Biz instrumental to artists’ success

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The Music Zoo has been rocking Little Neck for almost 10 years, bringing world-class guitars and music lessons to aspiring artists in a suburban setting.

Guitars in every color and design line the walls of the Northern Boulevard store, which doubles as a music school with several instruction rooms in the back.

Tommy Colletti, 37, a Middle Village native who lives in Douglaston, started The Music Zoo in 1994 after playing with local band Kingsland and teaching many private students.

His business has grown from a small operation with a few guitars on display to an international online instrument supplier via, where aficionados can get the latest guitars, amplifiers and other products.

“The guitar has become so collectible,” said Colletti, for people “who want a piece of Americana.”

The store has an exhaustive inventory of Gibson, Fender, Wayne, Gretsch and other brands of electric, acoustic and bass guitars.

The Music Zoo is one of 12 “superdealers” in the world of Gibson guitars, meaning it carries replicas of high-end guitars custom-made for rock stars such as Lenny Kravitz.

The business also trains hundreds of students from the New York metropolitan area in voice, guitar, bass, drums, piano and many other instruments, even renting equipment to students in public school music programs.

“We’re producing little rock stars,” said Colletti, who has had several Music Zoo students go on to careers in the music industry.

Teachers at The Music Zoo have degrees from prestigious institutions such as Berklee School of Music and Queens College’s Aaron Copeland school.

Colletti said Little Neck was an ideal location for his store because its rent was more affordable than in Manhattan but also because it allowed more access to suburban children.

“The parents are concerned with their kids and want the best upbringing for them,” Colletti said. “Music is a big part of it.”

Colletti recalled with a grin the shock on people’s faces when they step into the store for the first time.

“Everybody usually drives by here at 40 miles per hour,” he said.

The area is home to another nearby music institution, Station Sound Studios right outside the Douglaston Long Island Rail Road, which was built in the 1970s by the pop band The Fixx.

Renowned musicians such as James Taylor, Blondie and Robert Palmer also have recorded there. Colletti and producer-engineer Oshin Baroyan bought and renovated the old studio two years ago, outfitting it with state-of-the-art recording equipment for rental by groups.

The Music Zoo is at 255-03 Northern Blvd. in Little Neck. For more information, call 718-631-9292 or visit

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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