The simple truth is that we love music stores. That is why we’re in this business. As long as we can remember, we stop for music stores. Whenever we see one, we have to go in. By the way: This drives our families crazy - they don’t see the point. My wife can’t pass a shoe store without going in but still doesn’t see our fascination in music shops. The truth be told, we don’t understand it either, but it is real.
Inspired by the many wonderful shops that we’ve experienced over the years, we’ve decided to share some of them with you. This may seem a bit counter-intuitive: one shop offering information about other shops but in fact, we learned long ago that there is no real competition in this business. When one shop is doing well, all shops are doing well. When one shop suffers, chances are, all the shops are suffering. When you stand back and examine the evidence, we help ourselves by helping others. It is simple good business. We always benefit when our compatriot shops are sound and profitable.
Therefore we offer the following. These shops are fun and made up of people we respect and really like. Enjoy.
Leonard (Trip) Wyeth
Maple Leaf Music Company
Kate is a heck-of-a fiddler and maintains a wonderful shop in Vermont. This is truly a labor of love – the love of music and instruments. It is always fun to visit the shop whenever we can. The following is Kate’s description of the shop:
Maple Leaf Music Company offers a selection of new and used stringed instruments, specializing in high-end guitars, banjos and mandolins. Their inventory features instruction and tune books and DVD's. "Where Friends Meet" is their motto.
They specialize in new and used instruments, offering a choice of acoustic guitars by Goodall, Collings, Huss and Dalton, Bourgeois, and Froggy Bottom. They also have guitars by Seagull, Larrivee,and Simon Patrick. Their electric guitars include Collings, Paul Reed Smith & Fender. Used acoustic and electric guitars include Martin, Gibson, Epiphone, Guild, Taylor and whatever else wanders in. They encourage trade-ins and also buy used instruments.
For the banjo player they have an assortment of Goldtones. As one of the former owners of the Arthur E. Smith Banjo Company, Kate Spencer picks up as many of these banjos as she can, as well as other used banjos. They have Bluegrass and Old-Time 5 strings, and regular 4 string and Irish tenor banjos. New mandolins from Fender, Weber - Sound to Earth, & Collings are also available and used mandolins. Maple Leaf's inventory also includes a selection of instructional books including books & DVD's. They have fiddle tune books: one of the largest collections anywhere. Kate is a Cape Breton-style fiddler who who likes adding books to the collection.
The Music Emporium
We learned early on that business issues that affected us were universal – If we recognized a trend, the same issues confronted other shops. It became clear that if we could all find a clear articulation of the issues, we could better deal with them. The bottom line was always the same: If we are doing well, the other shops in our area were also doing well. If we suffered, a quick phone call to the other shops always indicated they suffered the same situation. When we helped someone else, we always seemed to benefit. The obvious solution was to share information with other similar shops. Joe Caruso and Stu Cohen have always tried to help. For this reason, we will always try to help them as well.
The Music Emporium (TME) serves acoustic guitar players and collectors in New England. The Music Emporium provides:
- A handcrafted inventory of instruments.
- A comfortable store
- Highly knowledgeable staff
- Repair shop and custom orders
One of the country’s older music shops, The Music Emporium has its roots in the Cambridge folk scene of the late 1960's, the beginnings of the vintage and acoustic guitar market. TME has instruments from the work of many of today's builders, including: Bill Collings, Kevin Ryan, Bill Tippin, Julius Borges and C.F. Martin.
They provide repair work. They have worked with Bill Tippin and TJ Thompson for vintage restorations.
Mandolin Brothers LTD
Stan Jay has a wonderful shop that has been a model for others around the world. They have seen some of the nicest instruments imaginable over the years and gathered knowledge based on first hand experience. Stan Jay has been helpful and supportive to us, which we very much appreciate. We still enjoy making a pilgrimage to his shop whenever possible. Many former employees of Mandolin Bros. have gone on to create notable shops of their own. Here is a description of the shop in Stan Jay’s own words:
The Mandolin Brothers' showroom is like a comfortable home. Your questions are answered accurately and completely - our greatest goal is to educate our customers to the differences between models, styles, woods and appointments, so that they can make up their mind based on the necessary information.
Mandolin Brothers, Ltd. has been called a "toy store for guitar players".
