Best Instrument Shop You've Ever Been to for...

Messages
165
1. Guitars
2. Amps
3. Effects
4. Anything else (different instrument or honorable mention)

What is the one instrument shop you've been to that blew you away more than any other for each of the above categories? And for clarity - I'm not talking about great customer service, or a really cool owner, or convenience of location. I'm talking purely about the inventory. It would be good to note the location as well for everyone else's benefit.

Just curious to see which shops out there really stand tall above the rest, and maybe we'll unearth some hidden gems here.

I'll start:

Guitars - Mandolin Bros. on Staten Island. Not only do they have a ton of amazing guitars, but their inventory, both new and used, is extremely well curated. They just have high-dollar vintage Fenders and Gibsons in such abundance that they're strewn about all over the place - each one a marvel. It's like being in a museum. Fantastic boutique acoustic guitar selection as well. And they'll let you play pretty much anything in the shop. Awesome.

Amps - Rudy's in Manhattan. They don't seem to carry any used stuff, but they're a goldmine for amazing boutique amps. Really, this is the one category that I don't feel like anywhere I've seen has covered well enough. Either a shop will have great vintage/used stuff or great new stuff, but rarely both in any real abundance.

Effects - Prymaxe Vintage in NJ. These guys have a messy basement full of everything that is available on their website (for those of you who've seen it, that's a LOT), and you're allowed to try out literally anything. They have a ton of obscure and difficult to find pieces that I don't know if I ever would have bumped into if not for their shop. Best of all, their demo amps are incredible (65 amps, /13, Mad Professor, etc.).

Honorable Mention - 30th St. Guitars in Manhattan. Isn't my #1 choice for any of the above categories, but is probably the store that is most well-balanced of all of them. They've got a ton of great guitars, a lot of good amps, and the best pedal selection in Manhattan. They just aren't quite tippy top in any one category compared to the others I've seen. Great one-stop shop though.
 

nmiller

Drowning in lap steels
Messages
6,707
Guitars - RetroFret in Brooklyn. I'm into weird, obscure and otherwise bizzare vintage stuff, and that shop is chock full of it. The staff really know their stuff, too - it's always great to talk to folks who love Valco, Burns and Vega as much as Fender and Martin. Their prices are sometimes high, but they're not inflexible and their repair staff make sure that everything has an excellent setup before it hits the showroom floor.

Amps - The Manhattan Guitar Center actually has a lot of great vintage amps, but, as you might expect, they're overpriced and often mislabeled. I've found some really good deals at the Tinicum Guitar Barn in Ottsville, PA; it's small and obscure, just like the amps it carries :D. Want a 0.0002 watt Guyatone tube amp from the '50s, or a '30s Electar and a '60s Guild? Karl's got four of each stashed somewhere up in the barn.

Effects - I'm not really a big pedal user; I just keep a couple around for when the need arises. I've found a few great pedals at Action Music in Falls Church, VA (though I knew them when they were in Arlington). I found a Mutron Phasor and a Maestro FuzzTone there among a bunch of other cool old gadgets. The staff are great to deal with as well. Prymaxe is also a great place to find new effects - they have a huge inventory.

Honorable mention - I've ordered several pieces of vintage gear from Top Shelf Music in Buffalo. Their descriptions were always spot-on, their prices reasonable and their shipping was fast.
 

guitarlix

Member
Messages
1,852
In terms or product content....Tone Merchants, Make'n'Music, Ultrasound (not a store), Mandolin Brothers, 30th St Guitars, Indoor Storm, Truetone music Rudy's, Chicago Music Exchange are few of the ones that I've been to and they're all very nice. I also tend to like Guitar Centers in general.....nothing particularly special there in terms of boutique guitar/amp content but lots of instruments....guitar and other kinds.

In terms of attitude.....Make'n'Music and Rudy's suck.
 

chucke99

Member
Messages
5,124
1. PawnXchange
2. PawnXchange
3. PawnXchange

Seriously. In the Seattle area, all the guitar shops are too overpriced, and Guitar Center is a joke. I get better equipment out of this pawn chain than anywhere else (except online). Plus, this chain has a 30-day money-back guarantee. I've bought amps there, tried them at a gig that night, and returned them the next day, no questions asked.
 

bdm

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,355
even though it's expensive as ****, chicago music exchange has always been a pretty mind blowing place to spend a couple hours. that being said, austin vintage guitar is still my favorite guitar shop.
 
Last edited:

Elmer

hell is chrome
Messages
2,917
The two coolest guitar shops I've ever set foot in are Wildwood and Indoor Storm, but they're about the only places other than tiny mom-n-pop's and GC that I've been to. Both had great guitar selections and pretty good amp selections. Didn't really look at any effects in either place.
 

TNJ

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
28,788
Chicago Music Exchange

Makenmusic

Levin's Music World (or whatever the name of the place is) in Wheaton, MD

The GC on Sunset Blvd in L.A. is pretty cool

Guitar Resurrection in Austin, TX is also sweet

S.
j
 

Radspin

Member
Messages
1,196
Rumble Seat Music in Ithaca, NY should be added to the list (I agree with Make N Music, Rudy's, 30th St, Chicago Music Exchange also; haven't been to the others mentioned).
 

