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Best of Toronto

The Best Musical Instrument Stores in Toronto

Posted by Ryan Ayukawa / March 25, 2015

musical instrument stores torontoThe 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.

Long & McQuade

Long & McQuade

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. More »

The Twelfth Fret

The Twelfth Fret

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. More »

Just Drums

Just Drums

"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. More »

The Sound Post

The Sound Post

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. More »

Moog Audio

Moog Audio

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. More »

Cosmo Music

Cosmo Music

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. More »

Steve's Music

Steve's Music

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. More »

Paul's Boutique

Paul's Boutique

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. More »

Capsule Music

Capsule Music

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. More »

Tutti Violini

Tutti Violini

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. More »

Remenyi House of Music

Remenyi House of Music

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. More »

Gary Armstrong Woodwinds

Gary Armstrong Woodwinds

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. More »

Canadian School of Lutherie

Canadian School of Lutherie

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. More »

Musideum

Musideum

Called owner Donald Quan's "Dream Shop", the Musideum is an exotic music instrument museum. Instruments from around the world line the walls - recent finds include a sansula, a guzheng, an Indian santur, and a fado guitar. (Though you might not know what a guzheng is, the staff there do.) Musideum also has a full in-store live recording studio, and hosts concerts in the evening. More »

Cask Music

Cask Music

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. More »

Discussion

27 Comments

Cal / March 25, 2015 at 01:48 pm
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Wait. Didn't Capsule Music close down? Does BlogTO even do the slightest bit of research before posting these lists? Or am I just going crazy?
Cask / March 25, 2015 at 01:51 pm
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Bought a lovely Reverend bass at Cask over the summer, as well as had them do some repair/set up work on one of my guitars. Great little place, awesome staff as well.

Plus, they didn't make fun of me when I picked up my repaired guitar and then subsequently realized the case had a dozen or so strawberry flavored condoms in it when I dropped it off. Oops.
Lolo replying to a comment from Cal / March 25, 2015 at 02:02 pm
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Capsule is open. Maybe Google search before you post.
Al replying to a comment from Cal / March 25, 2015 at 02:32 pm
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They moved from Queen West to Dovercourt a few years ago, but they are still in business.
skeeter / March 25, 2015 at 02:39 pm
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The Best Musical Instrument Stores in Toronto

Cosmo Music is a sprawling superstore in Richmond Hill.

meh replying to a comment from skeeter / March 25, 2015 at 03:29 pm
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Meh, close enough. That store should be on someone's radar even if they aren't from Richmond HIll.
Rick / March 25, 2015 at 03:55 pm
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Long and Mcquade by far. Best prices, selection is great in everything, and they offer payments plans if you need it.

L.A. Music in Mississauga is awesome too.
Durendal / March 25, 2015 at 05:48 pm
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Cosmo is literally in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. They couldn't have picked a worse location if they tried. If it's still around in a couple of years, I'll be shocked.
TheHyperdimension replying to a comment from Durendal / March 25, 2015 at 06:32 pm
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Cosmo has been in buttfuck nowhere for quite awhile now. At first I thought it was a weird choice as well but I think they made a good decision by moving there. The rent out there will be very affordable (a lot more affordable than Bloor or Queen or anywhere downtown for that matter), so prepare to be shocked in a couple years when they're still around.

Also, Capsule is apparently sharing a building with Century Drum Shoppe on Dovercourt and Halum.
Miscreant / March 26, 2015 at 12:02 am
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Laughable that Steve's is on this list. I'd have thought by now that customers have finally learned to see past the skinny jeans and summer toques to realize that it's a weigh scale for mid-twenty-something brats who are somewhere between their parents' suburban basements and menial labour?

Michael / March 26, 2015 at 09:26 am
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Ring music on Harbord is fantastic. A small, independent store with knowledgeable staff.
PC / March 26, 2015 at 09:32 am
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RIP Songbird Music ... would have been my pick for #1 on this list.
Get these balls replying to a comment from Miscreant / March 26, 2015 at 10:21 am
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Disagree somewhat. I bought my first "real" guitar (US Strat) at Steve's over 20 years ago. The dude that sold it to me is still there to this day and I regularly deal with him still. Yeah true, the kids at the front are as you described, but I find that's the case at most larger stores theses days.
aaron / March 26, 2015 at 10:56 am
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Have you been in the Arts Music Store in Newmarket? Cause I suggest you go there and try this list again. I work there so I'm also being bias but for real, other than the 12th it's probably the best selection of guitars in Ontario.
Tony / March 26, 2015 at 11:54 am
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It'd be really great if you guys could also link to their websites!
Miscreant replying to a comment from Get these balls / March 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm
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Yep, I was over-generalizing for dramatic effect. There are some guys there, often older, who have less 'tude and a better understanding of what their job is: to help us find what we want so we give them our money. That's retail.

