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The Jukebox Shop - UK supplier of original and new Jukeboxes


Digger talks to Stuart at The Jukebox Shop. Jukeboxes are a huge part of our musical heritage and popular culture. Stuart's experience and expertise in the field is unsurpassed and here, amongst other things, we find out about the history of Jukeboxes and what are the reasons for the continued success of The Jukebox Shop.





Stuart: Hello. Jukebox Sales.

Digger: Hello Stuart.

Stuart: Hello David.

Digger: How are you?

Stuart: Iím alright, how are you?

Digger: Great thanks. Can I ask you about your background and how The Jukebox Shop started?

Stuart: The Jukebox Shop is a family business, my father started it and has been involved with jukeboxes for the past 45 years so I grew up with jukeboxes.

Digger: Youíve inherited the bug have you?

Stuart: Yes, in a way. My father used to be one of the original operators of anything coin operated in pubs and clubs in the sixties and seventies.

Digger: That sounds interesting Ė I bet he had a few stories to tell.

Stuart: Oh God yes. He started out with a company called Ditchburn Ltd from Lytham in Lancashire who were the UK Wurlitzer importers and distributors in the fifties and sixties. So he started there, then started up on his own and from my earliest age and earliest memory I can remember jukeboxes and arcade machines being in and around the house, working with dad fixing them or just going out emptying the five and ten pence coins from them.

Digger: Did they get vandalised much in those days?

Stuart: Oh yes.

Digger: They did? Itís not a new phenomenon then?

Stuart: Oh no. People think itís a new thing but they were always getting broken into and turned upside down.

Digger: I can remember, between you and me, we knew a way to get money out of the old Ďpress button A, press button Bí phone boxes Ė I suppose a lot of kids did.

Stuart: Yes. Everyone knows a trick.

Digger: The phone box cash used to get us the leftovers at the fish and chip shop. Itís like a different world isnít it? (Both laugh) The days when we used to play on the streets and literally youíd be out from first light until sunset and your parents wouldnít worry about you.

Stuart: You could ride your pushbike to school without fear of being knocked off by some great wagon.

Digger: Why is vintage and retro, particularly in the form of jukeboxes, so popular?

Stuart: I think itís because people can see and feel the quality and value in the workmanship with everything that The Jukebox Shop deals with.

Digger: And when you say they can see, they can also see things working canít they?

Stuart: Exactly. Itís a very tactile thing. Whenever someone comes into the shop I say youíre looking at the aesthetic value and the financial value. Those are the only two things you really need to consider Ė if you can afford it and you like what you see then you should buy it.

Digger: And, I suppose, if you like what you hear, although I suppose sound quality isnít really an issue?

Stuart: It isnít an issue with our restored machines because they all sound equally as good. So people donít normally donít need to make the choice of "Oh, that one doesnít sound as good as this." Overall I think people like jukeboxes and associated memorabilia because it harks back to a time when we built things to last.

Digger: Yes, we did didnít we?

Stuart: Yes, this is why theyíre still here and why we can still restore them. It brings back memories for a lot of people of a youthful age where anything was possible, everyone had a job and you could go down the local coffee bar and put your money in the machine and dance the night away without having to go out and get drunk. Everything was immediate and it was there for you to touch. We find with the younger generation who donít remember vinyl jukeboxes, itís CDs and MP3s and iPods to them, they are still fascinated by an era when people could play these things in pubs and clubs. And in a way a lot of our customers that are in the younger generation would like to see these kinds of things back. Theyíd like to be able to live in that time when they could go to a local corner cafť and play a juke box and listen to some music. Instead of having five different people at five different tables with different Walkmans or phones playing different music and not interacting with each other.

Digger: And not talking because theyíre communicating over Facebook or Twitter.

Stuart: Exactly. These things that we sell do create a community spirit and a presence and itís almost like a meeting place for people, whether itís a jukebox or an arcade game or whether itís a Coke machine or diner furniture. It all brings in that community feel for things.

Digger: Itís nice that the youngsters are enjoying that sort of thing.

Stuart: It certainly is and it always amazes me every time someone comes in with their son or their daughter and itís the father that want to buy a jukebox, but the son or the daughter are loving everything about it and getting really enthusiastic. I know they probably just like the idea of speeding £6,000 or £7,000, but it is good to see that they can still be excited by something as old as a 1950s jukebox.

