Inside the final days of Bay State Vintage Guitars

A.J. screws on the neck of a guitar at his work bench in Bay State Vintage Guitars on November 22. Credit: Alastair Pike.


Studio 52 is a community artist space located in the heart of Allston, and is proud to support the Boston music scene and local artist community.



Aaron “A.J.” Jones doesn’t remember the first time he walked into Bay State Vintage Guitars. He remembers it was definitely before he “caught the rock and roll bug” in his teens and that he was too young to remember. Nearly 40 years ago, in 1981, his father, Craig, opened the shop at a tight enclave on the third floor of 295 Huntington Ave. in Boston as a guitar store — the vintage part came with time.

“The first time I got a thousand bucks for used Fender strat I thought the world had gone crazy,” Craig says.

It wasn’t until around 2008 that Craig tapped his son A.J. — as he is called by clients and friends — to take over the shop. A.J had helped his father throughout the years, but he said he always had other jobs until then.



Bit by bit and project by project, A.J. says he started picking up on his father’s trove of guitar knowledge: Restoring 50-year-old guitars that had been worn and torn to a basket case of an instrument; rebuilding 45-year-old amplifiers that had been modified to a ghost of what they once were. “It’s pretty great,” he says. “You get to see some really special, really special instruments come through.”

Business was booming.

But then the shop’s life got turned upside down: The long-time owner of the building, the New England Conservatory, sold the building to a private company in March 2016, according to emails NEC sent out to tenants. Late in October 2017, A.J. and Craig were among the building’s stores notified they had to move out by December 1 — a notice that had been looming for months. The new owner plans to build a condo, A.J. says.

“It’s like, OK, what are we supposed to do,” he adds. “There is not really anything comparable to what we have here available anywhere in the city.”



The guitar shop’s location atop the city’s Avenue of the Arts was prime. The New England Conservatory was across the street, in sight from the shop’s windows. The Berklee College of Music was a couple of blocks away. Symphony Hall at the end of the next block. The Boston University Theatre was across the street and halfway one block east.

Article continues after the gallery. All photos by Alastair Pike.

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A.J. poses for a portrait by his work bench in Bay State Vintage Guitars on November 22. Credit: Alastair Pike.
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