DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Peter Bond has been in the music business all his working life, currently working as a salesman and technician at Island Guitars. Last week in the store's repair shop, Bond, above, did a "sighting" down the neck of a rare acoustic Martin 000-28 guitar from1951 to check for straightness.
‘Guitar mechanic’ has always been able to stay around music
Peter Bond loves to sell guitars because he loves them so much himself -- and he repairs them, too
Title: Guitar salesman and technician
Job: Sells and repairs guitars
Peter Bond loves guitars -- so much so that he has made a career out of selling and fixing them, currently as an employee of Island Guitars
at Ward Warehouse in Kakaako.
Ever since he was 13, Bond said last week, he has enjoyed playing guitar, and, in fact, has been a member of several locally popular rock bands, including Hat Makes the Man, Spiny Norman and Oriental Love Ring. These days he enjoys playing in a trio tentatively called Monkey Hate Circus, which has yet to play publicly.
Bond started his day job of selling and fixing guitars back in 1979 after attending the School of Guitar Research and Design in South Strafford, Vt. His first job as a guitar repairman was with local guitar shop Stringman. He then worked in the record-selling business for a few years, for Jelly's, before joining Jim Danz's and Neil Shimabukuro's Island Guitars in 1993.
Born in Georgia, Bond, 49, has been a Hawaii resident since he was 7. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1977. He is married to the former Laura Bach, a stage actress, with whom he lives in Hawaii Kai, along with his 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Amber.
How long have you been working for Island Guitars?
Peter Bond: Since 1993
Q: What were you doing before that?
A: Well, I guess the guitar-related thing that I did before that was, back in the '70s, I worked for Stringman, which was one of the first guitar-repair shops on the island. I worked there for a few years, and then I took a long hiatus of working for Jelly's.
Q: The local used-record-store chain?
A: Yeah. I've always tried to find jobs related to music, and I've managed to be pretty successful at that. In '93, I met a friend who was working here (at Island Guitars) and he said they were looking for a guitar mechanic, and I've been doing it ever since.
Q: What are your responsibilities at Island Guitars?
A: Well, I am in charge of the repair department, and I'm also a manager so far as floor sales go.
Q: Are you more a salesperson or more a repair person?
A: About 50-50.
Q: Do you work on weekends?
A: I'm working on guitars over the weekend. The way that it kind of works here, in the store, is that I work on the store guitars, and maintain the guitars that we have. We also do setups on all the guitars that we sell. So that's what I do here -- maintain guitars that we have, and do setups on guitars that we've sold.
Q: What's a setup?
A: In Hawaii it's so humid, that any guitar that you buy generally needs an adjustment after about a month, so we do that for free, if you bought it from us. Otherwise, the big jobs that come in, I work out of my home shop on the weekends and the evenings, on those guitars.
Q: When did you get interested in guitars?
A: When I was 13. I started playing guitar and I've been into it since then.
Q: How did you learn to fix guitars?
A: I went to a school in 1978, on guitar building, called GRD (the School of Guitar Research and Design), in Vermont, and it was a three-month course on building guitars. Then I came back to Hawaii, and I was lucky and got a job as an apprentice at Stringman.
Q: What about other stringed instruments? Do you work on those, too?
A: Not too much. I pretty much just focus on guitar, something that I love. I can repair cracks on mandolins, and I do a lot of ukulele repair, but I don't mess with upright basses, orchestra instruments, and things of that nature. I don't do too much with those.
Q: What's the most common problem that you have to fix?
Q: Mostly there's a lot of humidity-related problems. The humidity affects the (guitar) neck, and the body, and all parts of the guitar, and if it has electronics, it affects that, too. It's the paradise tax.
There's also a lot of crack repairs, a lot of fretwork.
A: What would be an unusual problem?
A: An unusual problem. ... Hmmmm. Well, every single guitar that you work on is its own little puzzle. A lot of times things that look like they'll be real hard turn out real easy, and things that look easy turn out real hard.
Q: What kinds of tools do you need to do your job?
A: A lot of fine woodworking tools is what you mostly end up using. And probably the most used tool in my shop is the belt sander.
Q: How do you keep up with technological changes in your field?
A: That's one thing about this field -- there's not a lot of technological change. It's still basically the same, and it's just a matter of getting better at it. The basic idea of the guitar has been pretty consistent for years. Like Les Pauls and (Fender) Strats. The Les Paul of the 1950s is very similar to the Les Paul of 2000.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Peter Bond sells and fixes guitars for Island Guitars in Kakaako. He also has played guitar in locally popular rock bands. Above, Bond last week showed off one of the more rare guitars in the store, a Gibson Reverse "V" that is one of only 400 made.
Do you work on guitar amplifiers?
A: No, we don't have an amp tech any longer. We had one, but he was so great that he got hired away, by IBM.
Q: So how many people do you work with?
A: There are five full-time employees and about four part-timers.
Q: Do you have any help in the repair department?
A: I pretty much do most of it. Every now and then one of the other guys will jump in and do some of the easy stuff. Basically, the co-owner, Jim Danz, was the repair guy, and then I came along and took it over.
Q: What are the brands of guitars that you sell?
A: Gibson, Taylor and Martin are our three top crowning ones, of course. And we also have Rickenbacker, and we also carry the Seagull and the Epihone.
Q: No Fenders?
A: No Fenders. We're not a dealer for Fender; there were already three or four that were in business when we came around, in 1984.
We also have a huge used selection as well. A lot of really nice pieces, like a '51 Martin, and some old Gibsons, and some PRSs.
Q: What's your favorite kind of guitar?
A: Les Pauls. They're beautiful and, I think, one of the finest guitars.
Q: What's your favorite kind of amplifier?
A: Mesa Boogie.
Q: What kind of guitar do you own?
A: A Les Paul.
Q: Just one?
A: I've had other guitars, but I always go back to my Les Paul.
Q: I know you used to be in popular local bands such as Hat Makes the Man, Spiny Norman and Oriental Love Ring. Are you playing in any bands now?
A: I've got a band. I'm playing with two guys. We haven't played out yet. We're just putting it together. We're just playing original music, so it's more cathartic.
Q: What kind of people mostly come into Island Guitars as customers?
A: We have everything from the guy who's just starting to the guy who is looking for a nice guitar that he has been waiting for all his life, to the professional who is looking for something to work with. We've got the full gamut of beautiful guitars here, from $200 to $50,000.
Q: What's $50,000?
A: We've got a Martin; it's one of just 100 guitars that were made.
Q: And why is it so special?
A: It's got just oodles of inlay, and it's Brazilian rosewood on the back and the sides. Brazilian rosewood has been considered to be the ultimate tone wood, and it hasn't been available since 1969.
Q: Is it hard to convince someone to buy a guitar?
A: Not at all. It's easy, easy. That's one of the nice things about this place. We're not on commission, so we can show people guitars and it's not, "Buy it, buy it, buy it." So it's very relaxing. We have nice guitars and competitive prices. We're selling somebody something that they love, and it's even easier than selling somebody a car. You're putting something in their hands that is really longed for and loved and it reaches into you. It's more than just a thing. It's touching you. You put guitars into people's hands and they light up, and then they walk out of here and they're happy -- and we're excited to sell it to them because we love guitars, so everybody's happy.