With Guitar Hero increasing in popularity by the day, virtually anyone can pick up a “guitar” and start shredding. As such, a lot can be said for those who still play — or at least attempt to play — the real thing.
Congrats if you’ve realized that no matter how cool someone looks jammin’ on expert mode, anyone who can bust out a few chords looks infinitely cooler.
Well, slow down Jimi Hendrix: before you go and pick up the cheapest Stratocaster knockoff out there, check out some of London’s finest guitar shops.
As a tiny shop in the mall selling everything from grand pianos to recording software, you might have to do a little searching before you find the guitars in Walter’s.
Walter’s sells a few brands that aren’t found in many other shops in London, including the made-in-Canada brand Godin, along with some more common names like Yamaha and Peavey, but lacks the classic Fender and Gibson brands. Amps are also available as is a wholesome selection of sheet music in case you aren’t yet ready to write your own tunes.
If you’re not up to teaching yourself, Walter’s also offers guitar lessons on location.
Price of a starter set: $299
71 Wellington St.
Matt’s Music is a little bit out of the way for most students, but certainly worth the journey if you are serious about getting a fine guitar.
This shop offers a large variety of guitars in both type and brand. Acoustic, electric, 12-string, banjo — you name it, Matt’s Music probably has it. A business in operation for over 36 years, the store sells big names like Gibson, along with a variety of other brands.
If you want to distinguish yourself from all the other bedroom rockers, then this could be the place for you; Matt’s sells plenty of guitars with unique body shapes and trick finishes. For any Habs fans, the shop has a guitar decked out with a Canadiens paint job, so you can show your Tricolore pride while rocking out.
Price of a starter set: under $250
446 York St.
The powerhouse among London music stores, Bellone’s has been ‘serving London and area since 1964,’ as its website proudly boasts.
The store’s selection of guitars, both acoustic and electric, is incredible. An entire wall is dedicated to a display of guitars all varying in price. It’s rare to be in the store when there is not someone else plugged in trying out the stock.
If you’re looking for variety in brands, Bellone’s is your place: Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, Grestch and Ibanez is just a sample of the brands. But don’t be overwhelmed by the selection — the staff is composed of experienced musicians who are very willing to help you choose your axe.
Bellone’s also carries a large selection of effects pedals and is the exclusive dealer of the revered Marshall line of amplifiers in London.
Price of a starter set: about $430
London Guitar Shop
364 Richmond St.
The London Guitar Shop makes this list by more than just its name.
Located in the same building as Belle Air Music (the two are in fact the same business), the store displays more than 300 guitars, featuring Fender, Vox, Yamaha and many more. Absent from the selection of big names however is Gibson, so you’ll have to go elsewhere to pick up your dream Les Paul or Flying V.
Otherwise, the shop has 15 feet of display cabinet devoted to effects pedals and sells a variety of amps, including tube amps if you’re looking for a different sound. Still not impressed? The store’s collection of oddball instruments also includes an electric sitar.
Having been around since the late ’60s, you can be sure that the London Guitar Shop will help you get set up with your first (or fifth) guitar.
Price of a starter set: $249