After 12 years, San Diego Guitar Repair recently left their storefront in University Heights and moved to a new location on the 6700 block of El Cajon Boulevard, about a mile from San Diego State. The prior location was on a popular stretch of Adams Avenue near Polite Provisions, Beerfish, and the Air Conditioned Lounge.
“It’s more people eating and walking around than it is customers bringing their guitars,” owner Andy Greenberg explained. “I felt that most of my customers weren’t the walk-by customers. So, they’ve got a lot of people over there, but they’re not all bringing in guitars. And, it was really hard to park. They didn’t like you parking [across the street] at 7/11. Even the loading zone around the corner, the green spot — it was never open. And the parking tickets… oh my god.”
The move was actually spurred by another move — Greenberg finding a new apartment. After he relocated to La Mesa, he figured it would be nice to have his shop closer to his new digs. He traded in the trendy foot traffic of University Heights for ample parking, a mellower neighborhood, and easy access for the SDSU kids. It’s a bit of a reunion for him as well, as Greenberg once worked (circa 1996) at the old El Cajon Boulevard location of Guitar Center that was five blocks to the west of his new shop.
“They put me in the accessories department, where I bombed,” Greenberg, a bass player, recounted.
Even though he had stints at both the San Diego and Sherman Oaks Guitar Centers, it was local retailer Guitar Trader where he really cut his teeth learning his craft. To hear Greenberg tell it, he was basically at the right place, at the right time, with the right skill-set. “I worked in a guitar shop, and I had an aptitude for it. That was what I did, and people liked what I did, so I kept doing it. It was easy for me, and I understood it for the most part. During school, I had shop classes and everything, but I was just good with my hands,” he said.
One instrument that happened to pass through his hands over the years was the guitar that local Iron Butterfly singer/organist Doug Ingle used when he wrote “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” way back in the mid-1960s.
“The headstock had broken off, and it was pretty messed-up,” Greenberg explained. “He had broken the guitar a couple times and had it fixed, so the guitar wasn’t in great shape. It was a tricky repair, but I was really happy when it was done. It played great and he was thrilled. That makes it worth it.”
“You have to have patience to do it in the first place, or you’re not going to last long,” Greenberg concluded. “You’re going to screw somebody’s expensive guitar up, they’re gonna complain, and you’re gonna be out. You have to have some kind of aptitude for it, but, if you work for a music store, you see how purchasing happens, how parts are purchased, how things are priced, and how it all works.”