Five NYC Guitar Shops You’ve Got to Check Out

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Photo by Jimmy Teoh at Pexels
       

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 14 – New York-inspired (Dec. 2020)

TR Crandall

If you are a pro, vintage collector, or a well-known name in the music industry, chances are you’ve heard of TR Crandall. Run by Alex Whitman and Tom Crandall, they’ve been open since 2013, offering the highest quality guitars and a repair shop for any of your guitar needs.

TR Crandall specializes in vintage guitars and has now started offering Collings guitars too. Although they carry a range of expensive pieces, they’ve separated themselves from the NYC guitar shop stereotype by being hyper-vigilant on how they treat those who stop in. TR Crandall truly believes in treating everyone the same, keeping the guitars tangible and not in fancy glass cases, and making sure that if they’re chatting with the likes of Jimmy Page or a ten-year-old coming in to pick up their first guitar, they will both be treated with the same respect and quality customer service.

If you wander onto their website or into their shop, you’ll notice the wide variety of guitars they offer. You can pick up anything from an 1850s Martin to a 2017 National Triolian. When Alex and Tom aren’t busy running the shop and tackling repairs, they have a blog where you can read all things TR Crandall and see some of their toughest repairs. If you aren’t able to find yourself in NYC anytime soon, you can order online.

Southside Guitars

Located in Brooklyn, Southside Guitars is a must for New York music lovers. Founded by two brothers, Ben and Sam Taylor, in 2006, Southside specializes in vintage and collector-grade guitars. When stopping in, you can expect to see Southside packed with SGs, a favorite of Ben and Sam, along with any guitar you could imagine—Strats, Telecasters, Jazzmasters, Les Pauls, and more. Whether you are looking for a classic piece or something special and unique, Southside will have something in stock you’ll love. From their website, Ben states, “We also have a special place in our hearts for the runts and orphans of vintage guitars, and for anything unusual or bizarre. For this reason, we literally scour the planet for the rarest and most unique guitars ever made – guitars like Stratospheres, Gruggetts, and Wandres…”

Not only do they offer a wide variety of electric and acoustic models, but Southside is also always stocked up on unique and vintage amps and pedals. While Southside is indefinitely closed to the public, you can check out their inventory online, where you’re welcome to pick it up in-store or get it shipped wherever you live in the world.

Chelsea Guitars

Chelsea Guitars is a treat for guitar lovers and guitar history buffs in New York. Located in the Chelsea Hotel, some of the most iconic musicians have been stopping in since 1885. Justin Timberlake, Lenny Kravitz, Joan Baez, and Elvis Costello have all graced the shop and tried out some of the rarest finds. As a mom-and-pop store, they not only offer a range of vintage, used, and adequately priced guitars but also run a repair shop for any of your setup or repair needs. When looking through their showroom, you can expect to see unique and rare finds, collector-grade guitars, along with the perfect guitar for beginners, starting at around $100. When not in the city, you can browse some of their gear and guitar inventory on Reverb, where you’ll see a mix of vintage Martins, pickups, audio gear, rare Gibsons, and a whole lot more.

30th Street Guitars

30th Street Guitars is a funky shop that stands out in midtown Manhattan, surrounded by rehearsal studios, office buildings, and busy travelers coming in and out of Penn Station. Owner Matt Brewster has been passionate about guitars since childhood. He opened his store in 1995, and it has a friendly, low-key vibe inspired by the shop Brewster grew up visiting (and working at) in upstate New York. He specializes in repairing some of the most delicate vintage guitars and also created the Rust custom line of guitars and basses, following old-school designs with traditional pickups, hardware, and finishes. Next time you’re in the area, check out their inventory and surround yourself with the great energy that Brewster brings to his shop, where everyone from studio pros and Broadway musicians to rehearsing bands and beginning players is treated like family.

Rivington Guitars

Vintage is the specialty of Rivington Guitars, whether it’s sales, appraisals, purchases, trades, rentals, or repairs. Here, you’ll find everything from vintage Fenders to Silvertones and more unusual makes. Owner Howie Statland is one of the 25 US dealers who determine values in the Vintage Guitar Price Guide. He originally opened up shop in 1998 at a small location on Rivington Street (on the Lower East Side). In 2008, he moved it to a larger space in East Village and opened a separate shop for acoustic guitars in 2014 (both stores are located on the same street). Throughout the years, Rivington Guitars has satisfied the likes of Norah Jones, The Killers, Paul Simon, The Black Keys, Courtney Love, and many, many others. With over 350 vintage guitars in stock at all times, they update their website daily. The store also offers guitar lessons, and even sell, trade and repair vintage amps and keyboards.