The Best Musical Instrument Stores in Toronto
The best musical instrument stores in Toronto cover everything from sales of Gibsons and Larivees to electric drum kits and restored Wurlitzers (they might also fix up your oboe or rehair your bow). From sprawling superstores to one-man shops, these stores have excellent reputations, thanks to their inventory, knowledge, service, and willingness to go the extra step to find the right item for the right musician.
Here are the best musical instrument stores in Toronto.
With over 60 locations across Canada, Long & McQuade has been filling the needs of musicians since 1956. Along with rentals, repairs and sales of a wide variety of instruments and gear, they have financing options for rent-to-own. Store items include used and trade in. They also provide a studio for trying out gear. The Bloor St. main store is massive enough to cover a city block.
In business for close to forty years, Twelfth Fret started in the Beaches and has expanded to their current Danforth Ave. (near Woodbine TTC station) locale. Staff there are all former customers and aim to give personal service to their large customer base. Twelfth Fret has a large number of vintage and newer model acoustic and electric guitars (Gibsons and Fenders are endless), basses, and some mandolins and banjos.
"Drummers helping drummers" is the motto of Just Drums. They sell and rent everything associated with drums from starter kits to pro kits and electronic kits, sticks, brushes, snares, hi-hats, and cymbals. They offer repairs and tune-ups and, as well as a rehearsal space. Just Drums also keeps active in the drumming community with workshops.
Performers, students, and teachers of all stringed instruments should know about The Sound Post. The store specializes in sales and repairs of violins, cellos, violas, basses, gamba, cases and bows. They also sell learning material and sheet music in books, CDs, DVD and video formats. To add to their expertise, they provide English, French and Spanish service online.
If you want to make one stop for turntables, DJ controllers, software, discs, and gear, Moog Audio might have everything you need. Moog also carries a long list of studio equipment and stage gear, from mics to speakers to mixers - all of which they install for large projects. Drums and samplers, keys and synths are in abundance - but don't expect much in the way of guitars and amps.
Cosmo Music is a sprawling superstore in Richmond Hill. At 56,000 sq. ft., it's one of Canada's largest music stores, and employs over 200 staff, stocks 11,000 instruments for rent, handles instrument repairs and sales, and carries DJ gear, audio and lighting. The complex also includes a music school and a concert hall.
Starting out in Montreal nearly 50 years ago, Steve's Music Store has expanded to Toronto and Ottawa. The Queen West store has one of the largest selections of instruments for rent and sale in the city. While you can pick up just about any instrument there, the selection remains largest on acoustic and electric guitars, amps, and drums - both rentals and retail. Online listings reflect only part of the massive sale items on the shelves.
A relatively small store on Nassau between Bathurst and Spadina, Paul's Boutique is the kind of music store where you'd find a vintage Telecaster up front, and a working Wurlitzer in the back room. There's also a rental rehearsal space. The boutique is heavy on rare, old and restored guitars, basses, amps and keys and less so on new items.
The list of guitars, basses, and amps at Capsule seems to change by the hour - a 1964 Lake Placid Blue Jazzmaster Fender, a 1976 Les Paul Gibson, a 1971 Viking Gretsch, a Custom Firebird Red Telecaster, and on from there. Capsule buys, sells, trades, and has items on consignment, though store space is limited. They have a number of vintage mics available for rent too.
Patrons of Tutti Violini can schedule an in-person appointment with owner Jaime Weisenblum or drop in during regular hours. In either case, Weisenblum offers his personal attention in helping select a violin, viola, cello or bow, specific to the individual musician. He'll also attend to re-hairing, appraisals, explain setup of the bridge and sound post, and play a customer's instrument to ensure quality of sound.
Leading experts in all makes of pianos, Remenyi sells and restores all domestic and handcrafted European models including Bechstein, Fazioli, and Seiler. They also sell digital pianos, and guitars, violins, cellos, and ukuleles, banjos, and mandolins. Their three-storey store caters more to classical performers and includes a sheet music store, listening stations, instrument rentals, workshops and appraisals.
Specializing in oboe repair, Gary Armstrong has been fixing all forms of woodwinds for 40 years in Toronto. Orchestral players from across Canada see Gary for his expertise and precision with the latest tools, glues, and woods. His shop at Queen/Roncesvalles stocks instrument stands, along with reeds of all strength levels for oboes, English horns, clarinets, and bassoons. Also stocked are reed cases and at times, used instruments.
A luthier is a person who builds or repairs string instruments and the Canadian School of Lutherie specializes in the art of string instrument building. The store, located in a former toy manufacturing space, has a sister shop in Dartmouth, N.S., and operates under the same format. They teach custom acoustic and electric instrument building and repair classes, and sell custom instruments to all levels of players.
While they've only been around since 2013, Cask Music is building a nice reputation in Leslieville for having friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a nice selection of new/used acoustic and electric guitars, basses, pedals and amps. The store itself isn't large; it does, however, have a very accommodating space in the back for trying out gear at settings that would upset your next door neighbour.
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