They have supplied instruments to players including: William Ackerman, Judy Collins, Don DeVito, Eric Andersen, Kenny Ascher - co-author "Rainbow Connection", Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick, George Benson, Edie Brickell, Marshall Brickman, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Chapin, Marc Cohn, Diana Krall, Lenny Kravitz, Matt Donovan, David Patrick Kelly, Cyndi Lauper, John Levanthal, Eddie Martinez, Pat Matheny, John McLaughlan, Lyle Lovett, Russell Malone, Sarah McLachlan, Don McLean, El McMeen, John Cougar Mellencamp, Miami Sound Machine - Gloria Estafan, Steve Miller, Joni Mitchell, Kevin Nealon - Saturday Night Live, Robin Quivers, Vernon Reid, Richie Sambora, Paul Siebel, Paul Simon, Michelle Shocked, G.E. Smith, Holly Dunn, Bob Dylan, Elliot Easton, Raoul Felder, Bela Fleck, Mary Flower, Fr. Stan Fortuna, Jay Geils, John Gorka, David Allen Grier, David Grisman, Hall & Oates, Colin Hay - Men at Work, George Harrison, Janis Ian, Chris Isaak, The Indigo Girls, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, Peter Stampfel - Holy Model Rounders, Leni Stern, Stephen Stills, Billy Squier, Jill Sobule, Russ Titleman, Randy Travis, Tony Trischka, Suzanne Vega, Jimmy Vivino - Conan O'Brien show, Peter Watrous, Eric Weissberg, Steve Winwood, Vinnie Zumma - Joe Jackson Band, and many others.
Stan has been helpful with business matters over the years and embodies the understanding that we all thrive as a group. We always look forward to chatting with him at NAMM gatherings. When he is doing well, so are we. Therefore, we desperately want Elderly to continue doing very well.
Elderly Instruments is a real store with real people - most of whom are musicians.
These guys have been a major inspiration to us over the years. George’s knowledge and articles are the trusted source of historical information throughout the industry. On top of all that, George is a character and we consider him a good guy and a friend. He has helped and supported our efforts over the years and we try to do the same for him wherever possible.
"George Gruhn knows more about guitars than anyone on earth," - Tom Wheeler, author and former editor of Guitar Player magazine. His knowledge has helped make Gruhn Guitars one of the world's famous vintage instrument store. George Gruhn is an author of books on vintage guitars.
George Gruhn’s description of Gruhn Guitars:
"January 2, 1970, Gruhn Guitars started life as GTR, Inc. The original name was an abbreviation for "guitar" as well as the first-name initials of George Gruhn, Tut Taylor and Randy Wood. Tut and George were partners for the first nine months, after which Tut left to pursue business on his own and Randy was the repairman who stayed on for almost three years. When they opened, the inventory consisted of twenty-two instruments. What I knew about running a business at that time could have fit in a thimble with room to spare, but between Tut, Randy and me we had far better knowledge of vintage instruments, the market, and repair than anyone else in Nashville and most others nationwide, and our location right by the stage door of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, put us in contact with a wide variety of musicians as well as the general public."
"Our first building, which has long since been demolished, measured 20 x 60 feet. The roof leaked, the heat and air conditioning were at best temperamental, and we had termites which swarmed each spring. Our office equipment consisted of a telephone and an old-style mechanical adding machine about the size of a breadbox with a hand crank on the side. It could add and subtract but did not multiply or divide. The next year I got an electric adding machine which plugged into the wall and could multiply and divide. Personal computers and even pocket calculators were not yet available. It would not be until 1987 that we got a computer."
"The market of 1970 was remarkably different from today. What we consider to be vintage instruments now were nowhere near as old then, but we were very aware that they were classic-era pieces far superior to the new ones. In 1970, a 1960 sunburst Les Paul or dot inlay ES-335 Gibson were only ten years old. Even a 1940 herringbone D-28 Martin or D-45 were only thirty years old. By contrast a thirty-year-old guitar today is no big deal. In fact, the early-1970s instruments are relatively non-collectible since they were made at a time when standards of American manufacturing were at an all time low. Vintage instrument prices of 1970 were incredibly cheap by today's standards. Hardly anything cost over $1,000, but it is worth keeping in mind that at the beginning of 1970 the retail list price of a new Martin D-28 was only $400."