Digger: I grew up in the sixties and that time we didnít have any radio Ė we got an hour of pop music a week from the BBC until Luxembourg and the Pirates came along. There was nothing for us so we had to go to places like that to listen to music.

Stuart: Indeed, not many people had record players at home in the fifties. You were lucky if you had a radiogram, you were quite rich, so you went out to listen to the music and it was a lot cheaper for the proprietor to have a jukebox in the corner than it was to hire a live band. So this is how people accessed their live entertainment, youíre right, and they had to go outside of their front door to do it. Whereas now you can sit on The Internet and you can listen to and play absolutely anything you want.



Digger: Instant gratification?

Stuart: Instant gratification.

Digger: Although, ironically, it seems the more choice weíve got the less choice weíve got, I think.

Stuart: I believe so and itís strange you should say that. I was having a conversation with somebody regarding The X Factor, which seems a bit of a sideline, but they said exactly the same thing. They said youíre destroying the choice that people have got because youíre telling them what they should be listening to instead of giving them the option.

Digger: Also I think the youth are being duped into thinking that celebrity is something to go for in itself and that you can get it straight away. In the old days they used to work for years and years before they got a hit. Thereís no apprenticeship or graft for it anymore.

Stuart: No there isnít and the cult of celebrity aspiration that all the youngsters have these days is just a false dream for millions of people but they donít realise that itís a false dream because itís pumped in to them all the time. It is available, and if youíre lucky enough, and can get under the noses of the right people, then youíll be fine.

Digger: What advice would you give to somebody looking to buy a jukebox?

Stuart: The first piece of advice would be to do plenty of research. Thereís a lot of choice when you consider there are four main manufacturers in The United States and each of those manufacturers were designing at least one new model each year from 1935 up until about 1988.

Digger: Did the Germans, Japanese and British not get involved in production at all?

Stuart: In the early days it was all the Americans who were doing it. We had offshoots in various parts of the world and Europe has its own small mix of companies Ė there was a German company called NSM that were producing in the fifties and obviously Wurlitzer. Although Rudolph Wurlitzer was a German immigrant into America he set up his factory in the mid 1800s just making trumpets and stuff like that, eventually the Wurlitzer factory opened another base in Germany which is where they are working now rather than America. They closed the American factory ten years later. But mainly what everyone yearns for now tends to be American. There are a few oddities from the European market like the Chantal Meteors that were made in Switzerland and the UK but most of it is American designed, American manufactured. Theyíre the ones that had the money and the lifestyle to be able to afford to manufacture and to have these things.

Digger: I remember, being born in í57, watching American film and TV and it was like a different planet. We were a hundred years behind them.

Stuart: Yes, we were in the dark ages.

Digger: Weíve caught up now.

Stuart: Yes.

Digger: But all teenage kids seemed to have cars, they were all going to college and had TVs in every room. It took until the mid to late 70s before we got anywhere near to that. I know Iím talking very materialistic here.

Stuart: Yes, outside of the things that we believe in, materialistically the Americans were always ahead. They probably are still now and if you have money in America you probably still have a better lifestyle with that money than you would here Ė you may not be as healthy or it may not be good for your soul, but they can have anything they want.

Digger: And they have the extremes over there.

Stuart: Indeed, poor is poor and rich is rich in America whereas over here we have a good welfare state system. But as far as what we sell, we are creating that idea of the American dream lifestyle for somebody, where anything was possible. If you get a jukebox and all the trimmings of your American lifestyle then you can create the scene for your American dream.



Digger: So do your researchÖ and get your money together.

Stuart: (Laughs) Get your money together. But more importantly probably than that, once youíve done your research itís like buying a car - you donít go and buy the first car you see. You test drive a few, you look around, you go and speak to a few people and get a feel for who youíre dealing with. People phone us all the time saying "I bought a jukebox and it doesnít work properly." Then we give them the bad news and they have to bring it here for us to fix. Whenever anyoneís doing their research and they come to us I say "Great, come and have a look at what we do. Come and have a look in the workshops, come and see a machine being restored, come and have a look and a listen to one thatís been fully restored and then go elsewhere because Iím happy for you to go wherever you want. If you can buy the same quality machine for the same price then buy it because it will be a bargain. If youíre willing to spend £500 or £1,000 less and get less work done then thatís your choice but understand that the machine may look really nice on the outside but it is only as good as the restoration work that is done on the inside. And that is all important because thatís the bit that will cost you a lot of money in the future."

