Samash and MR, two parallel musical stories

Samash and Manuel Rodríguez have met recently, but everything indicates that they were predestined to work together almost 100 years ago. Samash’s story begun in 1924, when the couple opened a small musical instrument store in Brooklyn. This small business has become over the years into one of the largest music distribution company in the US.

As in Manuel Rodríguez, they are already going for the third generation in the family managing this giant business. Its history is almost similar and parallel to MR Gitarras. Two decades before, the Rodríguez family began to make guitars in Cadiz. In the 50’s they were already manufacturing in Los Angeles for Hollywood and today there are Manuel Rodríguez guitars in more than 100 countries around the world. This is how Dereck Ash talks about this union.

MR Guitars:We know your story begins almost 100 years ago. Could you tell us a bit more about how this company was born?

Dereck Ash: Sam Ash was born in Austria and traveled to the United States in 1907 when he was just 10 years old. Sam always had a deep passion for the violin and would join several local Brooklyn, New York, bands before starting The Sam Ash Orchestra. It was around this time that Sam Ash met his future wife Rose.sam_brookyln

When Sam and Rose wanted to start a family, it was decided that Sam should look for a different job. Sam’s passion for music and for helping fellow musicians that came through the Sam Ash Orchestra inspired him to pursue the idea of opening a music store. However, with very little savings to their name, the idea of starting a music store seemed like a difficult endeavor. Thankfully, Rose Ash being the strong woman she was encouraged Sam that he needed to follow his dreams. Rose eventually decided to sell her engagement ring and use the money for a down payment on what would become the first ever Sam Ash Music store in Brooklyn, New York. The year was 1924.

Success was in no way immediate. Sam and Rose had little business experience but their passion for hard work and commitment kept them going. In addition to operating their new Business, Sam and Rose fulfilled their other dream of starting a family when their first son Jerome Ash was born. A few years later their second son Paul was born and later they welcomed daughter Marcia into the family.

Sam Ash and his family lived in a crowded 3 bedroom apartment behind the music store. As the young family and business owners started to establish themselves, the Great Depression represented a huge challenge. Many musicians were out of work and new instrument purchases were hard for customers to justify. However, Sam Ash loved the idea of Sam Ash Music being an open place where all musicians were welcome to hang out and play. It was the creation of this friendly atmosphere that the family business managed to just barely survive the depression.
By the mid 1940’s, Sam Ash sons Paul and Jerry (after returning from fighting in World War II) started to establish themselves within the business. Jerry and Paul were responsible for expanding the stores selection to include items like accordions and even the emerging instrument known as the electric guitar. By the 1950s Sam Ash had become Brooklyn’s most respected music store known as a true destination for musicians to congregate and of course to find deep selections of the latest and greatest gear.

MRG: Your story begins in Brooklyn but now you have stores in lots of states. When did you get bigger?

ASH-3-obit-web-master675-v3DA: While Sam Ash founded the business, it was the vision of his sons Paul and Jerome Ash that paved the way for the expansion of Sam Ash into one of the largest musical retail operations in the world. In 1961 a new and larger Sam Ash Music Store in Long Island, New York. Paul, Jerome and his wife Bernice mirrored Sam’s work ethic turning both locations into successful music stores and pillars of the respective communities. As the British Invasion hit and the most popular products shifted from band instruments to drum, electric guitars, and organs, the Sam Ash family was always praised for their incredible selection of these in demand products.

Jerry and Paul spent the rest of the 1960’s and 1970s opening up more stores including a new flagship location on the legendary music row in Manhattan, New York. Later it would be Jerome and Bernice’s three sons, David, Richard, and Sammy that would help turn Sam Ash into a National retail powerhouse expanding to areas including Florida, California, Texas and the rest of the Country. Today there are over 45 Sam Ash Music Stores in the United States in addition to the growing website.

The Sam Ash family has always had the belief that musicians understand each other. This is the reason the family has taken the effort to take musicians and teach them how to be salesman. Many members of the current Sam Ash executive team were full time musicians and still play shows when they are not working. While most retail operations are operated by bankers and businessmen, Sam Ash is owned and operated by musicians. Current CEO Richard Ash does not spend a day without playing his favorite guitars while COO Sammy Ash is a respected curator and collector in the guitar community.

MRG: What do you like most about our instruments?

imgresDA: As a fellow family business that has been passed down from generation to generation, Sam Ash and Manuel Rodriguez have both established a culture of hard work and respect for the customer. We love how much care goes into the production of each Manuel Rodriguez guitar and the strict inspection process they conduct before the guitars reach the eventual buyer.

Like Sam Ash, everything Manuel Rodriguez does is a tribute to their founders. They seek to honor a storied history and maintain a reputation. That really shows in all of their products. Playing a Manuel Rodriguez guitar is a true experience in quality craftsmanship and time tested methods. The commitment to sustainability is truly inspiration and something all companies across every industry should look to emulate.

MRG: What American musicians think about our guitars?

DA: Manuel Rodriguez guitars have gotten excellent feedback in our Sam Ash Music Stores. Players from various genres have admired the unique tone wood selection and incredible playability of MR models. They have been described as playable works of art by various customers who admire their aesthetic beauty. The exceptional balance across the frequency range has brought smiles to many guitarists looking for the next big thing in our stores. We are excited to help tell the story of Manuel Rodriguez Guitars to more USA based guitarists in the future.

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