Digger: I suppose you have a
lot of interesting clients?
Len: Yes, thereís a massive
cross-section of people. You wouldnít believe it!
Digger: I suppose some of your
clients have those wonderful minimalist warehouses with plain
white walls and a Jukebox standing there in all its glory that
I've always wanted?
Len: Yes, Iíve been to places
like that. From the pop industry, for example, I have serviced Glenn Tipton
from Judas Priest's Jukebox Ė heís got one or two Jukeboxes.
Please tell us more about the Jukeboxes and repair services on
Len: I have
sold quite a few this month - we have Rock-Ola
Tempos, AMI's, Wurlitzers etc. all from the fifties.
Digger: Are they getting more
difficult to source?
Len: They are, yes. Normally
they're coming from America, but they are starting to get rare.
Digger: I suppose the Americans
are starting to get wise to the fact that even there theyíre
Len: Yes, and also there are
American restoration TV programmes so I think theyíre starting to
get more of an idea of what theyíre worth. So as a result theyíre less
likely to sell them over here.
Digger: Whatís your favourite
of the 'big four' - AMIí,s Rock-Olaís, Wurlitzers and Seeburg?
L: I would say the AMI.
Digger: The one I like the best
is the unorthodox one where the platter goes to collect the
disc and not the other way around.
Len: They will be from the
forties Ė I've got one or two of those. The record swings out
and the turntable comes up underneath it.
Digger: Were there any major
European manufacturers rather than American?
Len: There were one or two but
nobody special. There were companies like NSM in the early days
but none of them came to much compared to the Americans.
Digger: Why is vintage, retro and nostalgia such
a big thing in so many people's lives and why are Jukeboxes so
evocative of decades past?
Len: Well, Jukeboxes are things of beauty.
Digger: Yes, they are incredibly beautiful to
look at and tactile as well as being great to listen to.
Len: People still like to hear their music and
they collect it. People tend to stick with the music from
Digger: I suppose in that sense youíll have
people eventually wanting Jukes from the 80s and 90s?
Len: Itís quite likely because you can get CD
Digger: Hopefully that wonít be your and my
Len: No! And people still love their music on
vinyl. Itís a nicer sound from the Jukebox. The warmth of the
Digger: Yes, there is a warmth. Even that crackle is
Len: Yes, most Jukebox enthusiasts will say the
same. Even with all the great Hi-Fi systems and sound systems
that are available, nothing compares with a Jukebox.
Digger: The other thing that Iím noticing when Iím listening to MP3 files you can actually hear
detail, like the
band turning the music pages or putting their instruments
down, stuff that you were never supposed to hear. You get a
different experience with vinyl compared to digital that's for
sure. What advice would you give to somebody planning to
buy a Jukebox from you?
Len: I would say always buy a Jukebox that is
collectable. Because a lot of Jukeboxes arenít collectable.
Digger: So what happens if they fall in love
with one but itís not one that's going to accumulate in value?
Len: Thatís up to them but my advice would be
try to buy one from the forties, fifties or very early
Digger: Are they a good investment?
Len: Iíve found them to be a good investment.
Digger: I suppose at a time when youíre only
getting 0.5% in the bankÖ
Len: People can put a bit of money into buying a
Jukebox, enjoy their money with the music and having a
beautiful piece of furniture, or call it what you will, in the
house. And then when the time comes to sell if they want to
theyíll probably get their money back and more.
Digger: It transforms a house and when people
come in it is so attractive and people are drawn to it.
Len: It's always a talking point.
Where are your customers coming from,
are they young or old or are they from all points in between?
Len: All points in between.
Yes, and this month
Iíve had people in their
sixties and seventies.
Digger: Is that because theyíve
retired, theyíve got a little bit of money and they want to
treat themselves to a slice of their youth?
Len: Yes, thatís normally it. They
have some spare cash.
Digger: Good for them. What
customer feedback/comments do you get
about your service and the product?
Len: All positive and there are
very few people doing what I do, travelling around the country
Digger: How does that work? Do
you have to stay over in hotels? So you donít see your wife for a
day or two sometimes?
Len: No, I take her with me.
Digger: Thatís brilliant. What
you need is an Airstream trailer and tow that along so you
have somewhere retro to live in on the move. Look on my site
there are some people that do Airstreams on there.