"Gruhn Guitars today occupies a four-story building with almost 13,000 square feet of interior space and a parking lot in the rear, which is a great benefit in our downtown location. While Gruhn Guitars, Inc. has grown tremendously since 1970, we have never physically moved over 100 feet. Our parking lot runs right up to the property line where we started out at Fourth Avenue North and our second location at 410 Broadway where we moved in 1976 is separated by only one building from our present location which we bought in 1993."
"While our business has grown tremendously over the years, it has sometimes been a bumpy road. 1970 and 1974 were years of economic recession. The early 1980s, when the prime rate of interest was over 20 percent and the dollar went sky high, were a great challenge for us. 1987 was another year of recession. From 2000 to the present the stock market, the economy, and the political scene have been in a state of turmoil. Many stock market investors have lost a large percentage of their net worth, however, during this same time period the fretted instrument market has been remarkably healthy. Guitar manufacturers such as Martin and Taylor have dramatically increased their output and many vintage fretted instrument prices have continued to escalate. In the past two and one half years prices of late 1950s Gibson sunburst Les Paul Standards, Gibson Loar-signed F-5 mandolins, and pre-World War II flat head Gibson Mastertone banjos have virtually doubled."
"While we have come a long way since 1970, the basic foundation of our business principles remains unchanged. Knowledge, integrity, and service are remarkably low-tech. While we now update our website daily and provide color photos of every item on our inventory, the ability to properly identify, describe, and appraise these instruments does not come out of a computer. We have a staff of seven full time repairmen whose sole job is to service instruments we have for sale. Although we have power equipment in our repair shop, the vast bulk of the work is done by hand using techniques which would have been familiar to craftsman a century ago. While I use the same basic low-tech skills as when I started, I now have the experience of collecting and dealing guitars since 1963 and running a business since 1970. The Gruhn staff continues to gain knowledge and experience with each passing year. We have numerous staff members who have been with us over ten years. Our business is based upon knowledge, integrity, and service. We work to build relationships with our customers and depend upon repeat business. While we always appreciate new customers, I still deal today with numerous customers I first dealt with in the 1960s before I opened a shop."
Eric Schoenberg Guitars
Eric is a remarkable fingerstyle guitarist that has brought the love of the music and instruments to anyone that will listen. He has been instrumental in the design and revival of numerous vintage guitar designs and offered a springboard for many of today’s finest luthiers. He supports the arts and produces many concerts at his shop and has extended that support to struggling guitarists everywhere. We always enjoy talking to Eric – he brings a truly special expertise from years of performing and appreciation vintage instruments. The following descriptions are his own:
Eric’s love affair with the guitar began in 1959. He started teaching in the early Sixties and before long became the second-half of a duo with his cousin, Dave Laibman, helping Dave perform his amazing, ground-breaking arrangements of classical ragtime. Their album, Contemporary Ragtime Guitar, on Folkways Records, is considered a classic and remains a benchmark for today’s fingerstyle players. In the early Seventies Eric began touring the United States, Europe and Japan playing his innovative arrangements of the classical rags, traditional folk and Celtic music, the blues, country, and The Beatles, and making a lasting contribution to the fingerstyle repertoire. Eric also released two solo albums, Acoustic Guitar and Steel Strings, on Rounder Records. He continues to perform and record, most recently with Richard Scholtz on Late Night Conversations, and has written a book, Fingerpicking Beatles. He runs a concert series out of his guitar shop, Eric appraises old Martins, Gibsons, Stellas.
As a fingerstyle guitarist Eric learned through experience that all guitars are not created equal. He discovered in the Sixties that the Martin OM (Orchestra Model) produced only from late 1929 through 1933, had qualities possessed by no other guitars. “The tonal wonder of the 1929-30 guitars to me is the explosive response, the full, complete tone from bare fingers. It’s a magic thing, like the guitar is alive and kicking, giving back to the musician as much as he [or] she is putting in,” he says. The balance, projection, and responsiveness of these guitars really stood out to him – and he heard something in these guitars that no one else did. Eric’s strengths as a guitarist led him to these qualities in the first place – especially his superb touch and his near-obsession with creating great tone as he plays.
