One thing they want to make clear, though, is they are not in the profession of restoring vintage guitars.
“There’s a difference between restoration and repairing,” emphasizes David. “A lot of people come in with an old guitar they had in their closets. We are not trying to be a restoration shop. On older guitars you try not to replace or change parts. You don’t want to restore to brand new, it changes the sound, you want to keep vintage guitars in original condition.”
Supporting local musicians and building a local music community is a driving force for the Hoslers. “Some days it’s like a barbershop in here,” jokes Joel. “Musicians like to come in and hangout … we’ll be roasting our own coffee soon.”
But back to those guitars on the walls. Yes, they sell pre-owned and new guitars, too, and even a few banjos and ukuleles. In retrospect, Joel adds: “We knew we wanted to be different. … We’re here to enrich the community. We built this business a brick at a time and we want to create a place that makes people enjoy living here.”
A father-son duo brings a unique guitar shop – and music venue – to the Warehouse Arts District
By Marcia Biggs
From the outside, it’s an industrial looking warehouse, but step inside Seven C Music and the magic begins. A spacious room draws you in, shiny guitars hang from the ceiling, line the walls – acoustic beauties in African rosewood, Madagascar ebony, Tasmanian blackwood. At a couple workbenches, people are stringing guitars, picking, talking shop with customers. An inviting bar lounge with comfy seating and tables invites you to hang out with a beer, wine or coffee.
Need strings? A consultation? There’s help behind the front counter. But in the back workshop is where the work gets done. That’s where Seven C Music co-owners David and Joel Hosler and their staff of guitar fixers extraordinaire are hard at work, bending over workbenches, fiddling with drills and glues and a myriad of other tools.
On this particular mid-week afternoon, a few local musicians have come in for minor repair work. On weekends, things pick up. You may be lucky enough to catch an evening of live music featuring local and regional musicians playing everything from folk and jazz to blues. On second Saturdays of the month, when the adjacent ArtsXchange is abuzz for Second Saturday ArtWalk with open artist studios and galleries, Seven C Music pulls up the garage door, sets up tables and chairs and invites the public to a wide-open live music party. It’s a toe-tapping and dancing-under-guitars kind of evening.
Seven C: A Vision
Hard work and determination by the father-son Hosler team led to a vision of the multi-functional guitar repair facility and community gathering spot. David Hosler has more than 40 years of experience designing, building and repairing stringed instruments. Both have extensive background designing and repairing guitars for Taylor Guitars, a leading national manufacturer in California.
Even though David officially “retired” from Taylor in 2015 to move back to Florida (he grew up in Sarasota), he continued to do repair work from home. When his son Joel and wife Tiffany agreed to move to St. Pete from Southern California in 2016, they opened a small repair shop a year later on Haines Road.
The work came pouring in. As master luthiers (a builder of stringed instruments), they were servicing national guitar manufacturers along with a growing community of Tampa Bay and regional musicians. They soon determined they needed more space and that’s when the Seven C Music seed was planted.
“A friend encouraged us to look at the ArtsXchange campus because they wanted to incorporate all the arts from visual to dance to sculpture and music and they were anxious to have us here,” said David. “We gutted the building and we had a vision. We started with small workshops but knew we wanted to have concerts, and once we did concerts we knew we needed a beer and wine license.”
In fall of 2020, despite a raging COVID pandemic, the Hoslers opened Seven C Music in a renovated 5,000-square-foot warehouse on 22nd Street S. in the epicenter of the Warehouse Arts District. They brought in master luthier Hunter Allen, and hired several other craftspeople to help service more than two dozen guitar manufacturers that ship them guitars to repair, such as Taylor, Martin, Fender, and others.
“We’ve basically brought a Nashville style specialty guitar shop to St. Pete,” says Joel Hosler. “Music is really thriving here. Our history and our knowledge between my father, myself, Hunter and a couple other apprentices … you don’t get this kind of experience unless you’re in LA or Nashville.”