The Internet undoubtedly has made some of our shopping habits extremely convenient. There are some things, however, where a point-and-click purchase is not your best option, no matter how solid you think your research skills are. As any musician will tell you, buying an instrument is definitely something to be done in person, because you have to hear and feel the damn thing. So whether you’re a seasoned vet, a rookie or even just looking to get started, pay a visit to one of these local musical instrument shops and let their expertise guide your important investment.
Southtown Guitar (1533 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids)
Not only will you find quality instruments at Southtown Guitar in Eastown, you’ll also find competent teachers to show you how to play them. Whether you’re looking to hone your guitar skills or wanting to cut your teeth on a harp, the folks at Southtown will make it happen. Snag a new axe for Junior and watch him learn to make that thing sing.
Selner Bros. Music (505 W. Vine St., Kalamazoo)
You’ll always find something unique at Selner Bros., which specializes in used gear. Located in Kalamazoo’s Vine neighborhood, this quaint little shop has a constantly rotating inventory that can include acoustic and electric stringed instruments, amps and effects, wind instruments, and even electric pianos. Truth be told, there’s no telling what you might find on any given day. Do you need a practice amp, cassette deck or even a starter ukulele? Selner Bros. has you covered, offering music lessons and instrument repair, too.
Broughton Music & Art Center (4528 W. KL Ave., Kalamazoo)
Broughton has been around since the mid-90s, calling The Zoo home. Like the others, the shop offers music lessons, repair services, and a pretty wide assortment of instruments and accessories for sale. But if you’re only in need of one on a short-term basis, or maybe you’re looking to “try before you buy,” Broughton also offers rentals. So if you get a last minute phone call from Apocalyptica needing you to fill in on cello, don’t sweat it.
Rainbow Music (1148 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids)
It’s been almost four decades since Rainbow Music opened its door, and since has established itself as one of West Michigan’s premier instrument retailers. In fact, the shop took the number-one spot in Revue’s 2016 Best of the West readers poll for Musical Instrument Store. This should come as no surprise — Rainbow has been a well-respected shop for some time, offering an impressive collection of gear at fair prices and high-quality repair work coupled with a level of professional, friendly service you’re not likely to find at larger places.
R.I.T. Music (3870 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids and 74 E. 8th St., Holland)
There’s something pleasing to the eye when gazing upon a wall filled with wood-colored, stringed beauty. It adds to the experience to see a veritable rainbow of different colored ukuleles, guitar straps and song books. There seems to be a bit of everything at R.I.T.’s two West Michigan locations, including lessons, repairs and your student’s school band needs.
Firehouse Guitars (3125 28th St. SW, Grandville and 1032 E. Sternberg Rd., Muskegon)
So what is it you need? Strings? Picks? A new crash for your kit? Lighting for your live shows? A djembe? You’ll find all of that and more at Firehouse Guitars in both Muskegon and Grandville. Their offerings run the gamut from new and used instrument sales to lessons and repairs, along with live sound rentals to give your next performance that extra boost. As of 2017, the shop has been around for 20 years, so you can be sure they know their stuff.