Visit to London guitar studio

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tom0311
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Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:33 am

Just a quick post about a visit I paid to London guitar studio on Friday while I was mooching around London with my other half. I'm hopefully going to have enough savings to get a new guitar soon, so I wanted to see what they had on offer. Maybe it'll be useful to someone if they search for the guitars or the shop on here.

First of all - what a great guitar shop. Friendly, very knowledgable staff who were more than happy to talk guitars with me the whole time I was in there, including an interesting conversation about Alhambra. I went in asking about sub £1k spruce top guitars, but they were more than happy to let me play many guitars. In fact the lady (I forgot her name :oops:) kept bringing more over to me so I could try them. Considering they knew my budget, and that I probably wasn't going to buy there and then, I thought this was really decent of them. They have loads of Alhambra guitars in stock, but plenty of Luthier guitars at the back if you have a bit more £££ to play with.

I had about 15 minutes on a 9p spruce and was really impressed by it. Very easy to play, lovely tone, clear as a bell. I could play it better than I could play my own guitar (Camps M14 cedar) - although I tend to play better in shops as I don't want to look rubbish in front of other people. There are not many new guitars I would choose over that 9p for that price tag. My only criticism is the weight - it seemed to be built a lot heavier than my guitar. The finish looked thicker as well.

I had a few minutes on an Alhambra Pepe Toldo spruce top, the one with the sound reflector. The tone wasn't really my thing, but it does give good projection reference to the player, and the playability for me was good.

I then played the Camps M16 double top, which I really really liked. My guitar isn't the loudest guitar in the world, and sometimes I find the basses struggle to make it through. None of that with this guitar. It was like my guitar on steroids. Seriously looking at this guitar when the time comes.

After querying which other guitars they stocked, I was shown the Pappalardo SC1 with the raised neck. I've not played a guitar with this price tag before, but WOW. What a guitar. I didn't expect a player of my ability to really appreciate the difference between £1000 factory guitars and £3000 Luthier guitars, but this was just phenomenal. The raised neck made playing the dusty end so easy. The guitar was also beautifully made, and the tonal palette that even I could achieve was miles ahead of what I've played before. The clearest cedar guitar I've played by a long shot, and the easiest guitar to play that I've tried.

Then I was shown a Yulong Guo special cedar. I didn't play this one properly so I can't comment much about playability. It was played for me, and sounded very much like a 'modern' classical guitar. Louder and more 'pianoey'. It was beautifully made. Sounds like they are getting popular over here and are very good guitars for the price tag. Something was said about buying a Yulong if you don't want to spend the £££ on a Smallman, although I can't remember exactly.

So there we go - rambling over. I felt I should put my positive experience of this shop here, I was there only an hour or so but thoroughly enjoyed talking, learning about, and playing guitars. Now I have to work out how I can get enough £ for the Camps double top. Maybe a trade in is an option, although I suspect that will feel inferior after playing the Pappalardo guitar.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Stephen Kenyon » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:47 am

Well its good to know they are still offering a high quality range and good service, given the demise of the Spanish Guitar Centre (the Barry Mason, ex Len Williams one). I always used to spend a lot of time there , and in their previous smaller premises in my London days, and have always appreciated the genuine friendliness of Juan, Pam and their staff (if a younger lady helped you it was probably Stephanie).
Juan always was a bit of a character. I remember talking to him in about 1996, saying he had to get a website organised, and he was so sceptical, saying it wouldn't last, this internet thing. Even now theirs is not exactly a shining example (I can't talk!) but he was proven exactly right in his gamble to move the shop from tiny premises up a flight of stairs in a side street, with one small window at ground level, to a huge store in a very posh street, with all the rent implications you can imagine.

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tom0311
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:55 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:Well its good to know they are still offering a high quality range and good service, given the demise of the Spanish Guitar Centre (the Barry Mason, ex Len Williams one). I always used to spend a lot of time there , and in their previous smaller premises in my London days, and have always appreciated the genuine friendliness of Juan, Pam and their staff (if a younger lady helped you it was probably Stephanie).
Juan always was a bit of a character. I remember talking to him in about 1996, saying he had to get a website organised, and he was so sceptical, saying it wouldn't last, this internet thing. Even now theirs is not exactly a shining example (I can't talk!) but he was proven exactly right in his gamble to move the shop from tiny premises up a flight of stairs in a side street, with one small window at ground level, to a huge store in a very posh street, with all the rent implications you can imagine.

Stephen


I actually walked to Spanish Guitar Centre, as google still showed it as open. I suspected it was closed and, of course, it was.

