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In Memoriam: Jim Mouradian

In Memoriam: Jim Mouradian

April 2, 1950 – January 24, 2017

by R.M. Mottola

Originally published in American Lutherie #130, 2017

Boston area luthier and repairman Jim Mouradian died on January 14, 2017, at the age of sixty-six. With his son Jon, Jim ran the largest guitar repair shop in the New England area. He was also an electric bass player and played for a long time in the R&B band, Ronnie Earle and the Broadcasters.

Jim was a masterful repairman who brought the same level of precision and care whether working on the instruments of famous professionals or beginning guitarists. He was probably the most happy and content guy I have ever met. He expressed gratitude daily that he got to do work that he loved for a living, and that he got to work beside his son. His list of clients and list of dear friends were one and the same. He was generous to a fault, particularly with his time. I met him before I had any connection with lutherie. I had brought him a cheap electric bass in need of a part. We talked for a long time — about the bass, people we knew in common, and about hot rods (Jim was an avid fan of muscle cars from the 1960s). Then he rummaged around in a parts box, pulled out the part needed to fix my bass, handed it to me, made sure I understood that he was confident that I could do the repair myself, and sent me on my way, no charge. His death brought forward dozens of similar stories of his generosity. His rates were more than reasonable and he regularly lowered them substantially for folks with limited ability to pay.

Photo courtesy of Jon Mouradian

In addition to repair work, Jim built a couple of different lines of solidbody electric basses. He got into lutherie in what he has described as “backwards.” His very first lutherie project was a custom electric bass for Chris Squire of the band Yes. This instrument is played in the band’s Owner of a Lonely Heart video.

I personally owe Jim a great debt of gratitude for having gotten me started in lutherie. From his initial suggestion that I build an instrument, through his continued advice and guidance and encouragement, he gave me a focus and a purpose at a time of great need in my life. I miss him terribly.