Manager Jenna Zaste, owner Eddie Cantu, center, and assistant manager Misael Herrera are excited about launching Muzzle Guitars Music Shop in Rio Rancho because it can help bolster the area’s music scene. (Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Owner hopes the store will bolster Rio Rancho’s music scene


Eddie Cantu eyes something beyond providing that next go-to store for musical instruments and apparel.

The owner of Muzzle Guitars Music Shop, which opens Saturday at 701 Unser Boulevard, wants to bolster the Rio Rancho-area’s music scene by making it another hub for live performances.

He said he will start with giving up-and-coming bands a stage to play music on, and he wants to help arrange live shows at larger venues.

Cantu said the store will accommodate fans of any genre, from country to jazz, even though the city’s hard rock and metal community were quick to embrace Muzzle Guitars.

“When I first saw the page announcement on Facebook, I was ecstatic. I was like ‘finally, a music store that’s actually here in town.’ And I don’t have to drive all the way to freakin’ downtown (Albuquerque),” said assistant manager Misael Herrera, a Rio Rancho native. “Music is a big part of people’s lives, especially out here in New Mexico. We’re very passionate about music… We’re like a melting pot (regarding music). The fact that we have a music store here, it’s going to help expand on that.”

Potential for greatness

Cantu said Muzzle Guitars will host live shows on Friday and Saturday nights so local bands can take the stage for free and also have a spot to just hang out.

The store will create a “wall of fame” for live performers and distribute T-shirts that say: “I slayed it at Muzzle Guitars.”

“I wish when I was growing up, somebody would’ve done something like this for me,” he said.

Herrera, who plays in two metal bands , said simply having a stage for live shows helps boost motivation for up-and-coming artists.

Although the main instruments that will be sold initially will be guitars and basses, Cantu said Muzzle Guitars will add drum set sales later.

Cantu said the store will add merchandise such as T-shirts and posters to the inventory, noting money made from those products will go directly to the bands to ensure they continue to make a name for themselves. Cantu said he and friends will make the T-shirts using printing equipment.

Cantu added he wants to bring in musicians to hold guitar clinics with youth, and plans to facilitate a full-day music festival at a setting like the Rio Rancho Events Center or south Albuquerque’s Isleta Amphitheater in the near future. That could be  as soon as late fall or early winter, he said.

“We’re going to put this place on the map for music,” he said.

Passion restored

The Cleveland, Ohio native worked in the music industry, including guitar manufacturing, for close to 20 years before COVID-19 entered the picture in 2020. Tired of the COVID-19 restrictions, he was preparing to move France and live there for a couple years with a friend.

Cantu just about walked away from music altogether.

“I just got kind of burnt out on everything, wanted a change and was ready to go,” he said. “I had the ticket bought and was almost on the plane.”

Cantu then met his girlfriend, a Chimayó native, and was introduced to Rio Rancho. Soon after, Cantu did some research on the area as he searched for a new occupation. From there, his passion was restored.

Seeing all the action involving music was in downtown Albuquerque, Cantu decided to address that and bring something special to the City of Vision’s younger market.

“There really was nothing (in Rio Rancho) to cater to the people that want to get better (at playing music) or want a place to play,” he said. “And with COVID, bands just sprouted up everywhere because they had nothing else to do.”