As with anything in Manhattan, music stores are a dime a dozen. The possibilities are endless when you take in the sheer number of Manhattan-area instrument retailers, whether you’re looking for vintage gear, the latest amps and guitars, or a full set of accessories to compliment your playing.
But some rise above the rest, whether through sheer selection, specialty inventory, or being more than an instrument store, but a haven. The best places to shop for musical instruments are where someone could get lost for hours exploring their passion through quality equipment and friendly staff.
We’ve scoured the island to find the best musical instrument stores, with a keen eye on selection, taste, and atmosphere. Some world-class, some geared for the beginner, this definitive list encompasses locations every music instrument nerd needs to check off their bucket list.
As one of the only places in New York City at-large where you can step into an immersive world of percussion, Steve Maxwell Vintage and Custom Drums appears more like a museum than a store.
For the audiophile drummers, this place is chock-full of a wide range of instruments. From multi-thousand dollar Gretsch sets to affordable Slingerland racks, most all drummers will find something that fits their tastes.
Interestingly, this place is also a true drum-geek’s paradise. These guys create a podcast and video channel to explore the world of drums, creating a sort of “percussion culture” around the store.
If vintage guitars are your thing, Rivington Guitars is your new paradise. Specializing in classic and vintage models (and even some valuable off-brands), Rivington’s expansive collection of truly iconic instruments—while pricey—is where any gear-head can truly lose themselves.
There’s also an unplugged acoustic store, located right next to the original Rivington Guitars, specially built to enhance the acoustic quality of your playing. You can find a lot of rare and vintage acoustic guitars here for your playing pleasure. Plus, the ability to play in a custom built environment makes putting down whatever it is you’rer playing next to impossible.
Rogue Music literally does everything—custom-built, boutique, vintage, inexpensive. Some of their “choice parts” pieces are completely original guitars that are sure to catch the eye and the ear. Their range of more inexpensive instruments also makes this destination great for first-timers and newcomers to the world of music.
This location also features an eclectic selection of drum machines, pedals, and advanced audio equipment, which just expands the charm they bring to Manhattan’s instrument store scene.
The Sam Ash chain of musical instrument stores, one of which is located outside the heart of Manhattan, has literally everything for everyone. Think of them like an independent Guitar Center, with guitars, amps, drums, recording equipment, instructional books, and just about everything else anyone from a beginner to a professional could be looking for.
One of the greatest things about Sam Ash in Manhattan is their website. Navigable by brand and department, you can get a great idea about what to find there before you ever visit the store. Plus, with the capability of bringing in stock from other stores (located around the region) Sam Ash is truly a one-stop-shop for anybody looking for, well, anything.
That’s right. Rudy’s Music is the home of Rudy Pensa, famed friend of Mark Knopfler and creator of the iconic “Pensa MK” guitar series. Visually stunning and truly beautiful, Rudy’s Music is the place to step into the world of an instrument maker. As a guitar maker’ shop, you’ll find sounds here you’ve never heard before, and play instruments which will leave a lasting impression on the ear.
There’s also an expansive collection of instruments from many different brands, with both boutique and big-name finds available to try. When it comes to guitar stores in Manhattan, Rudy’s is the definitive mecca.