Meet the Team

Michael Samos

“I was hired to work at Empire Guitars in December of 2005, before the store officially opened and I’ve been at the shop ever since. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here at Empire and am always excited to see what surprises the next day will bring. I have a deep passion for the tools of our trade and it is a pleasure to help people find instruments that facilitate their creativity and self expression. I’ve been a touring musician for over a decade as a dobro, lap steel, and electric guitar player. My experience has taken me across the United States and Europe and is responsible for some of my most important memories. I continue to play actively in the New England area and work as a session musician for talented songwriters in a wide variety of styles.”

My Gear: “My current gear includes a 1989 Telecaster w/ Harmonic Design pick ups, a 90’s Les Paul Classic w/ a Bigsby added, a Les Paul Special w/ Bigsby, a Guild X-170, a Beard Dobro, a 60’s Kent electric mandolin, and my beloved late 50’s Rickenbacker double 8 string steel. For amps, I generally use a Fender Princeton Reverb or a recent Gretsch Executive.”

Favorite Guitarists:“Marc Ribot, Jim Campilongo, Bill Frisell, Hank Garland,  Bert Jansch, Sandy Bull, James Burton, Richard Thompson, Link Wray, Dick Dale, Jimmy Bryant, Chet Atkins, Billy Strange, Mick Ronson, Mick Taylor.”

Christopher McTernan

“I’ve been working here at Empire Guitars for somewhere around 5 years, as well as logging time at Empire Loan. I started my musical life at age 10, playing Alto and Tenor Saxophone in the school Jazz Band. Been playing guitar since age 15 and started playing in bands at nearly the same time, first on bass and then later doing vocals and guitar in a number of bands. Currently, I play in a group called Broadcaster, playing our own hybrid of 90’s indie rock, surf, psych rock, and ’70s classic rock. We recently were voted Best Breakthrough Band of 2011 by the Providence Phoenix and have received copious positive reviews of our cds and live shows. (You can check us out at I love creating and playing my own music and have been writing songs since I first picked up a guitar.”

My Gear: My main guitar is a 1979 Kramer DMZ 2000 with an added Chet Atkins-style Bigsby. I also occasionally use a Korean-built mid-80s Squier Bullet with a Seymour Duncan Antiquity HB in the bridge on stage. Other guitars I own are a super cool orange ’60s Ovation Tornado and a mid-90’s MIM sunburst Telecaster with a Rio Grande P-90 style Tele bridge pickup. For bass, I use a Peavey T-40 (I like very heavy guitars as you can tell). My main amp is an early 90’s Fender Vibroverb (highly recommended for some awesome reverb-drenched surf rock tone!) but I sometimes use a Univox U-1220 and a 2×12” Kustom cab. I employ a number of oddball effects including a Harmonic Percolator clone, a 70’s Ross Distortion pedal, and a Catalinbread Formula 5 drive pedal, (we carry these at the shop and it’s an awesome Tweed-esque overdrive).”

Favorite Guitarists:  Neil Young, Link Wray, Keith Levene, Glenn Branca, Andy Gill, Omar Khorshid, Jimmy Bryant, D. Boon, Johnny Watson, Ron Asheton, Wayne Kramer, J.J. Cale, Doug Martsch, Bill Harkleroad

Richard C. Sherman

“I joined Empire Guitars in March 2011 with over 10 years in the music retail industry. This, by far, is the best company I’ve worked for. Empire Guitars highly values their customers and employees, making this a wonderful shopping/working experience. It has also been a pleasure to work with such a knowledgeable staff. My musical interests come from a wide variety background. I started playing the Saxophone when I was 9 and switched over to the drums when I was 10. Drums have been my passion for the last 20 years. I am the “go to” guy for anything to do with drums and percussion. I strive to provide the best customer service possible and encourage everyone to have fun doing what they love.”

My Gear“My first drum kit was an entry level Mapex 5-piece in a black wrap finish. I purchased it at a local shop in the town where I lived. I currently play a Magstar custom drum kit. My set up is a 8×10 mounted tom, a 12×14 mounted floor tom and a 20×22 in kick drum. I am not particular about the brand of cymbals I play. I use a mixture of Zildjian and Sabian. Favorite hardware is Drum Workshop 9 series.”

Favorite Drummers“Vinnie Colaiuta, Keith Carlock, Adam Deitch, Nikki Glaspie, Gregg Bissonette, and Chris Coleman.”

Mike Schiavone

“I joined the sales staff here at Empire Guitars in October of 2012. With 8 Years sales experience in the music retail field. Empire Guitars is a haven for musicians that love great gear. Everything is reasonably priced and the crew really knows what they’re talking about. I started playing musical instruments at the age of 10, starting with auxiliary percussion in my school’s band. Shortly thereafter, I got my first guitar and found I had what some would refer to as “perfect pitch”. After honing in on this skill, I became a hired gun for all genres of music from country to death metal. I worked as a studio guitarist traveling across the US doing what I love with no training (lessons) and developed a unique technique of improvisational rock/funk. Currently I play in 2 bands in R.I. One is a 7 piece funk/blues band called “The Free Funk All-Stars” which plays every Wednesday night in Providence at The Spot Underground on Richmond Street. The other band Full Atoms is a musical mash-up of fusion/rock/jam-band with a twist.”

My Gear: “I have had over 20 guitars in my 20 year search, but in 2009, I finally got my dream guitar, a 2009 Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul, black with gold hardware. For my amp, I use a Fender Deville 2×12 and for effects, after owning over 150 stomp boxes over the years, I now use a Line 6 M13. If you never heard of it, check it out.”

Favorite Guitarist: “Too many to list but some of the tops would be Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhodes, Jimmy Page, Les Paul, Jerry Garcia, Robbie Krieger, Kerry King, Eric Krasno, Adam Smirnoff, Warren Haynes, Tom Morello, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez just to name a few.”