Despite the Internet’s shredding of brick-and-mortar retailers, Las Vegas can still throw its devil horns high thanks to some rockin’ six-string shops. Stuffed with axes, amps and awesome gear, these stores are waiting for you to get your real “guitar hero” on.
Cowtown Guitars. For my money, the best and biggest selection of vintage instruments can be found here. If you’re longing for, say, a rare cherry 1968 Gibson ES-335, owners Roxie and Jesse Amoroso will hook you up. The Amorosos themselves damage eardrums in rowdy punk ’n’ roll band Pigasus, plus Jesse appraises guitars for Pawn Stars, so it’s safe to say this wife-and-husband team knows frets. Lessons and repairs offered onsite. 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, Suite 14, 866-2600, CowTownGuitars.com.
A.J.’s Music & Vintage Guitars. Since 1993, Henderson’s mom-and-pop music shop has offered vintage, new and used guitars and amps. Whether boosting your arsenal with a ’64 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst or beefing up your attack with a ’57 Fender Vibrolux, A.J.’s can assist. Lessons, repairs, acoustics and effects pedals. 2031 W. Sunset Road (shares a building with E-String Grill), 436-9300, AJsMusic.com.
Sam Ash. If you’re a soccer mom looking for a cheap starter for your emo-teen offspring, friendly employees won’t smirk at questions like: “Will it make him sound like his favorite band?” (Answer: maybe.) Pros pack this place, too. This corporate big-box chain offers tablature books explaining how to play everything from Led Zeppelin II to OK Computer, note by note. School-orchestra instruments, acoustics, keyboards, drums, PAs, recording gear, mics and (God forbid) karaoke machines—Ash has it all. 2747 S. Maryland Parkway, 734-0007, SamAsh.com.
Guitar Center. This chain has two locations—Town Square and a smaller westside nook on Charleston. Pro audio, school-band rentals, repairs. Lots of mid-range axes on the floor, but if you’re like me and ready to graduate from a pink Hello Kitty Fender Squire to something serious, Guitar Centers are “platinum-level” and can get you anything. 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite B172, 450-2260, and 8621 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 110, 228-3858, GuitarCenter.com.
Neil Smith’s Vegas Guitars Custom Shop. If you’re searching for a custom-made instrument, this place can help. Also a “gold-certified” Fender repair center (the only in Vegas), Smith’s shop serves many top local and national talents, including musicians who work for Mariah Carey, Jersey Boys, Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group and Little River Band. Whether you need serious restoration or an ax built from scratch, this is the place. 3975 W. Quail Ave., Suite 4, 251-1580, VegasGuitars.com