For a city full of musicians, Philly is a little sparse on places that sell and repair musical gear. Chain stores, like Guitar Center, are found far outside the city limits, and many local shops are known more for their attitudes than their inventories. What’s a local guitar hero to do? Visit one of the shops on this list to pick up strings or to get your favorite instrument fixed. – Peter Marinari
511 South 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
BlueBond is the go-to guitar shop for Philly’s musicians for many reasons: prime location, selection of used gear, knowledgeable folks behind the counter, sound-proofed sampling room and a built-in school of rock. From capos to distortion pedals, BlueBond either has what you’re looking for or knows where to find it. However, the pluses of BlueBond are also the minor minuses — the wait time for repairs can be lengthy, and it’s often crowded with kids en route to lessons.
407 East Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125-3305
DiPinto’s is a guitar shop that’s also a brand name — you can spot their guitars in the hands of guitarists from Dick Dale to Lil’ Wayne to Conan O’Brian. In addition to carrying their own guitars, this Philly shop is a vintage wonderland, which means it’s also a little pricey for the budding instrumentalist. DiPinto’s is also one of the few places in Philly to take your amplifier for repairs.
28 North Lansdowne Avenue, # 1
Lansdowne, PA 19050-1917
Todaro’s is a small shop that specializes in world music and carries an assortment of stringed instruments and drums. The store still has the gear and lessons you’d expect from a typical guitar shop, and they outsource repairs to a pair of professional luthiers. The best part? Owner Joseph Todaro will drop what he’s doing to say hello to a new customer or a novice guitarist.
The Classical Guitar Store
2038 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4417
Not every guitarist is a steel string rocker. For classical and finger style guitar players, this tiny Sansom Street shop is a rare resource. It’s packed to the rafters with guitars, but also offers lessons and specialized accessories like footstools and humidifiers.
Frederick W. Oster Fine Violins
507 South Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19147
The name sounds fanciful, but when it comes to the entire violin family — including cello and upright bass — there’s no finer store in the area. Oster is a home to high end vintage instruments, but don’t let the price tags put you off — they still sell strings and cases and perform repairs. If you need help with your stringed instrument, this is the shop to call.
3612 Silverside Road
Wilmington, DE 19810-5190
It’s a hike to Wilmington from Center City, but if your clarinet or sax needs some TLC, Marinelli is the best local option. Call ahead before you make the trek — you’ll want to make sure there will be time to chat about the repairs you need before you leave your woodwind behind.
Superior Guitar Works
810 Bethlehem Pike
Flourtown PA, 19031
If your guitar needs run more to restoration than restringing, Superior is the shop for you. Luthier Tim Huenke can be trusted with the most delicate of vintage repairs.