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Les Paul and other licks in New Hyde Park

The American Guitar Museum's owner, Chris Ambadjes, poses

The American Guitar Museum's owner, Chris Ambadjes, poses with a 1922 Gibson Style O Artist guitar, which he said he believes is the most beautiful guitar in the New Hyde Park museum's collection. (Feb. 10, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The guitar’s evolution over the past two centuries sits in a 1920 New Hyde Park farmhouse that LI music aficionados know as the American Guitar Museum.

The museum, owned by resident Chris Ambadjes, has hundreds of fretted instruments -- from an 1830 Lacote Classical guitar to a 1959 Gibson Les Paul. And those are just the American instruments. He also has a Russian balaika, Indian sitar, Argentinian charango, Portuguese fado and a Chinese pepa, among others.

The museum’s main display area is in the farmhouse’s living room. The house’s kitchen is the gift shop. The dining room and basement are reserved for instrument repair, which, along with the guitar school on the second floor, helps pay for the museum’s operations. Admission to the museum is free.

Ambadjes said he first got the idea for the museum when he was teaching guitar while a student at Hunter College.

After college, in 1975 he opened his own guitar school across the street from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens. Eventually, his business grew to include commercial instrument repair.

The only thing left was to fulfill his dream of creating a museum.

“There were no places around where they just showcased fretted instruments,” he said.

So in 1992, Ambadjes moved his shop to the New Hyde Park Road farmhouse and opened the museum, which attracts hundreds of visitors each week, he said. 

Ambadjes called guitar legend Les Paul a friend, and said Paul, who died in 2009, gave him several instruments and other equipment that are featured in the museum.

Ambadjes also displays one-of-a-kind items that attract collectors from all over the world, including the only miniature carved jazz ukulele that John D’Angelico, a famous fretted instrument builder, is believed to have made.

“We love the instruments,” Ambadjes said. “We love seeing the reactions. We love the kids, the kids that come here get so excited.” 

The American Guitar Museum is at 1810 New Hyde Park Rd., New Hyde Park. For information, call 516-488-5000.

Pictured: The American Guitar Museum's owner, Chris Ambadjes, poses with a 1922 Gibson Style O Artist guitar, which he believes is the most beautiful guitar in the New Hyde Park museum's collection.

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