Digger: How are you getting these parts because a lot of them just arenít made any more I presume?

Stuart: Some parts we make ourselves, a lot of dress parts and trim parts we will have manufactured or theyíre available as reproduction parts. We buy a lot of jukeboxes and anything thatís beyond repair we strip for spares and use the parts to rebuild the ones that are better. Ten or fifteen years ago you could go to America and get your pick of machines. Now itís getting harder to find them so youíre doing more restoration work than you used to have to because things arenít in as good condition. All the ones that were really nice have gone so weíre restoring ones that you couldnít just sell unrestored because no-one would know what to do with them. We also have to ensure that we buy enough to keep the ones that weíve sold going.

Digger: Youíve got two businesses really, havenít you? The repairs and the sales.

Stuart: Thatís right, without a doubt, and repairs and restorations is full steam ahead all of the time. To be honest, even if we closed the shop and stopped using the shop as a showroom the repairs and restorations would carry on with no problem at all.

Digger: What are the best sellers and what are the best investments?

Stuart: Okay. Probably nearly the same question because the best sellers are probably the more expensive machines which would be any of the mid-fifties Wurlitzerís. A 1700 from 1954 right up to the Wurlitzer 2100 from 1957.

Digger: My year!

Stuart: Thatís it. Those are the best selling Wurlitzerís and theyíre also the more expensive Wurlitzerís, anything from £8,000 up to £12,500 now. AMI, H and I and Continentals are always very popular. The mid-fifties Rock-Olaís are popular, but everybody really wants a Rock-Ola Tempo I, Tempo II, Regis or an Empress from the late fifties and early sixties. Youíll probably know the Rock-Ola Tempos from Jukebox Jury because they used a Tempo II on the start sequence of that programme Ė you see it putting a record on the turntable and playing it. Everyone recognises that one.

Digger: My favourite is the wacky one where the platter moves up and finds the disc rather than the other way around.

Stuart: That would be the 1015 or the 1100 Wurlitzer Simplex mechanism Ė thatís the 1940s machines. There was a time when weíd be saying that 1940s stuff is the one to buy and the collectable items Ė the ones that play the 78s. But because most people now want to listen to music that was on 45 not 78 obviously the 45 players are overtaking them in value. There are still your extremely collectable 78 players Ė the Wurlitzer 950 Gazelles are still worth £35,000 if you can find one. And probably the most expensive jukebox you could ever buy recently came up for auction: a Gable Kuro, apparently thereís only two of them in the world and it sold for $110,000 at auction.

Digger: Wow, and that will already be worth more.

Stuart: Yes, indeed, but any jukebox is increasing in value and the more desirable it is the larger the increase. All the models I mentioned are increasing in value more rapidly than the 70s and 80s ones although we are beginning to get a little bit more interest in the non-visual 1970s jukeboxes. I suppose it is because the generation that remembers them in the pubs have now got the money in their pocket to buy them and they want to listen to their heavy rock music and their punk music and reggae and Ska music and they donít want to listen to it on a 1950s Wurlitzer. They want to listen to it on a 1970s jukebox to suit the mood. I digress, if you want collectability then go for your mid-fifties Wurlitzerís and AMIís or your late fifties Rock-Olaís.

Digger: What sort of feedback are you getting from customers?

Stuart: Iíd like to say always good. The biggest cause of customer complaints is when weíve tried to repair a jukebox bought from somewhere else and theyíre having to spend a lot of money getting it to our standard. Thatís unfortunately a problem we come across quite a lot. Generally most of our customers come into the shop after buying and say "That is the best thing Iíve bought in a long time. We use it every day and itís brought so much pleasure to us and all of our friends and we should have done it years ago. Why did we waste all that money on brand new cars when we could have just bought a jukebox and kept it and it would have been increasing in value." Sometimes couples come in and one of them is unsure but once theyíve lived with a jukebox for a while they fall under itís spell also.

