CLEVELAND, TX – Outward appearances do not always tell the story. When you first see the 1956 Chevy parked in the front of a building from 1912, you know there is a story. Dan’s Guitars and Music has been in Cleveland since 2006, owned and operated by Dan Kiblinger with over 35 years in the music industry.
Dan’s Guitars has a large collection of vintage guitars they buy, sell, restore, and repair from collectors, rock artists, country artists, and even recovered from floods. As Dan shared, “I have a guitar that was discovered under water after Hurricane Katrina that was discovered in many pieces. After letting it procure and dry out for a year, I worked on sanding it down, leveraging all the pieces together, and then actually playing it to ensure the sound quality. It sounds great!”
Dan opened a vintage guitar business in 1987 in North Houston at Airline and Tidwell, “Airline Vintage Guitar”. His store was known throughout the country by iconic rock musicians that have maintained a relationship with him over the many years he has been in business. His reputation of creating and restoring valuable guitars is passed down through several generations of guitar musicians.
Every couple of weeks a familiar face comes into the store. It may take a few minutes for Dan to realize where the customer knows him and his legendary guitars since his presence is huge in the music business. Kiblinger has a personal collection of 40-75 guitars tha waiver as he collects and sells from his own personal supply. His oldest guitar is a vintage iconic 1938 Gibson hand-carved L-5 that has been in his possession for over thirty years. Authentic vintage guitar labels in the store include Gibson, Fender, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker. The collection at the store varies weekly, and best part is seeing customers come in, grab a guitar, and see how the sound resonates.
“Every guitar has a personality. Appearance, wear, and feel are important, although the more the guitar is played, the better the sound. The strings vibrate until they find their sweet spot”, said Dan. Iconic guitars can last for generations as long as they are played.
Earlier this year Dan started a partnership with long-time friend Jeff Spike Wong (JSW) whom he has known since 1982 while Dan was employed with H/H Music at Northwest Mall in Houston and Jeff was 15. Wong frequented the store often throughout his years as a young adult.
Stepping backwards to the history of JSW he was always interested in music and played several instruments before becoming a guitar player. His favorite book from his youth “The Guitar Book- A Handbook for Electric and Acoustic Guitarists along with Rock legend Eddie Van Halen influenced Jeff tremendously. Jeff was in several garage bands while in high school when he started to play professional shows for pay. When Jeff was 19, he was asked to be a fulltime member of a band called “Ripper” (theatrical make-up like KISS with heavy metal) playing sold out venues at Cardi’s in Houston.
In 1987 Wong moved to LA and was employed with Warner/Elektra/Atlantic, (a distribution division of Warner Bros) involved in music distribution and promotion through the mid 90’s. He was playing Southern California clubs regularly with the band, “Ambush”. Ambush played the L.A. Sunset Strip circuit (Whiskey-A- Go-Go, The Roxy) and released a CD. In 1999 Wong joined Rickenbacker International Corporation to build iconic Rickenbacker guitars and basses. His employment in music continued with experience working with audio engineering at Private Island Trax in Hollywood, and eventually becoming a certified sales representative for the largest dealership for Steinway & Sons.
This was great learning experience for Jeff Spike Wong who by this time had experience as a performer, a music teacher, music production, distribution, and audio engineering. Moving back to Houston in 2004, Jeff started his own film production company, Golden Westwinds Production. He has produced two Blues documentaries and is presently working on a documentary “Classical Music vs Heavy Metal” with Dr. Yan Shen, a concert pianist with a Doctoral degree in Music and Piano from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music and Rusty Cooley, a guitarist well known for his refined guitar technique of ‘shredding”. In 2016 JSW became Director of Artists Relations for Kawai Piano Gallery.
Jeff resides in The Woodlands, Texas and has a personal collection of 40-60 guitars. In 2020, Jeff had a very vast collection of vintage guitars and decided to connect with Dan to sell some of his guitars for others to enjoy. In 2021 they started their partnership with vintage guitars from the Signature Series of Gibson Guitars and brands including Fender, Rickenbacker, and Gretsch. The Gibson signature series, such as Billy Gibbbon’s Goldtop, is reproduced to match his true vintage 57 Goldtop guitar. The limited-edition guitars do not disappoint vintage guitar enthusiasts.
The hope is to let everyone know about the “Coolest place for a unique and memorable experience” at the small guitar store in Cleveland, Texas. Dan’s Guitar and Music is located at 112 W. Houston in Cleveland. Open 10:00am until 6:00pm if you want to talk to Dan give him a call at (281) 592-2000.
“My repeat customers include local Texas recording country artist Josh Ward from Montgomery, and Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top”, said Dan Kiblinger. “Credibility is everything in this business. If the guitars could talk what a story they would tell! Sharing the legendary guitars to generations of people is exciting. How many people will own a single guitar?”
According to Wong, “We want collectors and other guitar players to be able to come to the shop, share stories, and experience playing a guitar they may have only heard about.”
Follow their Facebook page for current images of guitar offerings and to hear about the monthly Open Mic Event with vintage vehicles from the 1960’s in the open field next door to the shop in Cleveland.