Chesbro Music Company

Coordinates: 43°29′28.2″N 112°02′26.6″W / 43.491167°N 112.040722°W / 43.491167; -112.040722
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43°29′28.2″N 112°02′26.6″W / 43.491167°N 112.040722°W / 43.491167; -112.040722

Chesbro Music Company
Company typePrivately held company
IndustryMusical instrument manufacturing, wholesale
Founded1911; 113 years ago (1911)
FounderHorace Chesbro
United States
ProductsMusical Instruments, Accessories, Sheet Music
BrandsTeton Guitars
Number of employees
75 (2019) Edit this on Wikidata

Chesbro Music Company is a privately owned American manufacturer and wholesaler of musical instruments, musical instrument accessories and sheet music. Chesbro Music was founded in 1911 and is based in Idaho Falls, Idaho.[1] Chesbro owns Teton Guitars, and has been run by female CEOs since 1953.

Early history[edit]

Horace Chesbro, an 1897 violin studies graduate[2] of the Northern Indiana Normal School in Valparaiso, Indiana, and his brother, Harry, began Chesbro Music Company in a storefront in Idaho Falls, Idaho in 1911. Having manufactured upright pianos in Seattle, Washington,[3][4][5][6] they continued selling pianos and delivered them via horse-drawn wagon to rural Idaho communities.[7]

In 1925, Horace Chesbro started school band programs before public schools began funding and staffing their own music programs.[8] A year later, Chesbro Music was the first to introduce the rural Northwest to recorded music with the wind-up Edison Chippendale Console Disc Phonograph. From the success of selling phonographs, the Chesbro Music Co. began building a three-story addition onto their storefront in Idaho Falls in June 1927.[9] Through the Great Depression, Chesbro Music continued operation by honoring debt or credit with trade and housing employees in-store. By the late 1930s, Chesbro Music began offering jobbing (wholesale) franchises. Billboard reported that Chesbro Music was among the top 20 sheet music jobbers in 1944.[10] Horace's son, Henry Chesbro, took over Chesbro Music Company as president in 1945 and began nationally wholesaling newly introduced LP records.

Female CEOs and Wholesale Expansion[edit]

In 1953, 70-year-old Ella Chesbro, Henry's mother, assumed management of the company due to the death of Henry Chesbro in a plane accident.[1][11][12] Ella expanded jobbing franchises to include independent dealers[13] who sold displays of stock music and folios.[14] Five years later, to accommodate wholesale growth, Chesbro Music expanded their original 1911 store front to a 60,000 square foot warehouse and added a modern facade.[15] Music industry executives and civic officials attended a ribbon-cutting in 1961 in the new building[16] marking the company's 50-year anniversary. Then, with a Stanford degree in economics, 37-year-old Joan Chesbro Griggs, the company's second female CEO,[17] took the reins from her grandmother in 1969.[4] That year, Chesbro Music began attending the NAMM Show in Anaheim, California with a display of their wholesale business[18] and print music library.[19]

Having met Junpei Hoshino, president of Hoshino Gakki, at the 1972 NAMM Show, Joan entered Chesbro Music into a Western United States distributorship of Tama Drums and Ibanez Guitars[7][20][21][22] with Hoshino USA in 1973. She and Gary Bennett, a top tenured employee,[23] then helped Tama and Ibanez gain domestic popularity over the next four decades.[15][24] By the mid-1980s, Chesbro had enlisted membership in the Music Distributors Association (MDA)[25] and was labeled the second largest distributor of sheet music in the United States.[26] In 1999, daughters Vanetta Chesbro Wilson and Tana Jane Stahn, took on co-ownership of Chesbro Music. Distributing the Ibanez brand during the next decade contributed to Chesbro's growth through the 2000s.[27][28] In 2007, Chesbro Music Wholesale was recognized in the industry as one of the 36 "dealer friendly" companies.[29] In 2008, Gary Bennett was recognized for his nearly 35-year contribution to the music industry with a nomination by The Music & Sound Retailer as Representative of the Year.[30] The partnership between Chesbro Music and Hoshino Gakki ended in 2009.

During the transition, the sisters targeted their wholesale business to independent music dealers.[31][32][33] In 2010, Chesbro Music Co. introduced Teton Guitars,[34] a brand of acoustic guitars manufactured in China and named after a prominent mountain range near Chesbro Music Company headquarters. That same year Chesbro Music remained on The Music Trades magazine's list of largest companies in the music industry, ranked by sales, in the U.S.[35] The 2010 NAMM Show History Program also noted that Chesbro had "become one of the largest music wholesalers in the country[36]".

In 2011, Chesbro Music Company marked its 100-year anniversary[37][38] with an open house for local community, civic leaders, and employees. This anniversary was noted by industry trade magazines[32][39] and Chesbro was given a citation of distinction at the 2011 NAMM Show.

Vanetta died November 2013,[36][40] leaving her sister, Tana, to run the "Top 100[41]" company. In 2015 and 2017, industry trade magazines listed Chesbro Music as one of the top 100 leading suppliers in the music industry.[42][43] 2018 marked the 65th anniversary of a woman CEO running Chesbro Music.

