Places that Matter
Place Matters Profile
By Brendan Garrone
In a modest, brown, nearly windowless building in the heart of Staten Island is a store which many consider to be the center of the American fretted instrument world. Mandolin Bros., located at 629 Forest Avenue in Staten Island is home to some of the world’s best guitars, banjos, ukuleles, and, of course, mandolins.
For the last 36 years, Mandolin Bros. has become the authority not only for the purchasing of vintage equipment but of appraising and buying for over 200,000 players and collectors. Moreover, the showroom has become widely known as, among other things, "The Best Guitar Store in New York" (New York Magazine). Having sold instruments to some of the top musicians of the 20th century (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, among others) Mandolin Bros. has become a fixture in the New York City music scene, and a world authority in the appraising, buying, and selling of fretted instruments.
Mandolin Bros. was founded in 1971 by friends and partners Stan Jay and Harold "Hap" Kuffner, and moved into the store's present location on Forest Avenue in 1976. Thinking that mandolins could use some publicity, and wanting to poke fun at music store owners who often name their stores after themselves, Stan and Hap became the Mandolin Brothers. Kuffner left the store in 1982 (though staying in the music business), but Mandolin Bros. continued on as one of the "largest dealers in the world of vintage and new fretted instruments." (Vintage News) Owner Stan Jay remains the active voice of Mandolin Bros., with his office situated at the entrance of the store. Still playing a dominant role in day to day business affairs, Stan receives emails from all around the world, most of which are questions concerning the value of a particular instrument from potential sellers, or the specifications of a particular vintage item. Stan is more than happy to oblige, and his background in writing (Stan has a Masters Degree in Education/English from Wagner College and was a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Teachers' College) has helped his now-famous instrument descriptions which, besides providing honest and detailed information about each instrument, are usually good for a laugh or two.
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