Stan M. Jay, owner of the Mandolin Brothers musical instrument store on Staten Island, died on October 22 from Mantle cell lymphoma. He was 71.
The shop, which has been a pilgrimage destination for recording stars, collectors and other connoisseurs of the guitar, mandolin, banjo and ukulele, has been in business for more than 40 years.
Recently featured in our sister publication, Guitar Aficionado, Mandolin Brothers is known worldwide as a purveyor of and expert on vintage fretted instruments.
Widely acknowledged as one of the largest dealers in the world of vintage and new American fretted instruments, they have appraised the contents of the Martin Guitar museum for Martin five times, the estates of C. F. Martin III and Merle Travis, and the personal collection of George Fullerton. They are recommended by many local music stores around the country and by manufacturers, libraries, museums, magazines, search engines and newspaper columnists.
In business since 1971, Mandolin Brothers has serviced the needs of around 225,000 players and collectors of American fretted instruments all over the globe.
A recent note to Stan following the publishing of the Guitar Aficionado feature from artist Jay Jay French reads, “As you know, I have brought many friends to your store over the years. I've brought people form Australia, Bermuda, Europe, California, and Nashville. You have been wonderful and gracious every time whether they bought something out not. A true ambassador for the borough of Staten Island, the city of NY and the business of selling dreams in the shape of a guitar."
Stan was regarded as a valuable resource by a who’s who of acoustic players, and the walls of his office at Mandolin Brothers are papered with photos of him with musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Judy Collins, Lenny Kravitz, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and Crosby, Stills and Nash, as well as celebrity guitar connoisseurs like Conan O’Brien and the filmmaker Christopher Guest.
The shop is known for selling Bela Fleck his banjo and George Harrison several of his ukuleles.
Joni Mitchell at Mandolin Brothers
Mandolin Brothers is listed on The New York Music Trail — a map of the famous "Sites of Sound" established by the City of New York and The Host Committee for the Grammy Awards, as a destination for visitors. Included on the list with Mandolin Brothers are such institutions as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theatre and the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park.
Stanley Michael Jay was born in Newark on July 29, 1943, to Irving and Clara Jay. His mother was a homemaker. His father, a salesman, discouraged him from becoming a musician, and on his father’s advice he majored in English at Pennsylvania State University. After graduating in 1965, he pursued postgraduate studies in education and English at Wagner College on Staten Island and at Teachers College, Columbia University.
While teaching English and giving guitar lessons at the College of Staten Island, he and a friend, Harold Kuffner, started Mandolin Brothers in 1971. Mr. Jay bought his partner’s share in 1983 and ran the company with his wife and two children until illness forced him to stop work several months ago. Mrs. Jay said no decision had been made about the future of the store.
Selling an instrument, he once said, was more like arranging an adoption than making a cash transaction. At its best, he said, one’s purchase of an instrument (“the right one,” he liked to say) marked the beginning of a transformational long-term relationship.