"In the end, we could not get a lease here. These buildings will go away and be turned into something else." After more than a decade on India Street, owner DeForest Thornburgh says the Blue Guitar has lost its lease. Thornburgh says he thinks condos may one day occupy that site. "The other rumor is that the city might put up a parking structure."
The Blue Guitar has a reputation for restoration and repair. Tools, parts, benched guitars, and stacks of exotic lumber litter the workroom. Ike Turner, George Harrison, John Denver, Jackson Browne, and Hoyt Axton are among past clients.
"Leo Kottke came in here and bought strings," says Thornburgh, "and he tried out every nylon string guitar in the joint."
Master luthier Yuris Zeltin founded the Blue Guitar in the early 1960s (and is still on the job). "We moved...in order to have a hootenanny," he says of the first shop. Aside from problems with the fire marshal, "The place was too small. It had...a dirt floor in the back." Since then, the Blue Guitar has relocated to Old Town, Pacific Beach, and Mission Hills. Zeltin sold the store to Steve Neal, who in turn sold to Thornburgh.
Thornburgh hoped to open this week at 5959 Mission Gorge Road. His final challenge? Taking down the bright blue plywood guitar-shaped sign from high atop the front door. "The way we used to get up there's been blocked off. We'll have to figure a new way to get on the roof."