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Y Story | The Erlewine's

A wizard behind the curtains when it comes to guitars, Mark Erlewine has made a life out of crafting and selling fine stringed instruments for some of the top names in music history, such as Willie Nelson, Jerry Garcia, and Albert King. Dianne, Mark’s wife, is the fuel moving their business forward, ensuring that they are providing top notch service to the variety of customers that come through their front doors. The two have made notable success by establishing one of the most reputable guitar shops in Austin.

Working with big names has been humbling and exciting for this pair and was a catalyst for raising standards when it comes to sound and quality for their customers. Mark and Dianne did not find instant success in the beginning. In fact, this company has been around since 1969, originating in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moving down to Austin in 1974. After decades of fine tuning their techniques, the Erlewine’s are now one of the most recognized luthier shops in the Live Music Capital of the World. 

Mark truly enjoys the meditative practice of being alone while doing his work. In this industry, serving as an apprentice is the surest way to learn technique and skill. Mark’s advice for those just starting out is to “Go to a good school or apprentice. Learn to enjoy the work. Don’t worry about fame & fortune. If you’re patient & devoted, that will come.” He is a great resource to answer beginners’ questions but has learned over the years that his work turns out best when he can truly focus in a solitary place and give each instrument the attention it needs.

Outside of his guitar shop, Mark enjoys playing pedal steel guitar, traveling, and reading. With Dianne to keep him grounded, he finds joy in the simple things and immerses himself in the Austin community, which is how we found his story here at the TownLake Y. Mark and Dianne have been a part of our cause for 19+ years and have become like family to many people at our branch. Their favorite part of the Y is that we have an “upbeat, welcoming, eclectic, healthy, and happiness- seeking community”, and we agree! The two have been attending classes and programs for many years, but the one instructor that sticks out the most for them is Q. No surprise there as we’ve heard many of our members highlight Q for being a pillar of our culture by uplifting his class participants each time they come through the door.

Members like the Erlewine’s are who make our community so colorful and full of interesting stories. We are really lucky to be in a place where these kinds of people (and everyone) feel at home. Mark’s advice, “follow your heart”, led him to Austin and eventually to the TownLake Y, making our Y family better for it.