It was so difficult to find these original guitars in good condition – or any new guitars like them. He went to talk to Martin. “It took years of cajoling to get them to make OMs,” Eric reports. In 1969 Eric was finally able to order a batch of six OM-28s through the Folklore Center in Manhattan. They were the first OMs Martin had made since 1933. Then, later, Eric ordered more OMs from Martin through his Massachusetts shop – six “Special” OM-45s from Martin’s Custom Shop in 1977.
Eric was still playing the early guitars in performance when, in the early Eighties, after builder and repairman Dana Bourgeois had worked on “some two dozen” of the early pre-war Martin Orchestra Models for Eric, he had an impulse to build an OM for Eric with the one non-traditional design element Eric was hungry for – a cutaway.
Schoenberg Guitars, then, started with one guitar. Eric would work with Dana to develop the specs. They would base much of this new guitar on a specific Martin OM from 1931, attempting to replicate the same neck shape, and the lightness of the bridge plate and bracing (Martin stopped using scalloped braces from 1944 through the mid-Seventies). They would attempt to voice this new guitar in a way that would improve upon the original by applying hand-building techniques to the original factory specs. This involved hand splitting the braces and ‘tap-tuning’ the top, back and assembled box. Then they would add the cutaway.
This would become the prototype they took to Chris Martin, who approved the project – a partnership to create multiples of this design that improved upon something Martin had abandoned in 1933. Dana’s “hand-voiced” tops would be integrated into Martin’s production line: guitar parts would be fabricated by Dana in Maine, according to specifications developed by Eric and Dana, in order to meet Eric’s notion of what a great guitar would feel like and sound like. These “kits” would then be assembled and finished with lacquer by Martin. This would be Martin’s first experience in 65 years of building guitars for another company: from 1986 to 1994, Schoenberg guitars would emerge from Nazareth, PA, with Martin serial numbers and “Schoenberg” on the headstock.
But the nearly 500 Schoenberg guitars that exist today are not mere imitations of earlier designs. As Eric has said, “We’re not doing vintage reproductions. We’re taking what’s special from the old ones. We’re trying to take the next step.” One subtle yet crucial distinction is that the Schoenbergs have the advantage of being designed in light of Eric’s perception of the qualities of the great vintage guitars. If 1929 and 1930 were the years in which Martin Guitars, for one, created its enduring monuments, its peerless instruments, then Eric would draw on his knowledge of those designs and pull out only the elements that would lead to great guitars.
The hand-built Schoenbergs could be individually voiced to generate beautiful tone and capture some essence of the patina of the earlier guitars. Plus the functionality of recent designs – the cutaway, the adjustable truss rod, plus the knowledge of how guitars can be set up to play at their absolute best – could be added to the mix. And with the more varied tonewoods available today, a wider palette of voices is available in the guitars that are made. In these ways, Eric is attempting to create the ultimate finger-style guitar.
The Schoenberg guitars from the Martin days are generally acknowledged to be superior guitars. Since the days of the partnership with Martin there have been many hand-builders who have worked with Eric to create guitars with exceptional tone and responsiveness. With each successive builder Eric has fine-tuned his perception of what construction elements result in a superb guitar. And like a great archer whose arrows seem naturally to find the bull’s-eye Eric’s innate ability to hear and feel the subtle attributes that create a guitar’s aliveness has combined with his talented partners’ gifts to yield guitars that hit the mark, time after time.
The consistent quality of these guitars over time is the best testament to Eric’s success. Although he is the first to praise the wonderful partners he has worked with – all amazing luthiers in their own right –, it is the pleasure which each successive guitar is able to give its player that should make us notice the one variable that hasn’t changed in twenty years. And Eric says he’s still learning.
Eric has followed his own muse, guided by an implacable desire to play great instruments. His gift is his ability to imagine what kind of guitar would be a great one and to guide its creation. Yet he has also provided a service. As Eric has said, “I’m not just building a guitar that gets me excited.” He may have begun looking for his own ideal guitar, one that would give him the means to achieve his own deepest musical satisfaction. But his search has created opportunities for every player who has hungered for the perfect guitar (nearly 500 opportunities, in fact). And if Eric’s guitars are capable of producing great tone, exquisite tone, then they have the potential to bring those of us who play closer to a beauty that satisfies. Could it be . . .? With Eric’s guitars we might just get to that music beyond longing.
