The key to becoming (or fantasizing of becoming) the next Jimmy Hendrix or Joan Jett narrows down to finding the right guitar. But before you book your next gig at Whisky-a-Go-Go, let LA’s guide to the best places for buying new and vintage guitars steer you in the right direction.
West LA Music
Hours: Mon to Fri -10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
West L.A. Music supplies guitar equipment to top musicians around the world in all entertainment-based industries, including recording studios, film production facilities and composers. Here, you can fulfill your musical dreams with the store’s variety of guitar basics and paraphernalia including guitars (acoustic, electric, bass, classical), amplifiers, synthesizers, capos, polish, cases, picks, pickups, speaker cabinets, straps, strings and tuning gears.
Westwood Music Center
Hours: Tues to Fri – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat to Mon – 10 a.m. 7 p.m.
Started by Herman Walecki in 1946 and managed by his son throughout the past four decades, Westwood Music Center is the exclusive dealer for Bill Asher, designer and builder of Asher Guitars and Lap Steels. The master craftsmanship behind Asher’s Ultra Tone T-Deluxe and S-Custom guitars, inspired by Leo Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster, and his Ben Harper signature Lap Steel is a sight that can make any musician drool. In addition, the guitar store holds auctions every weekend, where one instrument with legendary value is auctioned off to the public. Auctions include instruments owned and played by Dan Folgelberg, Steven Stills, Bernie Leadon and Kenny Burrell.
For vintage strumming
Norman’s Rare Guitars
Hours: Tues to Sat – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Looking for a collector’s item won’t be hard to locate at Norman’s Rare Guitars. Since the opening of its first shop in 1975, Norman’s Rare Guitars continues to hold a collection of hard-to-find vintage guitars, including Gibson, Fender, Rickenbacker, Martin, and Gretsch. Norman’s rare mixture of instruments has earned him credibility among collectors, musicians and many high profile musical artists and bands. Frequent Norman’s visitors have included Robert Pattinson, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.
The Fretted Frog
Hours: Tues to Sat – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In a quest for finding rare acoustic guitars, The Fretted Frog owner decided to ditch his frustrations of searching big box retailers and open his own alternative acoustic guitar store. The Fretted Frog is known for finding and selling hard-to-find guitar brands such as Boulder Creek, Cole Clark, Deering, Goodtime and Vega Banjos, George Lowden, Godin, Lag and Saga: Blueridge, Cigano and Gitane.
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Candelas Guitar Shop
Hours: Available by phone Tues to Sat – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tomas Delgado exemplifies Candelas’ history of skill for handcrafting the most beautiful classical, mariachi and bajo sexto guitars in the world. Candelas Guitars have touched the magical fingers of world-class performers including Andres Segovia, Celedonio Romero, Jose Feliciano, Charo, Los Lobos, Jackson Browne, Quetzal and Ozomatli. Candelas Guitar Shop produces guitars with unmatched sounds, tones and quality at affordable prices.
Neely Custom Guitars
Hours: By Appointment Only
Neely Custom Guitars utilizes exclusive customizing techniques to meet the high quality demands for both studio and stage instruments. Each style has its own balance of woods, strings, acoustics and electronics. Building and repairing guitars since 1974, David Neely has a unique understanding of how real musicians use their instruments on stage or in the studios. He uses this knowledge to make modifications and repairs with a personal attention to detail.
Jennifer Geisman is a freelance writer and faithful beauty junkie living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.