A1 Repairs
88 OXford Road

Originally in Charles Street (where the BBC is now) the shop moved to Oxford Street, near the Wimpey and under the railway bridge. 
Graham fixed the Dansette's in the back room.

Sadly, we have heard Graham has now passed away.


The A1 extension has been taken over by the Academy of Sound
(photo: S Bunyan)



A1 now carries ads not amps




"My brother and I ran a mobile disco in South Manchester and reguarly played The Bulls Head in Mottram Cheshire. It was the haunt of people like Penn the road manager of the Purple Gang who gave us a copy of Granny takes a Trip which I still have!
Many years later I came back to Macclesfield to launch a local radio station and discovered that the Purple Gang were still known in the area by many, along with the Macc boys (new on the block). Used to buy all our kit from A1 - a real aladdins cave of great stuff. We bought the Triumph amp and yes it sounded horrible and was unstable on long bits of cable (bell wire) also its lamps flickered when a bass note went thru it and the mono stereo switch had to be flicked reguarly to get the audio on.

It was our first real amp so took pride of place and eventually got teamed up with a WEM 100 from AI and some fantastic speakers by TVM of Manchester. We also got some Sound City 4 x 12 columns for a second disco. What happended to TVM ? Any photos? Still remember the smell of A1 a mixture of beer/cigarettes and Rexin cloth!"

Guy Morris

I know that your page is mostly dedicated to the '60s but this place is so important to the Manc music scene that with all due respect, I feel that it is due a slightly deeper investigation...

During the time I was there (early nineties to 2002) A1 was THE place to buy your gear from - a "proper" music shop staffed by musos (albeit with various stages of hangover), rather than today's obsession with "identikit" slat-walled musical chain-stores that look more like Dixons.

I used to spend my weekends as a kid just gazing at the rows of guitars and nipping off into those little side-rooms to play with the keyboards and toys that you could never afford! Fast forward 10 years,and I'm working there.

If you wandered round A1 during the week you were as likely to bump into the likes of Johnny Marr, Noel Gallagher, Barney Sumner, im Booth, Reni or even Gary Barlow as you were the next up-and-coming local wannabee.  The place was buzzing and I'll never forget my first Saturday afternoon working behind the counter-the place was utterly crazy,with competing guitarists trotting out the opening bars of Nirvana's "smells like teen spirit" at ridiculous volume levels...until Ann "pulled the plug" on them from the mains switch under the counter.

I had some great experiences at A1,and through working there I got to meet people,go to gigs,and see such crazy things that if you bring them up in conversation today people think you're either mad or telling fibs!

Alas-all good things must come to an end and as competition from the likes of the big chains increased, Ann and Graham found it increasingly difficult to compete and they eventually decided to retire and sold out to AOS, as in the picture shown.

That's when the "Mancunian soul" of the place died for me,and it was never the same afterwards.

AOS eventually sold out to Sound Control,who have since  folded. I just pray that that famous old piece of Mancunian music history is recognized as such and doesn't just turn into yet another faceless nightclub or restaurant.

ex A1 Hi-Tech guy

I worked at A1 from 1969-1972.

Graham and Ann employed me from school  - I was 16 and music mad and it was the job from heaven!

Bought my first Strat from them (money was deducted from my weekly wage!)

Got into some great gigs as a result of guitar/ amp repairs - Deep Purple, Climax Chicago Blues Band and more besides.

Made some great friends - Derek Whyment (Hollies roadie - sadly now gone), Les Poole, great session guitarist/electrician  - both worked there, in the workshop.

Current contributors to the site, John Blight, and Bob Elliott, are my closest friends from Chorlton, where we all lived at that time. We are digitally recording together, and still rocking!

Sad to hear about Graham going but we had some great times at the shop, and it's a period of my life I will never forget.

Garry "Gazzer" Lomax

I went into Spectrum Music in Whitefield on Saturday to buy some strings and met Les Poole, who I hadn't seen for 39 years!

His nephew Stephen owns the store and Les helps out 1 or 2 days a week.

We spent 2 hours catching up, and will now be keeping in touch more often. I didn't realise  but he played in the trio at the Golden Garter in the 70's.

He had gone onto the Beat website only 2 days earlier.

