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Heading up to the New England states..

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SCT1422, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. SCT1422

    SCT1422 Supporting Member

    Heading up to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and maybe Rhode Island from Saturday until Tuesday.. Sort of a drive to check out the seasonal change.. Any cool shops to check out ???
  2. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Empire Guitars in providence, RI. It's part of the empire pawn shop chain but they have a whole half of the building dedicated to vintage guitars and amps. Almost everything is playable, everything is at least 10-20% over market price.

    I haven't been there in a long time but Boston Guitar Works in Brockton, Ma (about 30 min south of Boston) used to have a really interesting selection of boutique amps and guitars as well as a huge pedal selection and a rotating selection of vintage basses.

    Bay State Vintage Guitars is this tiny little shop in Boston off mass ave near Northeastern that has an amazingly huge selection of really cool vintage gear. If he doesn't have it, he can usually get it. He also charges at least 10-20% over market price, IMO, but his stuff is top notch. Kind of an odd guy, but nice.
  3. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I live 25 miles south of Boston and east of Brockton. It doesn't seem like we have much for good music stores anymore.

    I am not a fan of Empire guitars. The few times I have been there, they haven't had much of anything and the stuff on their website seems over priced.

    The last time I was in Boston Guitar Works, they had almost nothing for decent gear. Most of what they had was very low priced beginner to intermediate level. Their website states that they carry Dean, Dusenberg, Fender and MTD but just about everything is the lower priced gear such as MIM Fender. They are located in Brockton which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Massachusetts so it seems they may have changed their inventory in order to stay in business.

    I've heard that Mr. Music in Allston and Mouradian Guitar Company in Winchester are very good but I have never been to either of them. Mr. Music has a website that occasionally has some good used gear. Mouradian's website has been listed as under construction for 2 years now.
  4. Finding a sweet bass in New England is more like searching for a needle in a haystack.
    I found a Guild B301 at Brokton Guitar works about a year ago. I found my 66' Gibson EB3 and my 2007 Gibson Money bass at Guitar Gallery in Amherst NH. It would be great if we had stores like Chicago music exchange or Bass club San Diego around here. It's a tough economy and not easy to run a music store these days with E-bay craigslist and Guitar Center working against you. Daddy's Junky music was a New England mainstay with a huge inventory and the current conditions did them in as well.
  5. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I forgot Mr. Music. They're small but usually have some good stuff. One of the only stores around here that still stocks Rickenbacker products. Good mix of fender production (MIC/M/J/A/used/vintage/squier), gibson stuff, used to carry G&L, Lakland and others too. They do a lot of business online (forget what their ebay name is) too so their stock rotates fairly quickly for a local shop.

    Sad to hear on both counts. Empire used to have a huge collection of vintage tube amps and Kustom amps as well as a good selection of vintage fender gear. They'd have a lot of lower end stuff there too (mostly from the pawn side).

    I haven't been to Boston Guitar in years, last time I was there they had a few vintage ampegs, lots of vintage fender, orange amps, bogner*, some off brands (national, silvertone type stuff), a ton of weird boutique guitars, some interesting basses. They had a gibson ripper, few hofners, at one point a rick and a pedulla and such. Cool stuff. I think the owners name is/was Heath. Seemed like a cool dude.
  6. Nijushiho


    Oct 3, 2012
    Definitely go visit Mr. Music. A short distance off Exit 18 of the Mass Pike -- follow signs for Allston.

    Ask for Jameson, he is a good cat and excellent bassist.
    You can sit and play without pressure.
  7. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    It's a bit late in the year for colored leaves and a bit late in the century for New England music shops :)
  8. JFOC


    Oct 23, 2010
    new hampShire
  9. Mr. Music was my go-to when I lived in Boston.

    Haven't been to Mouradian's in a while, but the selections I've seen there have been not only wide-ranging but also fairly priced. Their main biz is repairs and such and they get referrals from all over, so I'm not surprised their web site is still under construction. Jim is a fun guy to talk with.

    I recently discovered Guitar Gallery of New England in Amherst NH and was impressed. Would have walked out with something if I'd walked in with money.

    (Anyone here remember Cambridge Music in Porter Square and Berklee? Great store in its prime.)
  10. jweber76


    Aug 10, 2011
    Attleboro, Ma
    Another fan of Mr Music. One of our guitarists works up that way and buys a lot of gear from them. I live close to empire guitars but have never been...
    I truly miss Daddy's...
  11. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    I'd say Empire is worth a visit. They always have interesting stuff. I mean, when was the last time you saw two Haymans in one shop? When was the last time you saw even one? :) One of the owners, Jeff Keithline, is a bass player and interesting low end pieces are always popping up there.

    Mouradian is also a good one to check out. I can count on two fingers the number of times I've gone there and *didn't* walk out with something (and a couple of hands worth to count the times I did).

  12. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    Definitely check out Mr. Music in Allston. Mass Ave. in Boston used to have some good shops in the Berklee area.

    Skip Boston/Brockton Guitar. The owner, Heath, is a dick and most of their cool gear is reserved for guitarists.

