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How many Bass shops/Luthiers/manufacturers in S.F./Oakland Bay Area

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Calaverasgrande, May 11, 2006.

  1. This is kind of a companion to my other thread about bass shops in NYC.

    For Starters theres
    Subway Guitars in Berkeley. old 60's-70's 80's stuff, frankenbasses and NOS parts. Very good luthiers, never get an amp fixed there. Formerly employed Charlie Hunter and Michael Franti.

    Blue Note on Telegraph in Berkeley always has G&Ls and some Fenders maybe a used Ibanez or 2. Great Luthiers.

    Thin Man Music Co 1506 Webster St., Alameda, CA 94501, 510 -521-2613 mostly acoustic stuff but some good quality electrics and always an URB or two.

    Flashback Guitars 5243 College Ave, Oakland

    Music Unlimited in Dublin

    Music Unlimited in San Leandro

    The Fifth String 3051 Adeline St Berkeley
    name actually refernces banjos, but they always have at least one URB. This is the last place I've seen an Earthwood.

    Aantone's Music 36601 Newark Blvd. #11 Newark,510-795-9170. Never been there, anybody?

    Allegro Music 3115 Walnut Ave, Fremont, CA Never been there, anybody?

    Guitar Heaven 1934 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, 925-938-5750 Never been there, anybody?

    Starving Musician lots of new medium range basses and some interesting used including a Smith with some nasty bucklerash.

    Guitar Center Concord

    Guitar Center El Cerrito


    Zone Music old Redwood Highway in Cotati. Their flea markets are the bomb! Knowledgable staff. Great selection, too bad they closed the Vintage Zone though. Or maybe its back?

    Tall Toad in Petaluma. Petaluma blvd. Best store ever. Tobias, G&L, Gibson, Fender, used and new, sheet music, effects, lessons, very cool staff, run by husband and wife and dog.

    Mesa Boogie still on Ross in Metaluma I think. No real showroom. Not open friday. (It's actually spelled Petaluma. Home to Winnona Ryder and Nightranger)

    Alembic Santa Rosa

    EMG Santa Rosa

    Michael Dolan Guitars Santa Rosa

    Banannas at Large easy to get to. lots of Ibanez and Epiphone, some Tobias. Very Guitar Center-ish for a mom and pop.

    Player's Guitars 844 B St, San Rafael, 415-453-8531

    Eguitars 1446 4th St., San Rafael 415-459-2525

    Modulus Novato

    South Bay
    B-street music San Mateo


    Guitar Showcase 3090 S.Bascom Ave. San Jose
    good selection of basses (Tobias, Alembic, MM, Fender Custom, Rickenbacker, Ibanez, Yamaha, Gibson) and amps (Mesa, Fender, AccuGroove, GK, Roland, Eden)

    Starving Musician

    Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz

    Moore Music in Santa Cruz

    Zon Redwood City

    MSI Guitar Repair with Luthier Greg Menacho in Santa Cruz

    Guitar Centaur San Jose

    Rick Turner Santa Cruz

    Haight Ashbury MusicOn Haight, by Ashbury. Plenty of neat stuff. Staff rarely lets you try it though.

    Panhandle Guitars Fell and Divisadero

    Peacock guitars

    San Francisco Guitarworks 323 Potrero ave

    Real Guitars | Gary Brawer | Ransom Guitars
    15 Lafayette Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. I think they have some association with modulus. As I always see a couple in there.

    Guitar Center on Van Ness
  2. SharkB8


    May 29, 2002
    Not exactly in the bay...but right outside sacramento:


    This is DEFINATELY worth the drive. Juan is a GREAT guy, selection is excellent, a bass lovers paradise....

    Oops..forgot GELB in Redwood City. Nice guys (bought a few things there), good prices, good selection of high end gear....but I'd opt to make the drive up to Juans.
  3. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    Just a few notes on your observations:

    1. Subway - it is my firm belief that Subway is just a bunch of overpriced garbage. No, I do not believe them to be credible "luthiers" in any way. Fat Dog is a liar, a cheat, inept, and stinky. There is NOTHING that any TBer would want from that place. This is an opinion based upon personal experience

    2. Guitar Heaven - I live in Pleasant Hill, and this is really not a place that is worth anyone's time. The one claim to fame of this place is that the owner tried to sell a Wishbass for two hundred more than Wish's price a few years ago. I did get the chance to play one, though. There is a GC right down the road in Concord

    3. There are GCs in Concord, San Jose, El Cerrito, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Concord is the worst. The manager of the bass department has no credible knowledge of bass gear beyond GK, Warwick, and Music Man. The bass selection is paltry. My friend, Lee, and I have picked that place clean

    4. Don't forget about Michael Dolan's shop!

    5. Music Unlimited in Dublin - I keep forgetting about that place. I'll try and get down there this weekend.
  4. Yeah a lot of people have had negative experiences with fat dawg (he really insists he be called by that name) I get along fine with him because
    A)I'm from New Orleans originally, so he thinks I'm cool.
    B)I'm an abrasive BS-er too so I can see through his BS.
    He does have a lot of NOS stuff that I have never seen anywhere else. If old italian/japanese weirdo guitars are your thing they have it. They also have a lot of old Fender stuff from time to time. IMHO that they are not nearly as cool as they were about 10 years ago. They will never have any Tobias, Alembic, Ritter, Wal or Zon basses.
  5. Dont forget EMG pickups in Santa Rosa, and Michael Dolan Custom guitars also in Santa Rosa.
  6. Mesa-Boogie is located right up in Petaluma.
  7. Yeah, I used to live in 'Luma. Used to work at Lagunitas when it was across the street from Boogie on Ross. It's listed, dont worry, I play a Bass 400 after all!
  8. Zon is in Redwood City. Modulus is in Novato, while its founder Geoff Gould is either in Marin County or in SF itself (there's no address listed on his website, just a 415 phone number). Rick Turner is down in Santa Cruz, which is increasingly just another (extremely expensive) Silicon Valley commuter-burb.

