitars. He knows their histories, construction and components. He knows the tone, dynamics and performance of guitars and effects pedals. He knows the knock-off guitars after which other guitars are modeled, like Gibson’s famous Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster.
He also gets excited about any cool axe with what he calls “curb appeal.” Guitars made of ash wood or those with a mahogany body and a maple top, a few choice guitars on consignment, and guitars for guitarists with chops.
Whether it’s effects pedals, strings, picks, pickups, or amps, Lindahl knows how to get that sound.
Beginners and guitar geeks alike are welcome at his new shop, 965 Guitars, but many of his customers are at a level where their musical tastes and skills are converging. They know what kind of sound they want and they can find it at 965 Guitars.
Lindahl has done guitar customizing and repair for years and that’s still a part of his work.
But he’s also getting music students into classes, dealing in several lines of new guitars, and he’s got a couple of old ones on consignment too.
He has effects pedals, those electronic tech tools that are similar to an application to shift the sound of your guitar (or keyboard). Effects pedals are a key market because they can create a digital delay, put a buzzy, fuzzy tone on your signal, or make your guitar sound like it’s crying.
Maybe 965 Guitars is for guitar players who have outgrown their starter rig, but Lindahl is no music snob. He carries as many acoustics as electric models from a half dozen companies, including a line of electrics mocked to look like Jeff Beck’s famous Yardbirds-era Fender Esquire.
Nash, Taylor, Blue Ridge, Vintage, and Walden are some of the manufacturers’ names that serious guitar players will recognize. Lindahl carries them because each appeal to that cool factor in their unique ways, he said.
He even has a ukulele on the rack.
A student practice room is set up with Lindahl’s personal pedal steel, so country and western music fans can rest assured that he knows the genre.
And who is Lindahls’ guitar hero? Astrophysicist and axe-man for arena rockers Queen, Sir Brian May. In the 1960s, May created his own guitar– the Red Special– with his father, and then used it for 30 years in live shows and recording sessions.
For years, Lindahl lived and worked in Cedar Falls/Waterloo as an Instigator, one of the sidemen for blues musician Kevin “B.F.” Burt. He’s played bass, steel pedal and six-string, and could probably pick a tune on any stringed instrument you handed him.
Having worked at Bob’s Music, later moving to Music Loft in Cedar Rapids, now he’s happy where he is.
Originally from Vinton, Lindahl is recently engaged. His bride-to-be helps out with the store, but mostly Lindahl is on his own, and his guitar joint is just the way he likes it. He remodeled a space at 215 Highway 965, Suite 3 this summer with his fiancé and a friend.
They put in three music instruction rooms, a storage area, a section for QSC, Vox and Victoria amps, two display walls with dozens of electric and acoustics, glass cases for pedal effects, a repair workshop and a nice lounge area where customers can relax.
Lindahl’s busy, whether it’s stripping down a guitar to install new pickups, or talking to his suppliers. He’s making music and still helping others make theirs too.
Find 965 Guitars on Facebook or visit the shop at 215 Hwy. 965, Ste. 3, in Liberty Plaza in North Liberty. The store is open 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.