    GC in Boston on Commonwealth Ave always has cool stuff due to its proximity to Berklee.
  13. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
    Nothing in CT
    I come up with something on Craig's List a couple times a year.
    Even the pawn shops are lame. Nothing but low end consumer junk.
    We used to have a great guitar shop in New Haven called Brian Guitars but he sold out to Sam Ash years ago.
    We're peaking right now enjoy the trip.
  14. floydman


    Sep 27, 2002
    southeast CT
    If you come through southeast CT Alpha audio works is a dealer for Lakland, Modulus, Zon, G&L. I have seen a few Nash there also.
  15. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    Guitar center moved to boylston and mass ave. the mass ave shop is the old daddy's and is basically a small supply shop. Two blocks over is the main building with decent stuff. Most of the music shops on mass ave closed. Wurlitzer closed my first or second year in Boston (almost 10 years ago now). The acoustic instrument store near mass and Westland is still there I believe. There was a great shop in porter square that closed a few years ago.
  16. edwinhurwitz

    edwinhurwitz Supporting Member

    May 13, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, SMS
    Definitely, although from my point of view, Cambridge Music was long past its prime by the time the Berklee shop opened (taking the place of Bumblebee Music, which I heard got shut down because they got busted for selling Real Books) and when they moved downstairs in Porter Sq. Back when it was upstairs in Porter Sq., it was full of the classic guitars, basses and amps for very reasonable prices. Teles were $350-400, strats a little more and Gibsons a little more than that with ES335s topping our around $800. Deluxe reverbs for $300 and Twins for $450. Mostly blackface. Also in those days, there was a little shop in a basement in Harvard Square that had some great inventory (I remember being in there when the repair guy had Sting's bass in for repair during their first American station wagon tour. They were completely unprepared for how it was blowing up and their gear was falling apart.). I lusted after a Starfire bass they had (which might have been the same one that I bought much later up at Rose Music in Portland ME). There was also The Instrument Exchange in the Garage, which I think was the same guys as Cambridge Music.

    Further down Mass Ave was Central Sales, basic pawn shop kind of thing. Even further down Mass Ave., across the river on the corner of Newbury St. there were the big stores, kind of the precursors to Guitar Center in Boston: the original EU Wurlitzers with Pampalone's around the corner. I was a regular customer at Wurlitzers as I blew up my JBL K140s all the time and the guys who started New England Speaker were still working out of the 2nd floor there. I remember when they were closing it down, they took down a wall which revealed some big posters from the 60s, including a life size Bob Weir looking 12 years old on a poster from 1968 or so, advertising for Acoustic amps and playing a Rickenbacker. Lots of history in that place, kind of like Manny's was in New York.

    Pampalone's was a pretty cool store, with different brands from the classics at Wurlitzers (although they had the early Pedulla stuff going on over there) and it was a little cheaper. I also remember a sales guy, really tall and skinny guitar player with a huge 'fro, who was a lot of fun to hang out with and would drag out all kinds of toys to play with. I wonder what he's up to these days.

    Down the street and around the corner on Boylston St. toward the Fenway was an all bass store next to Looney Tunes and Jack's Drum Shop for a little while. They had a ton of very high end instruments, including a few graphite necked Alembics. Most of the instruments were ones I'd never heard of.

    On Beacon St. heading west out of Kenmore Square, there used to be The Boston Musician. I got my first bass, a '63 EB2-D in sunburst, there in 1979 for $275. Yeah, I know, everyone says that they didn't make the EB2-D until later, but it was very clearly marked "1963" on the label. I wish I still had that bass. They had a pretty cool shop in there and they installed a Rex Bogue Ballz Deluxe into the bass, which got some wild tones (although the batteries through the f-holes were a PITA). The tech showed me Abe Laboriel's bass (Aria?) in which he'd installed a preamp of his own design.

    The late 70s and early 80s were a great place for music stores in the Boston area. I spent a lot my time in high school years in those places. I'm sure there are more that I missed. There were others I checked out downtown, but they tended to be more band and sheet music oriented.

    By the time I left in 1995, Mr. Music and Cambridge Music were the only ones that I visited with any regularity. Daddy's had some cool things every now and then (I still kick myself for not getting the 3 original Mutron IIIs for $50 apiece or the Gibson Les Paul bass (on which the Jack Casady is modeled) for $300, but I did score an Alembic F1X prototype for $75 and a rack mount series power supply for $50. Great deals used to be had every day in their bargain basement), but in general, the stores were overpriced and stocked with pretty generic stuff.

    OK, old guy reminiscing session over.
  17. Reviresco

    Reviresco It’s all success if it’s what you need. Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 5, 2011
    New England
    Just put the blinders on and keep driving through CT. It's a wasteland. As someone said before, craigslist is good a few times a year and on occasion GC will get a decent used piece, but the local shops are all gone for the most part. The ones that are still around only carry six string guitar stuff. I usually travel to Mass and visit some of the shops mentioned previously. Hope you find something cool on your trip out this way! Have fun!
  18. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    Wow! Pampalone's is a blast from the past. Not sure if it's of the same origin (how many Pampalone music store guys can there be?) but when we were kids we took lessons at Pampalone's Music School, which was in an old Victorian house in Waltham, MA. Our first band even took group lessons there.

    We spent a ton of time there and most of the music teachers were pretty cool. One guy, I won't mention the name, was a little less so. When we were ordering our new batch of gear he was trying to get us to sell Amway on the side :smug:

    The school moved to a more commercial location in Waltham and became more of store than a school ..... until it had a "mysterious" fire.

    Digression over, thanks for stirring up old memories. Back to the OT.
  19. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013

    Nothing good in Connecticut anymore-G guitars in New Haven-was one of the most awesome bass shops in the country (Ive lived all over) and it closed a few years ago-one place you could go and play 5K-10K basses all day.

    Sam Ash and Guitar center here suck. Daddys went out of buisness and screwed everyone (hope you rot in hell, where's my friends Les Paul?) and little mom and pop stores, although cool do not really stock anything more than beginner stuff.

    Very sad!
  20. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013
    By the way-East Coast Music Mall (when it was in Danbury) was the most awesome music store back in the day. Even thought Ed Roman was a #$%^ and would walk around and insult you, there was no where else on earth where you could see and play so many different guitars and basses.

    Then he moved to NV and the current store in Danbury is ok but nothing to rave about.

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