December 21, 2017

By Chrissy Mauck


One of the best in the Musical Instruments business has closed his doors after 53 amazing years running his legendary Matt Umanov Guitars shop in New York, and all of us over at Gretsch wish him well as he embarks upon his well-deserved retirement.

“Matt was a one of a kind dealer,” said Jeff Cary, SVP Specialty Brands FMIC. “He built an institution and a destination not only in New York but in the MI industry. While I am incredibly happy that he can retire and enjoy some well-deserved down time, I am sad that the industry has lost a truly iconic music store. Thank you, Matt and all your staff, for all your support over the years.”

Umanov first opened his doors in 1965, eventually finding a permanent home in Greenwich Village where his shop became a local institution, drawing in everyone from superstars like Jerry Garcia and Eric Clapton to young kids from down the block.

“Matt Umanov — the person — transcends the ideal of a cool guy that sold guitars from a cool store in NYC’s West Village,” said Gretsch District Sales Manager David Waters. “For over 50 years the combined orbits of NYC’s Guitar, Theater, Literary, Social and Culinary scenes have flowed through his world on a daily basis.  Matt is a one of kind, once in a lifetime type of a person, and a great friend.”

Below is a terrific package with Umanov on the store by ABC, as well the statement that he posted on his store’s website:

“After fifty-three years of having been in the business of helping so many guitar (and all the other fretted instruments) players have the tools with which to make music, forty-eight of those years at my store here in Greenwich Village, in the great City of New York, it is finally time for me to close this chapter of my life, relax some, travel some, play with the grandkids, all that kind of thing, though I wouldn’t quite call it “retirement”; I’ll still be around. Having been both mechanically and musically inclined since I was very little, I started out, when a teenager in the early 1960s, taking apart, and rebuilding, and building, guitars and banjos; nothing could stop me, and I was fortunate enough to be able to support myself doing that full time by the age of eighteen. One thing led to another, and by 1969 I had opened my store. I continued to do repair work while selling my favorite instruments too; the reputation spread, and I was able to build a clientele that included neighborhood kids, working musicians, working pros in all areas of the arts, and just about everyone in between. The list seems endless. I think that what I’ll miss the most will be having what someone called “my clubhouse”, where so many of you have come over the years to look, to buy, to get their treasured instruments back into working shape, to hang out and shoot the breeze. I’ll miss the unpredictable, terrific array of all of you coming in and being who you are, fascinating and wonderful every one, made my day, every day. I won’t be going away entirely, will still be reachable by email, happy to help with anything I can, so please keep in touch. And thank you all for so much great music which, after all, is what all this is about.”