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How did you become Guitar Doctor?

I started playing guitar back in 1969 when I was 14 years old. I immediately realized that my guitar sucked and I needed it to work better, even though I didn't know exactly what "better" was. It just wasn't right.

I used to hang around a particular music store in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Central Sales. There was a longhaired guy in there who put up with me and seemed to know something about fixing up guitars. I told him my complaints with my axe and he told me what to do. He did not, however, tell me how to do it! I went home and I did some awful things to that poor guitar. I knew right away that I'd screwed up. I went back and told him what I had done. I'm sure he had a good laugh from it all. Once he realized that I was determined to do it by myself he took the time to give me some details on the "how-to’s". Thanks, Mister - whoever you were...

I had always been good with my hands and with tools. I had no fear on tackling my needs and it worked! My guitar played better and I played better for it.

I didn't know much but I had some definite ideas about what I wanted. Leslie West, the guitarist, played a Gibson Les Paul Junior. Central Sales had one and I wanted it. I had made my way up to an Aria Les Paul copy by then. It had real Gibson pickups in it and top-of-the-line Grover Imperial tuners on the headstock. I was phat with that. But I wanted that Les Paul Junior!

But I didn't have the cash and my caddying job couldn't get the dough up fast enough. I slogged along until I finally ended up with some cool axes including a Fender Mustang (metallic blue with the racing stripe – now that was the King of Mustangs!) and a Hagstrom II. I never did get that Les Paul Jr.

All along the way I worked on my guitars with the guidance of anyone who knew more than I did. That's how I started. I learned from people who were willing to show me things and I read a lot of books. Soon my friends started to ask me to make their guitars play like mine. A small ad in the local newspaper and word of mouth quickly brought more people and more ailing guitars.

The repair business overtook my regular job. I had too many guitars to work on and not enough time or space to work on them. I had guitars tucked in every corner of the house - 20 or 30 of them at any one time! One day I totaled up the situation and decided to quit my regular suit-and-tie job and open a store. I've been doing this ever since.

I've learned all along the way and I’m still learning. The real thing is to be devoted to it. As with anything you want to strive for, you will get there.

Jake, my number one helper, is a talented luthier and schooled for it. I don't call myself a luthier yet, just a good and fearless tech with solid building skills, over 30 years of experience and thousands of happy customers to prove it.

The real joy comes by helping another guitarist to play his or her best by making their guitar play its best. The ugliest duckling takes on a new appeal when it screams, cries and roars in your hands.

Eric Vance - "a.k.a. Doc" - Guitar Doctor