Best Online Music Instrument Stores

Researching the purchase of musical gear is now as easy as it’s ever been, thanks to the internet.

In the old days – you know, maybe all of 20 years ago – it was a lot harder to find the great instruments and accessories.  There were the local music stores, the catalogs, the slightly mysterious references from friends, teachers, and local pros.

But on the net, there was only a ghost of the piles of information that are now available at a click or tap.

That has all changed, thanks to the numbers of online stores that have sprung up recently. Some of these are brick and mortar affairs that have been in business for decades, but have only recently harnessed the power of the net with cool new websites, hugely improved supply chains, and global reach.

Others are brand new, purpose-built sales monsters with lightning fast websites, able to supply your most exotic musical wish while you’re sitting at home in your jammies.

The new breed of stores includes names like,, and

In the decades-old group are more familiar names like Sam Ash Music, Musician’s Friend, Interstate Music, and Best Buy (musical instruments from Best Buy? Really?  Yes, really!)

So, let’s take a closer look at a few of these., for instance.  Zzounds has a copyright date on their website that goes back to 1996. Since that was just after the internet became a thing, they have grown, largely as a result of that blazing website, into a multi-million dollar a year company, having served over a million people during that time.

Zzounds carries items from several hundred manufacturers, mostly in the areas of guitars, amplifiers, drums, keyboards, and pro audio gear. So if you’re looking for a French horn, this is not your site.


They also have multiple payment plans, should you want to go the route of financing your gear. The specifics of the plans they offer are on their site, and the plans seem to get universally good reviews.


Some of the other companies that come up during searches for ‘online music instrument stores’ include American Music Group, Music and Arts, Musician’s Friend, Music123, and Woodwind and Brasswind.

Sites for these will look similar, because they’re all owned by the same company. One of the benefits of a setup like this is the customer can get things shipped quickly because of the number of warehouses placed around the country.

Of the decades-old group, one of the most successful is Sam Ash Music, headquartered in New York. With more than 40 locations around the country, Sam Ash has bridged the gap between the traditional chain-store approach, and the way of the giant sizzling website. They also have a variety of financing plans.

In the ‘Really?’ category, Best Buy is one that surprised me. I’m very new to the idea that a store I had perceived as handling electronics, appliances, and DVD’s, was now handling musical instruments.  On their site, of the 15 brands they carry in this category, I recognize 4. Not banging on the others, I’m just not familiar with them.

I suppose I should not be surprised, though, since WalMart began carrying musical instruments many years ago. Be very careful of the quality of any instrument bought from there.

In the ‘we specialize in a single type of instrument’ stores, there are outfits like,,,,,  and the revered Gruhn Guitars, who have perhaps the best site address of all,!

So, here’s the list of my picks of the ‘best online music instrument stores’:

As always, your comments are welcome!



Does Music Make You Smarter?

Maybe you’ve heard about the research results from a few years ago, claiming that listening to music could raise your IQ by 10 points.

Or perhaps you’ve seen the research that kids who study music in school did better in everything else they studied.

Maybe you know someone who has a kid in school, who’s doing everything – band, orchestra, drama, forensics, AP classes in science, math, and English.

These phenomenal results all have one thing in common – the kids that are doing better are studying music.

In 1996, the College Entrance Exam Board studied all the students taking their SAT exam, and discovered that when a student was an active musician (singing or studying an instrument), they scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and averaged 39 points higher in math!

The renowned Bulgarian psychologist Dr. Georgi Lazanov has developed a method to teach foreign languages while using Classical music as a background that has produced amazing results. 

Students (who were also studying music)  learning a foreign language using his methods are achieving rates of 1,000 new words or phrases learned in one day, with a 92% retention rate!

And the effect (called the Mozart effect), is also being used in training and industrial applications for adults – DuPont, for instance, has used music recorded at about 60 beats per minute in a department where its use cut training time in half, doubling the number of workers trained.

Was Einstein smart? He was also a musician, starting at age 6, when his mother, an experienced musician, began teaching him the violin.

Einstein himself said, “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”

A 2014 study by Boston Children’s Hospital found a correlation between early musical training and executive function in both children and adults.   “Executive functions (EF) are described as high-level cognitive processes that enable people to quickly process and retain information, regulate their behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan and adjust to changing mental demands. Another component of EF is having cognitive flexibility as represented by the ability to adjust to novel or changing tasks on demand.” (Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today, blog posted June 25, 2014).

