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Stan Jay, Pioneer of Vintage Instrument Fame Fighting For His Life

By Bradley Klein for Mandolin Cafe
October 9, 2014 - 9:15 pm

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Stan Jay

Stan Jay

In mid-September we learned the heartbreaking news Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, New York had been hospitalized with lymphoma. As time has passed our thoughts have been with Stan and his family.

We asked Brooklyn based journalist Bradley Klein for his support in helping Stan's family share this news and it's with their blessing this article appears.

Those of you wishing to send messages of support can mail a card or letter to Stan via the Mandolin Brothers business address:

Mandolin Brothers
629 Forest Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10310

What follows is information from Brad's visit to Mandolin Brothers on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.

 — Scott Tichenor
     Mandolin Cafe

Stan Jay and Mandolin Brothers

Change is the one constant in life, something a home-grown philosopher like Stan Jay, founder, proprietor, and Copywriter in Chief of New York's Mandolin Brothers has grown used to over time. But now, Stan is hospitalized with a life threatening illness, and his absence is being felt in his own store, among his family, and throughout the eccentric international community that loves vintage musical instruments.

For many years there have been only three musical instrument shops in New York City of consistent interest to mandolin players. One is easy to find, Matt Umanov Guitars in the heart of the West Village since 1965. The other two are in obscure corners of the city. Retrofret (since 1983) is tucked away in an industrial corner of Brooklyn, and the legendary Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island for some 43 years.

Staten Island sits in the middle of New York Harbor — Brooklyn to the East and New Jersey to the West. You can drive from either, but the best way to arrive is via the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry from lower Manhattan passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I've been making the pilgrimage since the early 1980s, taking a bus from the Ferry or bringing my bike along.

Until recently not much had changed over the years. Visitors are greeted by the same innocuous looking stucco facade, no window display. The door opened directly into Stan Jay's office, and for years he was likely to drop what he was doing and welcome you to peruse an inventory of new and vintage instruments that numbered in the hundreds.

But Stan is currently hospitalized with a rare disease known as Mantle Cell Lymphoma. His two adult children, Eric and Alison are running the store with longtime bookkeeper Bonnie Cohen. Without its founder, the future of this shrine to the luthier's art is in doubt. Eric was minding the store when I visited.

"Economically, if it is feasible, we will keep the store open," he says. "We're still here, still in business, taking consignments, doing the best we can with the resources we have." But he adds the store has stopped ordering new inventory and sold off a significant percentage of stock of new and used instruments. "There are holes on the walls. Anyone who's been coming for many years can see that."

Eric Jay

Photo credit: Bradley Klein.

Eric Jay

And indeed, the inventory, which would be impressive for most shops of this kind, is visibly reduced; perhaps half of what would normally be on display in recent years. "I get a sense of the acoustic market gradually fading," he says, noting an aging population of baby boomers who make up an important part of their customer base, as well as competition from other dealers around the world. As for the rise of the internet, Eric considers the positives and negatives about equal for their family business. "The internet is a great equalizer as far as pricing, but if you have a world-class inventory it is not a negative effect in the long view. It gets us a lot of eyeballs."

The walls of the shop still boast some very fine instruments. The high-end inventory in the area actor and customer Christopher Guest calls "the grown-up room" still boasts over $100,000 of Martin flat tops, and that's just one wall. There's a threadbare sofa with wood trim said to be of Brazilian rosewood in the room since the 1970s. "That old couch has seen a lot of famous butts. I even took naps there as a kid in elementary school," he recalls.

He admits Stan leaves big shoes to fill in the day-to-day running of the shop, citing his legendary witty descriptions of instruments online and in the newsletter. There are other dealers who stock a good variety of mandolins, but there is only one who would write of a used Collings MT, "It sets a new standard for what is possible in the Syntopticon of eight-stringed singularities."

This singular wit now struggles for words in a Staten Island hospital not far from his home and work place. Beatrice, Stan's wife of over 35 years, and Eric's sister Alison are making medical decisions for him. "He lived for the shop. He didn't envision retiring. Awhile back he was asking, 'how did we do today?', but we're now at a point where if he knows my name it's a good thing."

As for the future of this Staten Island institution, Eric says, "It's up in the air, I guess. Maybe a new owner. Maybe... I don't know what." Rachel Cohen, Bonnie's daughter has worked at the shop for 9 years. She says, "I'm more worried about Stan than the company. The company is a fighter. But in a way he is Mandolin Brothers, the company, too."

Alison Jay may have defined in the simplest terms how most of us feel. "If Mandolin Brothers was a human body, Stan would be its heart."

Author Bradley Klein is a freelance journalist and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism. His production company Twangbox® makes audio and video content for radio, television and the web. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, many mandolins and guitars and a very special Vega cylinder-back mandobass named Tubby.

Additional information

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Reader Comments

Jim Garber
October 09, 2014 09:18 PM
Oh, man, what sad news! I was there a few months ago and was greeted cheerfully by Stan, etc. I bought by first Gibson from him and one the very first Flatiron A5s as well as a handful of other things.
TonyP
October 09, 2014 09:31 PM
I have no words, this is heartbreaking. I finally was able to make the pilgrimage to Mandolin Bros. in May while in NY for my sons wedding. I even got to meet Stan and Eric and talked to them both for quite a while.

