Jun 1980 – Jun 2020
1980 – 1997
237 Spring Bank
1997 – 2020
326 Beverley Road
About Antone’s / Music Workshop
Owner Tony Beasty very kindly sent us his potted history of his two iconic music shops, Music Workshop and Antone’s Guitars…
I started Music Workshop at 237 Spring Bank, Hull on June 1st 1980. The year before I’d given up my career as a Civil Engineer because I was passionate about music and had always wanted to be my own boss.
Initially the idea was to do guitar repairs and customising, and to sell accessories such as strings, picks and drumsticks – hence the name “Music Workshop”. I also got married that first week in June and I remember rushing round on my wedding day to make a delivery before getting changed and hitting the Registry Office in town!
Pretty soon I was being offered second-hand guitars to buy, and before too long we became a fully-fledged guitar shop. In the early days I supplemented my income by working part-time as a Programme Assistant at Radio Humberside. I’m eternally grateful to the friends who stood in and minded the shop whilst I was doing my daily three hour shifts on Jameson Street. Pretty soon I was able to give my eldest son Sam Beasty a Saturday job, and we had some great times.
I’d always had a passion for vintage guitars, and we built up a reasonable stock of old Gibsons, Fenders, Rickenbackers and old Vox 30 amps. We sold these all over the UK and later into Europe and the USA.
Celebrity visitors to Music Workshop over those early years included Wilko Johnson, Bill Nelson, Herbie Flowers, Ian Broudie, and even Lemmy sent a couple of his Marshall amps for servicing.
By the mid 90s the business had expanded and we needed more space. Brown’s Music on Beverley Road came up for sale as Stan Brown was retiring, so we moved in. We thought the business had outgrown the “Workshop” name so we decided on Antone’s Guitars. This was an amalgam of my wife Anita’s name, and my own. It was also a tip of the hat to Antone’s Blues Club in Austin, Texas, which I’d been lucky enough to visit on a recent road trip to the USA.
We were lucky enough to have Jim Marshall, of Marshall Amplification, come and do our official opening. Jim duly cut the ribbon and then stayed all day chatting with customers and signing autographs (this was before the ‘selfie’ craze had started!).
By this time Sam had gone to University in Leicester, met the girl of his dreams, and moved down to Kent, so the Saturday job was taken up by my second son Dan Beasty. Eventually Dan became a partner in the shop and managed it single-handed when I went back to Uni in Hull in 2005. I managed to balance my studies with helping out in the shop between lectures. I graduated in 2008 with a First in American Studies and Film Studies, two of my great interests.
Things at the new shop went really well and the move to Beverley Road had proved to be a wise move. However, internet shopping was an ever-present threat, and one that was difficult to compete with. Despite what many people think, it’s not really a ‘price’ thing, although some people would do anything to save a couple of quid. It’s actually a cultural change in the way people shop. It’s just so easy to sit at home with your iPhone, iPad, PC, or whatever, and have instant access to an enormous range of products, delivered to your door the next day. I’ve always thought that guitars are very tactile things, and that customers would want to pick them up and try before buying, but this has turned out not to be the case. Although we kept a solid base of loyal customers, many others would gravitate to the ‘net.
This is by no means unique to music shops. High street retail in general has suffered the same fate. For the last five years or so we have seen independent music shops closing on a regular basis. We tried to weather the storm and ride it out, but when Covid-19 struck this year we were forced to temporarily close the shop in March. Since then we’ve operated on a Mail Order basis but this hasn’t been successful. When our 40th Anniversary arrived, I was forced to be realistic and call it a day. It was very sad but I’ve been really touched by all the messages and good wishes on Facebook.
I’m still working from home doing guitar repairs and set-ups, and hope to continue as long as there’s a need.
I’d like to thank the many friends who have helped me out at Music Workshop and Antone’s Guitars. These include Dan Beasty, Phil Dolan, Rob Winder, Chris Wardell, Sam Beasty, Pete Green, Glenn Harmer, Norman Cross, Jeff Parsons, Duncan Wood, Dave Holley, and our marvellous Engineer Steve Malam. These guys are heroes of the Hull music scene.