Digger: They look so lovely. I suppose there might be some places where they might look out of place?

Stuart: I had a conversation with a younger customer who has got one in a fancy warehouse apartment. Heís got this 1958 AMI I in the corner of the room and everything else is black and chrome with a TV on the wall, Corbusier sofas and all of that kind of high-end designer furniture. And then his jukebox is stuck there against a wooden floor and white walls but it works fantastically well because itís the focal point of the room. Definitely more striking than his 50" plasma TV on the wall.

Digger: I wish I had that warehouse! So what are the best aspects of running the business?

Stuart: Probably what weíve just mentioned, customer satisfaction. Itís always nice to hear peopleís comments about how much they love them. Itís also working with something that is probably going to last longer than I do and is going to give people years of pleasure. Oh and I love introducing new people to the idea of jukeboxes, yes thatís what I enjoy the most Ė talking to people about them and enthusing with them about what a jukebox is all about.

Digger: And youíre quite a rare breed now, arenít you? Because there arenít many people about who can do proper repairs these days when itís all modular and circuit boards to be replaced.

Stuart: Yes, we are. We are also a dying breed that try to sell something thatís going to last. Weíre not dealing with the throwaway last you for three years and then youíll want a new one culture. Weíre dealing with something that will probably be passed down to your children and it will end up as a an heirloom for everyone to enjoy.

Digger: Thank God that there are people who recognised that early enough.

Stuart: Thatís right. Although they wouldnít be so collectable if everybody had hung onto them rather than smashed up. Thank god there are just enough of them left.

Digger: Like with the red phone boxes? We nearly lost all of them.

Stuart: I know and one of my biggest regrets is not having the foresight to buy up a load of red phone boxes that a friend of mine at the GPO had in a depot. If only Iíd had the space to store them Ė the depot was close to us and they were pulling out the red ones and putting those horrible aluminium ones up. They were just sat there and the scrap man was just taking them away and melting them down. It was Sacrilege.

Digger: And that's apart from the financial value, they can go for £2,000 plus these days.

Stuart: I know a couple of people who have got them in their gardens and theyíre fantastic talking points. If there is a typically British item that could be shipped to America and sold then itís the red phone box or a red Routemaster bus. Thatís what everybody wants. If you could find forty telephone boxes youíd make a fortune in the States.

Digger: What are your plans for the future Stuart, talking about passing on to other generations?

Stuart: As far as Iím concerned I will carry on as long as I can Ė my wifeís daughter isnít particularly interested and I donít have any children myself so it won't stay within the family. But I donít expect to be retiring for the next 25years. I will carry on, hopefully we will be one of the survivors of the economic downturn. There have been a few jukebox shops that have closed down. I hope to be one of the last jukebox shops standing.

Digger: And so much the stronger for it.

Stuart: Yes, and I think thatís because we take a pride in what we do and that will show through at the end of the day. I can only see the business going from strength to strength really.

Digger: Fantastic Stuart. Thanks very much.





The Jukebox Shop - UK supplier of original and new Jukeboxes


The Jukebox Shop is the premier UK based Jukebox Company for original and new jukeboxes. With over 40 years experience, we are experts in Jukebox sales & restoration. We have been passionate about jukeboxes here at The Jukebox Shop for more years than we dare admit. With over 40 years experience as jukebox specialists and 20 years as restorers of classic American jukeboxes, we are sure to be able to answer all of your jukebox questions to ensure you make the right choice.
At The Jukebox Shop we know that you want a jukebox for playing and enjoying music, not just looking pretty in the corner. That is why we restore all our jukeboxes to the highest of standards. All machines are restored to original factory condition and specification where possible.

Customers can choose to retain any good original parts rather than replace with reproduction if they wish.

All this is possible because we are the restorers; we DO NOT buy in restored jukeboxes.

Please Call Us On 01384 424325 to book an appointment

For Service and Technical Help Workshop Opening Hours Are: Monday - Friday: 8.30 till 5

14 High Street, Lye,
West Midlands,
DY9 8JT.

Tel: 01384 424325

The Jukebox Shop





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