Music stops at Ontario Music

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After 50 years of instrument sales, rentals, repairs and lessons, Ontario Music, 215 W. G St., is closing. The final date is probably July 31. I’ll have more about the store in Friday’s column, but in the meantime, if you’ve ever visited the store, feel free to post a comment.

* January 2011: The store has reopened under new owners.

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  • John E. Bredehoft

    VERY upsetting news. I seem to remember that Frank Zappa used to visit Ontario Music before he started his notorious recording studio in Cucamonga. Regardless, Ontario Music will be missed.

    [You’re correct about Zappa. — DA]

  • Jeff Gaul

    Very sad. Took my first guitar lessons there in January 1963. I believe the owners were George and Wanda Harris. Nice folks as I recall. Great memories of new Stratocasters on display.

    [I’m told the Jones family founded the business and owned it until 2004, so maybe the Harrises were managers? — DA]

  • Kristin McConnell

    Oh, no! We’ve had our instruments serviced there exclusively! Alana wanted to take piano lessons there. This is horrible news!

  • Steve Fletcher

    This is very sad to comprehend. This store was the hub of musical activity in the valley for a long time. I bought many a guitar and amp myself from the managers there, George and Wanda Harris, who were the nicest people on earth. If a young kid needed a musical instrument, they would find a way to make it affordable for him or her. I also played in a rock band with their son, Sonny. There is a lot of history there, I hope a lot of your other viewers will share their stories about this historic store, and George & Wanda.

  • Richard Firman

    This is a sad story! As a private instructor I used to send kids there all the time! Now, as a competitor, we sent people there all the time for things we ran out of because they always had it!

  • Lisa

    As all 3 of my kids started playing instruments in elementary school, Ontario Music has always been the place where I would take them to get supplies. My kids loved going there. The staff is always very helpful and friendly….they will surely be missed in Ontario.

  • George A Gomez

    Sad news.

    I was a customer for over 25 years when I was an active drummer.

    They had the best drum dept in the Inland Empire and possibly all SoCal. I attribute this to Todd Trent.

    All the Ludwig parts I needed and a lot of times parts that were impossible to get except from Todd!

    Todd was always a fair salesman, owner. He always hooked me up with what I wanted, needed and at a great “george” price.

    All the staff through the years were always nice and helpful.

    Todd, best of luck to you in the future, pal.

  • Alex Murry

    It is very sad indeed. I’d just like to say what a joy and pleasure it’s been for me to service this community as manager and 20-year veteran at Ontario Music. The support people have been providing since the word came out has been overwhelming and is very much appreciated. Thank You!

  • Ian Ballard

    This is sad. Mega stores like Guitar Center and Sam Ash have wiped out small local stores like Ontario Music. Todd is one of the most honest and pleasant people in the business. I wish him well.

  • Steve Jacobs

    Very unfortunate news indeed..As a Manufacturer’s Rep, I called on Ontario Music, and became friends with Todd Trent (owner) over the years. So sorry to hear of the closure of an iconic Independent Music Store serving the inland Valley. Thankfully, Todd is a very resourceful individual, with friends throughout the Musical Inst. Industry. Good Luck My Friend…

  • tim owen

    I grew up in Ontario. I played guitar and hung out at Ontario Music when I was a kid in the 60’s and I still buy supplies there to this day. The best thing ever was the battle of the bands. I will never forget that it gave bands a chance to be heard. Sorry to see it go.

  • Fred Mulvey

    What a bummer! As one of the owners of an online retailer, I feel their pain, but also believe local brick & mortars like Ontario Music are necessary to keep the flame of creativity and imagination alive in the community! From the beginning it has always been the kind of place where the value of the customer is more tangible than the customer values.

    In the 70s I worked at Hanich Music in West Covina, same kind of store, same kind of spirit. Back then the local music store was the place to gather and dream. Nothing was more emotionally motivating then to reach out and embrace one of the sleek new implements of fame and immortality actually played by our musical heroes on the radio. Anyone who has ever been in a garage band knows exactly what I mean. (Sigh)

    No question, you have to make a profit to keep the doors open, but isnt this the type of business Ontario really needs? Especially in, dare I say it, dismal downtown Ontario?

