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Monday, July 03, 2006

The Music Inn

At 169 W. 4th Street in the West Village is one of the most unusual shops in NYC. The Music Inn is, as one writer put it, "a claustrophic hovel." The outside of the shop should tell you that before even going in; it's so tight that at various times when it gets busy, I have seen the owner charge $1 to walk through it. It has probably the most extensive and eclectic collection of percussion and world instruments you'll find (they also sell some recorded music and do instrument repair.) The place is a real relic and throwback to the 60s, when the street was a nexus for the counterculture. Bob Dylan lived on 4th Street, and the Music Inn was one of his haunts.
If you're looking for a link to the store's website in this post, you won't find one - this is the kind of place that doesn't bother with websites. If you are in the city, take a look - it's another one of those places that won't be around forever...

10 comments:

midnitebara said...

it looks like a musicians paradise but not for me. I cant play any instrument, I listen instead.

Jazzy said...

Fascinating.

Brian said...

It's more than fascinating - you can barely walk in there - the aisle space is only as wide as one person and the instruments dangle overhead - you have to duck in many places. If there is more than one person in the store, you can only really walk in one direction. Not a browsing kind of place - I always feel like I should leave to not cause any possible congestion. But - it still deserves a visit!
Brian

Edwin Sumun said...

it may not around for long, but like you said, visit it and savour it until the day the rhythms fade away. I can imagine the scent of the all the skins...

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Anonymous said...

They have a great variety of the percussion instruments around the world. Over priced though...and of poor quality. If you need to play on an instrument you've never played before go here, you might be fooled to thinking that they are of good quality too...but any professional musician would never play on any of their drums. Did I say that they are over priced? Demand at least 1/3 off on anything you buy!

Anonymous said...

I was in there yesterday and it looked just like the picture - instruments piled and hanging everywhere. They have hand drums and stringed instruments from all over the world. I saw several nice sitars adn at least a dozen Ukes as well as congos, djembes, ashikoos, quicas, bells, ocean drums, guiatars violins, etc... You can barely walk through the two cramped aisles and forget about having a backpack or any other kind of bag. You will knock down more instrumetns than you can name if you are not careful! They have items priced from $25 or so on up to the thousands so there is something for every budget.

Rev. Laurel A Rockefeller said...

As a long time medieval re-creator who joined my group as a bard, I discovered Music Inn through my passion for my keyed dulcimer (also known as "autoharp") which I broke my 36C string on (the highest one) and needed a bad re-tuning for. I phoned two dozen music stores all over the city and NO ONE knew anything about a simple autoharp! That is, until I found a review for Music Inn. So I called...and found that yes, he does re-string them and happy to help me...for a great price! My harp is at Music Inn right now and I received great service. I'm blind and everyone was wonderful. OF COURSE in the store was a 1940s 15 chord autoharp...and my harp has been down for a good six months. I begged to get to play it and the clerk was happy to lend me a pick and let me hang out and play a few songs (I told him in two notes it was a few strings out of tune...I know what a C chord sounds like!). Being really experienced with this type of dulcimer, I worked around it and had a lot of fun for about 15 minutes. Everyone was SO WONDERFUL. I asked if they had a shawm (that's a specific precursor to the oboe, folks)...THEY HAD ONE for a mere $250...an alto or tenor, but they were happy to let me just PLAY. So let me call Music Inn a medievalist paradise. Actually for ANY HISTORICAL RE-ENACTOR...if you play pre-modern instruments, this is the ONLY place in town where you can get your instruments AND have a knowledgeable staff who can find you want you need and keep you playing for a long time! And they custom build working reproduction instruments! I love this place!