Today, the Schoenberg Guitars are built one at a time by the capable hands of world-class luthiers Bruce Sexauer, Robert Anderson, Alan Perlman, James Russell and John Slobod.
There are two different enterprises: our own line of top quality, tradition-based Schoenberg guitars, and the store in which they, along with examples of other top builders of today and yesterday are sold and repaired. Joe Miller teaches private lessons and classes, and concerts and workshops are held.
The Store: Our focus is patient, detailed expertise in selling, repairing, and teaching guitars and other acoustic instruments. We are dealers for Martin, Eastman, National, Schoenberg, Santa Cruz, Kenny Hill, Pohaku Ukuleles, Michael Dunn, John Morton, Tippin, Asturias Ukes, Gold Tone Banjos, Tacoma, Hohner, Crafter, Olympia and Seagull. We are brokers of many fine used and vintage instruments, such as Martin, Gibson, Epiphone, Vega, National, Dobro, Fairbanks, Vega, Washburn, Regal, Tonk Brothers, Larson Bros., D'Angelico, Lowden, Guild, Dell'Arte, Collings, Ditson and many others.
We try to carry the best in all price levels. If you’re looking for a beginner or student instrument, we will try to make sure your needs are properly met. Too often students are sold the wrong or unplayable instruments (example: selling a dreadnought or jumbo with super-high action to a 12 year old—we've seen it!). We set up every instrument that goes out the door, specifically to the needs of its new owner.
We only get to see Paul Heumiller of Dream Guitars at the various guitar shows and festivals around the country. It is an important opportunity for us to get together and discuss the trends that have been evolving since we last met. Paul Heumiller's business model is somewhat unique as he doesn't have a storefront with regular business hours but operates on a "by appointment" basis. This not only keeps his overhead low but allows him to really spend some quality time with each client. He has ammassed quite a bit of knowledge due to the wonderful array of instruments that he has had the pleasure of dealing. He is a good guy and we don't get to see enough of him. The following is his description:
Dream Guitars was started by Paul Heumiller and fingerstyle guitarist Martin Simpson. The idea was to gather some of the most intersting guitars and to offer them with expertise and guidance. They sought and reviewed instruments from top builders. Martin is no longer part of Dream Guitars, but remains supportive.
They offer hand-built acoustic guitars, archtop guitars, electric guitars, flattop guitars, jazz guitars, banjos, mandolins, steel string guitars, resonator guitars and steel guitars from many of the premier builders in the world today.
Instruments that have, at one time or another, been seen at Dream Guitars:
Albert & Mueller Acoustic Guitars, Applegate Acoustic Guitars, Asher Electric Guitars, Beardsell Acoustic Guitars, Beauregard Acoustic Guitars, Beneteau Acoustic Guitars, Tippin Acoustic Guitars, Bown Acoustic Guitars, Berkowitz Acoustic Guitars, Bogdanovich Acoustic Guitars, Moreira Classical Guitars, National Resophonic Guitars, Paco De Lucia Flamenco Guitars, Matsuda Acoustic Guitars, McCollum Acoustic Guitars, McIlroy Acoustic Guitars, Phillips Resonator Guitars, Pogreba Resonator Guitars, Petros Acoustic Guitars, Renaissance Acoustic/Electric Guitars, Saul Acoustic Guitars and Mandolins, Sexauer Acoustic Guitars, Sheppard Acoustic Guitars, Simpson Acoustic Guitars, Somogyi Acoustic Guitars, Stevenson Electric Guitars, Striebel Acoustic Guitars, Buscarino Acoustic Guitars, Charis Acoustic Guitars, Alejandro Cervantes Classical Guitars, Hiro Ebata Acoustic Guitars, Everett Acoustic Guitars, Fay Acoustic Guitars, Forster Acoustic Guitars, Greenfield Acoustic Guitars, Greven Acoustic Guitars, Hoffman Acoustic Guitars, Kohno Classical Guitars, Kraut Acoustic Guitars, Lowden Acoustic Guitars, Maingard Acoustic Guitars, Traphagen Classical Guitars, Turner Acoustic/Electric Guitars, Williams Acoustic Guitars, Wingert Acoustic GuitarsAllen Resonator Guitars, Anderson Electric Guitars, Bourgeois Acoustic