I first saw Rick Woodman’s “guitar room” in January when The Buffalo News photographed the kitchen in this East Amherst residence for our Sunday Home & Style section. His wife, interior decorator Susie Riessen, gave me a tour of their home before settling down to talk kitchen trends.
Like a catchy song, the guitar room stuck in my head.
The 13-by-14-foot room features a tray ceiling, hardwood floor, Tibetan wool area rug, walls painted Benjamin Moore’s Baked Cumin and – more to the point – about 25 guitars including a travel electric guitar and a silver National Reso-Phonic. Harmonicas, a couple ukuleles, a viola, mandolin and amplifiers also are found here. One harmonica dating back about 15 years – before his guitar collecting began – is framed on the wall.
“Susie bought me the harmonica. I really like harmonicas, so I started playing. As I got a little bit better at that, I said, “It would be nice to be able to record a couple of tracks on a guitar – just something to play along with, kind of go back and forth.” So I bought a guitar. And then I got into the guitar and took a couple of lessons and got more interested and more interested. Every time you’d find something else you were trying to play or a sound you were trying to get, you had to go looking for a new guitar,” said Woodman, 61, owner of Amherst Acoustical, a commercial construction company that has nothing to do with guitars.
We recently asked Woodman to tell us more about his music and this unique space.
Q. Have you always played guitar?
A. I’ve always loved music – rock ’n’ roll bands, blues bands, what have you. When I was a kid, I messed around playing guitar a little bit. I got away from it, busy working and doing other things. Then I got to a certain point in my life where I said, “I think I’d like to start playing around with this again – maybe take some lessons – just as a hobby.” That’s all it is, strictly a hobby. I’m an intermediate-level guitar player – at best.
Q. Whose idea was it for a guitar room?
A. It wasn’t really anybody’s idea. I got a couple of guitars and had a desk set up where I would sit and play and I hung one on the wall. Over the years it went from having a guitar hanging on the wall to this. It never really started out as a guitar room plan. It just ended up this way.”
Q. Do you spend a lot of time in the room? Is it kind of a retreat?
A. I usually start my day in there. We get up really early around here ... frequently I’ll go in there and pick up a guitar. I guess it is a retreat; I never really thought of it that way. If I have things that are bothering me, I’ll just go in there and pick up a guitar.”
Q. Do you make a lot of noise – drive your wife or neighbors crazy?
A. No. There are quiet ways to practice the guitar. I either close the door and play an acoustic quietly or, if I’m playing one of my electrics, I’m set up where I just plug it into the computer and put on a pair of headphones and nobody will even hear me.
Q. This room is very neat, with guitars beautifully displayed. How did you come up with the design?
A. That’s my wife, the interior decorator.
Q. Who is your favorite guitarist?
(American blues guitarist) Ronnie Earl. I’m a blues guy.
Q. Do you ever jam with friends?
A. I used to do that at the beginning but I haven’t recently. Our schedule doesn’t really allow getting out too much at night.
Q. Do you actually travel with the travel guitar?
A. Yes, that or the ukulele. When you travel, you want some kind of strings you can put your fingers on.
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