    Maybe someone on the city council can reach out and help Ontario Music become a part of the much talked about and exciting downtown instead of just another victim of the present. It wouldnt take much, just an investment in the future, a wee bit of vision and as Alan Wapner is so famous for promoting…trust. Thank you, Ontario Music Rock on!

  • Mitch

    Ontario Music is closing? I have to hear about it from Dave Allen of all people?

    I don’t go to the big box superstores because their business model sucks, constantly overcharging except for a few days out of the year.

    As a 10 year old, Ontario Music was there to rent me my first instrument since my parents couldn’t afford to purchase.

    As a teenager in the 80’s, going to the music store was a weekly routine. When we heard of a new store, we would go just to check it out. Ontario Music was always the real deal, no gimmicks or cheap instruments, good selection and knowledgeable staff. It’s important to note that used quality gear is crucial to the younger musicians, of which OM had a decent selection.

    I agree with the other posters, this will be a cultural loss to the region. It’s businesses like this that give the area some soul and something positive for the youngsters. Wake up Ontario City leaders, while you’re squabbling over what to name a park, your losing your assets.

    Good luck, Todd, thank you for many years of service.

    [“…from Dave Allen of all people”? — DA]

  • Roach Foronda

    So sorry Todd, you were always the go to guy, thanks for all the years.

  • David

    My parents rented me my first guitar there 22 yrs ago when I was 9. We ended up owning it because I “stuck with it”. My 2 year old son now has that guitar in his room and he “backs me up”.

    Whenever I needed a repair, or found something salvageable at a pawn shop, Ontario Music was my next stop. Even when I moved over 30 min away.

    I have no idea who my next go-to will be.

    Thank you guys so much for the rock star service at the working guy’s price!

    Please let us know if Todd or any of you guys decide to start something new up.
    Good luck.

  • Wendy Schulze-Rizzo

    This is like finding out there is no Tooth Fairy. I’m crushed.

    I spent most of the late 70s playing at Ontario Music. I was one of the lucky ones who also got to teach there. Gotta say, I learned how to repair instruments by spending down time helpin out. I also had a blast playing in the “Music Man” band directed by Jim.

    I think fixin up the property next door was one of the funnest times we had. I can still see Wanda sittin behind her desk and George pacing around the guitars. Great memories. I don’t think memories as good as mine can be reproduced in the big mega stores. Seems like an era has been put down. I will miss it.

  • Craig Van Sant

    Best of luck to you, Todd, and thanks for the support though the all the years.

    First it was Universal Drum Center and then the Guitar Store and now Ontario Music. A sad thought. Let’s all commiserate at the Folk Music Center in downtown Claremont.

  • Deb

    Daughter had to have a flute for music class at Vina Danks. We had to pay on it every month. I think it was something like a 2 year contract. After a year, she was ill enough to stay home for a few days. In that few days, someone at the school stole her flute. Here we had payments, and no flute. She explained it to Ontario Music (had a note from the school), and they wrote off the rest of the payments. Very much appreciated.

    Sorry to see it closing! Won’t be the same…everything is changing way too fast.

  • Roger Mantel

    Wow! I am truly sorry for my good friend Todd. Todd and I started jamming together in 6th grade. We jammed in his garage, played in a talent show at Chaffey, and jammed at the Green Door. We always hung out at Ontario Music to dream about the awesome gear we would one day buy. It is a sad day when the milestones of your childhood are taken away. Blessings to you in your future my friend. You will be missed.

  • Joe the instrument repair guy

    After 23 years of repairing band instruments at Ontario Music, I would like to thank all my customers for allowing me to service your instruments and watch your kids grow up. I will miss you all.

