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10 top spots to buy musical instruments in Cape Town
A selection of fine instrument shops for melody makers and maestros
As a city that marches to its own beat, Cape Town practically vibrates with musical talent, boasting a large selection of both fledgling musicians and well-established maestros. From budding electric guitarists and practicing pianists to emerging orchestral whizzes and seasoned rock-‘n’-rollers, there’s a melodic mixed medley of instrumentalists giving the streets of our seaside metropolis an alluring backbeat.
Unsurprisingly then, to help these musos spin their tunes there are a handful of great musical instruments shops in Cape Town vending anything from bass guitars, glockenspiels, tubas and trumpets to drum sets, keyboards, flutes and flugelhorns. To help you locate these fine music stores – many of which also do repairs and offer rental services – we’ve put together a broad overview of top Mother City spots with pieces for sale. From large, well-stocked outlets to small home-based businesses, these venues cover the full scale of all things instrumental.
TOP MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS SHOPS IN CAPE TOWN
Paul Bothner Music
With roots that reach back to 1902, this large-scale, family-owned retailer – it has branches in Plumstead, Claremont, Goodwood, Somerset West and Parklands – is a trusted leading name in the musical instruments and equipment industry. The music stores stock everything from high-quality branded drum sets, electric, acoustic and bass guitars, pianos, keyboards and ukuleles to top-notch brass and woodwind instruments, violins, cellos, amplifiers and PA systems for pro, semi-pro and amateur musicians. What’s more, they also sell an assortment of musical accessories, like drum skins and guitar picks, and will gladly organise to bring in anything customers request if it’s not already on their shelves. All the staff are highly knowledgeable, many of them being experienced melody makers themselves, and are well equipped to give clients invaluable advice about the ideal choice. For those who never buy without testing, there are dedicated areas in the shops for this, and for those with the tools but not the technical know-how, the stores also boast teaching facilities (more specifically, they offer keyboard, guitar and drum lessons).
Superstore: Shop G7 | Richmond Centre | Main Road | Plumstead | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 761 4828
Musikhaus W. Heuer
With its core focus being on keys, this premier Stellenbosch-based music store is a prime place to visit to find both new and beautifully reconditioned grand, upright and digital pianos, keyboards and classical organs from well-established reliable brands like Yamaha and Feurich. In addition to their fleet of ebony and ivory-based instruments, the piano shop also stocks the complete spectrum of pop, classical and rock-orientated equipment, including school percussion pieces (think German imported xylophones, glockenspiels, metallophones and more), guitars and orchestral instruments, like saxophones, clarinets, cellos and trumpets. Customers are welcome to try out the various products in-store, and for those who aren’t able to make a purchase, pianos can also be rented for up to one year at a cost of R500 a month. Patrons who do want to buy on the spot can delight in the fact that the store delivers within the Cape Town area (delivery costs vary by location).
69 – 71 Bird Street | Stellenbosch | +27 (0)21 887 2938
As its name suggests, this Parklands-based guitar shop is a veritable treasure trove for both amateur and professional string enthusiasts, stocking a wide array of new and used electric, acoustic, bass and classic guitars crafted by big international names like Ibanez, Gibson and the famed Fender. What its title doesn’t indicate, though, is that the store also sells a limited selection of other equipment and instrument types, such as drum kits, keyboards, PA systems and amplifiers. All items can be delivered to locations in the Cape Town area at no extra cost, and because the outlet deals in second-hand products as well as fresh-faced ones, they’ll occasionally buy high-quality used pieces from customers too (just be sure to phone first to check). Other services offered on site include guitar lessons, for those strummers who are just getting started, and guitar repairs, for those with instruments strung out from too much use.
Shop 8 | Parklands Centre | Link Road | Parklands | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 557 2157
With a focus on variety, top-grade service and affordability, Musicfest SA prides themselves on being a must-visit leader in the music instruments field. The huge warehouse-like store has anything from pianos, Yamaha keyboards, tubas and violins to drum kits, congas, ukuleles, recording systems and Washburn and Cort guitars for sale, and espouses a firm try-before-you-buy policy for clients’ benefit. As most of the employees are fervent musicians, they’re well versed in the trade and well equipped with helpful information (plus, they are not averse to letting visitors crank it up a little in the shop). And the prices are reasonable too – in fact, the company promises to try to beat any written quotes that customers bring in from other music stores, and even has a financing system in place that allows big buyers (like churches or schools) to pay their purchases off in instalments over 18 months. Delivery in Cape Town is also free.
Shop 5 | Shoprite Park | 262 Voortrekker Road | Parow | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 930 3330
Firmly established in the early 90s by Dutch-born Bert Koster, a retired percussionist who formerly performed in the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, this small wholesale business is a drummer’s paradise, selling Gibraltar, Gretsch and Ludwig drum sets, parts, hardware and accessories (including stands, skins and sticks) alongside handmade Istanbul cymbals, gongs, congas, bongos, snares, djembes and more. Aside from all things that can be struck, the music shop also claims a mixed medley of other musical options, like didgeridoos, African marimbas, rainsticks, recorders, violins, cellos, bells, glockenspiels, pianos and brass instruments (the shop is a big supplier for the lively Cape Town Minstrel Carnival). Not to mention, it also specialises in instructional books and DVDs to help customers get the most out of their equipment. As an experienced musician, Bert is in a good position to advise any buyers about options that would best suit their ability level and budget (he prides himself on selling a wide range of affordable instruments for educational purposes too) and is also happy to let visitors give their potential purchases a try on site.
