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Get out the Blue Guitar case

Shop to close in February after 57 years

DeForest Thornburgh and Yuris Zeltins
DeForest Thornburgh and Yuris Zeltins

The Blue Guitar has undergone many changes since it was founded in 1961. It appears as if its final transformation may be an upcoming disappearing act.

Place

Blue Guitar

5959 Mission Gorge Road, Suite 101, San Diego

Yuris Zeltins was our shop founder, he has now been gone for about a year,” Blue Guitar owner DeForest Thornburgh explained. “I wanted to have the shop go for another year after Yuris left just to pick up the pieces because this place has been around for the last 56 — it’s going to be 57 — years. Myself, I want to retire. I need more time to do things with my family and the house. So it’s about that time.”

The shop shifted location and focus during its long run, sometimes centering on guitar retail sales while at other times functioning as primarily a repair shop that sold a couple of instruments and strings. Thornburgh purchased the shop in 2003 and moved the operations from India Street to Mission Gorge. In its final incarnation, the shop had both a strong retail presence and repair side. Zeltins, who rose to legendary status as a guitar luthier over the years, continued to do repairs out of the back room until he moved to Seville, Spain, last year.

Zeltins isn’t jumping on the retirement wagon just yet, though. According to Thornburgh, he has a small shop in his new digs that is akin to “a boutique or fairy-tale shop that you would see in a book or a magazine article.” He also joked that Zeltins is such a disciple of his craft that he will likely “drop dead at his bench”... and, likely, not anytime soon: it is common for members of his family to live into their 100s.

There is talk of Blue Guitar repairman Scott Quiroz opening a new shop with some of the guitar teachers who give lessons at the shop, but Thornburgh thinks it’s unlikely that they will continue using the Blue Guitar name.

Thornburgh had a long career working with computers before pivoting into guitar sales and repairs. He refers to himself as being "Dilbert" (a comic-strip character) pre-Blue Guitar. For him, the toughest part of retail guitar sales was often “waiting for someone to walk in.” On the flip side, the most rewarding aspect was the relationship that was built between the customers and the shop.

The Blue Guitar will shut its doors permanently by February 14, 2018. Clearance sales are in progress.

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DeForest Thornburgh and Yuris Zeltins
DeForest Thornburgh and Yuris Zeltins

The Blue Guitar has undergone many changes since it was founded in 1961. It appears as if its final transformation may be an upcoming disappearing act.

Place

Blue Guitar

5959 Mission Gorge Road, Suite 101, San Diego

Yuris Zeltins was our shop founder, he has now been gone for about a year,” Blue Guitar owner DeForest Thornburgh explained. “I wanted to have the shop go for another year after Yuris left just to pick up the pieces because this place has been around for the last 56 — it’s going to be 57 — years. Myself, I want to retire. I need more time to do things with my family and the house. So it’s about that time.”

The shop shifted location and focus during its long run, sometimes centering on guitar retail sales while at other times functioning as primarily a repair shop that sold a couple of instruments and strings. Thornburgh purchased the shop in 2003 and moved the operations from India Street to Mission Gorge. In its final incarnation, the shop had both a strong retail presence and repair side. Zeltins, who rose to legendary status as a guitar luthier over the years, continued to do repairs out of the back room until he moved to Seville, Spain, last year.

Zeltins isn’t jumping on the retirement wagon just yet, though. According to Thornburgh, he has a small shop in his new digs that is akin to “a boutique or fairy-tale shop that you would see in a book or a magazine article.” He also joked that Zeltins is such a disciple of his craft that he will likely “drop dead at his bench”... and, likely, not anytime soon: it is common for members of his family to live into their 100s.

There is talk of Blue Guitar repairman Scott Quiroz opening a new shop with some of the guitar teachers who give lessons at the shop, but Thornburgh thinks it’s unlikely that they will continue using the Blue Guitar name.

Thornburgh had a long career working with computers before pivoting into guitar sales and repairs. He refers to himself as being "Dilbert" (a comic-strip character) pre-Blue Guitar. For him, the toughest part of retail guitar sales was often “waiting for someone to walk in.” On the flip side, the most rewarding aspect was the relationship that was built between the customers and the shop.

The Blue Guitar will shut its doors permanently by February 14, 2018. Clearance sales are in progress.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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