My heart goes out to Stan and the whole family.
JEStanek
October 09, 2014 09:46 PM
This is sad on so many levels. All my hopes and prayers go to Stan's family, blood, and those at the store.

Jamie
John Soper
October 09, 2014 09:57 PM
Only one visit... but MANY hours spent combing through the wonderful descriptions of instruments that filled this store, first via catalogues and then online.

My thoughts are with all of the Jays and the Mandolin Brothers family.
MikeEdgerton
October 09, 2014 09:59 PM
I've made the pilgrimage to Mandolin Brothers a dozen times in the last 25 years and never failed to buy an instrument. Stan always treated me like an old friend from the first time I met him. A great man and a great institution. I pray that both will survive and prosper.
Lee Callicutt
October 09, 2014 10:09 PM
Stan, I had my first date with the lymphoma thing when I was 21. I'm 61 now. I'm not going to tell you that you can make it, because none of us can truly make it - I expect you know that, and I expect I'll have another final stare-down myself before it's over, and that's the way it is, but I wish you all the best for you and especially for your loved ones. Fight the good fight, brother.
stanwerbin
October 09, 2014 11:04 PM
This is very sad news to hear. From the outer fringes of the Big Apple, Stan Jay (and early on, his partner Hap Kuffner) created his own unique vision of the vintage fretted instruments store. Using humor with a strong dose of chutzpah, Mandolin Brothers established itself in the 1970's as the best known guitar store in the country.

Back in those days many vintage dealers did not know each other very well, and I would venture to say there was a certain amount of mistrust between them. As time went on and we got to know each other better, it became quite evident that we had a lot more in common than we would have thought. So we have had several decades now of friendly competition with kindred spirits.

I wish Stan, Bea, Eric, Alison, and the Mando Bros staff only the best in this very difficult time.
EdHanrahan
October 09, 2014 11:06 PM
Mike E., above, beat me to the words I was thinking: "Stan always treated me like an old friend..." SO true! I sure hope that better news awaits us.
bluegrasser78
October 10, 2014 02:37 AM
Really hope and pry Stan gets better! Very Nice guy. Met him at a fest at the old Gey fox in maybe 2000-2001.Just a super guy and tried real hard to work with me on a mando I wanted/Truly one of the last of a caring breed!!!!!!!!!!!
alisterhrae
October 10, 2014 02:48 AM
Incredibly sad news, my heartfelt sympathy goes out to Stan and his family. I only managed to make the pilgrimage twice, and on my second visit was taken for pizza at lunchtime. Stan lived guitars & mandolins, I honestly thought he would live forever.
Sitting on that couch picking an L5 one serial No down from Mother Maybelle's is a memory that will live with me for ever. My Dad died from the same blood disorder, so I can appreciate what the family are going through.
Much love from your friends in Scotland.
Francis J
October 10, 2014 04:12 AM
I'm so sad to hear this news. Some years ago, I purchased a Gibson TB3 Tenor Banjo from Stan. I was in Ireland, so I couldn't get my hands on it to try it out.
I had been assured by a friend of mine that if Stan said it was good, then that's PRECISELY what it would be. This was before WWW (11/11/1992)so I telephoned and had a brief, but informative conversation with Stan, after which we did the deal. My Banjo arrived after a week or so, and has served me well since that day, exactly what Mr. Jay had promised! A good man, who has served this community so well. I'm going to play a tune for him now.
John Kinn
October 10, 2014 05:51 AM
Very sad news! I visited in September, and noticed a reduction in inventory, and Stan's absence. All hopes and prayers for his recovery and return to bussiness!
verbs4us
October 10, 2014 05:55 AM
This is sad. So many stores are about the inventory; Mandolin Brothers is about the exprience of music. They don't sell, they help you buy.
Django Fret
October 10, 2014 07:02 AM
So sad to hear this news and will be saying prayers for Stan and his family.
F-2 Dave
October 10, 2014 07:14 AM
Hope you get better soon.
oldwave maker
October 10, 2014 08:13 AM
Sending healing energy to you and your family, Stan. You have brought great joy to this world thru your instrument description poetry:
"... a builder from Caballo, New Mexico where the Animas run wild on Rio de las Animas (as you know, this street name derives from Carl Jung's school of analytical psychology, and he said that the Anima and Animas are the two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the unconscious mind, as opposed to both the theriomorphic and inferior-function of the shadow archetypes.). Unlike the late Dr. Jung, this mandolin has an Engelmann spruce top, curly maple sides and neck, an absolutely incredible looking burled maple one-piece back which is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, you get pools and eddies, you get a festival of kaleidoscopic topography as last seen in the final 12 minutes of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition you get x-bracing...."
Randi Gormley
October 10, 2014 08:17 AM
Mandolin Brothers has been on my bucket list for decades. I always felt there was no rush to get over there, that some day, when things were quiet, my husband and I would take the ferry over and spend a couple hours playing around. After all, it's just an hour or so away, why hurry? This is devastating news.

Sending good thoughts and prayers to Stan and his family.
jazzfester
October 10, 2014 08:50 AM
What terrible news. Keep fighting, Stan.

A year ago, I did just as the author suggested--I took the Staten Island Ferry and the bus to Mandolin Brothers and was treated like an old friend. Stan was more than warm and welcoming. Eric sat with me for as long as I wanted in the "grown-ups' room" while I tried on every instrument that I saw from that couch.