  • Dusty Watson

    Todd, anytime I have ever needed anything you have been there for me, from working on my drums to shipping me parts on the road, to hooking my dad up with guitar lessons at the store! I have had the good fortune of an unbelievably beautiful relationship with you and Ontario Music for almost 30 years. I’m so sorry to hear about the closing.

  • Karen Politovich Brown

    I took clarinet and oboe lessons at Ontario Music during the late 60s and early 70s. Forced to by my parents, I worked so hard at those lessons and I hated them! But they helped a lot, and I was always 1st, 2nd, or 3rd chair at Vina Danks and Chaffey because of all that work.

    Band was a huge part of my life, and Ontario Music was the only place we all shopped for supplies and repairs. Thank you, Ontario Music, and it’s a sad thing that times are hard and longstanding business have to close their doors.

    What’s happened to the powers that be in Ontario that they don’t do anything to keep such businesses? Soon there will be nothing left but chains; you could be anywhere in the country, why even name the cities any more since they’re all becoming the same?

  • Bill Manning

    Man, we used to hang out there all the time, it was just the thing to do. This is sad to hear about the closing. Now when we do our annual trip to Cali we won’t get to come in and say hello.

    Funny, I was just talking about this store the other day to some co-workers. I bought must of my keyboard gear there, some of which I have still, and I bought a new Peavey KB300 keyboard amp. I just had that amp tuned up and it works just as good today as it did 20 years ago! You guys will be missed.

    Do Todd and Alex have Facebook pages? Hook us up!

    [I think Ontario Music does. — DA]

  • Ed Ski

    Being Ontario Music’s UPS driver for the last 5 years, it brings me much sadness knowing that i will not be delivering there anymore. It was pretty much a daily stop for me. Good luck to Todd/Alex/Tony, will miss u guys a lot…..

  • fish

    i just happened to hear about the article in the paper. i worked for the store from 93-01, then worked there off and on since then including now. i’m sad to see it go but glad to be here for the closing. i’m not even concerned about being out of work again. it’s like losing a family member and that’s more important.

    from the staff (past and present) to customers and instrument reps we made friends with, to james and wilma and janis, and of course todd who always gave me a job when i needed it. all i can say is thanks for everything. we’re grateful for every customer/friend who walked thru the door.

  • Jim Plumb

    Wow…Been shopping there since I was 16…..And now I’m 50!! Todd was emptying trash back then. Best of luck Todd in whatever you choose to do next and thanks for ALWAYS being a great friend !! Jim

  • Dennis Ramirez

    Very sad, I have great memories at the store, my garage band played at a couple of “teen clubs” in the area, rented and bought gear there from George, coke bottle glasses, Barney Fife looking guy. He and Wanda were the best. They didn’t talk down to us young musicians. One Easter about 1965 they raffled off a six-foot rabbit and I won. Of course I immediately gave it to my girlfriend. Made lots of points!

  • Jake Anderson

    I started playing guitar in ’62 or ’63 and a big reason I began playing and continue playing is because of Ontario Music, especially George, Wanda and Sonny. At the time I think I wanted to be Dick Dale and George pushed me in the right direction. I bought three guitars and a couple of amps and I still recall the great way I was treated by Mr. George and Wanda. Always loved the way George played, too, probably Travis style of his own making. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

  • Joe Esposito

    Bought my first wood back, square rubber practice pad from there, 1971. Have been going back ever since, God Bless & Thank You Todd, Your Friend, Joe Esposito.

  • Wesley Hawks

    I taught instrumental music in Cucamonga and Alta Loma from 1963 to 2002 40 of their 50 years. They always gave me good service. I still go there even though I am now retired. I will miss then very much. I know that they will leave a big hole in the music community of this whole area.

  • John Blair

    Sad news. Ontario Music is a personal historical marker. I bought my first guitar amp there around 1964; George Harris taught me how he strung a guitar, a method I still use today; I met my first girlfriend there; and I saw surf bands play out on the sidewalk a bunch of times (vivid memories of seeing Conrad & The Hurricane Strings there a couple of times, and I’m sure I saw Johnny Fortune, Johnny Barakat, The Esquires, and a bunch of others). Ontario Music has a very special place in my memories. My life probably would have turned out very different if Ontario Music hadn’t existed.

