Back in the early part of 2015, I heard a rumour. Not a gossipy, salacious rumour, oh no. A happy, hushed, under-the-breath rumour, that a once great little independent music shop which had suffered something of an ignominious demise, was to be resurrected like the phoenix of yore, by a great white knight riding in on his rumbling hog from distant shores to inject some much-missed magic into the old place.
The place in question was of course none other than the aptly-named Wizard Guitars on Eccy Road, and the antipodean saviour? A man with an unparalleled passion for all things axe-related, and a noble vision to first restore the good name of Wizard, then to take it to the next level as a community-driven hub of accessibility, honesty and value. He goes by the name of Zoran, and he kindly agreed to take the time to tell me his story.
Zoran, it’s been nigh on three years since we first met and you told me of your vision for your then newly-acquired business. For the benefit of the uninitiated, could you sum up that vision?
There seem to be less and less of the types of independent business that offer old-fashioned service by people who care, so after seeing Wizard Guitars and its potential, my vision was to offer an old-school style guitar shop.
Helping beginners is something I definitely wanted to offer at Wizard. Getting a young person started or helping an adult that wants to take up playing and making the experience enjoyable rather than daunting. Many guitar shops tend to make the beginner feel inadequate and this can stop them venturing in to play, or they just buy whatever is presented to them because they’ve been told “this is what you need” and are left to it. I wanted to make the journey into learning to play a pleasant one, as well as providing the right equipment and support.
And so, how would you say that you mission has manifested over these last few years?
It’s been a great journey so far. We’ve had lots of local support as well as support from people visiting the city. We keep our philosophy simple – look after your customers and they will return. Also, we try to offer something different by stocking quality used instruments as well as new products.
You clearly have a tight-knit team, each with their specialist skills. Can you tell me a bit about them?
Sure, firstly there is Phil Bentley. Phil has over twenty years experience in the retail sector and he is an avid guitar player. His knowledge is second to none and so is his passion for the industry. Then there’s Harris Nixon, who’s been involved in the music business for over thirty-five years as a player and technician. Both Phil and Harris are involved in the service department. I’ve been working in the retail sector for over twenty years as well in various managerial roles.
The next logical question is, of course, what’s on the horizon for you guys?
We’re always looking to improve and have therefore expanded our range to offer our customers more choice. In today’s world of internet shopping and fast-paced living we’re trying to offer something more. The personal service is a must but we’re also looking to offer an excellent online service as well as top notch face to face support. All guitars are set up prior to being on show and that also applies to online sales. We believe all instruments need this and we don’t just want to shift boxes.
Finally, and it’d be remiss of me not to ask whilst I’ve got you here, what’s your ‘star guitar’ that you currently have here at Wizard Guitars (I’m talking a dream buy)?
Guitars come and go and there are always a few fine specimens on display. The right guitar is of course subjective to the individual and part of what we do is to get the right guitar for the individual. However, there is a rare beast in the shop at the moment. It’s a custom-built twin neck Rickenbacker which was made for the late Steve Clark of Def Leppard. These were only available by special order from Rickenbacker.
Interview by Ben Jackson
Images courtesy of Wizard Guitars