The whole family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Philip Halcomb
October 10, 2014 09:23 AM
This is heartbreaking, I haven't been able to make it down there for the past few years so I had no idea. I wish Stan's family the best.
djeffcoat
October 10, 2014 09:56 AM
I have been a customer of Stan Jay since the mid 70s. He has provided me with lefty Martins, Flatirons, Gibsons and Dobros. Got my Monty GA from him nearly 30 years ago. I have done more business with him than any other dealer in the US. This is a heartbreaking situation. Stan IS Mandolin Bros and I offer prayers for Stan and his family.
olmmbill
October 10, 2014 10:11 AM
I am so sorry to learn of this. I've known Stan for more than 40 years, since the early days when he and Hap Kuffner were operating out of the second floor above a store on Bay Street. I hope and pray for his complete recovery. Bill Brisotti, Wyandanch, Long Island, NY
Jeff Mando
October 10, 2014 10:14 AM
I've never met the man, but feel I know him pretty well through his sense of humor shown in his catalog descriptions and his love of the field. My thoughts and prayers to Stan and his family.
sgrexa
October 10, 2014 10:24 AM
Wow, thoughts and prayers to Stan and family. This is indeed sad news.

Sean
bradlaird
October 10, 2014 10:49 AM
Great place! Great guy... Get well!
holly6028
October 10, 2014 11:57 AM
So very sad to learn. Always enjoyed seeing Stan on trips to Mandolin Bros. with Larry Maltz. Last time -- just last year -- went to pick up repaired ancient Gibson A, and Stan sold me on my now much treasured Lyon & Healy. Think of him fondly when I open the case ... .
Dennie King
October 10, 2014 01:26 PM
I am very sad to hear that Stan is so sick. I have bought several instruments from him. I still have the Flatiron A5 that he was so kind to pick out for me along with a note telling me how much punch it had compared to like models. He was more than kind and honest. I pray he can be helped and God will be with him and his family. Denise King
Marcus CA
October 10, 2014 10:52 PM
Visiting Mandolin Brothers was a high point of my trip to NYC nearly six years ago. A buddy of mine took me there and introduced me to Stan as his friend from California. Stan looked at me and said, "All the way from California? Then you'll have to play every instrument in the store. Go ahead."

We were there for over two hours. A couple of times, Stan checked in on me to make sure that I was having fun, making no sales pitch whatsoever. As we were about to leave, one of the repair guys who was holding a vintage Gibson F-4 stopped me and asked if I was the guy who had been playing lots of their mandolins. When I confessed that I was, he handed me the F-4, saying that he had just finished repairing it and setting it up, and that Stan had told him to see if I wanted to try it out.

MB is a very special store reflecting a very special guy.
greg_eye
October 11, 2014 07:47 AM
I first met Stan way back around 1976. I remember him as being a kind and wonderful man. I bought a 1929 Martin 00-18 Slotted 12 Fret Guitar from him, it was completely Outta' Sight ! I'm very, very sad to learn he is ill now. My heart goes out to him and his whole family. I pray for God's healing and his restoration to health. ~~~Greg Price
Ken Waltham
October 11, 2014 07:57 AM
This is truly sad news. I bought my first Loar F5 from Stan. The store, through Larry Wexer, worked with me to make it happen in a friendly and satisfying manner. Just a few months ago, Stan was never too busy to answer phone calls or reply to emails from me. Truly a real gentleman in the vintage world.
All the best for a full and speedy recovery.
Ken Waltham
Pete Jenner
October 11, 2014 12:39 PM
Terrible news. I met Stan about 11 months ago - good man.
BradKlein
October 11, 2014 01:11 PM
For as long as I can remember, the Mandolin Brothers catalogue would arrive with an historic photo on the front. And on the back, the staff of the shop would do their best to reproduce the tableau. This may be from the last paper catalogue to go out a few years back. (Newsletters have been mailed as recently as this year, but the full catalogue was replaced by the web.)

J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers on the front. That's Stan at the microphone on the back cover, and his son, Eric with banjo.

journeybear
October 11, 2014 01:25 PM
Sad news, indeed. I've never been to Mandolin Brothers, always heard nothing but good about the place, the instruments they have, and the people there, especially Stan. I've long enjoyed the vebiage in their description, which I believe came from Stan himself, another reason to appreciate him. I was just up that way for the first time in years, and thought about making the pilgrimage, but didn't. Not quite enough time on my hands (nor desire to brave NYC traffic in a rental car). Wish I had. And I wish him well.

The store is already immortalized in song. Joni Mitchell's "Sharon," Side 2 Track 1 of her album, "Hejira," opens with the line: "Went to Staten Island, Sharon, to buy myself a mandolin." I wonder which one she chose, and how much she plays it. :confused:
RichieK
October 11, 2014 03:00 PM
This is just very sad to hear. I bought my first really good mandolin from Stan in 1977. There just aren't many other special guys like him, and if you think there are, then 'Go Find Another One'! I wish him the best.
Steve Fundy
October 11, 2014 05:04 PM
I am so sorry to hear. I used to work at Mandolin Bros in the late 70's in the shop helping out with electric guitar pickup installs etc. Also years later I was Stan's Telephone System guy as well as installer of their 1st video surveillance equipment watching the shop floor..
I bought my 1979 Les Paul there back in the "Electric House" days & spent lots of time hanging out with the folks who worked there back in those days.I lived a few blocks away & remember when Mandolin Bros was actually "2 Brothers". I was glad to have such a great resource in my neighborhood, though unfortunately I could never afford anything hanging on the wall smile So Godspeed to you Stanley and the hope that you will recover from this illness and continue being the man behind the world's best string instrument shop!
Sincerely,
Steve Fundy
journeybear
October 12, 2014 03:05 AM
Answering my own question, from Joni Mitchell's website:

The following is a letter to the editor that appeared in the April 1997 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine
Q: I was listening the other day to Joni Mitchell's Hejira album, and I was struck by these lines in "Song for Sharon": "I went to Staten Island, Sharon / To buy myself a mandolin / And I saw the long white dress of love / On a store-front mannequin." Now, I've been listening to this album for years, but it just now occurred to me that these lyrics may refer to the Mandolin Brothers store in Staten Island. Is this the case? Did Joni Mitchell go buy a mandolin there sometime in the '70s? What did she buy? Am I crazy for even wondering about this stuff?
A: Stan Jay, president of Mandolin Brothers, would like to assure you that you are not crazy, and that he has been asked this question many times over the years. Joni Mitchell did indeed make a trip to his store on Staten Island in 1976, where she bought a Gibson K-4 mandocello, built around 1915. It is a large (guitar-sized) version of the Gibson F-4 mandolin and is tuned C G D A, one octave below a mandola. On the same trip, she also bought a circa 1915 Martin 000-28 herringbone guitar. It was during the ferry ride back to New York City from Staten Island that she began writing "Song for Sharon."

There's more about this at this blog.


[SIZE=1]Joni with her Gibson K-4 mandocello at Mandolin Brothers store[/SIZE]
Charles Johnson
October 12, 2014 11:45 AM
Very sad news. I learned a great deal about vintage instruments in the early days by pouring over Stan's paper list. He is one of the truely groundbreaking pioneers in vintage instruments. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
Sincerely,
Charles Johnson
MikeEdgerton
October 12, 2014 12:02 PM
The story of Joni Mitchell's Song for Sharon has been discussed a few times here. I was in Mandolin Bros the day they were packing a uke that George Harrison's wife had purchased as a birthday present for him. I actually was playing guitar with a guy I didn't know that turned out to be Leslie West. It was a magical place where you could play anything on the wall or in the cases.
trevor
October 12, 2014 01:59 PM
Stan was one of the inspirations for the starting of TAMCO and on my two visits (one before the TAMCO start) he was always most welcoming and very generous with his time. I remember in darker times for myself when his monthly website update was one of the things that made life worth living.

Hang in there Stan.
Charley wild
October 12, 2014 03:11 PM
I bought a Gibson Banjo from Stan not long after they opened. I ended up selling it back to him a couple years later. I talked with him on the phone a few tmes and he always had time to chat a while. My best to him and his family!
ianbarton
October 12, 2014 04:05 PM
Went in to visit the store a couple weeks ago on my day off and its a great store. I didn't know at the time that he was going through this at the time, and it was my first visit there, but there was definitely a sense that something was missing. Sad to learn this news and hope that I can meet Stan in the future.
Scott Tichenor
October 12, 2014 10:14 PM


Love to get our hands on the original image to color correct it a bit more. There was real color there. These originals taken from the web are almost as bad as black and white. This isn't that good, but it's better.

Sven the Impaler
October 13, 2014 03:46 AM
Stan is a good man.

20+ years ago an elderly lady contacted me wanting to sell her late husband's old D'Angelico archtop guitar. I helped her contact several well known vintage dealers who low balled the value.....except for Stan who said he thought he could get much more.

And he did (3-4 times more than the other vintage dealers).
journeybear
October 13, 2014 08:18 AM
Quote from Scott Tichenor:
Love to get our hands on the original image to color correct it a bit more.
End Quote

Thanks for doing that. I don't have PhotoShop on my laptop, and my desktop is not in tiptop condition.
Eliot Greenspan
October 13, 2014 08:21 AM
All my love and best to Stan, family and MB. A near full day there bounding from room to room, playing all sorts of mandos remains a highlight. Stan bringing out a few gems not on display and saying, "here try this..." was very special.
MikeEdgerton
October 13, 2014 09:59 AM
Quote from Scott Tichenor:

Love to get our hands on the original image to color correct it a bit more. There was real color there. These originals taken from the web are almost as bad as black and white. This isn't that good, but it's better.

End Quote

The original was probably a Polaroid or a 110 at best.
Bruce Conforth
October 13, 2014 04:11 PM
I'm so deeply saddened by this news. I started going to the Mandolin Brothers in 1975 when both Stan and Hap were running the place. It was always such an amazing thing to see so many remarkable instruments in one place. And you could take them off the wall and play them!!! Guitar heaven!!! That was pretty rare for those days, but Hap or Stan would sit down and talk to you about the instrument you were playing, or pick one up and play along. It was instrument nirvana. Over the years I bought numerous wonderful pieces from them, including what was my dream guitar: a 1928 Martin 000-45. Stan was always simply wonderful. Whether you were there in person or called him up he always had time to talk... Hell, he even would go get a guitar and play it over the phone for me so I could hear how it sounded. Regardless of what famous person shopped there Stan always made us little people feel just as important. My heart and prayers go our to Stan and his family. What a mensch!


