One of the most common things people ask me when they are researching places to take guitar lessons is if I can recommend somewhere to buy a guitar around the Twin Cities.
While it seems like an innocent enough question, I always seem to find myself writing a 15-minute email about the various merits of all the different ones in and around Minneapolis and St. Paul. The thing is, there are a lot of factors to that come into play when someone is getting ready to purchase a guitar, and cost is only the starting place.
The good thing is that the Twin Cities has a lot of great music stores, and whether you are looking to keep costs low, support a small business, connect with a network of musicians, or take music lessons, chances are one of them can meet your needs.
Personally, I go to a bunch of guitar shops around town for a variety of reasons — sometimes just to check out what's new. Here's a few of my favorite stores.
Any musician who lives in South Minneapolis should be familiar with Blackbird's Music, and I send just about every student who lives in the area there for all their basic needs. While they don't have a very large selection of guitars available, they'll have you covered for pretty much all the accessories you need after the fact — strings, picks, capos and most everything else you can think of.
I have a particular affinity for the custom Blackbird's Music picks, and so whenever I'm running low on them, it gives me an opportunity to head down there and catch up the staff and owners who are incredibly friendly and helpful.
Everybody that works down there just seems impressively in tune with helping people find what they need, even if they have to send you somewhere else to get it. Plus, whatever they don't have on site, they can always order it.
While most stores offer that service, I feel like I can trust the people at Blackbird's to know what I'm looking for when I'm buying products I'm not familiar with, which stems from the fact that they are great musicians who still play great music.
Last but not least, Blackbird's offers some great jam sessions where anyone at any level is welcome. They do lean on the bluegrass and folk side of things, but even if that isn't your favorite style of music, it's a lot of fun to just hang out, share stories, and play with other people, which might even be a better way to learn music than taking lessons.
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It may seem odd to juxtapose a very local music store with a very commercial one, but the fact is, the Bloomington Guitar Center is still on every Twin Cities musician's radar because of its extensive selection and low prices. The Bloomington Guitar Center has a huge selection of acoustic guitars, electric guitars, amplifiers and accessories — I mean, it basically has everything.
I get that it's a big deal to support local, but it's also no secret that to do so, you probably have to pay a little extra, mostly because there's no way local stores can compete with the volume pricing the big chains can offer. The reality is, though, that not everyone has the luxury of paying that little extra and if there's an alternative for them, why shouldn't they take it?
Plus, because they have such a huge selection, they usually have better availability than some of the smaller shops, and sometimes, I want something today — not in two weeks.
The Bloomington Guitar Center is also a valuable resource for beginners who are choosing their first instruments for guitar lessons. Hands down, they have the best combination of price point and selection when it comes to entry-level guitars.
At the end of the day it's a must-stop shop when you're looking around for gear. Gear can be pricey, and it pays to due your due diligence. Even if you choose to buy what you're looking for somewhere else, you can probably try it out at Guitar Center first and also check out all of its competitors' products.
You simply can't do that way anywhere else.
Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul is an institution among Twin Cities guitar players, and with the closing of The Podium in South Minneapolis a few years back, no other place in the area can compete with its impressive selection of high-quality used guitars, ukuleles and mandolins.
I tend to buy used if I am buying "forever" instruments, and Willie's is always my first and sometimes only stop on that journey. The customer service is excellent, and the staff always seems to be really excited about each instrument in its inventory. Plus, pricing is fair, which can often be an issue when buying anything labeled "vintage."
Whether you are searching for your first instrument for guitar lessons or just like to try out what’s new at the shop, Blackbird's Music, the Bloomington Guitar Center and Willies American Guitars are great places to check out.
While many stores in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area also offer guitar lessons, Approachable Music teaches in an intuitive and efficient manner that can help you become the player you want to become. Plus, we offer flexible scheduling allows people to work at their own pace without worrying if they are practicing enough to make their investment worth it.
We can even help if you prefer to teach yourself guitar.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning or getting better at guitar.
This step-by-step guide starts from zero, so beginners can learn how to sing and play at the same time as quickly as possible. These are the basic instructions that should come with every new guitar, and it's what should be taught in every student's first guitar lesson as well.
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