Written by Jenna MacFarlane
Photography by Dan Austin
Vintage music allows us to tap into the sound of decades past. At Jimmy’s Vintage Music in downtown Auburndale, both worldwide stars and locals alike gain a deeper appreciation for the instruments that paved the way for music today.
“New isn’t always better.” This adage rings true in many seasons of life: our interpersonal relationships, consumption habits, and daily lifestyles can all benefit from the ideal that a good thing is worth holding onto.
When an item has been tested by time, we prize its quality, complexity, and craftsmanship. Age enhances its value; the years tell us stories about where something’s been. We recognize that old things are good things when we taste the complex flavors of aged wine and cheese, feel the comfort of a well-worn pair of jeans, and touch the soft surface of fine leather.
Since the 1970s, music enthusiasts have been fascinated by the value of vintage instruments. As most new products sold at chain stores are mass-produced, there is something to be said for the craftsmanship of old pieces — specifically, old guitars.
When it comes to musical instruments and accessories, “vintage” doesn’t always mean “antique” or “heirloom.” Sometimes, the word just represents a high-quality item made of good material. While it generally represents an item made before 1980, the term fluctuates.
Collectors want vintage guitars for a variety of reasons. High sound quality, comfortable weight, and superior hardware provide a sought-after instrument. Not to mention, street cred comes with having a beautiful instrument on the wall or in one’s playing rotation; the vintage guitar community is as loyal as it is tasteful and particular.
It takes dedication to understand and appreciate vintage music, let alone appraise it and sell it. James Boreson, owner of Jimmy’s Vintage Music in downtown Auburndale, has been honing the craft for decades.
Boreson started collecting guitars at 16 years old. His passion ignited when he started attending guitar shows and witnessing the complexity of the craft. In his words, vintage music transformed from a hobby to a passion. “Once I started [collecting guitars], I just wanted more and more.” He worked in the citrus industry for 36 years here in town while maintaining his hobby until he decided to open the store.
Boreson and his wife, Michelle, opened up Jimmy’s in 2014. Owning a shop wasn’t a lifelong dream but a solution to a problem: Boreson had too many guitars in his house and needed a space to store them.
At the time, big-box stores were taking over a lot of the industry. Boreson felt a sort of responsibility to change the narrative. “It wasn’t personal enough, that’s all. It was all just newer stuff coming in. I wanted items that were more vintage, stuff that had more pressure on them,” he says. “You know, stuff that’s been used a lot.” For a few years, he kept his day job while operating Jimmy’s. Now, it’s his full-time gig.
Many musicians prefer small, down-home guitar shops like Jimmy’s because they offer personalized service. Chain stores, while they sell a wide variety of new and unused instruments, often lack the attention and knowledge that music enthusiasts are looking for. Boreson doesn’t work too hard to bring in new items, but focuses on older, higher-quality guitars and amps that are difficult to find anywhere else.
The vintage industry doesn’t try to compete with chain stores. Vintage shops offer different services. They boast personalized attention and rare items, catering to a niche market. Boreson in particular is passionate about helping every guest find their unique instrument. He’s a matchmaker, of sorts: customers generally have some idea of what they’re looking for, but Boreson helps them find that perfect match.
There are a few ways Boreson collects inventory for the store. Sometimes he’ll camp out at guitar shows and pawn shops. Other times, musicians will come in to trade or sell their instruments. He welcomes trades — when customers know they’ve got something good, he wants to see it. Any customer can try before they buy, which helps Jimmy’s maintain an advantage over popular online shops like Reverb and eBay.
Boreson’s personal favorite item he has on-hand right now is a 1951 Telecaster. Fender’s first “working-man” guitar, the ’51 Telecaster is a unique instrument — there are only 250 around the world, and even then, it is an extremely difficult instrument to find in good condition. While Boreson is a man of few words, his eyes lit up at the mention of the Telecaster. His passion for vintage music is palpable.
When stars make tour stops in Tampa and Orlando, many seek out a vintage shop around town to browse and add to their collections. Chris Stapleton frequents Jimmy’s, and he returns every time he’s in the area.
Stapleton told Boreson that many shops in Nashville and other large cities don’t offer the reasonable prices and quality of service that Jimmy’s does. “I know that even a lot of stars don’t have a ton of money to spend,” says Boreson. “I keep my pricing realistic. I keep it realistic for everyone.”
Boreson’s expertise allows him to identify value and answer questions about any item that comes through the shop. Whether you’re just getting into vintage guitars or you’re a seasoned collector, you’ll find a top-notch selection at Jimmy’s — one trusted by musicians and music-lovers all over the country.
JIMMY’S VINTAGE MUSIC
108 Main Street
Auburndale, FL 33823