Was the London Guitar Studio born from the demise of the SGC? If so I did not realise this. It might will have been Stephanie, she had short blonde hair and I'm sure she mentioned she was taught by Gary Ryan at some stage.
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Stephen Kenyon » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:01 am

tom0311 wrote:
Stephen Kenyon wrote:....
I actually walked to Spanish Guitar Centre, as google still showed it as open. I suspected it was closed and, of course, it was.
Was the London Guitar Studio born from the demise of the SGC? If so I did not realise this. It might will have been Stephanie, she had short blonde hair and I'm sure she mentioned she was taught by Gary Ryan at some stage.


Yes I know about pounding those streets!

But no, there was no connection between the two, the SGC fell by the wayside relatively recently, turning into something rather more general which I haven't bothered to keep up with, so they may be offering something somewhere I don't know about. The London GS was open at the very least in the late 1980s.

There is, or at least always was, also a classical section with the Ivor Mairants centre, Rathbone Place, over Oxford Street.
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tom0311
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:08 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
tom0311 wrote:
Stephen Kenyon wrote:....
I actually walked to Spanish Guitar Centre, as google still showed it as open. I suspected it was closed and, of course, it was.
Was the London Guitar Studio born from the demise of the SGC? If so I did not realise this. It might will have been Stephanie, she had short blonde hair and I'm sure she mentioned she was taught by Gary Ryan at some stage.


Yes I know about pounding those streets!

But no, there was no connection between the two, the SGC fell by the wayside relatively recently, turning into something rather more general which I haven't bothered to keep up with, so they may be offering something somewhere I don't know about. The London GS was open at the very least in the late 1980s.

There is, or at least always was, also a classical section with the Ivor Mairants centre, Rathbone Place, over Oxford Street.


That's interesting, shame I missed that place. I'll have a look there next time I go to London. Seems like a decent selection on the website.

I saw things about SGC on this forum, which IIRC hinted at it's downfall.

Thanks for the info.
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby guitarseller345645 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:15 pm

I visited it in the mid 90s.

I tried out a guitar and Juan offered me a footstool to use. I bought 2 books.

There was a lady giving lessons upstairs I think.

:)
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Simon the Pieman » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:28 pm

yes indeed the Spanish Guitar Centre and London Guitar Studio are not connected - and Ivor Mairants still has a classical room, in which you can close the door to try guitars.

The SGC was run down, the rather "idiosyncratic" Barry Mason left (don't know the circumstances) and it was taken over by mavericks selling a Pandora's Box of ramshackle stuff (including the infamous Andy, about whom some of you may have heard).....it pretty much went bust. I think it is well documented that some poor musicians had good classical guitars for sale on commission there in the final weeks of the shop's existence - now, they neither have their guitars, nor their money !!

Certainly if you are a steel string player, Ivor Mairants stocks some of the finest steel string guitars available in London. Someone told me that Mairants is not making enough money and is under pressure to perform from owners JHS. Let's hope it doesn't close.

The lady at LGS is Stephanie, she is great and really helpful.

It seems a shame that there seem to be only 2 shops left in London where one can try/buy good classical guitars. It is also increasingly rare to find a quiet place in a guitar shop where one can truly appreciate and analyse an instrument before purchase - but some shops offer a cooling off period during which you can take the guitar home and return for a refund if not entirely happy.

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tom0311
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:13 pm

Yes it is a real shame that there are only 2 in such a big city. I've not been playing this instrument very long and I was shocked by how few decent shops there are. Electric and steel string guitarists can walk into nearly every music shop and have a selection of guitars to try out.

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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Erik Zurcher » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:59 pm

tom0311 wrote:...although I suspect that will feel inferior after playing the Pappalardo guitar.


Now that you have experienced the sound of the Pappalardo, it seems that you have made your choice! :D My advice: don't settle with a lesser guitar. Just save more money. Meanwhile play your old guitar.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=81146
This may be good alternative!
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Macleod410 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:22 pm

I had a Rodriguez FG , hmmm not a good guitar at all !!

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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Leo Apray » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:29 pm

I will be visiting London for 5 days next week for a training.
And so I will be free in the evening and am planning to visit some guitar shops.
Do you have recommendations other than this London Guitar Studio (which I plan to visit anyway)?

The Kent Guitar Classics is very interesting, but it's quite far from London centre, where I will stay, and it might be already too late in the evening when I arrive there.

Thanks for any suggestion.

Leo

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tom0311
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:41 pm

Hi Leo,

The only one I could find is London Guitar Studio. I think that might be the only classical guitar shop left in London?
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby Adrian Allan » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:09 pm

Ivor Mairants music centre is the other one; they have an excellent selction of classical guitars.

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tom0311
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby tom0311 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:18 pm

Good call. I googled 'classical guitar shop London' and they didn't come up on the first page, surprising!
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Re: Visit to London guitar studio

Postby realejo » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:42 pm

Hello Leo,
We are only 30-35 minutes from London Charing Cross to Sevenoaks; where we collect you at the station.
When necessary, you can also come in the evening or at weekend.
For value for money and for good service, I think you will find us hard to beat.
Miles Roberts at Kent Guitar Classics


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