“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that all store locations will begin store closing sales today”: End of an era for US gear retail as Sam Ash Music to close

Sam Ash store front: The family run US gear retailer is closing all of its stores
(Image credit: Mike Pont/FilmMagic)

Sam Ash Music has announced the closure of all of its stores across the US, marking the end of a gear retail dynasty. Sam Ash was founded in 1924 and is the largest family owned music store in the US. 

A closing down sale is underway, with heavily discounted stock available in store and online. Breaking the news on its social media channels, the Ash family said it was “with a heavy heart” that closing sales were now open, and urged musicians to take advantage of it while stocks last. 

“This unfortunate news also presents a fantastic opportunity for great deals across our premium selection of musical instruments and pro sound equipment,” read the statement. “We will also be offering specials on SamAsh.com during this time. Thank you for allowing us to serve musicians like you for 100 years.”

A hundred years is a long time in business but the last 10 would have felt like a thousand in the age of digitalisation, with online sales presenting physical retail outlets across all sectors with an existential challenge. Simply more and more players are preferring to buy their electric guitars online.

Sam Ash Music is own of music’s enduring institutions. Angel Vivaldi, Gibson’s Mark Agnesi and Alex Skolnick were among the first to offer their condolences. Agnesi was a champion of Sam Ash, visiting its flagship store in New York City for an episode of GibsonTV’s The Scene, airing on 27 July 2023. 

But since the company has endured a difficult time, most notably losing its COO, Sammy Ash, who died on 16 September 2023 following a battle with cancer. Grandson and namesake of company founder, Sam Ash, he had spent over five decades at the company, working on the shopfloor, taking oddjobs in the the warehouse, before working his way up. 

Ash’s legacy was write large not just in Sam Ash but in the industry as a whole – he was responsible for naming one of the most iconic overdrive pedals on the market, the Ibanez Tube Screamer

Sammy Ash

Sammy Ash, granson of Sam, was COO of the family run music store until his death in September 2023. (Image credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)

Sam Ash Music announced the closure of 18 stores in March, including the flagship store featured in The Scene, but there was no suggestion that the rest would follow. In a statement to amNewYork Metro, it described the closures as “restructuring” and said it remained committed to “a strong physical store footprint”.

“This restructuring is emotionally tough, but we are confident these moves will make Sam Ash Music stronger as we continue serving the music community into the future, as we have for the past 100 years,” read the statement.

Skolnick thanked the company for the customer service over the years, most notably for going above and beyond in recovering a bunch of guitars that were stolen from him. The sales manager smelled a rat, and called the cops, saving the day.

“Thanks for hosting me at a few Master Classes and especially to SA NYC staff for recovering several of my guitars and collaborating with NYPD to bust the jerk who stole them and tried to have them sold on consignment,” wrote Skolnick. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.