About Tobias Music


Tobias Music was founded in October 1978.  Mom (Margaret) and Pops (Ken) Tobias always had an interest in folk music and guitars. Pops used to play some live gigs in his younger years. Mom played and taught guitar for the local high school districts and the YMCA.

They decided to take a modest bank loan to open a small, family run guitar store within a couple of blocks of their home. The original intent was to provide guitar-related activities for any of the interested Tobias children and in the future, possibly provide an income for some of the family members.

Three of the Tobias children (total of 6) as well as Margaret Tobias, worked at the store in its early years. It was a cozy, little shop, about 400 sq ft. It was a neighborhood hang-out from the beginning.

In 1982, due to a layoff from his real gig, Ken Tobias came to the store as its full time operator. At the time, he really wasn’t thinking about the store as his full time occupation, but because of the soft job market at that time, his stay was extended (at this point, 30+ years!!). As time passed, the customer base grew and it appeared as if the store might someday provide a stable income. The perseverance of the family paid off and now Tobias Music, while still occupying the same location, has become one of the most respected acoustic guitar shops in the greater Chicago metropolitan area as well as the nation.

Tobias Music hit another milestone in 2006. As Mom became more tied up with being a full-time Grandmother and Pops needing a hand at the shop, Child #4 Paul, along with his wife Pat, bought into the business. The decision was made that the business needed to continue, and Pops couldn’t do it alone. At this point, our lessons program had grown. We were now employing 12 teachers and were providing guitar lessons to 200+ students per week. After lots of family discussion,Tobias Music Family Paul decided to leave his career with Pepperidge Farms and join in on the fun at the shop. A big part of that decision was based on Pat’s career with DuPage Medical in suburban Chicago, and the family being able to have affordable health insurance coverage though her company. It’s funny how health insurance played such a big role in this milestone.

So, to our friends, family, and suppliers, THANK YOU !!! Though we’ve added more space the last few years, we still offer the total Mom and Pop Shop Experience. We are in a very competitive industry. The retail music business can be brutal. We have a few of the Big Box guitar stores within a few miles of here. We can thank 30+ years of loyal customers, 30+ years of friends hanging out at the shop, and 30+ years of our suppliers sending us the finest guitars on the planet. We have been blessed. We promise to continue providing the finest quality guitars, the best service, and the most awesome guitar teaching staff in the Chicago area.



Taylor Guitars

Martin Guitars

Santa Cruz Guitar Company

Jay Turser acoustic guitar

Eastman Guitars and Mandolins


Tobias Music Guitar Store
CF Martin Guitars were our first official line of guitars. The first loads of Martin’s were delivered a little early. The shop wasn’t quite up and running, so Mom and Pops took delivery at the house. Since a family friend had a Martin Guitar already picked out, he came over to the house and purchased the guitar. The very first official sale of Tobias Music was a Martin D-28 and it was purchased in our living room (Oct. 1978).

A milestone for the business occurred in the early ‘80’s. Nobody can trace the exact date, but Mom and Pops had the pleasure of meeting Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug at a NAMM Show in Chicago, two young guitar makers from southern California. Mom gets credit for making the executive decision to bring Taylor Guitars into the store. We became one of Taylor Guitars original dealers in Illinois and started gaining the reputation as the “Taylor Store” here in the Chicago area. After 30+ years, we are still considered one of Taylor Guitars Top 10 Independent Dealers in the nation and we are annually ranked as Taylor Guitars #1 Dealer in Illinois. Brilliant decision by Mom.

A number of significant changes have occurred over the thirty + years that we have been in business. Every few years Tobias Music changed product lines, particularly on the more affordable import lines, to create more interest. This has paid dividends. We have also expanded the inventory of premium USA made guitars over the years. In ‘90’s, the decision was made to discontinue the sale of electric guitars and amplifiers. We were now well into the MTV Unplugged Generation. This decision was not based on any competitive factors, but on the small percentage of total sales that these items represented. This decision allowed Tobias Music to concentrate its efforts where its strength lies, in acoustic instruments. With the addition of Santa Cruz Guitars in the mid 1990’s, we now had a pretty wicked line-up. Martin, Taylor, and Santa Cruz. In 2008 however, Taylor introduced their electric line so we got back into the electric business.   In addition, the student level increased rapidly so there was a need for more affordable electrics so the J. Turser line was added to our inventory.  Walden Guitars and Eastman Musical Instruments also fill out our acoustic line-up. We will continue to add more to our line-up and post more on the website. Please contact us for any guitar related inquires.


Top 100 Guitar Dealers - Tobias Music

Tobias Music has received much support and praise from its suppliers over the years. Our original store only measures four hundred square feet, but we slowly gained a solid reputation in the Chicagoland area. As the internet bloomed, we gained a solid reputation nationally. We can also claim to have many of our guitars all over the world. From Australia to the Tuscan Region in Italy, from Dubai to Alaska and Hawaii. We have shipped guitars all around the globe. Please see our “Around the World Page” here.

Tobias Music has been featured in supplier publications, trade magazines, and the Chicago Tribune on a number of occasions throughout our history. NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) has selected Tobias Music as one of their Top 100 Dealers annually. Along with that distinction, Tobias Music has won the coveted award for the Best Sales Promotion for our work with Taylor Guitars and their popular Roadshows! This was a very cool award for a rather small Mom and Pop shop. They are now ranking us with the big boys.

A quick look at the sales history of Tobias Music will show that its customer loyalty and support has made it one of the premier small acoustic shops in the USA.  Tobias Music will not rest on its successes but will continue to seek out new and better products for its customers and will attempt to continue the level of service that our customers have become accustomed to receiving in the past thirty-plus years!


Live Music Venue in Downers Grove
A few years back, we were offered a chance to gain more space in our guitar store building. We opened up the back wall and nearly triple the size of the original store. We have a funky new live music venue with a very loungy feel. You can come in and hang out in the music venue, have a seat and some refreshments at the “Repair Bar”, and test drive some of the best acoustic guitars in the world. It’s the Ultimate Mom and Pop Live music venue experience.

Tobias Music was offered a one-time chance to purchase our building. Mid-West Ballet Co. had owned the building for decades. We had always leased the retail space from Mid-West Ballet. We bought the building in October of 2013 and immediately started remodeling the former ballet studio next door into a 90 seat events room. Though it’s still very early, we plan on hosting many “live” events including, clinics, workshops, artist showcases, Supplier Events such as the Taylor Guitars Road Show, The CF Martin Experience, and the Walden Showcase.

The new Live Music Venue turned out awesome. It’s a beautiful venue for events and live music. The room is also available for rental. We have hosted many private events in our music venue. The prestigious Garage Band University has also relocated from Hinsdale to our location. We also operate a sweet little recording studio as part of our Guitar Teaching Program. We now can offer a full music experience.

At Tobias Music, you can…..

  1. Buy your first guitar (we have lots in the store !!)
  2. Learn how to play it (great guitar teachers)
  3. Offer Top Level service for all of your guitars and amps. (Third Coast Guitar Repair)
  4. Learn how to “be in the band” (Garage Band U.)
  5. Play your first live gig (Events Room)
  6. Buy your second guitar (circle of life)

Thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to call if you have any inquiries. We’d be happy to help. We have been offering free answers to all of your questions for 36+ years. We’d love to hear from you.