What should I choose between guitar gym

Music City Amsterdam

Amsterdam for guitarists
from editorial staff,

Amsterdam - the city of numerous canals, millions of bicycles and many coffee shops is not only interesting for the average tourist. Guitar and music fans will also get their money's worth here and can make interesting discoveries in the Dutch port city.

Because of the limited space in the center, there are no big, well-known shops here. Instead, you will find almost only small, iconic shops and studios with an interesting and sometimes idiosyncratic range. And for fans of live music, there is, in addition to the well-known large venues, an interesting range of small clubs that offer live music seven days a week.

The guitar stores


The vintage guitar shop is located in a quiet square in the nice De Pijp district, with small cafes and their terraces as direct neighbors. A specialty of the business are the unbeatable all-parts guitar necks, which are available in a large selection here. These necks were originally made for Fender, according to Rienk, owner of The String. Fender has this for cosmetic reasons, e.g. because of. small stains in the wood, rejected and The String buys them in bulk directly in America. Many of these necks then find their way back to Germany via eBay. Otherwise there are great old jazz guitars from Gibson, Epiphone, Guild, Gretsch and other brands. Rienk usually buys these during his annual visit to the guitar exchange in Arlington, Texas. Above all, he seems to have a weakness for the Gibson ES-125, because there are usually several copies of the model hanging on the wall here. The acoustic guitars are located in the side room of the shop, which is completely lined with wood. Here, too, you will find one or the other vintage treasure between a lot of new bar goods. The absolute showpiece of the shop, however, is a Fender Stratocaster from 1963 in Olympic White, which, according to the seller, only had one previous owner and is still in absolute original condition.




DE PLUG belongs to Peter Boelen, who has been in the instrument trade for 26 years, and his shop is more like a museum than a music store. In addition to vintage instruments and amps, he has also amassed a considerable collection of old microphones over the years. The approximately 40 square meter retail space is completely crammed, so you have to take the time to browse to discover the hidden treasures. At first glance you can no longer see the forest for the trees, but if you look around you will find old Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and Rickenbacker guitars as well as iconic instruments by Eko, Farida, Kay and Silvertone as well as bizarre Italo Guitars.

The large number of small Fender tube amps that can be found and compared here is also striking. There are always several Champs, Princetons and Reverb Deluxes from the 70s hidden between, below and behind all other rarities. The charming shop is not only known locally among guitar lovers. Famous international musicians who are in Amsterdam regularly come to visit. For example, the guitarists from Oasis and Simple Minds have already been customers here. But the shop is also a meeting point for the local scene. Peter always has time for a little chat. This is where you meet, jam and some old rock'n'rollers also share their private grief over a cup of coffee or a beer, depending on the time. A documentary was also recently made about the store.



The special shop Palm Guitars is located directly on the Amstel river, very central, but far from all major shopping streets. There are no signs or advertisements to indicate that there is a shop here, and so only targeted customers come here and a few stray tourists every now and then. In the small vault, there are tons of curious and exotic instruments in the tightest of spaces. Similar to De Plug, you don't know where to start looking around, and there is barely enough room to turn around in the narrow corridor. But also here you can find great vintage guitars from well-known brands such as Gibson and Fender. But what makes this place so unique are all the exotic instruments.

If you're looking for something absurd like an electric Rickenbacker mandolin with a Floyd Rose vibrato, you've come to the right place. You will also find the guitars built with incredible attention to detail by the Italian Wandre Pioli from the 1950s and 1960s. With a daring ingenuity, he has created completely independent instruments in absurd shapes and colors.

The owner Søren loves all these crazy and curious creations and has a keen eye for all details. And since he has an almost infinite variety of exotic instruments in his shop and he is also known as a vintage expert, production companies often come to borrow instruments for filming. Four guitars have just been borrowed for the latest Jim Jarmusch film. And even if a film is set in 1942, Søren can provide the historically correct and authentic instruments, microphones and other props. The walls are full of banjos, lutes, mandolins, violins with trumpet cups, ukuleles and all kinds of stringed instruments.


SACKSIONI is the oldest music store and at the same time the most modern. Guitars have been sold under this name in the same premises since 1937. In the well-arranged sales rooms there are mainly new instruments, but there are also a lot of interesting guitars and a few selected vintage specimens here. The range is selected with great care and all guitars are thoroughly checked and adjusted before they are offered for sale. When it comes to electric guitars, the large selection of Duesenbergs is striking, as is the really fine Fender collection with many custom shop models.

When it comes to acoustic guitars, there is a large selection of Eastmans and Maysons in the lower price segment, an interesting and previously unknown brand from China. If you have a somewhat larger budget, you will of course also find the well-known Martins and Guilds here. With Stevens guitars from Munich and BSG guitars from the Czech Republic, custom models built according to the wishes of the Sacksioni owner also hang on the wall. And these are really interesting alternatives to the well-known big names.


Luthier in Amsterdam


Relic guitars, i.e. instruments that have been artificially trimmed to old and used, have enjoyed great popularity in recent years. The replicas of the classic Fender models of the 50s and 60s, handcrafted by the American Luke Whitfield, are so popular that they have already attracted the attention of famous guitarists like Billy Gibbons. He discovered the Rebelrelic Holy Grail in the TexMexGuitars store in Spain and took it with him right away. Luke started by building a guitar for himself.

