First, I guess, would be where not to look for a guitar.
The internet is a good place to study, compare notes, and gauge pricing, but I would never buy a guitar I could not feel or hear being played — a total no-no in my book. So, eBay is out. Others may disagree, but to me, it's sort of like getting a mail-order bride.
Another where-not-to-look would be the big-box stores. I will admit I have purchased lots of gear from Guitar Center over the years, and while they do offer convenience and often the cheapest prices, their customer service seems to have gone the way of Bain Capital. Give me back the good old days of hanging out with Juan Montoya, Ray Ray, or Laramie Dean when they worked there. Those days are long gone. As for Sam Ash, I never lived by one, and although I know they gobbled up the famed Manny's Music in NYC, I do not have an opinion on them, since a music store, to me, means local.
Which brings me to where you should buy a guitar.
My experience began with my first guitar I ever bought, at a shop in my hometown, that I could admire through the window. It was a place called Conti's, and the owner was Jim Conti. He was there to answer all your needs, which was and still is important. The store is no longer around, but trust that we are on to something here.
Find a mom-and-pop store that caters to yours and your neighborhood's needs. Branch out after learning from communicating with the folks there about other great music shops. Over the years, some of the greats were the Banjo Shop in Hollywood and Ed's Guitars in Miami. Both are history now too, but there are shops near you that have taken up the slack.
A1A Guitars & Art
233 N Federal Hwy, Dania Beach 33004; Call (954) 925-7190.
My local go-to is A1A Guitars & Art in Dania Beach. Jeffery D'Amico is a supernice guy, and while he may not have everything you want all in one shop, he does have a couch to sit on, and the whole place has the feel of a hootenanny waiting to happen. He can also order anything you need and does repairs too.
Music Arts Enterprises
3301 Davie Blvd, Fort Lauderdale 33312; Call (954) 581-2203.
I will always give kudos to Music Arts Enterprises (MAE) on Davie Boulevard. It has been around for decades and offers in-house repairs, rentals, expert advice, and all the good stuff.
Others — sort of out of my locale but maybe in yours — that would be the highly recommended:
The Amp Shop & Music Parlor
776 S Congress Ave, West Palm Beach 33406; Call (561) 471-9441.
The Amp Shop & Music Parlor is a rad music consignment shop serving West Palm Beach.
2875 Jupiter Park Dr #400, Jupiter 33458; Call (561) 746-2209.
Wolfe Guitars in Jupiter is "Florida's largest volume guitar dealer," offering a range of acoustics, electrics, basses, mandolins, ukuleles, amps, vintage and pre-owned axes, in addition to repairs and setups.
The Guitar Exchange
7688 Wiles Rd, Coral Springs 33067; Call (954) 227-9111.
At the Guitar Exchange in Coral Springs, what they might lack in tons of inventory, they more than make up for in customer service.
Penny Lane Emporium
3038 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale 33306; Call (954) 566-8141.
And for your Broward ukulele, mandolin, banjo, and acoustic needs, Fort Lauderdale's Penny Lane Emporium is the shop.
So here's to the search, since that's the best part — well, second to plugging her in and getting real loud. And to all of you out there who can name your own favorite shops, please tell us about them here.