Give the gift of music.
It wasn’t just a painted sign once splashed across the facade of Janis Music Co., Manteca’s downtown music staple. It’s the family credo.
“That’s what we’re all about here,” said Inda Janis.
For more than 70 years, the Janis family has traveled the map, giving the gift of music to fans and store patrons coast to coast. Ed and Jeannette Janis founded the Janis Music Co. in Manteca in 1962, but they began sharing their passion for music in the 1940s as members of a big band in Massachusetts.
Ed was the leader and Jeannette the lead singer – and soon-to-be wife.
Following a stint in the military, the newlyweds moved west where they would eventually settle in Manteca. The Janises had three sons, the youngest of which was George Janis, who along with his wife Inda have maintained the traditions and virtues of Janis Music Co. to this day.
All three sons were musically inclined and played alongside their father with “The Continentals,” a band that would later be re-named the “California Colours.” Tim Janis played the guitar. Ed Janis Jr. played drums. And George played the keyboards.
For about 12 years, the Janis family operated two stores in the Central Valley, opening a Tracy location in 1980. In 1992, George Janis consolidated all of Janis Music Co.’s efforts into the Manteca location.
The full-service, one-stop shop along Yosemite Avenue features all that you’d hope to find in a music store. There are instruments galore, from acoustic and electric guitars to flutes and keyboards dangling from the ceiling, and a repair center at the rear.
George Janis masters in revitalizing stringed instruments and has clientele as far away as Sacramento and the Mother Lode. “People come all the way over here because they see his work and they can’t believe someone can put a neck back on a guitar and it works perfectly,” Inda said. “It’s nice to have some place to take your baby and get it restored.”
A lifetime of musical experience, coupled with an unwavering passion for arts, has helped the Janis family remain relevant in a growing local marketplace. Janis Music Co. isn’t the only music store in the area, to be sure, but for five decades now they’ve been the gold standard.
Perhaps their secret has been hiding in plain sight.
For a long while it was painted in bright yellow letters across the store’s window front: “Give the Gift of Music.” For more than seven decades, the Janis family has been doing just that.
And though the number of Janises still affiliated with the day-to-day operations of the music store has dwindled to three – Ed Sr. passed away in 1985 and brothers Tim and Ed Jr. changed careers – George and Inda have surrounded themselves with a pseudo-family.
Janis Music Co. features eight instructors, each with their own specialty and talent. Lessons begin at $25 per session.
“We don’t cater to the rock star. We cater to the children that are starting to learn music,” Inda said. “We rent acoustic guitars. We have a good teaching staff on board. And we’re all about teaching people to play and perform in public.”
There are five studios in the shop, a comfort to families with more than one budding musician. Those kinds of concessions and amenities, Inda said, have sustained a business that still features the same street address and phone number after 51 years.
“It’s funny how many second- and third-generation students we have in here; students whose parent originally learned how to play the guitar from Tim,” Inda said. “It’s really neat.”