Chesbro Music Company acquired SHS International, a U.S.-based audio company, in late 2019.[44]

Proprietary Brands[edit]

  • Teton Guitars, Ukuleles, and Accessories
  • Tanara® Acoustic and Electric Guitars[45]
  • Eddy Finn Ukuleles
  • SHS International
  • Morgan Monroe & Rocky Top (Blue Grass Instruments)
  • Indiana Guitars
  • Stage Mate (Stands)
  • Tune Tech Tuners
  • Stone Cases


  1. ^ a b The Music Trades, "Integrity Has Built Chesbro Music Co.", March 1974 issue, page 64.
  2. ^ "Full text of "A volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of the city of Seattle and county of King, Washington, including biographies of many of those who have passed away"". 1903. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  3. ^ "Bring Her Home Chesbro reconnects with the past through century-old piano |". Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Smede, Steve (November 2011). "Idaho Falls – Nov./Dec. 2011". Idaho Falls Magazine. p. 41. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Seattle Star" (PDF). December 12, 1904.
  6. ^ Bill, Edward Lyman (1904). "Kohler & Chase have purchased the business of H & H Chesbro, Seattle" (PDF). The Music Trade Review. XXXIX (25): 34 – via International Arcade Museum (IAM).
  7. ^ a b "Chesbro Music's distinguished 80-year record of service. – Music Trades | HighBeam Research". Music Trades. February 1991. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  8. ^ Fennen, Carl; Fennen, Heather (January 1, 2011). Chesbro Music Co.: a history 1911–2011. Idaho Falls, ID: Alpha Graphics. OCLC 775007938.
  9. ^ Bill, Edward Lyman (January 1927). Talking Machine World (Jan - Jun 1927). MBRS Library of Congress. Edward Bill Lyman.
  10. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. April 28, 1945.
  11. ^ Chesbro Music Co: A History 1911–2011. Alpha Graphics. January 1, 2011.
  12. ^ Variety (1953). Variety (June 1953). Media History Digital Library. New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company.
  13. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. July 4, 1953. p. 17. Air Crash Kills 3 in Chesbro Family
  14. ^ Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. May 23, 1953. p. 150.
  15. ^ a b "Chesbro Music Co. at 100 – Musical Merchandise Review". Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  16. ^ "Chesbro Observes 50th Anniversary in Newly-modernized Headquarters." The Music Trades, July 1961
  17. ^ Horton, Alice; Jensen, Quincy M.; Bitton, Afton; Grimes, Patti Sherlock; Ingram, Kay (1989). Beautiful Bonneville, county of contrasts. David O. McKay Library Brigham Young University-Idaho. Logan, Utah : Herff Jones.
  18. ^ Music Trades. Music Trades Corporation. January 1, 1983. p. 20.
  19. ^ "Professional Materials". Music Educators Journal. 55 (7): 115–118. March 1, 1969. doi:10.2307/3392478. ISSN 0027-4321. JSTOR 3392478. S2CID 221049011.
  20. ^ "Ibanez Guitars Hit Right Chord". philly-archives. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  21. ^ Greenwood, Alan; Hembree, Gil (October 1, 2009). The Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide. Hal Leonard. p. 172. ISBN 9781884883217.
  22. ^ "The Bryan Times - Google News Archive Search". p. 9. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  23. ^ "Gary Bennett". Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  24. ^ "Chesbro remodel to enter second phase | Post Register". Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  25. ^ "National Directory of Members". Archived from the original on March 2, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  26. ^ "Moscow-Pullman Daily News – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved September 7, 2016.
  27. ^ Specht, Paul. "MMR March 2009". Issuu. p. 20. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  28. ^ Bacon, Tony (2013). The Ibanez Electric Guitar Book: A Complete History of Ibanez Electric Guitars. Backbeat Books. p. 60. ISBN 9781617134531.
  29. ^ "The Retailers Feature Edit". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  30. ^ "The Retailers Feature Edit". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  31. ^ Needleman, Sarah E. "Three Best Ways to Get Lean". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  32. ^ a b "Chesbro Music Co. – Small Enough to Care, Big Enough to Get the Job Done Right. – Musical Merchandise Review". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  33. ^ "MMR August 2009 "State of the Wholesaler"". Issuu. p. 30. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  34. ^ "Teton Guitars | Amazing Acoustic and Electric Guitars". Teton® Guitars. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  35. ^ "The Top 100: the sales ranking of the largest U.S. music products suppliers forcefully illustrates that no one was immune to the economic downturn. One thing everyone on the list agreed on: 2009 was the toughest year in their career.(SALES RANKINGS) – Music Trades | HighBeam Research". Music Trades. April 2010. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  36. ^ a b "Vanetta Wilson". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  37. ^ "Idaho Falls – May/June 2011". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  38. ^ "mmr-december-2010 "Chesbro Music Co. at 100"". Issuu. p. 76. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
  39. ^ "Catch The Rebound With These Winning New Products!". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  40. ^ "Vanetta G. Wilson's Obituary on". Post Register. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  41. ^ "Ranking The Industry's Top Players". Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  42. ^ "The Top 100: North America's Top Music and Sound Suppliers". April 2015. p. 110. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  43. ^ "Music Trades April 2017". p. 112. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  44. ^ "SHS International to Chesbro Music Company". SHS International. SHS International, Inc. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  45. ^ "Chesbro Music Company". Retrieved February 8, 2016.

External links[edit]