Johnny Thompson has the distinction of being the very first music student of a young steel guitar player named Ernie Ball. Back in the early 1950s, before he established his string company, Ernie was a well known country player in and around Los Angeles, and taught a few students for extra money. This training was key to Johnny, as Ernie became a close friend and mentor to Johnny. He, in fact, inspired Johnny to teach lessons on his own, starting in 1959. The following year he opened Johnny Thompson Music in Monterey Park, CA. Five years later, he constructed his own building where the store is located today. In the 1960s and 1970s, Johnny was an early pioneer of sound equipment set-up and rentals. Since that time, he has devoted his store to the school market in his community, becoming an important force as an independent music retailer.
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