  • Rick Clingman

    In 1963 my best friend (Durby Wheeler) and I started a band we called The Esquires. After visiting every music store in the area, Ontario Music became our home away from home thanks to George and Wanda. They really made you feel welcome and there was never any pressure to BUY something. As a result, we ended up buying EVERYTHING from them (don’t you love how that works?). I bought my first “real” rig from them (a 64 strat and blonde piggyback bassman).

    I have to credit George and his son (Sonny) for coercing me into taking up the bass guitar. It was around ’65 when Sonny called me up. He was playing with The Classics at the time and their bass player had just quit, with less than a week before a big battle of the bands. He said they were in a pinch and would I play bass with them for this gig? I said I never played bass and didn’t even have one. He said bass was a lot easier than guitar and furthermore, Dad would be happy to loan me one. Sensing the urgency I hesitatingly agreed.

    I remember George loaned me a Gibson violin-shaped bass (model EB-1) which I played through my Bassman amp. The Classics sounded great (Jim Granderson doing up front vocals and a great horn section) and we won the battle of the bands. I discovered that evening that I LOVED playing bass and bought a new Fender Precision Bass from George the following week. I still have that bass and use it today in the recording studio!

    Around that same time, The Esquires were starting to play a lot of British Invasion covers. I was still playing the strat but I wanted to add electric 12-string to the mix. But I wanted to avoid the logistical hassle of constantly having to switch from one guitar to the other. George pulled out his big catalog of guitar brands and pointed out the Gibson doubleneck (EDS-1275). Switching from 6 to 12 string would only take the flick of a switch!

    So I ordered it in cherry red. It cost $900 and George and Wanda gave me a 1 year loan. George took the strat in trade and loaned me a new Gibson ES-335 and a Gibson B-25-12 with a big honkin DeArmond magnetic pickup in the soundhole. Little did we realize that it would take Gibson NINE months to deliver the doubleneck (it was a custom order back then). I only had 3 payments to go when it arrived! I will never forget the look on George’s face when I walked into the store on the day it came. I swear he was more excited than I was about it! I still have that doubleneck today.

    There are many great memories — yep, I recall playing out front of the place a few times. I’m sure there are hundreds of fellow musicians with similar stories and I hope more will post.

    The memories continue over at Facebook on “The Inland Empire Musicians Hall of Fame” page. Check it out at:

  • Larry Fox

    What a shock! I’m so sorry that Ontario Music is closing. Todd Trent is genuinely one of the good guys and I wish him the best of luck in whatever he decides to do. As I expressed to him via phone last week, my Jazz Radio Show on KSPC yesterday (Monday at noon), called “Claremont Straight Ahead,” was dedicated to Todd.

  • Hi-Line Music

    Todd, hope all turns out well for you. We always had a great working relationship.

    Danny and Laura, Hi-Line Music

  • Rose Davidson Linck

    My mom bought me my first (and only) guitar there in 1971. It is a Yamaha G60 acoustical guitar and I still have it. I remember it was very expensive at the time — $80!!! She also purchased my brother’s drum practice pad and other items there. I continued to purchase guitar strings and other items there over the years. How sad that they are closing!

  • janice

    This past week has been very sad for me to see OM close. My parents, James and Wilma Jones, owned OM for 44 of the 50 years it was open. I have enjoyed working there for a total of 34 years, and the last 26. I have seen many of you come and go while working at my computer. Thank you for supporting our store. To our employees: I will truly miss all of you, and wish each of you the best.

  • Cliff Jones

    As the son of James and Wilma Jones, I would like to thank everyone for their years of support for the store. Also, thanks to the many dedicated employees. I have been out of state the last thirty years, but was often informed of the loyalty of many of you, by my family.

