LAMBERTI BROS COMPANY HISTORY
Lamberti Bros was officially founded in 1946 by Frank Lamberti and his brother Tony.
Frank was a qualified radio technician who started work as a teenager on the assembly line at Astor Radio in South Melbourne. He worked there for almost 10 years and eventually became a factory foreman. At night he studied radio technology at RMIT in Melbourne and during the day he worked at Astor Radio. His true passion was the technology behind radio and television and his taste in music didn’t extend past the likes of Al Martino, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Tony was a carpenter with a love of music particularly opera and classical music. He played a few musical instruments and enjoyed working the machines in our woodworking factory. He designed his own machine to put the tang on fret wire while an engineer employed by Bill May of Maton Guitars struggled to do the same. Tony happily showed the engineer how to do it.
The two brothers combined their talents and formed a company that initially built and sold musical instruments through a small building in North Melbourne close to the Central Business District of Melbourne. In the coming years they expanded into importing and selling musical instruments, records, whitegoods and televisions. They also had their own music school and a record label named Melodiana to promote local Italian Artists.
Frank wanted to build his own line of valve amplifiers so they did that as well utilizing the knowledge he gained earlier. The company also made radiograms combining a television, radio and record player.
In the late 50’s they built a brand new store and warehouse in the same area which was now bustling with Italian migrants. Those migrants on a Saturday morning would queue for 3-4 blocks to buy Italian records. Everyone worked behind metres of counters selling records……..my mother and aunties included. Frank’s son Joe who works in the business today, “Dad used to tell us they made so much money on a Saturday morning that it filled several sacks. Their sales of records, televisions and whitegoods outstripped those of musical instruments. Many of their customers came to the area to buy fruit and vegetables from the Queen Victoria Market. Italian market gardeners with stalls at the market always found something to buy too. The store had just about every musical product imaginable from a string for a ukelele to a concert timpani”.
Tony did most of overseas travel to trade fairs. He enjoyed going to the Frankfurt show, but he never visited either of the NAMM shows. He preferred the sounds and food of Europe than those of North America. Each of them managed different products. They worked together to produce a huge illustrated catalogue and Tony sweated over the printing machine on the top floor of our warehouse to produce it. The kids were often called in to pull pages from hundreds of wooden slots and collate them into a catalogue. Frank was the company’s financial controller and also managed matters such as international shipping and customs matters.
Not being a musician himself his main concerns were clean distortion free sound and durability. It has taken a while but those amps and other vintage Australian amps are now coveted by Australian musicians and collectors.
They were hand made in our own factory by a small team. When they had too many orders Frank would bring parts of them home to work on, like the bare cabinets. He would work away in his cluttered garage covering cabinets with hot glue which stunk to high heaven.
In the early 70’s they closed their factories due to increasing wages and focused on importing and distributing musical instruments from all over the globe. The doors to the amp workshop were shut and it was left full of vintage parts and vinyl and the last production run of about 100 amps. About 10 years ago we had one of dad’s original technicians restore and tweak the workings of those amps, adding new cabinets covered in the old vinyl and sold about half of them. The other half are still sitting in our warehouse.
They were pioneers in importing products from China before any of their competitors through complex trading companies owned by the Chinese government.
They established many of their own brands. Rex, Eston, Electa, Canora and Boston sourced from Italy, Japan and Taiwan. Over the years the company has distributed many famous lines including Fender (as Victorian distributor through Peter O’Laughlin), Epiphone (when the Strathpoulo brothers still owned it), Ibanez, Rogers, Ludwig, Pearl, Tama, Selmer and Dddarrio. There are others I have definitely forgotten but just as important.
Lambertis currently distribute Cort guitars, Electro Harmonix, Vandoren, Schertler, Katoh classical guitars, Anuenue ukuleles, Oakridge bluegrass instruments, Shubb, G7th, Suzuki, Thomastik, Jargar, Pirastro and Savarez strings. They have been dealing with some of these suppliers for 50 or more years.
In 1996, Frank passed away suddenly and about a year later his family bought Tony’s share and brother Vince and older sister Mary left established careers to help the family. In 1998 Lambertis closed its retail store and relocated to a new warehouse in West Melbourne to focus on distribution, where it remains today.