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R.I.P. Jim Mouradian

by Christian Wissmuller • in
  • Editorial
• Created: February 14, 2017
Jim and Jon Mouradian in the store's main workshop

Jim and Jon Mouradian in the store's main workshopThere is one glaring omission from this issue’s “Trade Regrets” column and that’s deliberate – I wanted to devote more real estate to paying tribute to Mouradian Guitars’ Jim Mouradian, who unfortunately passed away on January 14th of this year.

If the name is familiar, you’re either one of the many in this industry who knew Jim and his notable work as a guitar and bass luthier and technician, or you read the small feature on Mouradian Guitars that ran in our January issue. That latter bit still stings, because while I’d done the interview and taken photos of the store and of Jim and his son Jon back in late August of 2016, for various reasons the article kept getting bumped and when if finally made its debut, it was four days after Jim left us. While this was not a guy who craved the spotlight or needed ego gratification in any way, it’s nonetheless something that bugs me and likely will for a while.

Without retreading our January story overmuch, I’ll just summarize how I came to know Jim – and Jon – and what that all wound up meaning to me.

When I turned 14, my dad traded in his Gretsch Tennessean at Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Cambridge Music Center (The man is a saint. I was an idiot and thought hollow­body guitars were “ugly” and wanted a solidbody…) for a Fender Telecaster. Within less than a year I’d managed to mess up the intonation and one of the tuning pegs was loose, so the folks at Cambridge Music Center sent me to Mouradian Guitars for the first of many subsequent visits to have gear repaired, adjusted, or modified, and also to slowly learn a bit about all of that type of activity – and, more importantly, to begin to have ideas about a career somehow involved in musical instruments other than being a “rock star” (y’know – on the off­chance that almostsure­ to­happen future reality didn’t pan out).

After follow­up trips to have a broken headstock fixed, a new pickup installed, a bridge replaced, et cetera, I had developed a genuine interest in everything up there at Mouradian Guitars and decided to ask Jim about apprenticing as a summer job. He kindly (the guy was always nothing but the nicest) explained that he already had all the help he needed in the person of his son, Jon.

After getting over any brief jealousy and disappointment, in the ensuing decades I continued to go to both Jim and Jon for assistance of all types on instruments ranging from the most bare­bones entry level stuff, to really expensive, vintage gear. As I upped my own attempts to modify guitars, Jim and Jon were always ready to patiently undo any “fixes” I had made and to show me what they’d done and offer tips on how I could do it better next time, myself – these guys weren’t out to drag every last buck out of me; they saw that I was interested, that I cared and they were more than happy to help share the knowledge.

While I didn’t wind up working for Jim, the idea of finding alternate career paths within the music industry that first was borne via visits to his workshops eventually led me to study engineering at Berklee, work at a few recording studios, do PR for a handful of labels and artists, write reviews and articles for a number of magazines and websites, and ultimately land here at MMR.

The world of MI is populated with any number of inspirational, generous folks (Sure – there are plenty of stinkers, too), but Jim was absolutely one of the most impactful I ever met. Thank you Jim.

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