Need something to do this weekend? Here are five instrument stores for you to channel your inner musical talent.
Basone Guitar Shop, 318 East 5th Avenue
Most music-shop owners are perfectly content with just selling you an instrument. Chris Basaraba will do that, too—his store, Basone Guitar Shop—is an authorized dealer of brands such as Charvel, G&L, Larrivée, Godin, Ibanez, and B.C. Rich—but the man known as “Bas” is more than just a retailer. He’s a luthier, and a prodigiously skilled one at that. Basaraba can repair your broken axe, pimp out your tired old instrument, or build you a new one from scratch, to your exacting specifications. Want a solid-body electric with a B.C. maple body finished in emerald green and hand-carved in the shape of a cannabis leaf? No? Well, someone did, and Basaraba made it. He’s also crafted some exquisitely beautiful instruments for clients with good taste.
Long & McQuade, 368 Terminal Avenue
Long & McQuade on Terminal is justifiably loved as a one-stop shopping stop for anyone who plays an instrument. Which department you’ll make a beeline to depends on whether you fancy yourself the second coming of Keith Moon, the greatest cellist this side of Yo-Yo Ma, or a pianist with skills that would have made Liberace faint. Not only that, the staff is famous for being completely chill. No one’s going to bat an eye should you grab a Gibson Les Paul and rip into “Paradise City” in the guitar section, or spend a half-hour trying to master The Simpsons theme up on the piano floor. The only downside of Long & McQuade is that with so much irresistibly shiny gear on display, you’ll walk in looking for piccolo sheet music for Pink Floyd’s The Wall and walk out with a Fender Precision Bass amp and Traynor Dynablock Series 350-watt amp. That you’ve never even picked up a bass before is beside the point.
Showcase Pianos, #3480-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
When you walk into Showcase Pianos, you’ll notice that it isn’t your traditional piano store. Sure, the Richmond spot offers pre-owned classics like Yamaha and Bechstein uprights, Roland digitals, and even a polished black W. Hoffmann grand piano. But the shop specializes in selling exquisite instruments that are hailed by many to be the pinnacle of it all—Italian handmade Fazioli pianos. Sitting in their showroom is a 24K gold-leaf Fazioli, which you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you’re tempted to learn how to play after seeing a bunch of people testing out the black and white keys, there’s an academy nestled in the back of the store that offers lessons to anyone who wants to learn.
Westcoast Guitars, 2741 East Hastings Street
As if you need another reason to visit Vancouver’s hottest neighbourhood, Westcoast Guitars recently relocated itself in Hastings Sunrise, within plectrum-throwing distance of the High Point liquor store and the city's most underappreciated curry-in-a-hurry (Indian Village Eatery). Guitars old and new, plus keyboards and sundry other instruments, liquor, pakoras—what else do you need on a Saturday night? Good question: Westcoast Guitars also features the Marley Coffee Bar, where you’re invited to enjoy a cup of free trade java manufactured by Bob’s son, Rohan, all while you ponder caffeinated Rastafarianism, vintage Gibsons, or recent visits to the store by Westcoast’s friend, Revenant supporting actor Duane Howard. If that’s not enough, there are also a number of dispensaries about five minutes (or one third of a Joe Satriani solo) away.
Bone Rattle Music, 2012 Commercial Drive
It bills itself as “East Van’s coolest little music shop”, and we can’t argue with that. Here’s betting that even if you’ve never strummed or blown into an instrument in your life, you’ll find a visit to this eclectic, cozy joint a genuine trip. Local musicians know it for its affordable prices, with everything from purple violins to cherry-red electric guitars coming in under $200. String hounds will love Bone Rattle’s selection of wood-inlayed acoustic Luna Guitars bedecked in dragonflies and hummingbirds, plus the truly mind-blowing collection of ukuleles in all the hues of a Hawaiian sunset. Gold Tone banjos, retro Honeytone amps, sexy Airline Twin Tones, and a seriously fun selection of kids’ percussion (Crayola-coloured old-school glockenspiels and beyond-adorable mini accordions): they’re all packed in here. Passionate about building the music community, the shop even offers lessons in the back. So here’s that chance of learning the steel guitar or the mandolin that you’ve always dreamed about.