By JULIA CIRIGNANO
Come to Mouradian Guitar Company located at 810 Main Street in Winchester, Mass., for quality guitar repairs by skilled repairmen Jim and Jon Mouradian. This family owned business focuses on exceptional guitar and bass repairs as well as selling used guitars, basses, amplifiers and select musical accessories.
The store was founded in 1980 by guitar maker Jim Mouradian and is now co-owned by his son Jon. In 1984, Jon, who was only nine years old at the time, started helping his father with minor repairs which grew into a joint partnership that has lasted most of both Jim and Jon’s adult life. Limelight Magazine recently stopped by the shop to talk to Jon about the business he runs alongside his father.
“My dad built guitars and I would have little jobs,” Jon explained. “I’ve been good with mechanics my whole life. I would mount the strap buttons, mount the knobs, and mount the tuners. It started off very simple.”
Jon soon became an expert in his field. Off and on from 1992 to 1997, he toured and traveled as a guitar tech with bands such as Extreme, Saigon Kick, and Big Wreck.
In 1997, at the age of 22, Jon decided to work full-time at Mouradian Guitar helping his father repair and sell guitars. Over the years, the shop has changed and evolved to follow the current musical trends.
“The business itself has not changed a ton so much as the cast of characters,” Jon said. “That kind of follows whatever the trend is in Boston. There will be times when the blue scene is huge or the punk scene is huge or the underground rock scene is huge and we see a lot more of those people. There was a time we were installing Floyd Rose Tremolo’s and putting humbuckers on stats as a very regular occurrence. Now, it’s much more about preserving guitars and maintaining as much of the original guitar as we can while keeping them working.”
Some of the most common trends Jon is seeing these days are head sock repairs, Mahogany guitars, Gibsons, Martins, bridge re-glues on flat top acoustics, and installing pickups in acoustic guitars.
When it comes to guitar repair, Jon and Jim have seen it all. Father and son have seen nasty home repairs with duct tape and bad repair jobs done by other shops. They have received guitars in multiple pieces and each time manage to restore them to their original quality.
“A couple days ago a guitar came in in multiple pieces with the headstock masking taped on,” Jon said. “That must have happened years ago and wherever they stored it insects decided to take up home in the masking tape. There’s probably 10,000 dead bugs in the tape and that’s not the first time.”
Both Jim and Jon Mouradian have established a one-of a kind guitar repair shop. They have managed to make a name for themselves the old fashion way: by creating long lasting relationships and doing quality work.
Mouradian Guitar has made a name for itself due to the two gifted men who run the shop. The shop itself is rather small, with one sign outside the door and shades always drawn. The reason this business has been successful is because of the quality of their work and the human connections they make along the way.
“My dad is super nice. Mr. Congeniality,” Jon said laughing. “But really, it’s genuine. I think people like coming and talking to him as much as having their guitars fixed. There’s also the fact that we’re blessed with whatever mechanical abilities that allow us to work on these guitars all the time and make them better without damaging anything. Years of doing a good job at a good rate.”
With so much success and only two real employees, Jon explains the difficulties they are now faced with. They are currently backed up two months since they have such a long waiting list of guitars that need repairs. While they sometimes make exceptions for musicians who need a quick repair, Jon wishes he could return guitars at a better rate.
“The hardest thing for us with everybody is the time,” he said. “We get a lot of push back on the calendar which is tough. I’m not sure what to do. If we do a terrible job for six months, turn around time would be very quick but nobody will want to come and see us.”
While quality work is always the number one priority at Mouradian Guitar, Jon believes that building a relationship with clients is also one of the most important parts of being a store owner.
“I think what makes our world successful is that we’re nice, we do a good job, and we try and become friends with our clientele,” Jon said.
He believes this is part of what makes Mouradian Guitar better than many other guitar stores. Jon believes he has some competition from other local music stores but not much from chain stores such as Guitar Center. While they may have a bigger selection of guitars to buy, their repair center is nowhere near as skilled as Jon and his father. The interaction with their staff is mediocre and both their range and level of guitar repair skills is below average.
“No disrespect to those guys but there’s not a whole lot of people who do what we do,” Jon said. “Guitar Center will never be a competitor of ours when it comes to repair because they don’t have anybody really qualified working on the guitars. Unfortunately, I see that. Just last Saturday, I bailed a kid out. I was driving away and I saw him walk up to the door of the store. He said, ‘I’m having a ground problem’.”
Jon then proceeded to re-park his car, open the shop back up, and repair his guitar which had received a botched fix at Guitar Center. With several major problems within the guitar, Jon was able to repair everything in time for this client to go on tour.
Throughout his years working with musicians, one story sticks out the most. This story took place in the early 90’s when Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana walked into Mouradian Guitar. At the time, Jon was on the road as a guitar tech but his father Jim greeted the three musicians dressed in ragged clothes.
“It was prior to them releasing their first record,” Jon began. “They were traveling around, touring, playing clubs like tons of our friends do now. The day before they walked into the building, “Kurt L-kabombed (smashed)” both of his guitars which separated the necks from the bodies; just ripped the four screws right out of their Fender style guitars. So they came into the shop and said ‘hey, can you help us out?’ And my dad, being a dad and being understanding, said “yeah, I’ll help you out but you’re on tour, you’re making money with these guitars, you really can’t break them’.”
At the time, nobody knew who these three men were. Months later, Mouradian Guitar got a package in the mail containing Nirvana’s Nevermind album, a t-shirt, a hat, and a thank you note. At that point, Jim and Jon still didn’t know how famous they would become.
“It just so happened that they ended up becoming a world famous band,” Jon said. “There’s lots of people who we help out all the time who finish their day’s work as a plumber and then go play a gig somewhere so they can feed their families and that’s as important.”
For any inquiries, give them a call at 781-756-4877 or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.