Long before the internet changed the way we do everything, guitar stores were mystical places. While some of them still operate in the tradition of the past, providing as much social hub as a house to facilitate the sale and maintenance of our beloved instruments, the guitar shop of yore is an endangered thing.
The fondest memories of my youth involved trekking through New York City to guitar shops with my father. There was absolutely nothing that could top the excitement felt turning the corner onto 48th Street to be greeted by the endless Mecca of shops peddling obscure and vintage stringed delights. It was a place where you could spot the most famous players in the world rubbing elbows with tire-kickers as they all sought their own idea of perfection in wood and wire. As such, it was the place that provided many a legend with the instruments they wielded with which to conquer the world. And once upon a time -- before that wonderful block was bought up by chains and homogenized -- that aura of importance was palpable thing.
The reality is that there is a certain magic that can't be stomped out of any guitar shop. That's because there's a certain magic that permeates the air around guitars; it's resilient and can overcome things like multiple botched attempts at the lead riff from "Sweet Chile O' Mine" or countless fat-fingered introductions to "Stairway to Heaven." And while you may not have heard of them all (yet), South Florida is fortunate to have some really great places to buy guitars.
Here are the top ten guitar shops in Broward with one in Boca and one online.
Guitar Center is absolutely the enemy in the grand scheme of things. They're now owned by the greedy shitbags at Bain Capital and are undoubtedly responsible for stomping out a countless number of great many mom and pop operations, but this particular location is actually great and here's why: It's staffed by locals that care about you and your scene, and it always has been.
Some of you might remember when MonstrO's Juan Montoya and Charlie Suarez worked the guitar department. Others may only know the store's current staff -- which includes most of Orbweaver. But this Guitar Center has a vibe that is friendly, familiar, and it happens to be one of the top locations in the company, which means the selection is the absolute best in the area. From the unattainably expensive golden era vintage stuff that you probably won't be able to play anywhere else, to affordable pawn shop-y oddities, to spankin' new stuff from every major manufacturer, this store really does have it all. If we've gotta have a Guitar Center, at least we have the best Guitar Center.
If you're looking for something from the golden era, an investment-quality vintage guitar, or even something on the upper-end of player's grade vintage, Craig Brody has got you covered. Based out of Weston, Brody curates his inventory like a collector, and as such, has some of the wildest guitars in the region. One could drool over his website for hours. Being that his main focus is upper echelon vintage, Brody works by appointment only.
For those with a taste for the vintage and weird without an investment banker's pocketbooks, Dixie Guitar Traders have an awesome selection of unique stuff that is priced fairly and generally in pretty decent repair.
The guys that run the shop are very cool about things like consignment and take in just about everything brought to them, so the shop houses a menagerie ranging from derelict '80s rack-mounted processors to sitars and pedal steels. Looking to throw some new ugly into your noise setup? You could blow the dust off of oddball effects and noise implements until you get bronchitis here, and probably pick up an extra 4x12 cab for the price of your cable bill.
M.A.E. has been in business for 50 years and was at one point the source for high-end boutique guitars and amps in the area. Handmade, custom, and rare has always been the order of the day at M.A.E., and while they have shifted the focus of the store to pro-audio and back line, there are still deals here and interesting things you won't find anywhere else.
Don't forget to take a look at the wall heading toward the acoustic room or the amp pile in front of the effects display -- there are always poorly-labeled gems lurking in these areas.
Sam Ash is a national chain, yes. However, it's the people that make the difference and much like the Guitar Center in Hallandale Beach, Margate's Sam Ash is staffed by members of serious area bands and the vibe here has always made for a nice shopping experience. Need an entry level or less-than-precious instrument to tour with? You probably won't find a better deal locally.
5. Music Magic
Music Magic is a locally-based online dealer that focuses entirely on attainably priced, player's grade vintage. Between the unreal selection of oddball Norlin-period Gibsons, student series Fenders from the mid-'60s, and even a killer selection of vintage Gretschs, this guy should be your first call if you're interested in getting a useful vintage instrument that you're not afraid to play Churchill's with.
Many of those that frequent M.A.E. may remember Jeffrey D, who ran the guitar department there for a few years. Jeffrey has gone on to open his own shop and art gallery right on one of the scenic strips of A1A in Dania Beach. Jeffrey deals mostly in new gear, and has an intense selection of Taylor acoustics. His shop is also up the street from Jaxson's and Tark's, and I shouldn't write hungry anymore.
Another locally-based online dealer, Tim Kummer, has undoubtedly one of the sickest stashes of vintage electric guitars in the area, but where Kummer cuts his own swath is his absolutely unreal cache of original National resonator guitars and various lap steels, all for sale.
Got a propensity for shred sticks? Dig on locking tremolos and all of the other wonderful kit that made the '80s so, um, extreme? Check out Extreme Guitars in Boca.
For one thing, they have a motorcycle in the front of the shop, so it has to be cool, yeah? They also have a serious selection of boutique amps, including the entire lines of Diezel from Europe, Soldano, Bogner, and Suhr. This is all high performance heavy metal oriented gear that will mate perfectly with one of the custom shop ESP guitars sold here.
The Guitar Exchange has been in Coral Springs for almost 17 years now and what the store lacks in inventory relative to the others listed it makes up for in hometown vibe and in awesome repair skills. Those in-store are capable of repairing anything, but can also do entire custom builds, if you're inclined and have the money.
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