When Jay started First Line 17 years ago, his aim was simple - to bring products of quality and distinction to the UK music instruments industry. Since then, the business has expanded beyond the UK market to provide brands with a market solution across Europe. Today the main office remains in the UK, still serving retailers and artists in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we also have staff and associates based in Europe. This allows us to navigate through the challenges of the modern world when it comes to supply and logistics. Getting the gear to the people that want it isn’t as easy as it used to be, so we adapt and develop. Our 2022 European office is one way we are doing this.
First Line is more than just a distributor of great products; our experienced team work with suppliers to develop brand and product awareness.
Jay says: "I tell all our suppliers the same thing; we want to build their brand for the long-term. We want to still have a relationship with them for years to come. And the same is true with our dealers and customers too.
Commitment to quality
For us to distribute a brand, it has to offer something unique and different in the market. And it has to be great quality. We don’t ever take on a brand that's simply trying to compete on price. We want to see an edge, and we want to want the product ourselves. Not because it’s the cheapest, but because we WANT it!
Your MI partner
Partnering with great brands, solving problems and giving them a fresh perspective. Jay, Piers & Bob all have extensive experience in retail & distribution. It’s important that we understand the distinct challenges faced by different kinds of businesses and customers and look after them. We've all spent time on both sides of the shop counter.
We strive to be environmentally friendly in every part of the business and we put our money where our mouth is: recycling everything that comes through our doors (packaging, paper, plastic), committing to ‘zero to landfill’, using recycled packaging, staff car-sharing and encouraging our suppliers to avoid single-use plastic products too.
Meet the team
Jay has more than 30 years' experience in the music instrument business, starting in retail straight out of his BA (Hons) in Music. He was one of the partners who established the renown Mansons Guitar Shop in the UK, and in 2004 he set up First Line Distribution with his admin-whiz partner. What he doesn't know about guitars and guitar accessories can be written on one side of a plectrum! He has an encyclopaedic list of contacts in the business because in addition to a wealth of experience in MI sales, he also has the reputation of being reliable, a straight-shooter and all-round nice guy. If he says it's going to get done, then you can bet your '52 Tele it's going to get done. When not working, you can find him playing scales or walking the dogs.
Jennifer is an administration powerhouse with a background in music as well as people and financial management and more education than is generally considered useful or desirable. She is a founding Director of First Line and in the early days was the one paying the invoices, stuffing the boxes and counting the guitar strings while Jay was still distracted by retail. These days she is strictly back-office with a few other pursuits both within and outside of MI and within and outside of the UK. In her spare time she still sings (well) and plays acoustic guitar (less well).
Kelly is the indomitable UK Office Manager and joined First Line in 2018 when she was enticed away from the relative calm normality of the world outside the music instrument & accessories industry. Fuelled by coffee and Jaffa cakes, she is the face behind the emails and the steady hand that keeps the organisation organised. What Kelly knows about the music industry can be written on a plectrum - a large one, at least. But what she lacks in musical talent she more than makes up in netball skills.
First Line’s dynamic Sales Manager, Piers, is another music industry lifer who started out as a shop assistant. In 35 years in the business, he’s done everything from retail to management and even artist liaison for the biggest name in electric guitars. He is also a multi-instrumentalist and gigging guitarist, mostly touring the UK in Tina Live, but you will also have seen him on stage with Shane Ritchie, if you’re that way inclined. If you think he looks a bit familiar, it might be because he has a very particular set of skills. Skills he acquired over a very long career. He will look for you, he will find you and he will sell you some fine music gear.
Bob says: "Having narrowly evaded the demise of the dinosaurs and then sitting on the committee advising Noah to grow a beard, I eventually descended upon the music industry. A ‘60s tour of Germany, 70s and 80s pub rock, TV and soup in a basket, a night club residency and social club heaven (hell!) along with a side career in selling stuff led to my ultimate dream - the self proclaimed Presidency of the ‘Pink Shirt Thursday’ organisation which promotes, unashamedly, the wearing of a pink shirt on Thursdays." But we just prefer to say that Bob has as much experience as the rest of the team combined. He's also a 'bass owner'.
The newest member of the First Line team is Ellie. She is Kelly’s right hand and is the person who makes sure what's ordered ends up in the right box. She is also the one with the unenviable task of counting the plectrums, a job she claims to love doing. What spare time she has is spent trying to keep her 3 sons alive. And before you ask, no we didn't use a headshot from the next teenage girl group auditions.
Danny is the European Sales & Marketing Consultant, and if you don't know him, then you probably don't work in the MI industry. He's best described as a force of nature, and he seems to know everyone and everything in the industry. He has more than 25 years' experience playing, touring, recording, producing and directing. He's a session guitarist, a designer, a sales & marketing expert and online guitar teacher, and he plays guitar in the Queen musical, We Will Rock You. He's also a personal friend of the legend that is Brian May. Danny is clearly also the only one of the team who is a professional model.