The store, which celebrates its 30th year in business in 2022 was founded by Hugh as a natural progression after he began selling custom-built guitars, and has become one of the UK’s best-loved retailers of guitars, amps, effects and accessories, as well as having a brilliant reputation for repairs and servicing.
Both the shop and Manson Guitars went on to become hugely successful, with customers including Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones - who Hugh has tech’d for for over 25 years - and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and many others placing orders for custom guitars.
However, both the shop and guitar brand’s best-known association is with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, who bought gear there before the band were signed. Once Muse’s advance for a record deal was secured, Bellamy placed his first order for a custom Manson guitar, and has played them almost exclusively ever since.
In 2019, when Hugh first announced his plans to retire, it began with the sale of the guitar-making business. Who better to become the major stakeholder than Bellamy himself? The brand has since moved to a new premises just outside of Exeter, and continues to go from strength-to-strength with an expanded output and new ranges including the latest affordable Meta MBM-2 series guitars.
The sale of the shop as a going concern will see Hugh Manson complete his journey into retirement. He tells DevonLive, “I'm well overdue to slow down a bit. It's very sad to be retiring because it has been my life for what seems like almost forever. I have been thinking about it for years and telling the staff was hard. I got quite emotional.
"Of course, I will continue on in my own way as a hobby. If I try to think of an analogy, it's like when you groom pets you don't stop looking after them. The same thing applies with guitars; I won't immediately stop.
"The shop is being sold as a profitable concern. I want to make sure the shop continues to provide a really good service locally, nationally and internationally. I also want to make sure the staff here have longevity as many of them have worked here for years."
"I am certainly not selling it because it's in any financial trouble. It's quite the opposite as business is extremely good. I'm hoping someone with enthusiasm and get up and go will take it on. It's a no brainer for someone interested in guitars.
"When they buy it they will be buying the name Mansons Guitar Shop Ltd. It would be ridiculous to sell it without the name which is known internationally."
Manson’s is situated within McCoy’s Arcade, a well-known destination off Exeter’s Fore Street. The shop is being sold including trade fixtures and fittings for £450,000, plus stock at valuation. Interested parties are invited to contact Ware Commercial.