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My Personal Top 5 Guitar Shops in the UK

These are the ones I always make time for when I’m in town. These are mostly the ones that I can’t afford to buy in and the experience is probably akin to some kind of trainspotting vibe. 

I think the whole point of these places is the experience of being in the presence of genuinely historical items – the smell and feel of old wood and with tarnished metal hanging on a wall and each item has a history and story of its own.

Vintage and Rare started for me when there was a shop on Denmark Street, London. I’ve played at the 12 Bar a few times on Denmark Street and just around the corner at what was Blow Up on Oxford Street and we’d hang out in the Crobar before curtain-up.

Naturally I would pop into Hanks and always made a point of looking at the old notice board in the alley right next to the 12 Bar. Sadly the original Vintage and Rare went but we got No Tom in its place. The coolest guitar I saw at No Tom was a 1958 Rickenbacker Capri.

But Denmark Street itself has really suffered during the work on the new underground station at Tottenham Court Road. No more 12 Bar and the remaining shops seem to be just hanging in there. I’ve even seen a few reduced to hanging out on Ebay which doesn’t feel very rock and roll.

Johnny Roadhouse is my favourite in Manchester. It’s a total junk shop – and I mean that in a very nice way – but I love it and stuff pops in through the door from time to time. I saw my first checkerboard-bound Rickenbacker 381 there. Why Manchester? I used to play at the Boardwalk.

If you want a historical piece, try the Kings Road shop.

  1. Vintage and Rare, Bath
  2. No Tom, London
  3. Johnny Roadhouse, Manchester
  4. Hanks Guitar Shop, London
  5. Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium, London