In a previous instalment of GEARHEAD, I wrote about the Kingston Guitar Shop, my favourite guitar store, and expressed admiration for their luthier and owner Gord Mylks. He is a cool guy who loves his job, and has found a way to make music his business. Gord was kind enough to answer a few questions for me via email, and I present that interview to you now.
Audio Reckoning: How did you first discover music as a youngster?
Gord Mylks: Bob Dylan, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Gruesomes (not in that order) made we want to make music/guitar a bigger part of my life.
AR: How did you first get into the instrument repair and become a luthier?
GM: I had 3 old guitars that I knew could be better: a 1964 Gretsch bass, a 60’s Regent Violin bass, and a gorgeous orange Kay hollow electric. But my local music store said they were not worth fixing and even went as far as to say truss rods were broken, frets needed to be replaced etc, which added up to more than 500$, and I so could not afford to go ahead. Fast forward 6 months( about 1991) and I heard rumours of a Rufus who could fix guitars? Then I went to play my friends’ newly inherited 1964 Fender Jaguar and was astonished at how awful and dirty and crappy it felt (I thought fender guitars were supposed to be good)? Fast forward just one more week and my friend asked me if I wanted to see the Jaguar again. I said “no”, but he opened the case anyway and there was a brand new looking, playing perfect 1964 Jaguar??? My jaw hit the floor as I realized it was the same guitar! It had been to see Rufus! The next morning I trucked my sorry old guitars out to Rufus’ Guitar Shop, and a week later and barely 200$ spent all my guitars were perfect. They did not need frets, truss rods worked fine and I think I even impressed Rufus with my obvious love for these guitars. I think I asked Rufus if I he needed an apprentice before I left that first time and a few months later I started learning it all from Rufus Stewart. I still can’t believe what a lucky 18-year-old I was!
AR: When did you first decide to open the store? What inspired it?
GM: I dreamed my store while sleeping on the beach in Australia in 1996. I just woke up and could see it, hear it, feel it…I knew what i had to do.
AR: What made you want to open this kind of store in Kingston?
GM: I was sick and tired of driving to Songbird Music and Used Sound and Ed’s Music and Encore Music to find my fave guitars. Kingston had never had a consignment/used/vintage guitar store before.
AR: Where does the majority of your business come from? Is it working players, hobbyists, or collectors?
GM: Most of my business is hobbyist/home musicians…collectors make up the smallest portion. There are only a few real collectors in my area.
AR: What is your favourite guitar design?
GM: I love old Danelectro guitars for their beautiful simplicity.
AR: What is your least favourite guitar design?
GM: Acoustic guitars without soundholes were a short-lived fad…impossible to fix!?!
AR: What is most crucial aspect of guitar maintenance?
GM: Frets. Get your frets dressed regularly by a professional (Not PLEK).
[Editor’s Note: PLEK is a crazy robotic computer device which is supposed to do setups and repairs on a guitar automatically. I think what Gord is saying here is that guitars need the human touch.]
AR: What do you look for when taking an item on consignment?
GM: I cannot answer this question well…I only want good guitars, which is personal to me because I still get made fun of for liking ukes, cheesy 60’s guitars, Gibson budget models etc. I hate Ovations and Lasido guitars especially.
AR: What is the most unusual item you’ve had in the store?
GM: Wandre Rock Oval
AR: What are your own musical projects?
AR: Who are some of your favourite artists?
GM: The Sadies, The Apples in stereo, the 13th Floor Elevators.