What Makes a Musical Instrument Shop Great

Ok, so it’s been a while since I posted. A long while. My job takes me to different countries, and I have been responsible for an ever-growing group of analysts over the last couple years. But as the title of my blog means, ya gotta rush, so I will do my best to get back into the swing.

Among my favorite things to do is play guitar. I’ve been on the lookout for new instruments since my ability to afford them went up in recent years. Washington D.C. has a wide variety of clubs and restaurants, and certainly museums, and I’ve just recently noticed that it does not have a large offering of music instrument shops. That’s a shame, because there is a joy in entering a good music shop- knowing that you can try all of these new instruments and find the one you really connect with. Because it has been on my mind, and I have been on the hunt for good instruments, I asked myself, “what makes a great guitar store”? I watched this video on making electric guitar instruments (don’t worry, I’m not turning into a luthier any time soon), and was inspired by the whole process…

There’s one thing above all else that makes a guitar store great, I believe, and that is variety. While you don’t want a store that runs the gamut to the extent of becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none” affair, it’s best to cover as many bases as possible while still having enough to offer within every particular style someone may be interested in.

Just think about it; there are dozens and dozens of different types of guitars out there, and a myriad of musical styles (the list is long!) that people are interested in using them for. The best guitar store will be able to accommodate as many of those different tastes as possible. The needs of the six string shredders and metal lovers must be covered, as well as those of the “extended range” players (read a cool article on this topic here), folksy acoustic strummers, and so on. There has to be some sort of decent options available for those that are interested in the likes of banjos, ukuleles, and mandolins as well.


Of course, a decent array of additional items such as amplifiers, guitar stands, straps, picks, strings, cables, tuners, effects pedals, and other accessories must be on hand. A great guitar store will essentially be a “one stop shop” where you can get every single thing you might need to either play and practice at home, record in the studio, or even perform on stage.

There are just too many facets of guitar playing and additional equipment for any store worth its salt to skimp out on the  basic options. The variety of a great guitar store must also account for brands. Many shops have some sort of deal worked out with particular manufacturers, meaning they’ll end up having mostly a large array of just one particular guitar brand. The beauty of guitars is that each model and style has its own identity, comprised of a unique sound and feel. If someone can walk through the door and compare numerous models from different manufacturers, they’ll be more likely to find whatever is the best fit for their personal needs.

So, it really all comes down to variety. Above all, that’s what makes a guitar-store great. With so many different guitars and corresponding equipment options out there, there’s no excuse for a store to only cater to just one particular style of playing or brand. There’s a world of possibility available, and the best guitar shop will be able to expose its customers to as much of that as  possible. One local place I found- in Capitol Hill no less- is the electric guitar store Music on the Hill. They feature a truly great variety of guitars (both electric and acoustic), ukes, basses, and sheet music to help you play your favorite songs. The staff is what won me over- I found them to be knowledgeable and helpful, and clearly happy with how they help their customers. If you are in the market for new instruments, drive on over to Capitol Hill and love the variety. Happy Strumming…