    Gallien-Krueger left San Jose for Stockton, probably saving a bundle on rent and salaries in the process.
  9. Moo

    Moo Inactive

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    There's Peacock guitars in the city but I wouldn't recommend him. Not as bad as fat dawg though.

    Gelb & basses-electric-acoustic are the only "quality" places I've seen out here.
  10. Jean Baudin

    Jean Baudin

    Aug 27, 2003
    redwood city, ca
    Endorsing Artist: See Profile
    next to bananas, is eguitars - which has lots of rad vintage guitars, and occasionally a decent bass. www.eguitars.com
  11. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I can't recommend MSI Guitar Repair with Luthier Greg Menacho enough. He's a great guy who does incredible work. Great setup guy who's prices are REALLY REALLY low for what he does. I'm having him do some work for me right now, but he'll basically do setups for $35 and without going into too much detail, he treats repeat customers "very" well. He's located in San Jose. I'd recommend anyone in the South Bay take their stuff to him for a setup. He's self owned and operated, so he doesn't really have the high overhead of a music store luthier.

    Can't forget "Sylvan Music" and "Moore Music" in Santa Cruz. I consider SC the southbay.

    I guess there is Music Unlimited in Dublin and San Leandro as well.

    Gary Brawer in SF as a repair guy.
  12. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Also, Rocker Guitars on Howard St. in SF. I wouldn't trust them any farther than I could throw them (and they're large guys), but they do have a couple dozen basses on hand including some interesting vintage pieces. As long as you carefully inspect the bass yourself, you can do all right with them.

    Also, a few people on TB have said they're not fans of Peacock Guitars, however they did have a supply of LaBella DTB strings (in the sizes I wanted, at a reasonable price) one time when I needed them on short notice. So, at least it's good to know they are there if you need strings before a gig.

    Oh yeah, and SF Guitarworks on Potrero in SF- Geoff does good setups, and he did a good job removing a hump from an ebony fretboard for me.

    ODDBALL Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Salida, CA
    There is a Haight Ashbury music store here in sunnyvale, talk to Rick hes a great guy. They do all my setups! They have a nice selection of Warwick High end Fenders, Yamahas, and the normal stuff. And I have been to Aantone's Music in Newark (use to live there) they have a lot of used stuff. They really do not have any basses there. I saw maybe 2 cheap 4 sringers there. More of a guitar shop!
  14. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Nothing to add off the top of my head...Good list!

  15. JansenW


    Nov 14, 2005
    Cambridge, MA
    Allegro Music is geared towards supplying instructors/rooms and equipment to schools (bands). Their bass selection is limited to a few basses. They have a generous selection of sheet music.

    [Edit]Don't forget: Guitar Showcase 3090 So. Bascom Ave. San Jose, CA. 95124
    Good selection of basses (Tobias, Alembic, MM, Fender Custom, Rickenbacker, Ibanez, Yamaha, Gibson) and amps (Mesa, Fender, AccuGroove, GK, Roland, Eden) from what I remember. They also have a great acoustic guitar room and a great vintage collection (about a dozen basses from the 60's and 70's) behind glass. PA deparment upstairs, rental/used/consignment equipment in buiding across parking lot. Highly recommended. Cool people.
  16. Moo

    Moo Inactive

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Also on Fell near Divisadero in the city is Panhandle Guitars? My keyboardist bought a used Eden head there and says nice things about them. Small store, friendly when I was there.
  17. cpach


    Feb 28, 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Also, there is B-street music in San Mateo. Nice shop, nice people. Off the top of my head, in terms of bass gear, I know they carry Fender, Ibanez, ESP/LTD, Yamaha, Eden, and I'm sure bunches others that I can't remember right now.

    Also, another big recommendation to Gelb. They're my local store, and I've bought a bunch of crap off them. In terms of bass gear, they currently have a very extensive collection of Fender basses, a bunch of Sadowky Metros, some Lakland skylines, a fair number of Ibanezes, some Zons, a few F basses, an MTD, some Yamahas, some Gibson stuff, and some other basses I can't remember. Amp-wise, Ampeg, Mesa, Eden, Accugroove, Acme, Fender, GK, and some other stuff I can't remember.

    There's also Music Jam off of El Camino in San Mateo, which is going out of business, so they have some Schecters and strings cheap.
  18. That place has had some nice vintage basses on occasion.
  19. chasfr


    Jan 4, 2005
    +1 on Sylvan Music. Very friendly, and actually eager for you to play their instruments. My first visit, they didn't know me from Adam, I said I was a bass player and they practically shoved one of their Rick Turner Renaissance basses into my hands. Way out of my price range, of course, but I enjoyed the chance to mess around with it for a few minutes...

  20. de la bump
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