“Carlos Santana picked up an unplugged electric guitar I had here in the office and he played three notes.” Michael Krewitsky sits in what used to be the mixing studio at ProSound in Mission Valley, surrounded by boxes of crated gear; a walking cane is within reach. “And in just those three notes, on an unplugged electric guitar,” he says, “you knew it was Carlos Santana.”
Just then, singer/songwriter Joel Rafael pokes his head in the studio door. The look on Rafael’s face is pained. He has come to pay his respects. After 35 years as the go-to repair and professional supply shop for an astonishing number of touring musicians and recording studios, ProSound is closing. Rafael leaves, and Krewitsky and his wife Lynn return to the task of sorting through three decades of memories.
“Carl Evans — that big box right there? It has a memory moog I bought from him,” Carl Evans being the Crawford High School grad that founded Fattburger. Another Crawford grad who went on to fame with Whitney Houston and Eric Clapton was also a client: “Nathan East. We used to work on his equipment all the time.”
Krewitsky has likewise done business with rock stars such as Graham Nash, Jerry Garcia, JJ Cale, David Gates, and Jewel, to name a few. “I built her a home recording studio when she still lived in Rancho Santa Fe. A guy called from her record company. He said to give her whatever she wanted.” Krewitsky smiles. “She hired us to take it all apart when she moved to L.A.”
ProSound opened its doors in 1977 as Musician Repair Service on 54th Street in East San Diego. In 1991, the business was relocated to a large warehouse on Mission Gorge Place that Krewitsky purchased. “Slightly Stoopid’s practice studio is next door. They told me they took the space there because of us being here.”
In recent years Krewitsky sold the property with a lease-back option, the proceeds of which served as a float in tough times. “That’s what kept us alive,” he says, citing market pressures from big-box retailers like Guitar Center, the internet, and his own declining health. Last year, Krewitsky suffered a stroke that affected his ability to run the shop. He cut the operation in half but still couldn’t make it work. “I don’t have the energy to go out and do the big installations that were keeping us alive,” he says, recalling audio designs he and his team created for the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theatre and the new elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.
“We used to have 23 employees. Now we’re down to 5.” Krewitsky has a good idea of what he will be doing in the New Year. “I’m going to be a consultant. This whole electricity thing isn’t going away anytime soon. As long as musicians have to deal with it, I’ll be there. Otherwise,” he says, “I don’t know. It’s hard to swallow this whole going-out-of-business thing.”