Guitars, Claxton Acoustic Guitars, Collins Acoustic Guitars, Collings Acoustic Guitars, Contreras Classical Guitars, Green Acoustic Guitars, Gretsch Archtop Guitars, Henderon Acoustic Guitars from Wayne Henderson, Heritage Archtop Guitars, Humphrey Classical Guitars,D'Angelico Archtop Guitars, Eichelbaum Acoustic Guitars, De Jonge Acoustic Guitars, Dick Classical Guitars, Dobro Resonator Guitars, Doolin Acoustic Guitars, Epiphone Archtop Guitars, Flammang Acoustic Guitars, Fox Acoustic Guitars, Franklin Acoustic Guitars, Froggy Bottom Acoustic Guitars, Gallagher Acoustic Guitars, Gibson Acoustic Guitars & Banjos, G & L Acoustic Guitars, Goodall Acoustic Guitars, Huss & Dalton Acoustic Guitars, Jesselli Archtop Guitars, Kakos Classical Guitars, Kinnaird Acoustic Guitars, Klein Acoustic Guitars, Langejans Acoustic Guitars, Larrivee Acoustic Guitars, Laskin Acoustic Guitars, Lucas Acoustic Guitars, Manzer Acoustic Guitars, Vintage CF Martin Acoustic Guitars, Marzal Classical Guitars, McAlister Acoustic Guitars, Eggle Archtop Guitars, Baranik Acoustic Guitars, Beard Acoustic Guitars, Benedetto Archtop Guitars, Blanchard Acoustic Guitars, Borges Acoustic Guitars, Breedlove Acoustic Guitars, McGill Classical Guitars, Merrill Acoustic Guitars, Milburn Acoustic Guitars, Mitchell Acoustic Guitars, Moonstone Acoustic Guitars, Musser Acoustic Guitars, Noble Acoustic Guitars, Northwood Acoustic Guitars, James Olson Acoustic Guitars, OME Banjos, Oribe Classical Guitars, Osthoff Acoustic Guitars, PRS Paul Reed Smith Electric Guitars, Rainsong Acoustic Guitars, Ramirez Classical Guitars, Rubio Classical Guitars, Ruck Classical Guitars, Ryan Acoustic Guitars, Santa Cruz Acoustic Guitars, Schoenberg Acoustic Guitars, Sobell Acoustic Guitars & Mandoins, Taylor Acoustic Guitars, Threet Acoustic Guitars, Jeff Traugott Acoustic Guitars, Valazquez Classical Guitars, Vincent Classical Guitars, Walker Acoustic Guitars, Webber Acoustic Guitars, Zion Electric Guitars.
John Paul Reynolds
Golden Age Fretted Instruments
Golden Age Fretted Instruments has grown from a home based company selling previously owned and vintage fretted musical instruments, to a company that now also offers several lines of new fine handcrafted guitars by some of today's finest luthiers.
On April 17th, 2004, after expending some blood, sweat and tears, they opened a musical instrument store located in Westfield, NJ. The store features a full line of accessories and CD's.
Golden Age is an authorized dealer for:
Acoustic Music Works
Acoustic Music Works is relatively new to the scene but have amassed a strong following by developing a good vibe and assembling some good people. We enjoyed dining with them at guitar shows and sharing thoughts about the industry. We want them to do well. Here is their business description:
Acoustic Music Works keeps many acoustic guitars in stock. These include the finest factory built steel string and resonator guitars, as well as a few archtops, and some impressive classical guitars. We feature professional grade steel-string guitars from Collings, Huss & Dalton, Bourgeois, Goodall, Beard, Lowden, National Resophonic, Breedlove, Gallagher, Eastman, and Composite Acoustic. They also carry intermediate grade instruments from Breedlove, Blueridge, and custom guitars by individual luthiers. They do our best to keep the website updated. The occasional price flub or typographical error should be interpreted as folksy charm, not deviousness.
These guys are second generation – they’ve been in the business all their lives. Their father pioneered new ways of supporting both the business and the arts since the 1920's. Their shop is an inspiration and they have always been supportive of our efforts. On top of everything else, they are just good guys. The following is their description:
When you enter Caruso Music you'll be greeted by a selection of electric guitars, basses and amps. From there you'll see a glass door leading into their acoustic guitar room.
The atmosphere is relaxed. You're encouraged to take the guitars off the wall and enjoy them. If you would like help, they're happy to assist.