BradKlein
October 13, 2014 06:59 PM
A news update from Alison Jay. We were heartened to hear that Stan was transferred to a nursing facility last Friday, but complications forced his return to the hospital, at least for now. Once those are addressed they hope Stan can leave the hospital again.

On a personal note, it's been gratifying to hear all the great Mandolin Brothers stories here and elsewhere and I'm sure that there are plenty of notes and well wishes in the mail to the store address. And I know this support is of value to Stan and his family.
CaRU
October 13, 2014 07:33 PM
I miss Stan Jay. I live a block and a half from Mandolin Bros. and used to stop in frequently and he was always there and helped me with whatever I needed..I really wish I had more information about how he is doing. He is in my prayers and I have put a prayer request in for Brooklyn Tabernacle who prays continuously for healing. I send God's Word to Him and pray for a miracle..Stan we miss you and love you!smile
Larry S Sherman
October 13, 2014 07:34 PM
"Love to get our hands on the original image to color correct it a bit more."

This looks like it's from the same session.

madsknude
October 14, 2014 06:05 AM
This is very sad news. My wife and I visited the shop last year in June as I was in NY for a conference, and I had been looking forward to visiting the shop for ages. The moment we were through the door, Stan greeted us welcome and made us feel right at home, never leaving our side while we where there. We were there for an hour or so, trying some mandolins (even some very fine ones that many shops would have kept away from the public) and also talking about mandolins. Stan filmed me playing a couple to put on his website, making me feel very honored. I hold that memory very close, as it was the most welcome and relaxed atmosphere I've ever felt in an instrument shop. I send my very best to Stan and to his his closest in these trying times.
Mads Hovgaard, Aarhus, Denmark.
journeybear
October 14, 2014 09:35 AM
Quote from Larry S Sherman: This looks like it's from the same session. End Quote

Yes, judging by the clothes and hat. She also bought a guitar that day, "a circa 1915 Martin 000-28 herringbone guitar." I can't tell if this is it.

I was surprised when I found a second photo from that visit. Seeing a third makes me even more curious.
Joe Mendel
October 14, 2014 09:29 PM
This is very sad. I haven't been there since the late 80s, but it's still fresh in my memory. I have bought instruments there and called just to ask questions, whom ever I spoke with at the store was always knowledgeable, helpful and as nice as could be. When I visited I was a bit intimidated going in, but Stan made me feel at home instantly. You are in my prayers Stan.
delsbrother
October 15, 2014 03:11 AM
Quote from Marcus CA: Visiting Mandolin Brothers was a high point of my trip to NYC nearly six years ago. A buddy of mine took me there and introduced me to Stan as his friend from California. Stan looked at me and said, "All the way from California? Then you'll have to play every instrument in the store. Go ahead."

We were there for over two hours. A couple of times, Stan checked in on me to make sure that I was having fun, making no sales pitch whatsoever. As we were about to leave, one of the repair guys who was holding a vintage Gibson F-4 stopped me and asked if I was the guy who had been playing lots of their mandolins. When I confessed that I was, he handed me the F-4, saying that he had just finished repairing it and setting it up, and that Stan had told him to see if I wanted to try it out.

MB is a very special store reflecting a very special guy. End Quote

I had exactly the same experience, also visiting from California, except instead of an F4, it was a D'Angelico: "You came all this way, you might as well play everything!" This was in the late '80s. I was no great player then (nor am I today) and I was only in my '20s. He knew the only thing I'd likely buy from him was a T-shirt (which I did). It says something about the man and the store that nothing about his attitude towards customer service changed in 20-odd years.
Darryl Wolfe
October 15, 2014 07:46 AM
Now is an appropriate time to post these
Bill Clements
October 15, 2014 09:57 AM
When I first considered playing the mandolin in 2009, I had no clue what kind of mandolin to buy, or whether I should buy new or used. I called Mandolin Bros. for advice and was surprised to have Stan answer the phone. He spent several minutes sharing his time and knowledge, never giving me the impression he was in a hurry--knowing that I was in Michigan and might never set foot in his store.
I found him to be a very nice man, and wish he and his family well.
Phil Sussman
October 16, 2014 05:27 AM
I'm sharing this note originally posted on Facebook, on behalf of my friend, Lou Russo, a Staten Island musician:

"About five years ago, Stan, Bea and Bonnie, hired me as Art Director at Mandolin Brothers Ltd. At that point, because of a troubled economy, my 30+ year career as a NYC agency Art Director was just about over. But HE SAVED the day! Mandolin Brothers resurrected both my ART & MUSIC careers, and introduced me to the SI music scene and creative community. Professionally HE and I just clicked! His sense of humor balanced by his respect for tradition, a love of history were similar to mine, and so he gave me complete creative freedom to design, illustrate and even write catchy slogans and headings, which were formerly his private domain. We performed together musically (along with my wife Terry) many times, and he was our special guest performer at my "Lou Russo and Friends" show at the ETG CAFE. I guess you know that Stan is an excellent lead guitarist, something that we both share, which also brought us together. Playing dueling leads together is almost like being 'army buddies". I heard about his cancer around the time I myself was going in for my own scary surgery. Since then we both often commiserated on our prospects going forward, and then just a short while ago it seems it all fell through for him... it's still too hard for me to believe!
NEEDLESS to say, I owe Stan Jay a lot, and I always will. We hope his doctors will find a miracle that will turn his condition around and bring him back to all of us here in Staten Island, where his presence is sorely missed. The prospect of our beloved island home without Stan Jay would be just inconceivable!- Lou Russo"

