A brief tour of London guitar shops

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by rze99, Aug 27, 2019.

  1. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    had a cancelled event last week in centre of London. So I used it to do a rare tour of the guitar shops for a few hours

    All those in Denmark Street (yes there a still a few), in Charing Cross Road and Guitar Guitar in Camden, and Macari's in Charing Cross Road.

    I tried a bunch of guitars from MIM Fender Vintage Gibsons and Custom Shop Teles

    Some observations:

    Staff have improved no end. Friendly helpful, some knowledgeable.

    Shops still don’t do anything to sell their guitars in terms of set-up and strings. Even some upper end guitars had old strings, too much neck relief and high actions. C'mon shop people, it's hardly tempting to the buyer if it not good to play.

    Most of the rosewood fretboards looked so sad even on the Custom shop guitars due to being really dried out.

    There are loads of T-types by all sorts of makers, even Rose Morris brand Shaftsbury has been rejuvenated and have some decent T-types.


    Guitars

    The new Classic Vibes I picked up looked a bit plastic but pretty well put together

    I tried a MIM FSR Custom (£850) in natural ash. Pretty nice but pickup screws for the humbucker were loose, the pickup had collapsed on one side and the screws fell on the floor and disappeared when I played it. Why would a shop leave it out like that?

    The Jimmy Page Mirror Tele is very nice. Beautiful finish. Nice neck carve. It payed just like my AVRI '64 but without such a good set-up as mine. The rosewood fretboard is dyed dark.. I'm pretty sure of it. It's too expensive at £2.6k.

    The nicest trad Tele was the Custom Shop Robben Ford type relic (I took a quick phone snap of that) . Mind you even that had old strings and dry as a bone fretboard) That was £3.6k Very friendly chap in Guitar Guitar.

    Nice Gibson store Sixty Six Sounds had friendly folk. The new Gibson les Paul juniors with P90s are great. Cheap and play really well. They have a spectacular matched flame top Custom Shop Les Paul Standard in there., like a painting. I didn't dare pick it up - some of these CS Les Pauls are up at nearly £9k. Sheesh.

    I tried a lovely old 77 Les Paul Pro Deluxe with P90s in black and cream in incredible condition. But it weighs about 13 Pounds (gulp) and was £4k

    Loads of Custom Shop Les Pauls in Guitar Guitar and Sixty Six Sounds

    The best brand new guitar of all of them I played was a Hahr Custom Tele with two "Thornbuckers" and 5 way switch (designed by Pete Thorn) Those Thorn humbuckers are fabulous. Low wind, bright lively and even. Wonderful. Compound radius. Played beautifully. The guitar was £2.2k

    The guitar I wanted most was a '63 Relic Custom Shop SG at Macari's. Wow that is fab. It's 3.6k though. They've got an amazing 65 Firebird in there too.

    Fun afternoon :)


    Custom Shop Robben Ford type resting on my knee :

    IMG_0045.jpg
     
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  2. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for the report rze99. The London shops seem to be in much better shape than those in NYC.
     
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  3. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I steered clear of Denmark Street for years after being stitched up a bit on one deal. I was a bit naive and all is long forgiven if not forgotten. And I'm really glad to have the instrument now.

    But over the past few years I've found the same as rze99 especially about the friendliness of staff. Particularly Wunjo's and Guitar Guitar in Camden where I've happily spent far too much money.

    I'm retired so it's easy to visit off peak and I think that helps.
     
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  4. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I spent a fun hour or so in Wunjo’s on a London trip last year... kinda exaggerating a little how likely it was that I was going to buy an acoustic guitar: very friendly and helpful staff member brought me a good number of A&L and S&P acoustics to try. Very enjoyable...!
     
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  5. markjames

    markjames Tele-Meister

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    It's been a while since I had the spare time to spend in any of the London Guitar shops..... Far too long!... I go back to the 702 when you had Rose Morris on Shaftesbury Avenue (Many's the time I drooled over a 'Nobbly Ned'!)... Back in those days a Fender or Gibson were way beyond my means... Shaftesbury, Avon, Columbus, Jedson, Eros & Kimbara are a few of the names that spring to mind that my budget could maybe stretch to..(second hand of course!).... My first guitar in fact was a second hand 'semi' 'Audition' Guitar..(The Wonder Of Woolies!)... Bought out of the classified ads in the East London advertiser for a Tenner!....... They were the days!
     
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  6. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I bought my first resonator from Wunjo's about 3 or 4 years ago. They put me on a well worn leather sofa upstairs with a coffee and a box of picks and slides and various budget Gretsches etc up to wooden and metal Nationals all within arms reach (almost) and left me to it for an hour. I totally fell for an El Trovador and spent most of the time with it. Way out of my planned budget, and it was quite hard to settle for a Gretsch Alligator at about a fifth of the price.

    In much earlier days I spent as long as I dared drooling over a J200 and various enormous jazz boxes in their glass cases in Selmer's. And then bought a Kimbara classical from Scarth's further down Charing Cross Rd, followed by an Eko Ranger jumbo, a dreadful Columbus Strat copy and an even worse Shaftesbury bass. A long time before the luxury of Tokai and Squier.

    Happy days.
     
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  7. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    Thank you for the tour!

    In Paris too, the guitar shops around Pigalle are much more friendly these days.
    I remember when I was a teenager in the 90s, before the internet, these shops were the only place to buy guitars and amps in Paris. But I stopped going there during 2000s when they became really self indulgent, with arrogant salesmen.
    Maybe it is the need to face online shopping, or a new generation of employees and shop owners, but they’ve changed their attitude since a few years and I recently took pleasure visiting them again.
     
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  8. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    The point about setup and presentation is vital. I was in a store in Berkeley, CA, a few years back and all the cheap old Kays and Harmonys were beautifully presented - strung with fresh, thin gauge strings.

    If you want to sell old stock, how about making it play nice and look good?
     
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