Guitar Josh

Resident Curmudgeon
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
18,899
1. Guitars - Southworth Guitars formerly of Bethesda MD. Gil has the best stuff.

2. Amps - Guitar Center, Glen Burnie MD. Seriously. This place has tons of amazing Mesa, Marshall, Diezel, Buddha, Bogner stuff.

2a. Amps - Tone Merchants. I've never been but I would think if I had they'd win.

3. Effects - Action Music, Falls Church VA. Matt stocks tons of boutique stuff and an amazing vintage selection.

4. Sheer Volume of Off the Wall Stuff - Atomic Music, Beltsville MD. They must have 1000 guitars, 500 amps and 1000s of effects in a huge warehouse. Who knows what you'll find there, and it's run by very cool musicians.
 

Rick Towne

Praise & Western
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,237
Unfortunately my history goes back to the '90's and Los Angeles only.

Best amp selection: The original (Robert Stamps) Amp Shop around the corner from Norm's and Black Market Music on La Cienaga. Many amps purchased at The Amp Shop.

Lefties only shop: Route 66 in Hollywood.

Bass: The Bass Exchange.

Rock bottom prices on new guitars: Nadine's (my two lefty Jerry Jones at cost).

Rock bottom prices on used equipment: Guitar Guitar (Jim Kelley amp $500, '64 Vibroverb $900.

There's really no bargains left.
 

OldSchool

Senior Member
Messages
13,100
1. Guitars
2. Amps
3. Effects
4. Anything else (different instrument or honorable mention)

What is the one instrument shop you've been to that blew you away more than any other for each of the above categories? And for clarity - I'm not talking about great customer service, or a really cool owner, or convenience of location. I'm talking purely about the inventory. It would be good to note the location as well for everyone else's benefit.

Just curious to see which shops out there really stand tall above the rest, and maybe we'll unearth some hidden gems here.

I'll start:

Guitars - Mandolin Bros. on Staten Island. Not only do they have a ton of amazing guitars, but their inventory, both new and used, is extremely well curated. They just have high-dollar vintage Fenders and Gibsons in such abundance that they're strewn about all over the place - each one a marvel. It's like being in a museum. Fantastic boutique acoustic guitar selection as well. And they'll let you play pretty much anything in the shop. Awesome.

Amps - Rudy's in Manhattan. They don't seem to carry any used stuff, but they're a goldmine for amazing boutique amps. Really, this is the one category that I don't feel like anywhere I've seen has covered well enough. Either a shop will have great vintage/used stuff or great new stuff, but rarely both in any real abundance.

Effects - Prymaxe Vintage in NJ. These guys have a messy basement full of everything that is available on their website (for those of you who've seen it, that's a LOT), and you're allowed to try out literally anything. They have a ton of obscure and difficult to find pieces that I don't know if I ever would have bumped into if not for their shop. Best of all, their demo amps are incredible (65 amps, /13, Mad Professor, etc.).

Honorable Mention - 30th St. Guitars in Manhattan. Isn't my #1 choice for any of the above categories, but is probably the store that is most well-balanced of all of them. They've got a ton of great guitars, a lot of good amps, and the best pedal selection in Manhattan. They just aren't quite tippy top in any one category compared to the others I've seen. Great one-stop shop though.

Can't argue. I'm from staten Island originally, And Mandolin is the Tops for me as well.

I deal mostly on the net these days, Fat Sounds has been extremly cool and Stu is a guy I'd love to meet in person one day.
 

gmann

Member
Messages
8,640
Hyper Guitars in Tokyo. It's like vintage guitar Disneyland! All the stores mentioned so far don't have the inventory that Hyper Guitars has. There are several others in the Tokyo area that come close. If vintage guitars is your thing, this is where they all went.
 

mr tom

Member
Messages
1,289
1. I'll second Elderly Instruments and raise you a Dave's Guitars, in LaCrosse, WI. Most of my other choices have been mentioned, but Willie's in St. Paul, MN ain't half bad.
2. Solidbody Guitars in Mounds View, MN (north of the Cities) has had mindblowing arrays of vintage amps when I've visited.
 

mrmjp

Member
Messages
832
1. PawnXchange
2. PawnXchange
3. PawnXchange

Seriously. In the Seattle area, all the guitar shops are too overpriced, and Guitar Center is a joke. I get better equipment out of this pawn chain than anywhere else (except online). Plus, this chain has a 30-day money-back guarantee. I've bought amps there, tried them at a gig that night, and returned them the next day, no questions asked.
Sadly, I would have to agree
 

rickc007

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,904
Love Mandolin Bros, that place has vibe

Favorite store that I have been to in person is Wild West in Riverside.
Great demo rooms, all the good stuff.

Sunset Blvd GC for vintage

Places I'm dieing to go to are Dave's and Wildwood
 

loki1982

Member
Messages
287
1. I'll second Elderly Instruments and raise you a Dave's Guitars, in LaCrosse, WI. Most of my other choices have been mentioned, but Willie's in St. Paul, MN ain't half bad.
2. Solidbody Guitars in Mounds View, MN (north of the Cities) has had mindblowing arrays of vintage amps when I've visited.
+1 for Dave's guitar, I'm lucky enough to live in la crossed just a hop skip and a jump away. It's worth visiting just to check out Dave's personal collection.
 




Trending Topics

Top