Gary "Gazzer" Lomax

As a continuation of my memory regarding AI I had the pleasure of returning to Manchester to do a job at The Palace Hotel Feb 09. While trying to find the load in parking for the the truck it suddenly dawned on me where I was and sure enough there was the old AI building now in closed sound control livery (I'm sure it was orange originally?)

I found it gave me a warm glow as it was this very store that supplied kit to us that started my whole career off to this day! How many years on I hate to recall but here I was driving past this now shut den of technical heaven where we bought WEM Triumph TVM and Sound City gear now with a van loaded with digital desks and line array PA, it was a sweet moment and almost a tribute in many ways having heard of Graham's passing.

I did not know him personally but probably had him do us a great deal all those years back.

Above is a picture (c 1973) of the Sound city 4 x 12 columns we purchased from AI in the 70s. They were actually immaculate save for a small tear in one grill cloth and 'kin heavy with no wheels. They sounded quite harsh if I recall (no horns) so we built some twin hf boxes to go on top (they were orange rexin what a great idea!) which did the trick,I wonder if the SC are still doing service its great to see the brand name is back Doh! these would now be collectors items!

Thanks G        RIP.

Guy Morris

A1 Repairs, in Charles Street, was an electronics repair shop originally.  The young chap who owned it modified a Leak pre-amp I bought off Jim Hollingworth for my new bass amp when Jim boughts his TVM top.

Graham Mellor acquired the premises in 1964ish and asked for a sign to be made "All Repairs Taken" but what came back was "A1 Repairs". I worked at the shop on Saturdays along with Martin Law who later emigrated to Canada.  Ann Mellor came in at the of each day to attend to the buisiness side of things. The shop prided itself with the service that, if an amp came in in the morning, it was fixed by closing time.  We took amps out of their cases and went through looking for dry-joints ready for Graham to complete the job and we used to repair Reslo mikes that needed new ribbons.

One day Martin was reassembling an AC30 and forgot what the red and blue wires were for and fitted a mains plug. Seconds later a pair of Celestion Blues went up in smoke with a big bang.  Graham said that they probably needed replacing anyway and added the cost to the bill!  At the end of each day Graham took all the coppers from the till and split the money between us then I was picked up by my group and off to a gig. I remember a dozen AC50 tops coming in for checking every time 'Sounds Incorporated' were in town.  Many local musicians came into the shop.  Lou Starr, 'Hairdresser to the Stars', was next door.

A few months ago I bumped into Tony Cooper, Ann's brother who worked at A1 in Wakefield Street, and he said that Ann still owns the later premises so A1 could re-open if the time was right.

Alan Jackson

As I recall Graham was originally one of the technical guys that worked for Barratts. I remember taking our Vox 30 amp head to him at the workshop on Charles Street for him to fit a treble booster. Probably this would be around late'63/early'64. I think he did the job as a foreigner. Great guy fondly remembered.

Pete Royle
The Vincents

Bought my first Strat there in 1972. Used to go downstairs, plug in, and pick away. At the time, I was a real novice and must have sounded awful but nobody complained. Haven't been there in donkey's years but next time I visit Manchester, I might pop in. 


I used to work there  repairing  equipment with a Polish guy called Bob and sometimes a chap called Len used to work there on a saturday.  Sold my  Fender Bass Precision there 1957 Oct 7 th  (fool).

Joe De Biase

Good lord, Polish Bob the amp guy! There's a real blast from the past. And don't forget Ady the guitar repair guy (who also worked at Music Exchange down the road briefly).

My abiding memory of A1 is having to squeeze past the shop counter to get to the near-vertical wooden stairs down to the damp basement filled with racks of Gibsons and Fenders ... one particular Les Paul finished in revolting glass blue, I don't think they ever sold that one ... Ann's voice screeching over the telecom saying "ANYONE IN THE WORKSHOP?" every 10 minutes ... Waiting for some nugget to finish on the Marshall so you could plug in and play some riffs on a guitar you had no intention of buying ...

Thinking back, that basement was a real fire hazard, there's no way Health and Safety would let that place open now. Back then it was just the greatest place in Manchester, possibly the world.

