Bruce Lyons has made a lot of changes since 1989 when he first started his computer repair business in his home. His latest move came last month when he opened up his new computer and guitar shop at 3110 Seymour Highway in Fre-Mar Valley.
When I asked him if he has lived here all his life, he chuckled and said, “Not Yet.” So, digging a little deeper into who Bruce is, he says that he has been a musician pretty much all his life, playing the violin in the fourth grade. Then a couple of years later his father told him to try playing the guitar. He abandoned the violin and stayed with the guitar. When he graduated Rider High School in 1969 he bought himself a Gibson Dreadnaught J50 acoustic, which he still has and rarely takes it out of his house.
He began building and repairing computers at his home in 1989, and in 1990 opened up a shop at 2100 Kemp. Quickly outgrowing each location, he moved twice more, landing at 914 Scott St. in 2009.
Bruce suffered a stroke in 2004, and says he had to learn to walk and talk again, having impairment on his left side. It was a customer of his that suggested he start playing guitar again, and he soon realized that playing was great therapy.
After his stroke, Bruce tells me of a dream he once had where he was in a rock band performing at a gig, and the lead guitar player didn’t show up for the second set, so he had to take over the duties. And, in the next set, the lead singer dropped out, so he was thrown into that role, too. Taking this dream as a sign, he has been working on improving his skills at both.
In his shop he says that he still works on computers as long as someone needs his service, but with today’s technology of Iphones and tablets the PC business has dwindled. It was his cousin that got him into the guitar shop aspect. His cousin wanted to have a vintage guitar shop, so he bought 53 vintage guitars, and when he passed away Bruce was the only one the family knew of that knew anything about guitars so they asked him to liquidate his cousin’s estate. Most of them were just beaters, he said, and the first few he just polished up and sold. But some others needed electronics put in, or hardware replaced. Then he figured he could get pieces and put together a whole guitar. A customer of his saw the first one he made and commissioned him to build one. Then Bruce decided he wanted to be more of a master of the craft and began building them from scratch. In his younger years he had built race cars, and was skilled at manufacturing parts, and admits that this skill has helped him in his guitar building.
In addition to building, setting up, upgrading, and repairing instruments, Bruce has a nice inventory of new, used, and consignment guitars for sale. He is an authorized dealer for Tagima guitars, a Brazilian guitar company, and Kona, a company out of Fort Worth. He said he is really quite fond of the Kona acoustic guitars. He also has a direct purchase agreement with Ernie Ball and D’Addario strings and accessories and wishes to relay the message that if a few of the bands here wanted to make a list of their string types and place an order, he can order them in bulk and save them some money. Additionally, he buys, sells, and trades guitars, amps, speakers, drums and p.a. equipment on eBay and reverb.com. He also gives some guitar lessons for beginners and has room for any instructor of other instruments who may be looking for a place to give lessons.
Bruce is also the initiator of the monthly ‘sidewalk jam’ that he started in 2014. He says it began with his church group getting together for fun, and to display new guitars he received in his shop or demonstrating instruments he had repaired. At first, he claims, people just drove by slowly wondering what was going on. Then people would begin to stop and listen. And other musicians would come out and sit in with the band, and eventually grew to where other bands would come out and play a set. At his shop on Scott St he was at the mercy of Mother Nature, not really having room in his store to bring the jam inside during inclement weather. But that is not a problem at his new location. The sidewalk is covered, there is plenty of room for parking, and if the weather is bad he has ample room inside so that the show must go on. He currently schedules his monthly ‘Sidewalk Jam and Concert’ on the fourth Saturday of the month. The next one will be held on April 28 at noon.
On a more personal, local level Bruce has come up with the offer to local bands who want to sell their group’s merchandise in his store. Fre-Mar Valley is the home base for a dozen or more local band headquarters, and the storefront location of his new shop facing Seymour Highway will increase his visibility and bring in more business.
His latest musical project that he is working on is a trio including Pat Lindsley on drums and Mick Jason on bass and keys, so he says that regarding the dream he had years ago, “Here it comes!”
So if you’re in the neighborhood of Fre-Mar Valley be sure to stop by Bruce’s new store and check out his line of guitars and equipment, or just to say hello. You’ll be glad you did!