But even so, I still think that overall Steve's has a bratty, too-cool-for-school vibe that just rubs so many people the wrong way.

Add to that that, especially with the advent of the internet, it's nearly pointless to go into a music store looking to be educated about a piece of gear. Not only can you find so much more information online, you also often find that the guy wearing the toque in mid-July while surfing youtube on his iPhone behind the counter actually doesn't know nearly enough about the gear he's posing behind.

To add insult to injury, often you get the attitude now of: 'Why are you asking me? Go online and see what the gear does."

So yeah, fuck Steve's. Won't give them my money again, and am hoping the Queen W rents eventually force them to shape up or ship out.
Anne / March 26, 2015 at 03:47 pm
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What about Club Bass on the queensway ?? The high end selection of hand crafted wood is amazing !!!!
Thumbs Up / March 26, 2015 at 04:46 pm
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Just commenting with relief by the omission of L.A. Music. If Blog TO ever does a "WORST music stores in Toronto" list, it ought to be nominated #1. I'm kinda shocked it's still in business.
mayor crack / March 26, 2015 at 05:32 pm
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Steve's IS on this list!
dean green / March 26, 2015 at 08:10 pm
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The 12th Fret is a fantastic store. Great setup for trying guitars out, especially if you're nervous about it.
Annon replying to a comment from Cal / March 27, 2015 at 03:42 am
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You're probably thinking about Song Bird... Not Capsule.
Steve S / March 28, 2015 at 04:06 pm
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Amazing to see Just Drums high up on that list. Its the absolute must-visit for drummers in TO. Killer selection and seriously top-notch service. Great group of guys who know what they're talking about and actually care. Twelve Fret... also a very worthy choice.
junctionist / March 30, 2015 at 09:48 pm
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I don't know if Long & McQuade is still as good as I remember it, but as a young musician in the 2000s, I loved that store. The selection and service were superb. The staff was always polite and knowledgeable. If they didn't have something, they'd often volunteer to look it up in the computer to order it. That store was a class act. It was unnecessary to go anywhere else, unless you were in a rush to buy something not in stock and didn't have time to order it.
Aaron / April 12, 2015 at 11:21 am
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Srsly www.theartsmusicstore.com
Long time torontonian / April 12, 2015 at 09:47 pm
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Wow. Lil'demon guitars has been open for four years and owner/guitar guru Gian blows the competition away! U should really do your research. There's not many shops to begin with and his shop is at Dundas St west and Montrose across from Bellwoods Park. Anyone who knows guitars should know Gian. He's no poser! This article is a joke.
Charna / April 25, 2015 at 08:21 pm
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Check out this new school in Toronto, where you can learn how to build your own guitar.

All kinds of courses for all kinds of people; building ukuleles, electric, acoustic, and cigar box guitars.

http://www.theguitarbuildingschool.com

Geary Guitarworks

theguitarbuildingschool@gmail.com


Mat / May 6, 2015 at 10:19 am
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I am not surprised St. John's Music never made the list. I have been there over the years and although the staff was great, the stock was pitiful. One day I came by and I heard who I think was the manager berating an employee behind closed doors within clear earshot of customers and staff. One time I saw some guy in a dark office lit only by a small lamp. Creepy. I wanted to pay a bill for someone once and the office staff was really nice. There was a Middle Eastern woman in the office and some guy named Leo (I think, or Louis maybe) was very helpful. Didn't see him there when I recently came by. Too bad, since I would only deal with him. Very knowledgeable too.

The rest of staff was helpful but it was clear that they were very unhappy to be there. Indian guy in the print department was quiet, but there was a woman in the choir department who always looked like she wanted to hit you. Not singing for her, that's for sure. It was an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.

I considered working there when I was younger but once I saw what it has become, I reconsidered.

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