Indoor Storm has tried to excel at being a full service music shop in spite of the onslaught of the “Big Box” chain music stores. In their case it works – they have a character and a vibe that is compelling and the experience and expertise to back it up. The owners are players and supporters of the efforts of other musicians. This is their description:
Indoor Storm is a chain store alternative. They search out some of the more interesting gear being made and focus on providing the information needed to make the best choices for your musical style.
Robin Weber of Guitar Gallery has a passion for instruments that goes back a long time. She can be found all over the country searching out interesting instruments and has developed relationships with many of the Luthiers. The following is her description:
Guitar Gallery, specializes in acoustic stringed instruments; mainly high end, hand-made acoustic guitars. They cater to the musician in search of tone, craftsmanship and playability.
Guitar Gallery is an Authorized Dealer for:
Bashkin, Batson, Beauregard, Beneteau, Berkowitz, Bills, Blanchard, B-Band, Calton Flight Cases, Charis Acoustics, Evergreen Mountain Instruments, Flammang, Froggy Bottom, Fylde, Galloup, Genz Benz amps, Greenfield, Greven, Hewett, Hoffman, Huss & Dalton, Johnson, K & K Sound Systems, Cedar Creek Cases, Deering Banjos, Doerr, Mervyn Davis Luthiers, Dave King, Kingslight, Kinscherff, Kragenbrink, Kramer, Tortis, Laurie Williams, Kathy Wingert, Woolson Soundcraft, and these fine strings: Newtone, DAddario, Elixir, Cleartone, Thomastik-Infeld, John Pearse, As well as many other fine accessories like Levy's & Long Hollow straps, Monster Products, Virtuoso, Martin or Punch polish, Planet Waves humidifiers and bridge pins, Hercules stands, Peterson tuners, Zoom, Samson, CBI cables etc, etc, etc! Also fine used instruments by Olson, Martin, Gibson, Kevin Ryan, Sexauer Guitars, Schenk, Simpson, Square Deal Guitar Co., Collings, Langejans, George Lowden, LR Baggs, McAlister, McPherson, Maingard, Mannix, Moll, Moonstone, Mustapick, Northwood, Perry, Petros, Prohaszka, Radicic, Rainsong Graphite Guitars, Robinson, Rushing, Tacoma, Thompson, Judy Threet, Tippin, Ultrasound amps, Tony Vines, Santa Cruz, Goodall, Larrivee, and Fender etc.
Acoustic Outfitters Music Shop
Acoustic Outfitters qualifies as one of those truly traditional, old-time, full-service music shops. It has the distinct feel of a family run and deeply cared-for outfit. The following is their own description:
Their goal is to provide acoustic musicians of all levels from beginners to professionals - both right- and left-handed players - with the instruments and accessories they want.
Our inventory includes new instrument by the following makers:
Acoustic Outfitters also carries fiddles, cellos and acoustic basses, harps, dulcimers and a wide selection of used and vintage instruments.
They also carry picks, capos, rosin, bridge pins, polish, a wide selection of strings, and other accessories. Instructional books and videos are available in many genres for students of all levels and they carry a large number of bluegrass, Celtic, folk, Cajun, and blues CDs - featuring many local performers.
Soultree has attempted to craft their business souly upon the instruments of individually selected Luthiers. If you tried to order an instrument directly from the Luthier, you may have to wait 2 to 5 years. By having some of their instrument available for sale and demonstration, Soultree can offer some instruments without the wait. The following is their own description:
The objective of SoulTree Guitars is to provide clients with a pleasant no-pressure environment to play, enjoy and purchase hand made acoustic guitars from some of the finest luthiers in the world.
SoulTree began after attending the 2001 Healdsburg Guitar Festival. They were impressed by the talent and tone of these works of art. They operate on a “by appointment only” schedule.
Mike Joyce has collected some of the finest Luthier built instruments available today. The idea behind his shop is to stock as many of these Luthier built instruments as possible and make them immediately available to the public. If you were to order one of these instruments directly from the builder, you may have to wait 2 to 5 years. The following is Mike Joyce’s description:
Strum something special. Luthiers Collection.com brings rare collections of guitars and specialty instruments from builders across the world. They represent Luthiers collections. From Olson guitars to a Walker, Manzer or Paul McGill guitars, Luthier's collection offers quality work from meticulous designers.
