Dianping lies. World Wide Music hides in plain sight with an average rating. However, it's one of the most prestigious retailers in town, stocking the widest range of well-known brands both acoustic and electric, such as Gibson, Fender, Yamaha, etc. Opened in 2004, the American-styled establishment is radiant and refined. Whether a newbie or a professional, that dream guitar is very likely to be sitting there quietly.
Price range: 1,800rmb-1,000,000rmb.
Who it’s for: Everyone, really.
Key take-away: It’s easy to get lost when faced with hundreds of shiny guitars. One tip is to browse their online shop before visiting.
Anyone going to Range Guitar Studio would be happy enough to try out guitars in the company of two British Shorthairs. Established in 2016, this store is dedicated to emerging domestic brands, with a handful of options in the more affordable range. The environment is cosy with its homey design and friendly staff. A complimentary action adjustment is offered for guitars over 1k. Ukuleles, accessories and maintenance services are also available on site.
Price range: Officially 2,000–5,000rmb (hint: feel free to ask shop assistants for secret models below 2k).
Who it’s for: Beginners & intermediate players uninterested in international brands.
Key take-away: Guests will encounter a wall of mysterious Chinese brands. Some advice: give them a listen. If in doubt, ask the cats for their opinion.
Founded by the famous Shanghainese fingerstyle guitarist Seven, La Guitar is a 10-year-old local brand that manufactures acoustic guitars, aiming to bring Eastern elements to the world. Guitars there look like they came out of a period drama, and so does the shop. Despite the Chinese appearance, the instruments are suitable for any genre. According to Seven, the only thing that matters is the sound of a guitar.
Price range: 2,000-12,000rmb
Who it’s for: Those who love Chinese culture or simple designs; those who randomly walk past Top of City.
Key take-away: If visitors are lucky enough to bump into Seven at the shop, stick around in case an impromptu gig breaks out.
Located in Hongkou, the Sound Makers is worth all the legwork for those massive fans of quality niche guitars from abroad, including Headway (JP), Maton (AU), Greven (US) and Furch (CR). The owner is a fingerstyle guitarist, who started the business because "artists have to make a living too". The shop also offers plenty of beginner guitars, second-hand instruments and maintenance services.
Price range: 1,000-3,000rmb for Chinese brands; over 15,000rmb for international brands.
Who it’s for: Picky musicians who crave handmade guitars.
Key take-away: Make sure to phone (130 2318 0625) in advance to know if the store is open, just to avoid disappointment.
Standing proudly on the Bund, HIITO is more like a compact museum for guitar nerds to experience the oldest, poshest collections - such as an 1830 Martin that has survived wars. The bizarre name comes from the owner’s birthday and lucky number. All guitars are made of solid woods, locked in a fancy box, like the fine china before a house party. Chances are that guests will leave empty-handed, but the place is a must-see for anyone passionate about guitars.
Price range: Sinfully above 10,000rmb.
Who it’s for: Guitar collectors (aka tuhao); musical people looking for their next Instagram hit.
Key take-away: Don’t be scared by the prices - this place welcomes all guitar lovers and also organises free music events.
Originating in Japan, Ishibashi Music primarily sells used big-brand electric guitars, but also peddles an array of brand-new merchandise (including saxophones!). They collect instruments, give them a health check, and then help them find new owners. There is a vast variety of accessories and repair services. Over the past few years, the shop has relocated multiple times. It's currently a five-minute walk from IAPM.
Price range: 2,000-90,000rmb.
Who it’s for: Guitar enthusiasts who don’t have a pet peeve for used instruments.
Key take-away: The staff are usually busy with instruments rather than human beings, so expect to window shop more than chat.
If interested in knowing more about guitar shops in Shanghai, visit the Guitar Shops listing, or maybe even visit our Buy & Sell page for Music Instruments.