Eastside Guitar Repair Celebrates 15 Years in Business

By Marshall Hammond

Ryan Lynn was 17 years old when he realized his calling. “A friend of mine, he had built a guitar, and I was blown away. It didn’t ever dawn on me that you could actually make one,” says the now 48-year-old owner of Eastside Guitar Repair.
This past fall will mark Lynn’s 15th year in business. He’s come a long way since arriving in Portland during the fall of 2000.
Lynn grew up in Western Michigan. A lifelong musician, he received his first instrument, a Casio keyboard, in second grade. In high school, his cousins recruited him to play guitar for their band, covering songs by The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan. But it was the idea of building guitars that really captivated Lynn; in 1998 he packed his belongings into a Volkswagen van and headed to Phoenix, Arizona to complete a five-month program at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery.
Lynn briefly returned to Michigan before heading to the west coast. He initially planned to use Portland as a jumping off point for exploring other cities like Seattle or San Francisco, but “things just lined up” when he arrived in the City of Roses.
Lynn soon got a job at The Music House on NE Glisan St. “It’s long gone but I would sit on the floor and set up guitars there for Earle Minor, the guy who owned that store.”
Shortly after that, Lynn landed his first guitar repair job in Portland. “I took a different way home one day, and I went by this store called Trade Up Music on 47th and Division, and they had been open for about a month,” says Lynn. “I was new in town and I said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for work.’ And now one of my really good friends, Scott Demay, one of the owners, he didn’t even know who I was and he sent me off with about 10 guitars. He kind of just put his blind trust in me and eventually I started contracting out of Trade Up Music.”
Lynn continued working for Trade Up Music for several more years. He also found work as a guitar tech for some well-known bands such as The Lumineers, Metric, M. Ward and Portland’s The Decemberists. Having firmly enmeshed himself in Portland’s music scene, and having built up a reputation and a loyal clientele for his guitar repair work, Lynn decided to strike out on his own, founding Eastside Guitar Repair in 2008. The store moved to its location on SE 34th Ave. and SE Hawthorne Blvd. in 2011.
Over the years Lynn has repaired the guitars of luminaries such as Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Modest Mouse, famous producer and musician Steve Albini of Shellac, legendary guitar shredder Paul Gilbert and local hero Stephen Malkmus of Pavement.
“It’s interesting to work on guitars that are on albums that you’ve heard. And there’s nothing really that special about them, they’re just tools in the end, but it’s a little bit of rock history,” says Lynn. “It’s great to see these guys go out on the road and use their guitars, what’s really enjoyable is if I work on somebody’s guitar and then I go to their show and they’re using that guitar.”
Some of Lynn’s favorite moments didn’t involve the famous guitars of famous people. “I get kind of difficult vintage guitars, like old vintage Martins, that need neck resets and a lot of work like pickguard reglues, replica bridges, just kind of resurrecting the guitar from the ashes to make it play again. That’s really rewarding as well,” says Lynn. “These are people’s babies, you know? And I’ve literally had people cry when they pick up their instrument and they can’t even tell that it was ever broken..”
Business has been going well for Lynn. He has hired two guitar techs to work with him, Jesse Antonick in late 2022 and Jacob Price in the fall of 2023. Lynn also shares space with former Old Town Music manager Hank Failing, who runs his instrument retail business, Hank’s Music Exchange, out of the front of the shop.
For the last year Lynn has been playing bass in Portland’s premier spaghetti western band, Federale, which has also been keeping him very busy.
In the years ahead Lynn hopes to turn over more of his shop’s daily operations to his staff so that he can get back into building guitars.
“I just want to thank Portland for supporting my business for 15 years,” says Lynn. “I wouldn’t be here right now without the musicians in town entrusting me with their instruments, and I really appreciate that.”

Eastside Guitar Repair
3341 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

Ryan Lynn, owner of Eastside Guitar Repair. Photo by Marshall Hammond.

Eastside Guitar Repair Celebrates 15 Years in Business

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