They strive to provide guitar enthusiasts with a unique products at competitive prices.
The Guitar Salon
Beverly Maher of the Guitar Salon is a remarkable woman with an abiding passion for the instruments that surround her. She has fashioned a life of dealing beautiful classical guitars in a “by appointment” setting allowing appropriate time and energy to be spent with each client. She plays well and has a vast knowledge of the history and cultural place of the classical guitar. She has an equal passion for music and politics and a great sense of humor. We trade information with her whenever possible. She is a wonderful resource. The following is her description:
The Guitar Salon is a unique, 1-person operation located in an historic brownstone building in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Salon is known for an outstanding collection of classical and flamenco guitars. It is a longtime haunt of renowned guitarists, specializing in unique classical and flamenco instruments. Prices start around $4,000.
The Salon is by appointment only and customers are given personalized service and encouraged to take their time, in privacy, with no pressure. The main room is in the old Salon tradition, filled with Beverly's private collection of photos and rare instruments.
Beverly's work as an appraiser includes Segovia's celebrated guitars, which are currently at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Hauser played by Julian Bream and the musical instrument collection of Rose Augustine.
"The good woman / man is the only excellent musician, because she / he gives forth perfect harmony, not with a lyre or other instrument but with the whole of her / his life."
Laurence Wexer, LTD – Fine Fretted Instruments
We’ve known Larry Wexer for years and seek his good council on many vintage instrument issues. He’s a heck-of-a good mandolin and guitar player and he has been wonderfully supportive the arts and of us. We share a view that vintage instruments have a life of their own. We are simply stewards or custodians during our lifetimes. We need to treat them well because they live on long after we’re gone.
Larry Wexer has a “by appointment” business model that allows him to focus energy on each client. He has amassed a substantial database of knowledge regarding vintage instruments from having the opportunity to deal some of the most remarkable instruments. Here is his description:
"I've been in the vintage instrument field for over 15 years but came to it by a somewhat circuitous route. I play mandolin, guitar and harmonica and have played or recorded with the Dillards, the Sons of the Pioneers, Grandpa and Ramona Jones, Alan Munde, Peter Wolf, Roy Clark, Jimmy Vivino, and others. All this and an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University and here I am selling guitars. I've also written some articles, and book chapters in "Guitars of the 50’s" and "Acquired Of The Angels". Through my years of experience I feel that I have learned what makes a good musical instrument as well as what is "original" or not. I try to represent the instruments I sell as accurately as I can. Ultimately the idea is to play and enjoy these wonderful vintage instruments for what they are historically, as things of beauty and as functional tools."
Lark Street Music
I had the pleasure of meeting Buzzy Levine at Lark Street Music about 6 years ago. I had purchased from him over the phone in the past but wanted to make a pilgrimage to his shop to have a look for myself and get a chance to meet him. Buzzy has amassed a wonderful working knowledge of vintage instruments by repair, restoration and being at the heart of dealing for decades. He’s seen great examples of most all of the great instruments. On top of everything else, we just enjoy dealing with him. The following is his description:
Buzzy has been repairing instruments since 1968. With this facility we are able to provide customers with very accurate instrument evaluations.
They carry new, rare and used guitars (and other stringed instruments). Their specialty is C.F. Martin guitars and Flattops, Arched top Jazz guitars, and old solid body electrics. Some of the new guitar lines we carry are Martin, Collings, Santa Cruz, National, Larrivee, Blueridge as well as Mark Campellone and Brad Nickerson. They carry new Amplifiers - Orange, Blockhead, Bogner, THD, Tone King and keep a stock of Fulltone and ZVex pedals, as well as others.
They have a list of customers that includes: Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow, Pelle Amqvist of The Hives, Bernie Leadon, Mike Campbell, Jackson Brown, Smashing Pumpkins, David Grisman, AC/DC, David Torn, Reeves Gabrels, Brian Setzer, Graham Parker, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jimmie Vivino, Conan O'Brien, Duke Levine, Peter Wolf, Jay Geils, the Mavericks, Arlen Roth, the Johnny Cash Band, Asleep at the Wheel, Jimmy Weider of the Band, Jimmy Gnecco of Ours, and Bruce Hornsby.