Len: (Laughs) Is that right?
We'll do a three-day run down to the coast or wherever and I
do the repairs.
Digger: It sounds quite idyllic.
Len: Yes, it is.
Digger: Youíve got to the stage
where youíre taking on just enough work to keep it interesting
and ticking over.
Len: Yes, you see I can pick
and choose. I donít have to work, I just like doing it.
Digger: Thatís great. No
Len: Unfortunately not no. I
have spoken to people who I thought might be interested and
capable of taking it on. But they really have to live up to my
Digger: Thatís understandable
and you have a lifetimeís experience for them to catch up on.
Do you find that the youngsters donít have the technical
ability and aptitude that the previous generations had?
Len: Iíll tell you what puts
people off more. One thing might be that youíre hundreds of miles
from home and youíve got to fix it. The buck stops with you.
Digger: Thatís pressure.
Len: Yes, youíve got to be equipped
and youíve got to be prepared to sort it out and come away
with it being fixed. So a lot of people donít fancy that. They
might be prepared to have a go in a workshop but they don't
fancy going on site and doing it.
different manufactures built very different machines although
they all used similar types of components.
Len: Yes, I
have got a massive range and have accumulated a lot of parts
over the years.
you're a bit like an AA man when you go out on the road?
Len: Yes, I
What do you enjoy most about running Jukes of Stafford Len?
It's still always a challenge?
always a challenge even though I've been doing Jukeboxes for
all these years. Yet every week you'll come across something
that you haven't come across before.
is an ideal life you've got there Len.
Len: It is
an ideal life.
Meeting different people, working with something that you love
- it doesn't have to be stressful. Going around the country
and taking Mrs B with you. Can't be bad.
What are your other retro passions?
Len: I do
dabble a bit with the old mechanical one-armed bandits. The
same sort of things I enjoy about them - they're mechanical
and the ingenuity with which they were put together.
What about pinball machines?
Len: Not so
much. Although I operated pinball machines with my company -
hundreds of them all over the country at one time, so really I
just saw too much of them and they really don't hold the same
appeal to me. They also don't have the same nostalgic appeal
to other people. There are one or two who collect pinball
tables but it's not like Jukeboxes. They died almost overnight
- it was incredible when I was operating them and they'd all
be dozens of them in a line at a University and then suddenly,
over a two-year period, they just died.
What made that happen? Space Invaders?
don't know. Space Invaders were around but pinball had been
round a long time.
plans for the future then Len?
I'm 69 and I really don't know. All of my friends are retired
but in a way I feel like I retired fifteen years ago and what
I'm doing is like a working hobby.
Because you're in such demand for your skills and the product
- as long as you enjoy it.... How much would a typical machine
cost somebody to buy, by the way?
Len: If you
want something that's from the fifties then you've got to pay
over £5,000. There's a guy in London who sells the equivalent
for £8,000. A Jukebox I may sell for £8,500 he might well sell
for £12,500. And there is some big money out there still.
it's still very good value when you look at what it is, the
rarity and the amount of work that you're putting into them.
They're as good as new aren't they?
they are as good as new. But all original parts.
Thanks Len for letting us know all about Jukes of Stafford.
Jukes of Stafford - new or beautifully restored
sale, the only place to call
Jukeboxes are fast becoming the must have accessory for the
home. It is a centrepiece, conversation subject, and for many
a return to a mis-spent youth. Those of us that still remember
vinyl boxes in coffee shops, pubs, clubs and colleges yearn
for a piece of their past.
Unfortunately many jukes built in the 1950s and 60s have been
neglected over the years, and they tend to either shoved in
corners or garages gathering dust while the parts seize up.
The modern jukebox with its CDs and replaceable circuit boards
are easier to repair. The older ones however need that touch
That is where Jukes of Stafford are different. Our chief
engineer, Len Beddow, has worked with jukeboxes since the
early 1960s. What he doesn't know about retro jukes isn't
worth knowing. He prides himself on his knowledge, and has yet
to be beaten!!
In addition, we come to you. No matter where you are we do not
burden you with the task of getting the juke to our workshop,
you just need to be there to let us in!!
Our knowledge of jukeboxes also means we are the place to
call if you are looking to buy. With new or beautifully
restored boxes for sale, Jukes of Stafford is the only place
Jukes of Stafford