Portsmouth music scene

The Portsmouth Music Scene

Strings Guitar Centre

How it all started...

Albert Road


Elm Grove


The new shop is OPEN!


The Partners, Jon Hunniset and Phil Bailey



SOUNDS GOOD —- Jon Hunnisett oi Strings presents Sgt Jan Zawada and other members of the Royal Marines dance bend with a new sound system. Firm in tune with system for band A SOUTHSEA company has secured a contract to supply a sound system worth more than £4,000 to the Royal Marines Band at Eastney. The band. which provides musicians for the Royal Yacht Britannia needed the equipment for various internal functions ranging from dinner dances to the Royal Tournament. Stings Guitar Centre of Elm Grove. Southsea, was happy to oblige, fighting off competition from companies in London Southampton and Kent.


Strings guitar Centre in Albert Road was opened in late 1978 by Jon Hunnisett who offered repair, service and sales of stringed instruments and accessories from mandolins to banjos to guitars, lutes and harps. Jon had done a 3 year apprenticeship in stringed instrument repair/restoration in the early 70's at Heathershaws music shop in Worthing. He then went on to work for Fender guitars and ended up as European Service manager for Fender Guitars and Rhodes pianos. Strings regularly offered guitars as prizes in The News music pages.

Legendary British Guitar maker Jim Burns, above, visited early in 1980 and did the official opening and signed copies of his book. Phil Bailey had run Ryde Guitar centre on the Isle of Wight for several years and he had seen a couple of repairs that Jon had done for his customers and was duly impressed. He came over to visit and they got on really well and ended up being business partners for over 30 years. They brought larger premises at 175 Elm Grove Southsea, below and moved in November 1986. Reflex records subsequently took over the Albert Road shop.

Strings philosophy was to support and educate musicians and regularly organised free technical clinics, Albert lee, below with some Strings guitar customers at a Music Man Guitar Clinic. In addition to the retail and repairs, PA hire really took off after moving to Elm Grove and Strings PA hire was really popular and grew to be a major part of the business. They Sponsored the Battle of the Bands and supplied the equipment for the Finals in Portsmouth Guildhall compared by Jonathan Ross in 1990.

Other shows included all of the Gosport festivals in the Big Top in Walpole Park with Bob Geldof, Roger Taylor of Queen and BB King at the Ritz Cinema Gosport

Strings won the Aria Guitar award in 1988, Phil & Jon won The News’s Business Award in 1992.

The skills learnt during the mobile hire were put to good use providing fixed installations to schools and churches. While Phil kept the shops and PA hire running, Jon expanded the permanent installations and from around 1995 they called the installation side of the company Sound Advice Ltd and ran it from offices in Fareham. Major permanent installations included Ryde Arena, Pyramid Centre, Southampton Airport, Portsmouth Guildhall, several hundred schools, colleges and churches and the complete site wide PA system in the Naval Dockyard.

Barry (Ex Telecoms / Nevada) brought the Strings Elm Grove retail shop in 1993 and traded as Street Level and is still running now from a shop in Albert Road. Phil and Jon ran Sound Advice PA installations Ltd from 1994 till their retirement in 2016 and the company was brought by VP Bastion in Andover and is still trading. More details about Sound Advice PA Installations Ltd can be seen here http://soundadvice-old.dev.wizbit.net/

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