Since studying at BIMM Manchester, Adam North has established himself as a highly regarded guitar tech within the city and throughout the Northwest. Having started out doing small fixes for friends at BIMM, he has since completed hundreds of repairs from beginners to professional musicians. Here, he explains his work life and reflects on how his studies at BIMM led to where he is today.
Building a brand
I started at BIMM Manchester with two main goals: To become a better guitar player and build a career fixing instruments. You can learn to be a good guitarist anywhere, but what BIMM offers is the opportunity to turn a talent or idea into a career option with help from tutors who are actively involved in the industry and are there to support your growth.
Music shops within the city centre and daily gigs at local venues provide a great backdrop for any musician’s ideas to thrive. During my studies, I had the pleasure of working at Johnny Roadhouse Music and Dawson’s in the heart of Manchester. I even had support from BIMM to help get those jobs.
Andrew Garfoot, one of the careers advisors, took the time to go through my CV and give me the best possible chance to get an interview in these places.
It was Music Business course leader Mike Hosker who introduced me to possible options for pursuing the idea, and a small business grant from BIMM helped fund the initial stages of turning the idea into a reality. The college also offered me the chance to work backstage at some of Manchester’s most recognisable venues as a guitar tech.
Through working as a tech at BIMM’s End Of Term gigs, plus the initial cash investment, I continued to grow the idea throughout my studies. During my Research Methods module, I was encouraged to speak to companies and artists to help grow my business. I began learning how to repair fretwork on guitars and looking into how to increase my standard of work. In my final year, I set up my own website and received over 100 repairs in just 6 months.
I have fixed instruments for BIMM’s tutors, who’ve shown confidence in my abilities and have actively involved themselves to support my aspirations where they can.
It may be just a guitar or two, but some of these instruments have a lot of value to the person and are used on tours all over Europe and the world. For them to trust me shows how supportive they are. I even re-fretted Head of Guitar, George Hutchison’s beloved 1980’s Strat (see above), which was just amazing knowing what he had done with that guitar.
As part of my project in third year, I put on a masterclass with D’addario Strings for the students of BIMM, all of whom got a free set of strings. This helped built up a great relationship between myself and D’addario and we are hoping to do many more events within BIMM in the future.
Your fellow students at BIMM are also crucial to your development and working with them can really push you forward. My name stuck thanks to a certain Simon Phillips on my course. He saw me and shouted, “It’s Adam North of Adam North Guitar Repairs”. It may seem minor, but this helped students recognise who I am and I’ve since fixed over 200 student guitars within BIMM Manchester in 3 years.
I have mentioned a couple of tutors in this post, but every single tutor who has taught or spoke to me at BIMM has had a huge influence on me. Likewise, with the students I had the pleasure of being in lessons with. BIMM is a college with a real musical community. I never thought I would be self-employed at 21 years old, doing what I love. But thanks to BIMM I have been successful and the business continues to grow.
Following on from my time at BIMM Manchester, I shall be studying a Master’s degree in Musical Industry Management and Promotion to build on my findings in the Professional Project Module and continuing to work alongside BIMM in helping students and staff maintain and get the best from their instruments.