Since he could not afford the longed-for Seafoam Green Tele from the 50s, but was completely fascinated by its beauty, he copied exactly this model at the time. Orders from friends and musicians soon followed, and in 2007 Luke decided to concentrate fully on guitar making. He already had the craftsmanship and experience with wood and lacquer, as he was a trained furniture maker. He acquired his knowledge of vintage guitars and basses through many repairs. Vintage guitars regularly celebrate their resurrection in his workshop through restoration and possible refinishing.

Luke and his team build around 150 guitars per year. Around half of these are custom customer orders and the other half are stock guitars, i.e. models that he builds according to his own ideas and then sells in his shop, webshop or through one of his dealers. The first own design is completely new, the Roadster - Luke calls it his National Danocaster, which makes it clear which influences he wants to unite here. In addition to their own models, the store also has a few vintage treasures from Fender, Danelectro and others to play with.




Ferdinand van den Berg, like Luke Whitfield, originally came from furniture making. In contrast to Luke, he has nothing to do with Relic and Vintage. Since 2005 he has been building Weissenborn models, lap steels and resonators under the name Fern-Guitars on the one hand, and modern interpretations of the well-known classic electric guitar models on the other. All of this mostly according to customer requirements. In his opinion, most vintage guitars and their replicas are made too many compromises because of the pursuit of authenticity:

For him, playing comfort and technical innovations are in the foreground with an electric guitar. The acoustic lap steels, on the other hand, are all about craftsmanship and attention to detail. Two of his three Weissenborn models have beautiful, detailed bindings. The Lapsteels are also available from simple to very chic, with lots of beautiful details. However, repairs are still his main field of work. If you want to visit his workshop, you should call in advance and make an appointment. He always has around ten of his models ready to play in the store.



ALLEYCAT RELICS belongs to Krijn van Noordwijk and the man behind this label is actually a photographer and advertising designer. So he doesn't see himself as a guitar maker, but more as a lover and he only works on his guitars when he has the time and the inclination. There is no constant, but he follows his inspiration and intuition completely. He buys his bodies and necks from guitar makers in Eastern Europe and paints and assembles his creations on the terrace and in his apartment. Mostly he builds the well-known Fender models, now and then a Gibson. His great love is the Telecaster. In his own words, the sight of a telephoto from the 50s can move him to tears.

So he also has a few interesting idiosyncratic variants of this model in his work space. For example, a replica of the Telecaster prototype (at that time still Broadcaster) with the wide snakehead headstock and the three tuning machines on each side. Or he has engraved the text of the Beatles classic, While My Guitar Gently Weeps ‘on the back of a Butterscotch model. He also recreated Old Black, Neil Young's famous Les Paul - including the case and all the details. He emphasizes again and again that he only builds replicas, and he always puts his own engraving on the back of the headstock and on the body so that there can be no misunderstandings. You can find lots of atmospheric photos of his work on his Facebook page.


Live clubs

Anyone who spends an evening in Amsterdam and spontaneously fancies live music is in the right place in the area around Leidseplein. In addition to the innumerable tourist restaurants, there are also a few clubs where bands play late into the night seven days a week. All of these clubs are also equipped with a complete backline and so there are regular open jam sessions here. Most concerts are free, so sometimes you only have to pay admission on weekends. What more do you want?


If you are in the mood for funk & soul, blues or even Caribbean sounds, you have to be in Bourbon Street. On weekdays, bands play here between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and on weekends they play an hour longer! Mondays are always jam sessions and on weekends two bands often share the stage.


LAST WATERHOLE offers young bands the chance to gain stage experience during the week. After the short appearances by new bands at the beginning of the evening, there is an open jam session that lasts until 2 a.m. On weekends, two more experienced bands share the evening and the style is mostly towards rock.


MALOE MELO is officially a blues club. However, if you take a closer look at the program, you can see that the style is also very variable here. From blues, rockabilly, glam rock to ska, everything goes here. The Maloe Melo is closed on Mondays, but on all other days the bands have to work hard for their money. The game is played until 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 3 a.m. on weekends. And here, too, sessions take place two to three days a week.


CAFE ALTO is the somewhat different jazz club in Amsterdam. Every evening there is improvisation at a high level until late into the night. From bebop to hardbop to modern and great jazz, you can experience everything here. Since you have to play five hours at the weekends in Cafe Alto, this club is often called the fitness studio among musicians. n www.jazz-cafe-alto.nl

CONCERTO is one of those wonderfully nostalgic record shops where you just like to spend time, rummage through the compartments or get advice from one of the knowledgeable staff. Starting with a small retail space, Concerto now comprises five adjoining houses. Here you can find new and used items, CDs, DVDs and LPs. For all styles you will find experts in the various departments who will be happy to help you. You can find the right turntable here too, and despite the size of the store, it feels like the old nice little shop around the corner.


BACKBEAT is the place for lovers of funk & soul, and especially for those who prefer to enjoy vinyl. This small record shop is located in the central Amsterdam district of Jordaan and you can also find CDs and especially second-hand vinyl here. n backbeat.nl


Not very far from the backbeat, in the same neighborhood, is Distortion Records. Here, too, the focus is on vinyl, and here, too, there are CDs in the range. Stylistically, it goes from punk rock, jazz, funk, soul, Latin and soundtracks, to indie, noise, garage and industrial, to 80s and 90s indie, electro, hip-hop, reggae and more.


And now all you have to do is plan your city trip. Have fun in Amsterdam!

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