Before he was 20, David Friedman moved to California to pursue a career in music.
Long before the first amp with the Friedman logo was ever produced, he came to Los Angeles and started his first job in the music industry, equipment cartage, and he moved along a rising trajectory, hitting milestones, meeting and working with rock stars and marking off achievements along the way. Talent is of course important to these outcomes, drive and passion, but so are the formative experiences which Dave always credits for his success. A lot of things helped him not just get the Friedman brand to where it is, but just inspire him to move across the country in the first place, to find his purpose – first on the Sunset Strip and then the unlikely home of tone, North Hollywood, in the San Fernando Valley.
Growing up outside of Detroit, he went to a lot of concerts, picked up a guitar and developed an appreciation for rock, all of which influenced his career choices. He did a lot of this with his childhood best friend, Marty Minui who Dave describes was almost like a brother to him, so much time was spent at one another’s home and in the company of the other’s family. Dave went on to Los Angeles, got a job doing equipment cartage, working with Andy Brauer Studio Rentals, then Make’n Music and eventually launched Rack Systems, and Marty started his own business – Motor City Guitar. Located about half an hour northwest of Detroit in Waterford, MI, Motor City Guitar is like a giant candy store for musicians, with all imaginable gear and accessories, all there behind the two huge crossed guitars adorning the front entrance. Motor City Guitar is a unique retail destination, that serves the community with knowledgeable, passionate staff and Marty’s exemplary guidance. Dave and Marty ended up on two sides of the same industry – Dave founding the Friedman brand and manufacturing exceptional gear, and Marty providing a stellar experience for the retail customer. Now Motor City Guitar carries the Friedman product line and things have come full circle. We wanted to bring you a few words from these two old friends and great successes in their specific arenas, having gained extraordinary knowledge from years of experience and brought together, then and now, by a shared passion. And if you’re in the Detroit area, be sure to attend the October 27th clinic at Motor City Guitar, featuring Dave and Friedman artist Steve Stevens.
What do you think musicians/guitar players are looking for in 2018? Marty: When it comes to music gear, we’ve always been on the same quest – for that magic combination of sound and feel that inspires you to play more, better, or differently. It’s one of those things that you know instantly when you play that perfect guitar, amp, pedal, or whatever it is you’re looking for, we’ll often hear people say “this is the one!” And that’s a great feeling, to help people find that missing piece of the puzzle that makes the sound or feel
they’ve been searching for into a reality.
Dave: There’s a lot of people looking to amp modeling in 2018 but often I find people coming back to the more immediate gratification of a classic tube amp. I think people over time will find that a straightforward amplifier will lead them to play more and program less. Friedman is based in analog tradition, we still believe that analog is the best tone, the most musical. We make tube amps for players who are obsessed with tone. Like Marty said, guitar players of all generations are always looking for that tone that speaks to them. We make products that can deliver that. We believe guitar players are in search of the best sound regardless of their age or experience level, and I think Friedman represents that sound. When they discover Friedman, we want them to say “This is it,” every single time.
How did your love of music contribute to your success?
Marty: Music is such an incredibly powerful thing, it’s amazing how life-changing it can be and how much energy it gives you. I’ve listened to it pretty much every day of my life and I’m still deeply moved and completely in awe every time I hear great music. Helping people do something that is so meaningful to both them and you makes work seem a lot less like work, even during those times when you’re spending 90 hours a week juggling a hundred things at a time. It’s incredibly satisfying helping people play and create music, it’s such an important part of all of our lives and it’s a privilege that we’re very grateful for, to be able to do that every day.
Dave: My love of music led me to be a guitar player and fueled my obsession with tone. Rock music always spoke to me and the way it made me feel, when I listened to records or went to concerts, I wanted to translate that in a practical way into other parts of my life. This passion for music and guitar playing led me to learn about amplifiers. I was always the guy to learn everything there is to know about something that interested me. Originally, I came to Los Angeles to be a musician and be in a band. I was able to find work in the music industry which I kept morphing and expanding into different roles, allowing me to constantly learn more and more about sound and gear. The ultimate payoff is hearing a childhood idol play my amps because it reminds me why I got into this industry in the first place and makes me really proud of what I accomplished.
