Cool Music Stores in San Francisco

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Lichtaffen, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Hey gang,
    I'll be in the Bay Area next week and I was wondering if there were any note-worthy music stores for bass guitar. Used and vintage is cool. I just don't want to go to a Guitar Center. Something unique or even dedicated to bass is even better. I may get GAS, so I would like some choices. I would like to find something I can't find at the usual GC. Thanks in advance,
  2. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008
    Not in San Francisco but nearby in Berkeley is a used shop called Subway Guitars that is definitely worth a visit.This shop is a throwback to a kinder hippier time. Tons of used stuff, you are sure to leave with GAS or a new axe, your choice. Don't forget to visit Pie In The Sky on center Street near the BART.
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Also not in SF but nearby on the penninsula:
    Gelb Music in Redwood City - excellent and large collection of boutique (Zon, Roscoe, MTD etc.) basses. Best I've seen outside of a dedicated bass shop.
    Gryphon Music in Palo Alto - great acoustic stuff.
  4. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Rocker Guitars has some neat old overpriced basses.
  5. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Cool. My credit card thanks you.
  6. Kyon`


    Aug 17, 2007
    Boston, MA
    SF really has a lacking of bass and guitar shops worthwhile. Some of them are just lousy in general, the guitar center there is even better then some of these places, not to be mean. One shop you might find interesting is Guitar Showcase in San Jose. They have a fairly decent collection of Fender, Rickenbacker, Gibson, Ibanez, Music Man, and a fair amount of more high end stuff like Alembic plus a consignment shop with many deals to be had. My favorite part of this place though is that it's like a vintage museum. They have showcases filled to the brim with vintage stuff, mostly for looking though.
  7. funkytoe

    funkytoe In Memoriam

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    I would not make the trip to Berkeley for Subway Guitars. The entire shop is only about 300 square feet and most of the basses are Tiesco, Dano copies or "custom" instruments made by some really questionable "craftsman". No high end and the good vintage stuff is kept in cases on the wall -- unlabelled cases -- so even they can't find the instrument they think they have in stock.

    In the city of San Francisco, I would agree that both Rocker Guitars and Real Guitars are worth a visit. The two shops are walking distance apart (about 4 blocks). Both have laid back folks and a good mix of vintage and modern basses/gear.
    Also, Haight Ashbury music has some cool stuff. The bassist for the Mermen works there as well.

    If you have transportation, Gelb Music on the Peninsula is the best bass shop in the entire Bay Area for modern basses (Sadowsky, Lakland, Lull) as well as the latest premium amps. Nice folks there too.

    If you just want to window shop, Guitar Showcase is Campbell is another 20 minutes drive from Gelb, and they have a KILLER vintage room (all instruments behind glass) and a few unique ones on consignment. Right now, they have an Alembic bass that was Tiran Porter (Doobie Bros) main bass in the 1970's and a nice 1976 P Bass that belongs to Steve Miller (Steve Miller Band).

    Those are the ones I would feel comfortable about recommending to a fellow bass player. Hope you have a great trip.
  8. Gelb. End of subject. :D There are some wonderful instruments in stock right now, too.
  9. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Thanks so much for the references. Gelb seems to be the place to go. I'm going to try Rocker and Real also.
  10. Gelb.

    Also, be sure to go to Amoeba Records in Upper Haight (Haight and Stanyan). Great music selection, new and used.
  11. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    I think I've walked by there before, but avoided it due to a severe GAS attack.

    Here's the reason why I want to buy a bass out there: my cousin, who I'm staying with in San Mateo, is a decent blues keyboard player. I want to jam with him, but I don't want to ship my bass over there (taking it on the plane is not an option for me). I figure I'll just buy a bass and a small practice amp, and return the amp at the end of my stay and ship the bass back to Rhode Island. I don't want to just buy a bass that is available in stores all over the country, I'd rather find something unique. That's why I'm thinking used shops. I think that shop in Berkeley might be a good idea because the basses on their website seem cheap and weird. I already have two main basses at home, so anything I purchase will be for fun. Maybe I'll find a weird fretless or a beat up semi hollow body. Who knows? I'm treating it more as a souvenir than a working man's bass.

    If I don't find a bass, I'll buy a djembe. I've always wanted one.
  12. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    Subway can be fun to visit but many/most of the instruments there are in wretched condition. I bought one of their "Subray" basses...electronics conked out the day I got it. I took it apart to fix and was appalled at their idea of "craftsmanship"...returned it soon after.

    In Berkeley The Starving Musician is worth checking out...a good selection of used stuff that turns over frequently at reasonable prices...a true rarity these days. They also have shops in Santa Clara & Santa Cruz.

    As others have said Gelb is really a couple notches above everyone else in the Bay for selection & they have a cool consignment shop around the corner. Guitar Showcase is also good if you're in that neck of the woods.

    The only bass specialty shop I know of is Bass & Beyond in Sacramento, which is about 80 miles away.

    Have fun!
  13. Not much in the way of basses, but Lark In The Morning has some interesting stuff for acoustic driven folk music in it. You will see instruments in there you have never heard of. A sort of museum where the stuff is for sale.
  14. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    That sounds like a good place to visit. Who know what I can find. Unknown GAS!
  15. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz has Warwicks and G&L's and some cool old stuff, too. Haight Ashbury music has some cool stuff sometimes.
  16. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    San Mateo?
    My' hood.

    Try B St Music on Railroad st- across from the Movie Theaters in San Mateo.
    Gary sometimes has odd & ends basses. But be warned:
    they are really disorganized...

    Gelb has most high end stuff- talk to Ed.

    Starving Musican- in Berkeley & Santa Clara has some
    interesting basses off & on.
    Saw a couple of 60's overpriced Jazz's in Berkeley a couple
    of months ago.

    Steve Swans' bass shop in Burlingame has the most string
    basses- over 50??

    If you 're into blues jammin:
    ask your keyboard buddy:
    Wed nites:
    Little Fox Theater in Redwood City- has the biggest jam-\
    7:00- 11:00 pm

    and Gelb band is hosting this week.

    over 200 folks come to listen. and big sign up sheet.
    Good luck on getting up tho'
    too many bass players sign up for roughly 5 jams spots. and I rarely get called up anymore.

    So I attend the Hedley jazz jam at DeAnza Hotel in San Jose
    7:30 -10:30pm for the jazzers..
    and somes time there's upright bass too.

    There's different blues jams everynite:
    Check this listing for the day:
  17. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    I ended up going to Gelb and bought a chromatic harmonica. There was some dude in the bass section trying to be Jaco for about an hour, so I couldn't try anything out. Nice store, very nice people. I wish they had a store out here like that. I checked out the blues jam in Redwood City too. Fine players. I was impressed. Plus the sound was excellent. I wish I had more time to putz around the other stores, maybe next time.

    I have to say the highlight of the trip was finding Walker Ranch on the PCH. What an unbelievable area. We don't have anything like that on the east coast. I was blown away. Any of you ever go there? It's like right before Santa Cruz on the PCH. Well worth your time.
  18. I've spent endless hours there mountain biking. Great area.
  19. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    You know what, I think it was the Wilder Ranch, not Walker.
  20. Exactly. Killer mountain biking, but the exposed fire roads bake you in the sun.