November 26, 2015
Everyone knows Nashville is a great place to listen to music. There are live performances everywhere, including the airport, the Laundromats, and the streets. But Music City is also a great place to pick up everything from rare vinyl to top-of-the-range guitars, second-hand instruments, sheet music, some stage-friendly clothing or the perfect souvenir to remind you of the sounds of your stay. In many instances, there is overlap between the two. You can listen to live music while you browse. And, of course, you can play yourself. How else are you going to test out all those great instruments? Take a look at the best music stores in Nashville to visit on your next trip.
Those who watch ABC TV’s “Nashville” know Two Old Hippies as the 8,000 sq. ft. space in which the show’s characters often perform. But locals flock to this store in The Gulch not only as a place to see music (there’s a live show five nights a week) but also to buy instruments – the shop stocks guitars, mandolins and ukuleles from Bedell, Breedlove and Weber. Locals love “The Vault,” a quiet sanctuary where the premium selection of instruments is stored, and where they can play and test them in quiet.
Perhaps as responsible as anywhere for keeping vinyl alive during the pre-hipster days, Grimey’s New and Preloved Music is the place to go for used (called “preloved” here) music. Yes, you can find new releases on vinyl and CDs, including some that are hard to find elsewhere. But Grimey’s is best when you’re searching for that vintage song you haven’t heard in years. Used music is always 10 per cent off on Mondays and this is also a great place to buy tickets to local shows.
More than 1,000 guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles and amplifiers are in stock at Gruhn Guitars, a shop that’s been a landmark in Nashville for more than 45 years (in 2013 the shop moved to a considerably larger space on 8th Avenue). Emphasis is on handcrafted acoustic instruments, but some musicians feel that Gruhn has almost every instrument known to man. If you can’t find it here, you might not be able to find it at all. Of course, that kind of selection comes at a price. You’ll find some seriously elite specimens.
Fanny’s House of Music is known for an unusual combination: its used instruments and its vintage clothing. Come to this store, tucked away in a cosy East Nashville house, and shop for both. Find a stage-worthy outfit along with the instrument to rock out. Fanny’s is the kind of place where local musicians and visitors will show and up and jam. The atmosphere is purposefully casual, comfortable and welcoming. Come ready to pick.
The original Ernest Tubb Record Shops is one of downtown Nashville’s time-honoured stops. There’s a small stage that isn’t used like it was in its heyday, and, certainly, since people started buying music online the selection has decreased. But this is an iconic stop and the place to find country, gospel and bluegrass CDs and books.
There’s also a location in Music Valley, near the Grand Ole Opry (2416 Music Valley Dr., 615-889-2474). This outpost is a prime location to get artists to sign CDs after they play the legendary (and free) Saturday night “Midnite Jamboree” radio show.
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Written by Margaret Littman