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Looking for Great Independent Music Stores

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bassknowledge, May 7, 2010.

  1. bassknowledge


    Jun 25, 2008
    Hey All, I travel extensively for work and I am always on the hunt for new music stores to visit while on the road. This summer and through the fall I will be traveling well over 10K miles (in a big white van) and would appreciate any and all of your recommendations. My journey will take me from Northern California through the Northwest over to Mid-west down the Eastern coast into Florida and then back through the Southern route back to California.

    I especially love swap and consignment shops and also those out of the way shops that are owned by people who love instruments and musicians. I am a player and collector and always on the hunt so point me to your favorite shops. Please include name of the store, website, and any other pertinent info.

    I will start it off with a couple of great shops here in Nor Cal. The first is Guitar Showcase in San Jose. An awesome shop with an amazing vintage collection, and well run swap shop.


    The other one is Subway Guitars in Berkeley. This place is a Berkeley legend and run by the amazing Fatdog, the owner. They have a great collection. Be warned, this is a quirky place but very very cool. Website is terrible but it does have the address.


    Look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    When you reach the Midwest, try Guitars to the Stars in Collinsville, IL, about 10 miles east of St. Louis. It's all vintage guitars and basses (mostly guitars), but he has a stage set up so you can try anything that catches your eye.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    In your area, check out 101 Records in North Beach. They have two locations--one is all CD's and crap, the other is all musical instruments, tchotchkes, memorabilia, and a basement full of vinyl LP's.
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Elderly Instruments in Lansing MI.
  5. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    This thread could turn into a cool national registry of great music shops, so I'll play. My favorites in the Philly area are:

    1. Bass Specialties in Bensalem, PA, www.bassspecialties.com. Glenn is great, and has one of the best bass selections you'll find anywhere, period.

    2. West Chester Music in West Chester, PA, www.westchestermusicstore.com. For a guitar-centric shop, the bass selection is excellent, and they're cool guys.

    3. New Jersey Guitar and Bass Center in Edison, NJ (a few minutes off Exit 10 NJT), www.newjerseyguitarandbasscenter.com. Jay has loads of interesting stuff, including lots of good used basses.

    4. Middletown Music in Middletown, DE, www.middletownmusic.com. It's mostly Fender and Music Man, or at least it was last time I stopped by, but they have a good selection.

    5. If you're in Philly proper, try Cintioli's in Northeast Philly, which is a wild place with all the instruments hanging down from hooks attached to the ceiling. They regularly have unusual models you won't easily find elsewhere. Totally old school Philly. www.cintiolimusiconline.com

    6. Also in Philly is Bluebond Guitars on 4th between Lombard and South. It's mostly used/consignment, and sometimes they have great instruments. I saw a '66 P in there once, and 1970's Fenders and Rics aren't unusual.

    7. In the Fishtown neighborhood (of Rocky fame), you'll find DiPinto Guitars' company shop, which often has interesting used basses like old Gibsons. The DiPinto models are great, and because it's the company shop you can find one-off custom models. Very cool. www.dipintoguitars.com
  6. For MD/DC,

    Atomic Music outside of DC in Rockville or Beltsville, MD is a great resource for used, vintage and unique basses, guitars, drums, keys and effects. The Beltsville location is the better of the two IMO, its one big room packed full of amps and guitars. The bass selection is more modest but still pretty good. The repair department is also top notch, I had my Grabber's neck shimmed. They had it done within a week and cost about $60, not bad for good work. A lot of my friends who play music shop and get their stuff fixed at Atomic.

    Outside of Baltimore, you have two Guitar Centers, which are fine, but IME the staff tends to be a little pushy. A better alternative would be Bill's Music House in Catonsville. They have a very good selection of new and used instruments across the board. The bass selection tends to be dominated by Fenders, but you can usually find some interesting used stuff. The staff is pleasant and helpful and the prices are pretty good, even by GC standards. The repair department is also very good, one nice touch that I liked is that they'll send you an e-mail notification when your stuff is ready to pickup.
  7. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    Grandma's in Albuquerque...


    Strings In Bristol VA

    "Strings" is not a big store by any stretch, but I was treated very nicely even though I was just looking around. They carry Lindy Fralin and Lane Poor, so that can't be bad.
  8. bassknowledge


    Jun 25, 2008
    Wow, thanks to all for posting these great stores. Can't wait to stop by and tell em that TalkBass sent me. Keep em coming.
  9. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Mr Music on Harvard Street in the Allston/Brighton section of Boston MA

  10. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
  11. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    I second Willie's in St Paul, MN. Friendly, knowledgeable staff. Some vintage guitars and some higher end bass amps that GC might not carry (Aguilar, Bag End, EA, Ashdown).

    They do repairs and mods too.
  12. O-evetS

    O-evetS I like pie!

    Jul 6, 2003
    Rochester NY
    The Great Great House of Guitars in Rochester,NY. If you are a collector you'll crap yer pants. www.houseofguitars.com
  13. Spotlight Music at Harmony & College avenues in Fort Collins, CO 60 miles north of Denver.

    Great people, big store with lots of inventory. Well worth the stop.

  14. If you're in Seattle, the places to check out are Trading Musician and Bass Northwest. Great stores. Trading Musician generally has an incredible effects pedal selection.

    Here are the sites.


  15. TheBasicBassist


    Jan 8, 2009
    Newark, DE
    Endorsing Artist: Rosado Guitars
    Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island, New York. George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Paul Simon, among others have all purchased (vintage) gear from there.
  16. Joe Gress

    Joe Gress

    Dec 22, 2005
    Pueblo, CO
    Wax Trax in Denver is pretty neat. http://www.waxtraxrecords.com/ It's divided up into two stores, Wax Trax 1 and Wax Trax 2. 1 is all cd's, and 2 is all Vinyl. They are about half a block from each other as there are other stores between them.
  17. +1 on Mr. Music. Bought all but one of my basses there. My old stomping grounds. While you're there, hit Steve's Kitchen (2 doors to the left) for good, cheap breakfast.

    Cambridge Music in Porter Square, too.
  18. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul;

    I didn't end up buying my bass there (prices were a little steep), but the staff was knowledgeable (really quite helpful for MN), the place was quiet enough to try some things out, and their acoustic guitar room has some really amazing vintage gems.
  19. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I dug The Starving Musician last time I was in Berkeley, and plan to hit it up next time I'm up there, mostly for their effects pedal selection.

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