Note: Lou is not a member of the Mandolin Cafe.
AlanN
October 16, 2014 08:21 AM
Prayers for Stan's recovery and his family. He is a big part of my mandolin make-up.
Gene Summers
October 16, 2014 10:30 AM
From reading the comments above, I can tell that Stan Jay is an exceptional human being, who loves people, the music and the instruments that make the music. I've never had the privilege to meet Stan, but I feel like I know him already. Stan and Family, my prayers are with you.
bluegrasser78
October 16, 2014 11:41 PM
Terrible news that with some prayer may turn around for the better! It has happened. As someone like me that has serious health issues with pretty bad end prognosis one must always look up!!!!!!! Mr. Stans Family/friends/etc.. Be strong for him Stan is a real nice person , had the joy of meeting him in maybe 2000 or so at one of them there Grey Fox fests late at night hanging around the McCoury clan. Actually didn't put 2 and 2 together till a few days later on who I was talking with! Yep I'm kinda like Babe Ruth when it comes with names. Takes me a long time to remember names! "At least I don't call everyone KID!" We talked about Ronnies Gil. Also got the chance to do a deal with him kinda recently and it was a great price he was going to give me on a 1935 Gibson "RARE BLACK DOG" F-10 Mandolin. It sold before I could get the $$$ together. I think it was this past summer?, maybe June? Might've even went to the Dawg, It would of went great with my handfull of F-7's and the rarest of em all my 35 F-12! Whoever got her I'm oh so wah,wah, wahhhhhhhhhhhhh Message me if ya want to sell??????????
Cheryl Watson
October 20, 2014 10:48 AM
I hope that the doctors find some medical treatments that will help Stan feel better. Prayers to Stan and his family.
domradave
October 20, 2014 09:27 PM
The thing about Stan Jay is that when you meet him you know right away that this guy understands why you love the mandolin. When I bought a Flatiron mandola from him he gave me The Mandola Sampler by Niles, which was the best thing to do, as what to do with the mandola was a mystery to me.
I will always remember my visit to Mandolin Brothers and the kind gentle man I met.
George R. Lane
October 20, 2014 09:34 PM
I have never been to his store or met Mr. Jay but, I have been entertained by his colorful descriptions for many years. I hope that they can cure him and give him many more years to do what he loves most in life.
Scott Tichenor
October 22, 2014 12:44 PM
We are deeply saddened to learn that Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers has passed away. Just spoke to Rachel at Mandolin Brothers to confirm the news. On behalf of the Mandolin Cafe and our visitors we extend our sympathy to his family and friends.
journeybear
October 22, 2014 12:53 PM
So sad. Everlasting condolences. I'm sure everyone here feels the same way, in his or her own way.
trevor
October 22, 2014 12:56 PM
That's tragic, what a great loss. All my best to family and friends.
BradKlein
October 22, 2014 01:01 PM
It's truly the end of an era for NYC vintage instrument fans. Mandolin Bros - where I first saw a K-4 mandocello, and so many other fantastic instruments. And where I bought a fine oddball Gibson arch-top just a few years ago.
dchernack
October 22, 2014 01:07 PM
Rest in peace, Stan. Such a big heart was just lost by the mandolin community today.
MikeEdgerton
October 22, 2014 01:47 PM
Very sad news indeed, may he rest in peace.
jazzfester
October 22, 2014 02:29 PM
Stan,

Tonight's "Amazing Grace" goes out to you and your spirit. Such grace...such humility. You are the definition of a gentleman.

Thank you,
Leon

My heart goes out to the Jay family. I met Stan once and he made an extraordinary impression upon me. I can not imagine the depth of your loss.
John Kinn
October 22, 2014 03:02 PM
So sad. Condolences to his family. RIP.
jim simpson
October 22, 2014 03:24 PM
Sad for his family and friends. So glad I got to meet Stan and enjoy the generosity and kindness (and humor) that he was known for.
sgarrity
October 22, 2014 03:37 PM
A sad day for the music world. He was truly a legend. I only wish I'd made it to Staten Island to meet him. My sincere condolences to his friends and family. Rest in Peace Stan.
Pete Smith
October 22, 2014 03:40 PM
So sorry to hear this sad news. Stan and his family were so helpful whenever we visited Mandolin Bros. He made us feel welcome and special to be there. Our sincerest condolences to his Family.
grandcanyonminstrel
October 22, 2014 03:48 PM
Stan was an icon in the New York scene. I first met him back in the mid '80s when as a kid with a keen eye and a knack for pawnshop bartering he helped me turn my lawnmowing $$$ into sales and trades that allowed me to own some of the most iconic guitars of the last century. How many high school kids today own prewar Martins and mid 50s Stratocasters and a blonde dot neck 1960 es 335???? Thanx Stan.

He was THE guy in his trade, but his warmth, humor and wit were off the charts. I covet his writing in those old printed catalogs. Stan taught me to understand an original D'Angelico ( $750 back then!!!!!) and when either of us had a hard question, he would just pick up the phone and call Jimmy D'Aquisto. At a time when the other shops in town would not even make eye contact with you unless you were Eric Clapton or in the Ramones, Stan would sit you down on the couch in the shop and let you play anything you wanted. He ran the kind of shop that we all aspired to have one day. Rather than covet the great old instruments, he knew that as soon as you played one, you'd find a way to bring it home.

