Matt Umanov

Matt Umanov Guitars Closing

Within the next few months, Matt Umanov, the owner of the eponymous guitar shop, plans to close the retail side of the operation. Unlike so many of New York City's past music stores, his store is closing by his own volition. He announced the news via his website, which stated:

"After 53 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, 48 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."

The window display at Matt Umanov Guitars on Bleecker Street.

The lifelong guitarist and luthier plans to keep the repair business on the second floor of his shop going while renting out the retail space on the first floor.

"We have nine employees; it's a lot of balls to keep in the air," Umanov said.

But after spending nearly five decades in MI retail, it's a bittersweet ending. When asked what he's going to miss most about his store, he said two things: the people and the guitars.

"You never [knew] who would walk in," Umanov said. "This is New York. A lot of people live here; a lot of people visit here. There are 60 million visitors nowadays."

And because of his store's pristine location, Umanov's met hundreds of well-known musicians and actresses throughout the years and has gotten to work with rock legends as big as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.

With the constant flow of customers and a never-ending supply of tourists, every day brought something new and exciting.

"I might get to hear some truly great performer just fooling around and play something jam dropping music, or it could be some drunk walking in off the street putting on a show," he recalled.

But once his stock is depleted, Umanov is planning to return to his roots as a restoration and repair tech.

"I was always a mechanical kid," he said. "Also, I [had] a musical background. My mother was a concert pianist. Music was all around me all my life, and I had, from a very early age, interest in all kinds of music: classical, country, folk, rock 'n' roll."

When Umanov was 12 years old, he became fascinated with instrument construction. "I was fearless," he added. He started making a living restoring guitars at the age of 17 and founded Matt Umanov Guitars when he was in his 20s.

"We have always been considered — since I was doing it myself and right to this day — the best guitar repair and repair restoration, especially on quality acoustic guitars," he said. "We're the best in New York, and I don't mind saying it." MI

— By Kasia Fejklowicz