There are plenty of places to go in Dallas to get music equipment. Whether you're a professional musician, the parent of a tween or just a person with a rather expensive hobby, there are six Guitar Centers in the metroplex. Truth is, Guitar Center has almost everything you need: Plenty of new and vintage guitars, amps and drum equipment. But the more unsettling truth is that the chain has set up a monopoly that is making it harder for smaller, independently owned stores to stay in business.
These stores, for the most part, have everything Guitar Center has. Some of them are niche shops, meaning you can find a much wider variety of instruments. Some offer invaluable services. Perhaps the most important difference between these shops and Guitar Center is the ability to haggle prices. What follows is a list of the best places to get musical equipment in town.
Troy's Drum Shop
There's a little hole in the wall just off of I-35 and Luna in Carrollton called Troy's Drum Shop. Divided into two show rooms, the shop crams piles of custom drumsets, rare cymbals and accompanying supplemental equipment along the walls. In the center of the rooms, several vintage and custom kits have been expertly set up and tuned by the UNT jazz students who usually work at the shop. You don't get that at Guitar Center.
Charley's Guitar Shop
Charley's Guitar Shop has been around for over 30 years. Their North Dallas location is small -- just a little bigger than a closet -- but it's full of history. Charley's is more like a vintage guitar gallery than a shop, and it's more a place to get your guitar repaired and set up. Charley's has an expert luthier and a wide selection of rarities, such as specialty picks and strings. And for beginners, Charley's offers lessons from top local music teachers, not just some guy with a flier at the check-out counter.
To find Murphy's Music in Irving, just look for Crystal's Pizza, the massive, gaudy spaghetti and ski-ball mansion just off of 183 and O'Conner. In the same strip center, just a few doors down, you'll find Murphy's. Run by fast talking brothers Mike and Buzzy Murphy, the 43-year-old family business offers good competition to bigger retailers like Guitar Center and Brook Mays in both selection and service. If they don't have it in stock, they'll work hard to order it for you. And, just like Charley's, they've got a good luthier on staff.
Dave Anderson's Zoo Music
As a kid, I can remember riding by Dave Anderson's Zoo Music on Garland Road and being fascinated by the stacks of sparkle-wrapped drumsets that filled the building's front windows on both floors. They're still there, maybe even the same ones they put up when the shop opened in 1978. It's a fitting name, due to the instruments piled around the showroom floors. Like Murphy's, Zoo sells drums, guitars and just about anything else you can get at the big music store chains.
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Like Zoo, Lone Star Percussion has been open since 1978, and has been stamping their logo on drum heads ever since. Lone Star Percussion has the widest assortment of drum equipment of any retail shop in Dallas, and they've got stuff for novices and collectors. Aside from Troy's Drum Shop, it's the only Dream Cymbal dealer in Dallas, and it's the only C&C Drum dealer in Texas.