We put Ray Maudlin, one half of the dynamic duo at GrinningElk Music Company, in the hot seat for the inaugural edition of 10 Questions. Maudlin and his business partner, Lee Jackson, started GrinningElk almost a decade ago.  Although they take their instruments very seriously, it’s clear they’re also having a lot of fun.  They carry some truly exceptional pieces and write some of the most entertaining descriptions on all of Gbase.com.

When did you first open your shop?

We officially started GrinningElk Music Company in September of 2006, but I had been attending guitar shows with my business partner, Lee since the Arlington show of 2000.

Why did you want to open up your own shop?

We don’t have a “brick and mortar” store per se. We are an online company with a website, www.grinningelk.com and we also have a web presence on Gbase.

What do you consider your specialty?

Our specialty is clean and original instruments with a focus on Vintage, Custom Shop, and Limited Edition guitars, basses and amps.

What’s your favorite instrument in your store’s inventory right now?

Well, we currently have two favorites: a 2003 Les Paul R9, with Brazilian fretboard and a 1966 Fender Jazz Bass.1993_Gibson_Les_Paul_R9

What’s one tip you’d give a prospective vintage guitar or gear buyer?

The most important thing to remember about buying a vintage piece is to make completely sure it’s original. That’s the key if you want the instrument to retain or gain its maximum value in the future. Condition would be the second factor to consider. The word “clean” can never be emphasized enough when it applies to vintage guitars. My advice to a prospective buyer would be to find a respected dealer that you trust and have him examine and evaluate the item before you purchase it. If that’s not possible, make sure you have an iron- clad return policy so that you can inspect or have the guitar inspected once it arrives.

Have you noticed any trends in the market?

Our experience during the last few years is that the market is still settling with a tilt towards a downward trend.  We do not see overall prices rising in comparison to say, 5 years ago. It’s definitely a buyer’s market now.

Where do you think the business will be in the next 5 years?

That’s a hard one to call. Yes, I think we will still have a viable “guitar market” in 5 years, but I’m not sure about 10 or 20 years down the road. Many guitars are bought and sold because of the artists that played them, like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads. The late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s produced some serious guitar heroes who, in turn inspired millions of kids to pick up the instrument. Sadly, there are no more guitar heroes appearing anymore.  Sure, a lot of guys can play the heck out of their instruments, but they aren’t changing the world like those previous guys did.

What was your first guitar?

Well I’m a bassist, so my first bass was a 1972 Fender Jazz. It was the house bass in my Father’s recording studio.  I would fool around with it from time to time as a kid until I seriously picked up the bass in 1987 and then it was my main and only bass.

Who can’t you stop listening to now?

Although we were both children of the 70’s and 80’s, Lee’s and my tastes vary greatly now that we’re older. He has gotten into Country music these past few years and listens to guys like Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. My new favorite band is Between the Buried and Me. Those boys put out some pretty intense stuff. But, we both love Steel Panther!Ray_Maudlin_Grinning_Elk_Vintage_Guitars

If you could put together your own super group, who would be in it?

That’s easy- I would go back in time and transport Van Halen from their 1980 “World Invasion Tour into 2015. “ Now that was a supergroup…