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Thread: Bay Area Instrument Shops

  1. #1
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    Default Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Hi all,

    I'll be in the Bay Area of California mid-July and I was hoping to check out some mandos in the ever-lasting search for the next mando. Anyone know of some good instrument stores near Berkeley?

    --Sam
    Samuel Acus

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    I'm going to run you around the Bay Area a bit with these recommendations but the Bay Area is a big place so it's hard to avoid. You wouldn't necessarily have to drive to these places and could have some fun and sight seeing getting to them. Tiburon is accessible by ferry from SF which you could take BART (train) to and Palo Alto is accessible by Caltrain from SF. In any event I would HIGHLY recommend downloading the CityMapper app to your phone and that will give very good directions for getting around the Bay Area.

    Guitar Solo (GSP) San Francisco
    https://gspguitar.com/

    Schoenberg Guitars - Tiburon (North Bay)
    https://om28.com/

    Gryphon Strings - Palo Alto (Peninsula)
    https://www.gryphonstrings.com/

    Berkeley Music - Berkeley
    https://berkeleymusic.com/
    (they don't stock new mandos but usually have a fair number of used instruments and may have some used mandos. Also, I think they would be a good place to ask about other shops that do carry mandos that I might not know about.

    COVID and gentrification have taken its toll in the last couple of years so these are the only ones I know of that are still open. At least I think they're still open...

  3. #3
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Sylvan Music is another Bay Area shop, down in Santa Cruz:

    https://www.sylvanmusic.com/store/c23/Mandolins.html
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  4. #4
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    For nice mandolins you should go to Schoenberg in Tiburon, or Gryphon in Palo Alto.
    They are both about an hour from Berkeley buy car.

    Gryphon in Palo Alto always has a nice selection of Collings, Northfield, etc., and sometimes really nice offerings like Ellis.
    You can check on the website to see what they have right now, before you drive all the way down there.
    Nice store though.

    For me, the holy grail of instrument stores in the Bay area, or even in the country as a whole, is Schoenberg in Tiburon.
    Absolutely amazing store.
    It is full of super interesting old instruments, and is a really unique interior space.
    Their Mandolin selection is usually awesome and wide ranging.
    They usually have a rack of old Gibson As, accompanied by a few odds and ends from other makers.
    Then they have a nice selection of old Gibson F4s and F5s scattered around the walls.
    It really is a lovely day out to go there.
    Tiburon is an amazingly beautiful little bit of heaven in Marin.
    Go and have lunch somewhere and enjoy the day, then go up the hill to Schoenberg and have a great time.
    Eric Schoenberg is usually there, and is a super nice guy.
    He is fine with you playing just about anything if you are careful and kind to the instruments.
    It really is a great trip.

    Here is a post I did about what I played at Schoenberg on my visit in 2018, just to give you an idea of the kind of stuff they carry.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ars-Tiberon-Ca
    Mandolins: Northfield 5-Bar Artist Model "Old Dog", J Bovier F5 Special, Gibson A-00 (1940)
    Fiddles: 1920s Strad copy, 1930s Strad copy, Liu Xi T20, Liu Xi T19+ Dark.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    I still haven’t gone to Schoenberg’s, which is definitely on my list!

    Honestly, you’re going to have a much easier time of this if you have a car here. By “rapid transit,” it will probably take you a couple of hours each way to get to any of these stores from Berkeley.

    Gryphon and Sylvan have different mando selections, although both are Eastman dealers. From Berkeley by car, it will take you about another half-hour each way to go to Sylvan rather than Gryphon, but there is more to do down in Santa Cruz. You can go to both stores, but that will take you most of a day, with all the driving. So, I suggest that you check their inventories the night before you plan to drive to one, and base your decision on that.

    If you also are interested in guitars, you might consider Mighty Fine Guitars in Lafayette, which is about 20-30 minutes by car east of Berkeley. That store is only open Thursdays thru Saturdays, and all of the guitars in there are on consignment, but Martins are the low end of the inventory! No mandolins, though.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    At the moment, Schoenberg has the most vintage mandolins.
    Gryphon does have a snakehead A and a Lyon & Healy style A. They posted a nice black F-4 a few days ago, but it's already gone. They have several Northfields and one Collings.

    Unless inventories change drastically before you get there, I'd visit Gryphon and Schoenberg first.

    Be advised that Sylvan's prices on their old Gibsons and their Lyon & Healy C are very stiff, even for the bay area. If you go there, do your research first.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    ..

  8. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    the 5th string still by the Ashby BART station? I have bought my '22A from them on lay away while they had a Geary St store.
    Was my lunch time haunt while working down the street, a few blocks, in the 80's...
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  9. #9
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Unfortunately the 5th String has been gone for years now.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

  10. #10
    Dave Berry
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    And a little further north is Banana's in San Rafael and Santa Rosa. https://www.bananas.com/
    Dave
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  12. The following members say thank you to DavidKOS for this post:


  13. #12
    Dave Berry
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Thanks David. Does Marc have a storefront?
    Dave
    Gilchrist A3 #03539, Kimble A5 #122, Gibson A4 #65987
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  14. #13

    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolinian View Post
    Hi all,

    I'll be in the Bay Area of California mid-July and I was hoping to check out some mandos in the ever-lasting search for the next mando. Anyone know of some good instrument stores near Berkeley?

    --Sam
    I highly recommend Timbre Folk and Baroque in Berkeley! I bought my acoustic guitar there, and they also stock many mandolins. The shop is run by lovely people, and it's a cozy spot to hang out and jam on some cool instruments.

    https://timbrefolk.com/
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  15. #14
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by tuhker View Post
    Thanks David. Does Marc have a storefront?
    He used to but that was years ago!

  16. #15

    Default Re: Bay Area Instrument Shops

    Quote Originally Posted by tuhker View Post
    Thanks David. Does Marc have a storefront?
    No, I believe you have to contact him directly.
    Eastman MD504
    Curt Mangan Monel, Light
    Dunlop Ultex Sharp, 1.14 mm

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