While a legend of the scene and one of our founding fathers has passed, he's now hanging out with Django and Bill and all of his other personal heroes, laughing, playing music, and waxing prose and beatiful stories in his own special way. Rest in peace Stan.

j.
http://condino.com
Glennly
October 22, 2014 03:51 PM
I just received an email stating that Mandolin Brothers will be closed the next couple of days in honor of Stan Jay's passing.

Rest in peace, Stan. I hope that wherever you are, you are surrounded by music.
Charley wild
October 22, 2014 04:10 PM
Rest in peace, Stan.
Aldo
October 22, 2014 04:23 PM
A truly magic man in the music business. I'll always cherish the opportunity to have obtained two mandolins from the greatest music store in the world. RIP Stan... Thanks for making us feel at home on our visits to Staten Island.....
TonyP
October 22, 2014 04:40 PM
If I only had Stan's way with words I could truly speak to how much Mandolin Brothers and Stan Jay meant to me.

Getting to go to the shop and actually meet Stan was the high point of a trip with many high points. I will always be glad that as we were making our retreat from NY I made the effort to stop and experience these icons. I don't know if Mandolin Bros. will continue. His son Eric impressed me and I hope he can make it work for all but Stan was the soul of the place.

To walk into a shop today and be asked if they can help you, just looking? Pick what you like..and know it was truly ok....wow. I would say it's from a bygone era, but I've been going into shops for 45yrs(!) and I can count on one hand how many places I've been into that were that way. They didn't have junk on the wall either. I got to pick mandolins that I'd long wondered about and never seen anywhere else.

Getting to talk to Stan and even got a pic of us together was some great stuff.

You will be missed for a long time Stan. RIP.
Rob Zamites
October 22, 2014 04:57 PM
Rest in Peace, Stan. Our community is lessened with your passing. Condolences and thoughts to the Jay family.
mrmando
October 22, 2014 05:39 PM
Adding my two cents. Never met Stan, but did have a couple of conversations. He was a consummate professional and a helpful, generous soul. One of my mandolins (which I bought long distance and never actually touched) hung on the wall at MB for four years or so after Stan accepted it for consignment and had his crew repair it. It just recently sold. I always hoped I could make the trip one day, thank Stan in person for his help, and get to play my D'Angelico ... but alas, this will have to do: Thanks to Stan and the whole MB family for all they've done on behalf of musicians everywhere. So sorry to see him go.
bruce.b
October 22, 2014 06:10 PM
RIP, stan. It's a sad day when a great man passes.
Jeff Hildreth
October 22, 2014 06:39 PM
An Icon in an Iconic store.

Very few people change the face of humanity, Stan was such a person.

RIP.
sblock
October 22, 2014 07:45 PM
His nonpareil catalog descriptions are forever burned in our collective subconscience. Stan Jay was the pre-eminent purveyor of the pinnacles of plectral pleasure to the playing proletariat!
Jim Garber
October 22, 2014 07:54 PM
RIP, Stan. We will miss you.
journeybear
October 22, 2014 08:27 PM
This day just get sadder ... :(

I'm sure his ascent to heaven will be accompanied by the sweet sound of vintage mandolins. smile smile smile
Bill Snyder
October 22, 2014 08:45 PM
http://www.meislohnsilviefh.com/obits/obituary.php?id=505276 HERE is the online obituary from the funeral home.
TheMandoKit
October 22, 2014 09:07 PM
So sad. Stan and Mandolin Brothers were an institution in both the vintage instrument world and music in general. I never made it to the shop or met him, although I was always an avid reader of his instrument descriptions, here and on the mandoweb.com site. Reading his prose did make me feel like I knew a bit about him, though. Condolences to the family, and rest in peace, Stan.
Traveling Tracks
October 22, 2014 10:05 PM
Very sorry to hear. My bi-annual trips to Mandolin Brothers are some of my most special times of the year. They always greet with a smile and I always thanked Stan for his fun catalogues and would enjoy perusing them until my next visit and next catalogue. Condolences to Eric who always helps me out and to the rest of the family. May you find some peace in knowing that you have touched the lives of many and there are many around the world who will be thinking of your family during this time of loss.
Bob Bass
October 22, 2014 11:32 PM
Stan clearly had a big heart and enjoyed putting 'dream" instruments into the hands of musicians.

Visiting Mandolin Brothers was on my list, but I haven't been back to the East Coast since 1966, so I never got to meet Stan or visit the store. Whenever musician friends were going to New York, though, I always wanted to know what they saw, heard and played at Mandolin Brothers.

It has only been since I got online a couple of years ago and joined the Cafe that I became aware of the real magnitude of Stan's and the store's effect on so very many musicians, including many of modest financial resources.

The world of us folks who appreciate all those "old" instruments has been sadly diminished. But there are innumerable musicians who will think good thoughts about Stan for years to come whenever they pick up and play an instrument that he put into their hands and care sometime along the way.

My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.