  • James Downs

    We have lived in Ontario since 1977. All six of my kids rented/purchased their musical instruments from Ontario Music over the years from the oldest one’s clarinet in 1978 to my youngest’s trombone in 1991. We have had a trombone, an alto sax, two clarinets, a flute, a piccolo, a trumpet, a french horn and a lot of attention from Ontario Music, including, but not limited to, reeds, new mouthpieces, cork grease, slide and valve oil and a lot of repairs.

    My friend from the Chaffey Band Boosters, Joe Delavo, worked there as a repairman for a lot of those years (and after) and always got our instruments back in shape and playable with quick service and mechanical excellence.

    As a band booster in the afore mentioned high school and a former Board Member of Ontario Montclair SD, I have always appreciated Ontario Music for doing what they did best: treating children to a first class musical experience, and offering support for the areas’ music programs.

    Many dreams have grown and blossomed with the support of Ontario Music, and I for one, will be very sad to see them close the doors. Perhaps there is a musical angel out there somewhere who believes in the power of music in the lives of young people, who can step forward and purchase or otherwise save the store from an untimely demise?!

  • Tom Stiner

    I’m so sorry to see this happen. Ontario Music is an awesome store. An alternative to the souless Guitar Centers and Sam Ashs we’ll be left with. I’ve had the good fortune to play with Todd, and he’s a cool guy and wonderful musician. I suppose it’s a sign of the times that good people, and businesses, get beaten down like this. Ontario Music will be sorely missed.

  • Peter Beckwith

    When I first first learned how to play a guitar I would go by the store and tune all the guitars just to play with other musicians. I sure remember after the earthquake rocked the place how long it took to get everything back into shape. A few years later Todd would employ many of us to help with the drum tech shows. Met many entertainers thru him! THANKX TODD and EVERYONE thru the YEARS for your LOVE OF MUSIC ! ! !
    Rock n RoLL

  • steve rios

    On a Saturday about 3 weeks ago… “I heard the news today, Oh boy.”

    Ontario Music has always been the go to place to get what you need. With prices I thought were only for me… finding out later that that’s how Todd and his team treated EVERYONE. More than once I’ve been told “You are like family” and it really meant something to me.

    Todd… Don’t forget how many people you inspired and made happy. Your name’s a trademark in the worldwide drum community. Use It.

    Thanks to you, Tony, Alex, Fish and major thanks to Gil. Sadly a long and winding road has come to an end. You guys will not be forgotten, but will be missed.

  • joey gomez

    I am so out of it these days, all I can say is how truly saddened I am to hear this. Todd was one of the most honest businessman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He truly loved his customers and his ideals. I can only say it was a pleasure knowing him and I know he out there still Jammin’ and making a plan for a huge comeback.

  • steve o


    My father bought my first major guitar there from George Harris in 1965 — a 65 strat, sunburst…I was just a teen…

    Sorry to hear they are closing! What memories!

    Steve O

  • Music Man

    Ontario Music is making a return. Very soon.

  • Richard Paton

    So O M will return? I hope so. I am not a local, but for several years I would jam with Peter Beckwith and Darrel Slagel at Darrel’s brother Dennis’s studio in Upland. As I was visiting from Santa Barbara, there was always something I’d forgotten to bring, and Ontario Music just down the road always had it. I still have the Real Tube overdrive I got there, used. A nice little hometown music outfit. Ours, Owens Music, also folded lately and I will always miss the personal attention we got and the down-home flavor of such music stores. I sincerely hope that OM can come back. I would shop there whenever I’m in town.

    BTW, Peter, if “you’re out there”, please email me? I really miss you cats.

    Best Regards, Rich

    [It’s back. — DA]

  • Daniel Sandt

    Ontario Music has reopened as “Gard’s Ontario Music.” Gard’s Music, from Glendora, has taken it over and gotten the various dealerships reopened (Ludwig, Fender, etc.). Stop by and visit familiar old faces like Natalie and Gil, and catch Alex as he’s picking up guitars to repair.

    We hope to see you there.


    Daniel Sandt
    Gard’s Music, LLC