Ax in Hand guitar store plans on musical growth

By Kevin Bartelt

DeKalb | Family-run guitar shop Ax in Hand celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Even though its store owners have sold primarily vintage guitars, they are now focusing on expanding musical instruments.

“We’ve been branching more into … musical instruments,” said co-owner/manager Larry Henrikson. “Guitars will always be our emphasis … . What we are expanding into [is] band instruments for rentals as well as doing repairs and obviously providing accessories.”

Offering violin lessons are another step Ax in Hand, 817 W. Lincoln Highway, has taken toward its musical expansion. These lessons started last fall.

“I’m glad we made the choice to start [violin lessons], Larry Henrikson said. “I think [instructor Sara Pezel] has about a dozen students at the moment … . I expect that will continue to grow.”

In addition to its violin students, instructors Brian Quinlan and Pezel teach 50-60 students guitar and bass. Pezel teaches students ranging from ages 9-50.

“I love being an instructor at Ax in Hand because it’s all about the students,” Pezel said. “It’s great getting to know my students, and helping to shape them as people and musicians is one of the best parts of being a teacher.”

Larry Truman Henrikson created the Larry Henrikson Guitar School in 1964 and later changed its name to Ax in Hand. He died in 2000, and his sons are co-owners of the shop.

Erin Henrikson, one of the sons and co-owners, is glad to represent Ax in Hand.

“I saw [Ax In Hand] as, and still see it as, a unique outlet for musicians, specifically in guitar and bass, to come to … ,” Erin Henrikson said. “I’m proud to have our town and to be able to represent [Ax in Hand] to our community.”

The music store has reached more than the community. Over the years, several well-known rock bands collaborated with the shop because of its vintage instruments.

“During the ’70s, I know that on a regular basis Pablo Cruise and The Doobie Brothers would show up,” Larry Henrikson said. “I remember later on, we would take instruments into the city to different concerts like The [Rolling] Stones, The Who, INXS [and] Tom Petty.”

Students and locals can see Ax In Hand’s student performance 7 p.m. Aug. 7 at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.