Bob Bass
Pete Jenner
October 23, 2014 02:45 AM
Very sorry to hear it.
Wesley
October 23, 2014 07:57 AM
Sad news. The few times I was in there he was exceedingly patient with my novice questions. Never condescending. I can only assume he treated everyone who walked through his doors the same way. A really classy individual.
Rush Burkhardt
October 23, 2014 11:11 AM
I met Stan twice; once to have him appraise my mandolin. He seemed kind and generous. I waited anxiously for, and devoured, his brochures. From this, I knew and will miss him!
Jim Abrams
October 23, 2014 12:55 PM
Buying instruments from Stan and Hap in the early days of the Mandolin Brothers defined my late teens. Living in NY, I would often take the ferry to SI and to the apartment where Stan and Hap had many fine instruments hanging on the walls. I bought and traded back mandolins, mandocellos, tenor banjos and mandolin-banjos. In the early 70s I bought a pristine, dead-mint Gibson A-4 snakehead mandolin from Stan and a year or so later sold it privately. Somehow Stan found out about the sale and called me at home to chide me about not selling the instrument back to him. He was good-natured about this small transgression in our relationship but at the same time I knew he was letting me know that he seriously cared about the instruments he sold. Not being offered right of first refusal was a betrayal and he let me know that.

In subsequent years I continued to buy instruments from Stan and the Mandolin Brothers, making the trek back to SI from points distant to NYC or purchasing sight-unseen over the phone. Stan was a charming man and a fine teacher in the world of musical acousticana. He introduced me to the many treasures found in wood and wire, as he did with many others. I can't think about my late teens and early twenties in NYC without seeing the Mandolin Brothers center stage in my memories. I've kept the polaroid photos that he wound send out after I called to express interest in an instrument. Stan was a monument in the acoustic instrument trade and he will be greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend.
JEStanek
October 23, 2014 03:01 PM
I never met Stan but, Mandolin Brothers is a bucket list trip for me. I'll miss his wonderful ad copy. His passing dims the light in the instrument world. All my thoughts and most sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Jamie
Brad Weiss
October 23, 2014 03:52 PM
I'm so lucky to have met Stan on my (very few) trips to SI. He did us all such a fine service, and with such style. He will be missed, but he made a difference, and that is worth celebrating.
Mrlevy
October 23, 2014 04:58 PM
I met Stan a few years ago on a trip to NYC. I took the long awaited pilgrimage on the ferry and then grabbed a cab who exactly where to take me. Upon entering I was greeted by Stan who immediately told me to try anything on the walls. After sitting with me while I tried a few mandolins he asked if I would like to see the 1924 Loars he had in the back. Of course I said yes. He brought out 2 and handed them over without hesitation. I have never before or since had such a wonderful experience in visiting any type of store. My heart felt condolences to his family and employees. He was a real mensch. RIP
Peter Mix
October 23, 2014 07:36 PM
I met Stan by phone in the early 70's when he and Hap were partners. I called him about a 1918 Gibson A1 I had acquired along with the 1918 Gibson catalog that was tucked in the case. I knew a little about the mandolin, but the catalog opened a window to a world that I didn't know existed. Mandolin orchestras were everywhere. Burlington,Vermont had 9 active mandolin orchestras in 1918. I was mesmerized and wanted to know more.

I heard about Stan and called him, looking for information and instruments. In those days, if you wanted a mandolin, there were very few places to go. I don't remember any of the specifics, but I do remember laughing through the entire conversation.

Over the years, I visited Stan and Bea at the store many times and saw them many more times over the years at NAMM shows representing Rigel and NewMAD. Mostly, I remember laughing through all of our conversations.

Stan was simply brilliant, a verbal gymnast of the highest order, a endless font of knowledge where vintage instruments and players were concerned and a very, very kind and sweet man.

I'll miss you, Stan.
Charles Johnson
October 25, 2014 10:59 PM
Rest in peace, Stan.
journeybear
October 26, 2014 01:25 AM
The number of these remembrances and the extent of their detail and depth of feeling in them make it clear what a great man Stan Jay was. I regret having passed within a short drive of Mandolin Brothers as many times as I have and never having taken the time to visit. Now it's too late. That's something I'll have to live with, and will surely remind myself of from time to time - and since I'm a take-the-time-to-smell-the-flowers kind of guy, it's going to wear on me just a bit more. If only the store were located in Manhattan, or even Brooklyn, an easy subway ride ... Oh well! :(
Jim Garber
October 27, 2014 08:16 PM
Obituary in today's online

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/nyregion/stan-m-jay-seller-of-musical-instruments-dies-at-71.html
Ed Rosney
October 27, 2014 10:06 PM
Thank you for the link Jim.

The final quote in the obituary is wonderful:
"If you play music, life somehow takes on a new meaning and a new color," he told the public radio station WNYC in 2012. "You become expressive in ways you never knew you could be. That is why we're here."
Jim Garber
October 28, 2014 12:53 PM
I appeared in today's NY Times. I guess they post things the day before online.
Scott Tichenor
May 20, 2015 01:11 PM
Stan Jay Way

click photo for enlarged version

choctaw61
May 20, 2015 02:48 PM
Lord I pray for mr. Stan and his family.Ask that u touch his body. Comfort and strengthen him his family,and friends including all here on the cafe.Amen.
BradKlein
May 20, 2015 07:35 PM
What a terrific and fitting tribute to Stan. Thanks for posting, Scott.
journeybear
May 20, 2015 10:43 PM
It took me a couple times looking at this to figure out what the white rectangle is. That's the cover over the sign being pulled off with a string - the moment after the unveiling. Very cool. As is the honor. smile
ilovemyF9
May 21, 2015 11:10 AM
Excellent photo, thank you for posting. Fantastic news! Stan was a great man; well deserved of the street naming.
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