On the other end of the developmental scale, music is astronomically important to the efforts of therapists in reaching autism-spectrum children and adults (see Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy,

Other points of view also exist, for instance, a Harvard study from 2013, which concludes that there’s no substantive proof that music does in fact make us smarter.

“More than 80 percent of American adults think that music improves children’s grades or intelligence,” said Samuel Mehr, a Harvard Graduate School of Education doctoral student working in the lab of psychology professor Elizabeth Spelke, in a statement. “Even in the scientific community, there’s a general belief that music is important for these extrinsic reasons – but there is very little evidence supporting the idea that music classes enhance children’s cognitive development.” (, blog post by Alexandra Sifferlin, Dec. 11, 2013.)

This particular study did not specifically investigate whether instrumental or vocal music lessons at a young age had any effect on intelligence.

Many who have studied musical instrument performance can tell you how they have learned better hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, better social interaction, and the joys of learning how to work as a group toward a common goal.

Musicians and philosophers throughout the centuries have made their ideas bout music clear.  First, the non-musicians:

  • “Life is for the living.
    Death is for the dead.
    Let life be like music.
    And death a note unsaid.”
    Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems
  • “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Leo Tolstoy
  • “Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.”Plato, The Republic




Of the professional musicians, there are even more ideas about music:

  • “Musicians own music because music owns them.”  –  Virgil Thompson
  • “All musicians are subconsciously mathemeticians.”  –  Thelonius Monk
  • “The hardest thing with musicians is getting them not to play.”  –  Prince
  • “The bottom line is that musicians love to make music and always will.”  –  Jennifer Lopez
  • “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it from you.”  –  B. B. King
  • “I call architecture frozen music.”  –  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “I became a set designer for opera. I’m a great opera buff,  I love classical music, and I needed a time out.”  –  Maurice Sendak
  • “Musicians from the beginning of time have been there to express the mood and the musical feelings in the air for whatever is going on in that particular culture. It’s the greatest joy of a musician to translate that, be part of something and watch the scenery around you.”  –  Trey Anastasio

Clearly, music is a huge part of all cultures, and it exerts great power over all of us individually, and as societies.  Whether the early study of it makes us smarter or not, it’s very important to recognize that many people are very affected by it, that societies and cultures can be changed by it, and that enjoyment and participation can be life-changing.


Should you need sheet music to help make you or someone else smarter, here’s a link



We welcome your comments!







The End of Music Stores?

the internet
The internet

Boogie Man 1 – the internet

For years, brick and mortar music stores have had to deal with the customer who comes in, shops around, finds something he’s interested in, takes pictures with his phone, and goes to the coffee house to  research the best deal on the net for that item. OK, it’s now a legitimate shopping technique – if your only objective is price!

child labor

Quality is another question altogether. Many types of shady characters are out there, making copy-cat items with similar logos, similar names, similar shapes, out of inferior materials, maybe made in places where there are no restrictions on child labor, or who even use “slave” labor.

local music store
local music store

Even if this shopping technique is about getting the original item for a better price, the local store is defeated two ways – once by not getting the sale, and the next by having to spend the money to stock the item without a sale.

Boogie Man 2 – marketplace changes

In another blow, the local store must deal with the increasing frequency of:

  • shoplifting
  • increased insurance to cover scammers, including ‘slip-and-fall’ lawsuits
  • civil unrest
  • higher demand from suppliers on initial orders (at least one supplier is demanding a second mortgage on the dealer’s house to cover the opening order which makes the a dealer an ‘authorized’ seller of that line)
  • manufacturer consolidation – as the general economy continues to deteriorate, selling competing brands A and B becomes meaningless, as the two consolidate and begin making AB units in the same factory – thus reducing choices for the consumer, and laying off dozens of workers at the factory that was closed
  • music lessons at the store, a major source of consumer traffic, shrinks as more and more lessons are being taught on the net
local music
local music

So you can see that the local brick and mortar music store appears in danger.  The pace of change brought about by the wildly changing use of the net, and by major changes in consumer behavior are becoming a real threat to an institution that’s been around the American marketplace for over 100 years.

Please, support your local music store!

–  your comments are welcome!