Against the odds, the humble music store survives. Musicians and gear nerds alike are perpetually drawn to the musty aisles of guitar-crammed vintage stores or the perfectly lined, shiny synth racks of new gear outlets. Music stores are a love letter the past – or perhaps the future – the kind of place you go to easily pass the time.
If you wander down a little alley in Carlton called Markov Place, you might be surprised to discover one of Melbourne’s greatest music stores. It’s called Found Sound and it’s run by Lewis Boyes, a musician and retailer of over 15 years.
Wander down a small alley in Melbourne and you’ll find Found Sound, a haven of vintage guitars, amps, synths, and pretty much everything a musician could ever want.
A boutique shop which specialises in both new and second-hand instruments, Found Sound is located in what the store describes as the “music gear precinct of Carlton”.
“We specialise in vintage and rare guitars, amplifiers, synthesisers, and pro audio equipment,” Lewis tells me. “We also have the largest catalogue of Eurorack modules available in the country.”
Found Sound is a stone’s throw away from Music Swop Shop on Elgin Street – where Lewis worked on and off for 16 years – and across the road from Living Music Carlton. Whilst for some business owners that amount of competition would be daunting, for these guys, it’s a sanctuary modelled off the likes of London’s Denmark Street or Tokyo’s Ochanomizu. Each music store offers its own slightly different flavour, but there’s no doubt there’s something special about Found Sound.
“I think we complement each other and if we don’t have something in stock we’ll direct them to the other stores,” Lewis tells me, describing a camaraderie that seems increasingly rare these days.
I ask Lewis about the wildest piece of gear he owns, and the answer is two-fold. From his personal collection? “It would be my early ‘70s RA Moog Minimoog Model D, one of the first ten made!” The Minimoog D is known as the synthesizer that started it all. And by all, I mean the synth revolution. Before the Minimoog, only a handful of musicians owned synthesisers. After the Minimoog, rock and roll was changed forever, and the synth went down as one of the most famous in history.
As for the wildest piece of gear at Found Sound? “We have a super rare left-handed 1976 Travis Bean TB-1000A.” Much like the Minimoog, the Travis Bean was the first of its kind, using aluminium for a guitar neck, a trademark which became a go-to for Travis Bean-players around the world.
With a reputation of being one of Melbourne’s best music stores, I can imagine that Found Sound has seen its fair share of interesting visitors – be it famous artists, washed-up rock stars, or enthusiastic youngsters. The answer is yes – too many to mention. Although, most notably: “Dylan’s band once used our Dunny!”
Lewis tells me that owning a music store in this current day and age is “a healthy balance of enjoyment and terror” and I imagine there’s really no better way to put it. If it wasn’t hard enough with the reign of the digital age and the ever-looming retail apocalypse (prompting the closure of physical music store chains like Billy Hyde and Allans a few years back), the recent coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on small businesses.
At the end of the day, there’s a sparkle about music stores that keeps people coming back. Even as the state of the world ebbs and flows (who in the late ’80s could have predicted the vinyl resurgence some 20 years later?) there’s nothing like that feeling of holding something in your hands, especially – when it comes to vintage – knowing that it’s had a whole lifetime before it reached you. Every music store ever opened is most certainly built on a flicker of that kind of romanticism.
Speaking of romanticism, is there a piece of gear that Lewis has been searching for and never been able to find? “The dream is a Hammond Novachord!” he tells me. If you’re not familiar with the Hammond Novachord and its otherworldly sounds, it was the world’s first commercial polyphonic synthesiser. They were manufactured between 1939 and 1942, and only 1,069 were ever made.
As an owner of a Hammond Novachord, you’d sure be in good company, with the first one ever made gifted to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a birthday present in 1940. The remaining Novachords are mostly in North America (it’s estimated there are only about 200 left), with only one known to be in Australia. You never know, maybe one day it will make its way to Found Sound.
If you’re in Melbourne, be sure to visit Found Sound at 155 Elgin St, Via Markov Pl in Melbourne, or else visit their website to browse some gear online.