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.

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Full-service shops

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.

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

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.

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.

Related: Best Music Clubs In LA

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Custom-made guitars

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.

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

Comments (3)
  1. who dis? says:

    There are some places here are the worst places to go… West LA music is horrible for price and warranty.

    Westwood Music last time I was there had few electrics but a mountain of beautiful feeling/sounding acoustics.

    Truetone Music in Santa Monica was unmentioned but has a large selection.

    Far as custom shop/repair John Carruthers in Venice Beach is a great stanard.

    Used shops in Westside of LA like Marina Music(owner Alex is a warm chatty fellow) and Timewarp music are great for finding used stuff in great shape at great prices.

    The best store will always go to Guitar Center in Hollywood. Their network of chain stores lets you find something quick nationwide.

    If you are a someone whos played for ages and dream of vintage guitars, then you already know about craigslist/ebay. Before the internet I even heard of well known musicians scouring things Recycler’s classified ads weekly.

    I think the author gave a nice attempt at describing some known places but fell short, which leads me believe where she got her info?

  2. free pizza says:

    I agree wtih the reviewer above about Truetone. If you’re going to mention good westside guitar stores, Truetone has to be mentioned.

    I don’t agree however with Guitar Center being the best place to buy a guitar in Los Angeles though, especially the Hollywood location. Their staff consists either of over the hill, hair metal burn outs, or too cool for school kids, either way too aggressive with their selling tactics or reluctant to show you what’s really good. If you’re going to go the Guitar Center route, the Sherman Oaks one is the best one. If you want to purchase a guitar on-line, I would not go with e-bay. That’s where I’d suggest guitar center, esp. their used/vintage section that offers buyer’s insurance at $20. I’ve seen vintage guitars go from $100 to $200 less on GC’s website than on e-bay.

    I’d even recommend Sam Ash over Guitar Center in Hollywood, much better deals and they have a staff that’s much easier to deal with as well.

    However, over the past 15-20 years, there have been many decent independent guitar stores that have opened in the LA area that are way more economical, especially for the working musician who probably doesn’t have $1,000 on a brand new guitar. I’d suggest to go that route via a search on Yelp or even Craigslist. Peace.

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