John Francis

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Comments (18)

Topic: A1 repairs
Johnnie Bentley says...
Message: A 1 was the first music shop i ever visited , it was then on Charles St, i remember this small shop window, yes Graham was the sales Guy and owner almost a one man business. with his wife Ann in support. It was either A1 or Mamelocks ... Read More
17th July 2014 8:02pm
Richard Henry says...
I grew up in Manchester and used to wag school in the early 80's when A1 Music Centre was without a doubt the best music shop in the whole of England. Years later I ended up working there for a number of years before leaving for a life on the ... Read More
9th September 2014 5:49pm
Malcolm Pereira says...
Hi.Richard. I remember Graham and Ann well. They had a white poodle!. Also Ady. Just seen an excellent article about you in The Vintage Guitar Bible 2015..bought a Schecter super rock pickup for my 1963 Gibson SG from A1. Ted Lee used to do repairs ... Read More
24th December 2014 12:27am
Fiona Beattie says...
Hi Malcolm, so lovely to hear you all reminiscing. Sam Li was my step-father and I'm currently writing his biography. I'd love to hear what you remember of him. There was a lovely tribute to him in the December 2014 issue of Guitar and Bass. ... Read More
5th March 2015 7:52am
Malcolm Pereira says...
Hi.Fiona. Sorry..just seen your reply. Hope that you will see this message. I remember your step father well. He refretted my Rickenbacker guitar and did an excellent job. He used to smoke Kensitas cigarettes. I think Peter Greens Les Paul was ... Read More
23rd February 2017 11:23am
Don John Maxwell says...
I was working the like of The Georgiian, Northern, Blighty's and many other clubs when I first discovered A1 Music. i was playing a Burns Six bass at the time and couldn't believe my luck when I walked in and found two Fender V1 Bass guitars ... Read More
14th December 2014 6:57pm
Paul Cunningham says...
1974-76. Travelled by train from Buxton just to look, smell and if I was very very brave take down a guitar and play it. Saved my money from my paper round, started a mini business selling kindling and did a bit of dodgy swapping a selling of other ... Read More
1st December 2015 12:28am
Ian Brown says...
Hi Paul great reading your story of A1.
I used to similar thing, Im from Macclesfield now in Vancouver Canada.
I bought a copy SG a Kasuga fitted demarzio pickups Great Guitar.
keep well.
12th May 2017 1:35pm
Mark Dunning says...
Bought my first Tele from A1. Took me a while to save up for it but while I was doing that, I'd sit downstairs and play away on various models. Great place and no pressure.
18th June 2016 8:51am
Tony Owens says...
Sadly I have to report the death of Ann Mellor who together with her late husband Graham owned and ran A1 Music on Oxford Road. Ann was always game for a laugh and a dynamic person all round. Starting from humble beginnings as "All ... Read More
3rd October 2016 10:49pm
Bob McDonough says...
It is with great sadness I have to inform you that Ann Mellor died last September at her villa home in Spain. My wife Angela and I were on holiday in November near Malaga and we tried e-mailing Ann but got no reply. We telephoned her at her villa ... Read More
12th January 2017 4:06am
Will Halligan says...
Back in the day I traded my Burns trisonic in for an old Gibson arch top and a Hofner Beatles bass - later went back and bought a Carlsbro bass stack. Funny how guitar players can remember their equipment 50 yrs later! A1 was the place to go and it ... Read More
1st April 2017 12:05am
stuart dunning (elsenham) says...
A1 music..WHAT A PLACE !! Still remember the 'vertical stairs' and damp alcoves..how the guitars survived down there I was never sure. Spent time in seventies and eighties there, trying stuff out in the alternate reality of 'the ... Read More
2nd September 2017 9:09pm
will falkiner says...
Hi all, what a great site full of memories and info ! I basically grew up in A1 [new wakefield st] but that's another story... anyway, I've got one of Ady Edelston's guitars, built for my father in the late 80's - is there anywhere ... Read More
29th September 2017 1:38am
Madison McLellan (Manchester) says...
Hello one and all! Wow! This was truely an incredible thread to read. Ann and Graham were my aunt and uncle and it saddens me that they both have passed (auntie Ann passing September most recently in sept 2016) This makes me smile to read all of ... Read More
25th January 2018 11:02pm
joe de biase (italy) says...
yes it was a fire hazard... did all my experiments there....capacitors uset to blow up like rockets...great guy...tought me a lot...
19th February 2018 2:20am
joe de biase (italy) says...
yep remember when she uset to call on the intercom,,work shop theres a now now amp coming down...Mad
19th February 2018 2:53am
joe de biase (italy) says...
remember now the guy who worked on staurdays name was les..he uset to work for some company involved in answering machines..
19th February 2018 3:01am

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