Unit 4 | Rosbur Park | Neptune Street | Paarden Eiland | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 510 7770
As the exclusive Southern African importers of internationally renowned Steinway & Sons-designed pianos, Pianoforte, which opened their distinguished showroom in Cape Town in 2006, is a top-grade spot to find some of the finest sets of keys made worldwide. Their range includes premium, painstakingly handcrafted Steinway & Sons grand and vertical models, mid-range Boston pianos and entry-level – though still first-class – Essex pianos (the latter two are both part of the Steinway family). Each is available in a wide selection of finishes, designs and veneers, and on request, can come fitted with a PianoDisc, an innovative electric component that, when installed, makes the instrument play by itself. Various parts and accessories – think humidifiers, covers and benches – are also available, and the store has contracted technicians to do repairs and maintenance. Though beautiful uprights, baby and concert grands are the shop’s ‘forte’, it’s also home to Steinway Lyngdorf home theatre systems and eye-catching José Ramirez guitars. The final cost of products includes delivery, home set-up and tuning, as this is one business that’s committed to following through from start to finish.
Centre for the Book | 62 Queen Victoria Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 0079
The African Music Store
A vibrant champion of African music, this colourful shop on Cape Town’s Long Street is predominantly base to a rich assortment of local reggae, gospel, jazz, soul and kwaito CDs and DVDs. Though, amidst the racks of discs, and the rows of beaded paraphernalia, jewellery, T-shirts, clocks and cushions, lies a limited selection of traditional musical instruments too, many of which are sourced from craftsmen based in Zimbabwe. These include interesting options like seed shakers, fork rattles, monkey balls, tambourines, mbiras, marimbas, uhadis, djembes and more. What’s more, the shop, which was founded in 1997 by African music enthusiasts Mark Charnas, Helen Rose-Innes and Trevor Rosenfield, also stocks a very unique item: the oil tin electric guitar, which is actually crafted from an old Castrol tin and can be tested in-store with the assistance of a staff member.
134 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 426 0857
Born out of founder Victor de Freitas’s passion for brass and woodwind pieces, MusicCraft both repairs old damaged instruments and sells an assortment of new and reconditioned ones. The store claims a varied mix of options, including trumpets, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, flutes, flugelhorns, euphoniums, oboes and bassoons. Essentially, it’s a utopia for all orchestral performers and enthusiasts. Those who aren’t quite confident about which instrument would suit them best can give the pieces a play in the store, and can also request advice from the friendly and passionate staff (the owner is a keen sax player himself). Not to mention, the shop doesn’t only cater to customers looking to purchase models, but those looking to patch up their own equipment too – the MusiCraft team will do anything from complete overhauls and resurfacing to a minor maintenance service.
8 Humby Road | Ottery | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 703 2902
One of the biggest and most diverse musical instruments shops in Cape Town (and SA), this national retailer, which has stores in both Constantiaberg and on the historic Heritage Square, is a nirvana for all Mother City strummers, drummers, performers and players. Divided up into sections, each one manned by employees that specialise in that field, the monstrous shops are must-visits for anyone looking for, well, anything music related. On the floor, there is the whole gamut of string, brass, percussion, keyboard and woodwind instruments as well as studio equipment, recording devices and innovative bits and bobs that take playing to the next level. While the Southern Suburbs store boasts a special Nixon Sound Lounge with a product display and listening system, the city centre one claims a recording studio for emerging and established artists, a centre that focuses on guitar repairs and modifications, areas set aside for drum and guitar lessons (the brand’s big on education) and even a coffee shop for those eager to take a time-out from the thrills of instrument shopping.
Heritage Square | 65 Buitengracht Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 426 6325
South Palms Complex | 333 Main Road | Retreat (Constantiaberg) | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 200 1823
Operating out of the Durbanville-based home of founding couple Alet and Derek Lambert, Lambert Music is a small-scale business that not only sells a selection of symphonic instruments but also repairs busted ones and offers up a broad range for hire. High-quality clarinets, flutes, violins, trumpets, saxophones and more are available to buy (they can be viewed at their house) or rent for any amount of time (from as short as a weekend to as long as several years). The hiring service that the duo offers gives indecisive customers the opportunity to try out pieces before making a purchase and removes the stress of having to make a big commitment immediately. As a music teacher and trained professional, Alet can also make informed recommendations to both beginners and the more experienced. Aside from the instruments themselves, the venture also deals in music accessories, like sax reeds, stands and metronomes, and can arrange to bring in sheet music for customers who put in orders in advance. Anyone interested in organising a viewing at their home can contact Alet on +27 (0)83 454 3667 or at [email protected].
A fan of all things melody related? Browse through the section of our site dedicated solely to music in Cape Town – it includes interviews with artists, other interesting overviews and more.
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