TRAVERSE CITY — Gene “Geno” Hansen was a Traverse City Junior High student when he took his first guitar lesson at Northwestern Michigan College in the late ‘70s with teacher Dave Eickenroth.

Today, Hansen is the owner of the new Traverse City Guitar Company that opened on St. Patrick’s Day at 322 E. Front St. in the same space Eickenroth operated Zamar Guitar for several years.

Zamar Guitar closed on March 16 when Eickenroth retired from his 40-year career in the music business. Hansen is shaping Traverse City Guitar Company to reflect his vision.

“We stepped into a footprint where there was a guitar store, but we are basically starting a brand new business,” he said.

Hansen stocks custom guitars, extensive strings and related supplies and takes on repairs, too.

Hansen has been building guitars since high school, honing his craft over the years as a “luthier” building and repairing stringed instruments, skills he is now sharing at the shop and with other artists.

Hansen plans to feature other Michigan-made custom instruments, and represents four local makers with plans to add more.

Instrument lines have been expanded to include Seagull guitars, Deering banjos and Kala and Eddy Finn ukuleles, along with the brightly colored Daisy Rock guitars designed specifically for smaller hands.

Hansen’s 2,400-square-foot building houses an extensive on-site inventory of strings, picks and related supplies that musicians often have to order or travel to obtain.

The shop also includes four teaching studios where musicians Ron Getz, Angelo Meli, Jeff Hanna, Matt Hathaway and Greg Seaman offer lessons in guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, piano and voice. The educational component will continue as a significant piece of the guitar company’s mix.

A Traverse City native, Hansen graduated from Traverse City High School in 1982 and went on to pursue a 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force. After moving back to the region with his family in 2004, Hansen reconnected with Eickenroth when Zamar began carrying his custom guitars. Starting the business with wife Patty took shape as Eickenroth planned to retire.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 pm. Summer hours extend to 7 pm on Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Call 943-1211 or