What do you think musicians appreciate most of what you offer?
Marty: At Motor City, we’ve always been big on offering the widest variety of new and used gear we can, so people can find the perfect fit for them. It’s always been important to us to offer knowledgeable, honest advice, and try to help people get into the gear they need by being flexible with layaways, trade-ins, and things like that. Camaraderie is also really important to musicians, including us. My wife Melissa and I consider it the hugest compliment when people say that our store is like a second home to them, and the people that come here are really friends and family to us.
Dave: The tone, firstly and the customer service we provide as a company as a close second.
Friedman stands out because it’s so thought-out, perfected, playing a Friedman amp is an experience of tone nirvana. Being able to bring the ultimate tone to guitar players is our
mission and in order to accomplish that we put in everything we have all the time, so nothing stands in the way of that, and the consumer has basically the gear of their dreams.
What’s one memory that stands out of growing up together that ties to your chosen career?
Marty: It’s funny, Dave and I used to spend hours on end hanging out in music stores together back in the day, places here in Detroit like Pyramid Guitars, Guitars for Stars and Tri-City Music. You never forget that feeling of dreaming of that perfect Les Paul you were playing or that killer sounding amp you played that one day. Dave would love to bring stuff home, take it apart and figure out ways to make it work better. Even when we were little kids before we started playing guitar, he was fixing the lawn mower or taking apart his BMX bike and modding it, then he was taking apart humbuckers, then building whole guitars from parts, and obviously eventually that led to amps. I guess it’s no coincidence that almost 40 years later, there’s now a Friedman Amplification and a Motor City Guitar! Another memory that definitely stands out is that when Dave moved out to California after high school, we obviously didn’t see each other as often as we did growing up. Several years went by where we didn’t get a chance to hang out together, and the next time we did, it blew my mind! He was coming to Detroit to work on Eddie Van Halen’s rig during the reunion tour, and he invited me to come hang out with him that day at the venue. Of course it was a huge thrill for me just to stand on the empty stage where Van Halen was about to play later that night, and Dave and I were already having an awesome time reminiscing, when all of a sudden out of nowhere, Eddie Van Halen appears and makes a beeline straight to Dave. I’m standing there in complete shock and awe as one of our all-time heroes is giving my childhood brother the hugest bear hug and thanking him up and down for coming to work on his rig! I can’t tell you how proud of Dave I was at that moment, and then to make the moment even more surreal, EVH then turns to me and says “you must be Dave’s buddy Marty”, and gives me a huge bear hug too! It was incredible watching Dave and Eddie dialing in Eddie’s amps, Eddie was playing and giving Dave hand signals, and Dave was making adjustments. Alex Van Halen, Wolfgang and Matt Bruck were also there, and I was amazed at how cool everybody was and how “normal” all of this was to Dave! Later that night after the show Dave and I were driving through our old neighborhood, and right in front of Dave’s house one of those guys called him and was asking for his input on something. I was thinking to myself, the last time we were here we were probably trying to figure out how Eddie got his tone on “Mean Street” – now Van Halen is calling Dave and flying him into town to help dial in his amp rig. Needless to say that was a memory I’ll never forget!
Dave: When I think about growing up, I think about Marty. We spent every waking moment together as kids, riding bikes, listening to music, then playing guitar. Marty was playing guitar first and he got me into playing guitar. We listened to all sorts of rock, all the genres, making our way through all the different styles. For a while we listening to really heavy stuff like thrash. My first guitar was an early-70s Fender Music Master, and I played through a Fender Silver Faced Deluxe Reverb amp with MXR overdrive pedal. Marty had Black Gibson Les Paul and Explorer Shaped guitar, might have been Ibanez. I was messing around with his explorer before I got my first guitar. If it wasn’t for Marty I may never have started playing and gotten into gear. As kids, we played in a band and went to a huge number of concerts. I have lots of great memories about that time, like playing in the high school talent show in 10 th grade. We both played guitar and Marty’s high school sweetheart, now wife, was the singer. I tripped on a cord and fell during Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar and we had to start from the top. And the time we
went to a festival and slept in the car. But when it was time to go the car was nowhere to be find. Can’t recall exactly why we couldn’t find it. Maybe Marty remembers!