Artist Maya Angelou once said music was her refuge.
It can be a great escape. It can fill in the blanks when words fail. It can help you better understand others, yourself and a community.
Music, in and of itself, can be a vacation.
The music scene is a vital branch of the Boulder lifestyle. Whether you’re looking to get a new instrument, rent one, fix one, pick up musical accessories, meet other musicians or learn more about music in Boulder, there are, surprisingly, many top-of-the-line shops. You can even find not just one but multiple local violin and bow makers.
Here is a peek at some of the best music stores in Boulder County, plus some tips on how to get the most out of them from the pros themselves.
HB Woodsongs, 3101 28th St.
Woodsongs is Boulder’s best-known music store, a place to get a variety of instruments, from new or used guitars to orchestral instruments. Woodsongs has been a locally run staple in Boulder for more than 25 years and has won a variety of “best of” awards.
In addition to buying instruments, you can rent them, consign them, repair them (via Travis Band Instrument Repair, onsite) and take lessons here or play in the studio. Teachers here are reputable. In addition, the Woodsongs Lutherie repair shop is across the street.
Woodsongs also carries accessories, sheet music and instructional DVDs, plus a selection of unique instruments. These have included a 1950s-era Vega Baritone Ukulele, a Gibson F4 Mandolin from around 1919 and a Gibson Mandolin-Banjo from the ‘30s. The stock changes every day.
The shop also hosts regular events, including a monthly Ukulele Hootenanny (5:30-7 p.m. every third Saturday of the month) and a Jam Workshop covering the basics of jamming and bluegrass (4:30-6 p.m. the third Sunday of every month).
Bart’s Record Shop, 1625 Folsom St.
Hipsters and music geeks, this one’s for you. Bart’s doesn’t sell instruments. It sells music, including new and used records, 45s and turntables. If you want something more modern (ish) but still delightfully old school, you can also buy CDs here. Music lovers can also find some cool posters. Consign your unwanted records and CDs at Bart’s.
Bart’s has a long reputation in Boulder, lasting more than 25 years, even in the changing musical landscape. It boasts the Best of Boulder Award for 16 years.
Bart’s also offers some unique services. It can transfer records to CDs, repair scratches on CDs, special order albums and fix stereo equipment.
Boulder Drum Shop, 3070 28th Ave.
The Boulder Drum Shop is (you guessed it) the local drum expert. Here, you can find all kinds of drums, as well as get lessons by two of Boulder’s top drummers, Joe Morton (who created an advanced foot pedal technique) and Christian Teele (the house drummer for E-Town). The staff here knows a ton about drums. They’re the real deal.
Boulder Piano Gallery, 3111 Walnut St.
The Boulder Piano Gallery is where to go for all things piano. You’ll find more than 40 rebuilt pianos of all styles, including more than 20 grand pianos. Also find digital pianos, music (in partnership with Lafayette Music) and a 100-person concert hall for recitals, classes and other events.
The Piano Gallery is owned by Paul Jarvis, who grew up in Boulder and has a master’s in music in piano.
Lafayette Music, 1361 Forest Park Circle Unit 106, Lafayette
Lafayette Music is the best local source for sheet music. You can also buy and rent all kinds of other instruments here, besides pianos, as well as find a variety of other music paraphernalia and accessories.
Boulder Guitars, 2150 Pearl St. Unit B
Boulder Guitars specializes in guitars (obviously), but also accessories and audio gear, such as pro-quality sound systems. The shop’s on-site sound tech engineer can even be hired to set up for shows and special events, making this shop a valuable resource for weddings and musicians. Boulder Guitars also does repairs, tune-ups and rentals.
Goodrich Violin Shop, 1045 Pearl St.
Goodrich is one of Boulder’s fine makers of violins. David Goodrich handmakes violins (and repairs them). His resume is impressive; he studied under the world-renowned restorer, Robert Cauer, and at the esteemed Oberlin Violin Making Workshop. He has learned from some of the world’s top violin makers.
If you are curious to buy one of his instruments, he lets you take it with you for a trial up to 10 days, so you can determine if it’s a good match for you.
Visit Goodrich by appointment in his studio.
Bernstein Violins, 705 S. 45th St.
Bernstein Violins is another violin maker in town. This maker, Reed Raphael Bernstein, actually worked at the Goodrich Violin Shop, before branching off to form his own business. His education and resume is also impressive for people who are familiar with the scene.
Guitars Etc., 460 Main St., Longmont
If you’re looking for a music fix in east Boulder County, Longmont’s Guitars Etc. right off Main Street is worth a stop. The shop opened in 1993 and offers music gear, lessons for more than 450 students (including a rock band camp in the summer), a full-service lutherie and a performance space at the Cellar at Guitars Etc.