If you're a wind player, finding a good store that specializes in the kind of hardware you're looking for is a real treat. But it's not always easy to know where these places are. Fortunately, I've compiled this list of wind instrument stores you should visit. In fact, they just maybe are a "must see" if you're interested in making your own journey to "Musical Mecca."
Here is a list of thirty-one wind instrument dealers across North America that you need to see.
Actually, it's a collection of lists. This is the place to start.
So who's on the list?
In one sense, the list is kind of arbitrary. But if you're a wind intrumentalist and a gear nut like I am, you're probably always looking for music stores that don't just sell guitars, drums and keyboards. You want the stores that sell the real stuff - the horns and woodwinds that tug on your heart strings.
I've compiled this list after keeping track of a lot of my travels across North America. Some of these stores are on the list because they have exhaustive selection. Some are specialty shops - dealing in only one kind of instrument, for example.
Sometimes they don't have a vast selection, but are the best in the area they are found; sometimes, in fact, with better inventories than anything within hundreds of miles of cities twice their size.
And some are on the list because they are just plain unique or fun.
So check out the list.
This page contains the list of the "super stores" for wind instruments. These guys do it all. They sell both brass and woodwinds, and do it quite well.
But if you're into any of those categories, you'll also be interested in this list. Here is a list of 11 "we do it all" stores. Together with the other pages, it's a list of a total of 31 wind instrument dealers you need to visit in 2022.
Cadence Music - Fort Meyers, Florida
This store made the list because they seem to have a bit of a variety in instruments and they're not in New York City or Los Angeles.
That's important to some people - like many of the people who live in Florida who can't make it to New York or Los Angeles.
A pretty good lineup of flutes and clarinets.
Good brand selections: Yamaha and Fox oboes; Fox and John Packer basoons; Selmer, Buffet, Leblanc and Backun Clarinets; Haynes, Azumi and Burkart flutes; Conn, King and Eastman tubas, among others; Conn, Jupiter and Holton french horns; lots of other stuff, too.
By the way, they also have a fair selection of stringed instruments, too. Which, I guess, deserves mention, since without them, us wind players sometimes sound a little - bare, I suppose.
Carere Music - Peach Tree Corners, GA
These guys made the list because they seem to have a fair selection of instruments. Not like what you'll find at some music superstores in New York or Los Angeles, mind you. But pretty decent.
But the thing that makes me think they are worth a visit if you're in the area is that they seem to be "family." They seem to really love the relationship they have with their customers. And customers think they are pretty reliable people. Check out the following review from Yelp....
Carere Music has a very comfortable, welcoming vibe! I could tell right away that these people are genuine and honest. Jeanne, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable, obviously loves what she is doing, and is continuing the tradition of excellent service started by her family decades ago.
As a second generation music store owner myself, one of the things I like to do when I'm traveling is look up small, local music stores and pay them a visit so I can see how they operate.
In my short time hanging out at Carere Music, I witnessed Jeanne demonstrate her great knowledge of the music business and deal with all sorts of situations with the utmost professionalism: selling and renting good quality musical instruments to eager students, young and old; taking in musical instruments for repairs; helping people find new owners for their musical instruments by selling them on consignment; teaching flute students of all ages, improving their playing on a daily basis. Jeanne obviously has a passion for teaching!
When you look them up and look up the reviews, the one thing that stands out to me is that they love their customers - as people, and not merely as customers.
That's worth a visit, just to say hello.
Bandwagon Music And Repair - Nashville, TN
I know that it's always a rush to walk into a music store and see walls lined with wind instruments. But that doesn't happen in every city in America.
The reason this store made it to my list is that I spent some time in Nashville. And when I did, I made it my business to scout out the music stores and see what I could see.
Some of the stores (music store chains) that I used to frequent down there years ago have disappeared, and others of them are still around but pretty much in name only.
In Nashville and the surrounding area, in my humble opinion, if you're looking for the best place to find what you're looking for in wind instrument dealers, this is it.
I met the owner and spent some time talking to him about his store. He saw a need for a store like this in the city and realized no one was filling the gap. So he decided to launch his store.
Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
Check this Yelp review....
My daughter is 8th grade and has played clarinet for 3 years. We arrived later due to her band practice. Linden met with my daughter and me. He was extremely welcoming and happy to answer the million questions I had. We tried several mouth pieces and new clarinets.
The experience was a pleasure. My daughter said she felt like Harry Potter finding his wand. Linden stayed an hour past closing and didn't even mention their closing time to me. When I asked their closing time he said it doesn't matter just take all the time we need. This is a great place owned and operated by people who truly care about music and teaching. I highly recommend Bandwagon Music and Repair.
This guy LOVES what he does and it's worth a visit to get to know him and what he is wanting to offer to the Nashville community.
This wall of brass is probably the best indication of the amount and variety of wind instruments in this place. I do believe it is the best selection in the Nashville area. And they're worthy of the business with their passion to serve this community.
And, of course, let's not forget the saxophones.
When you look them up and look up the reviews, they love their customers and enjoy the interaction with them. I sure enjoyed getting to know this guy during my limited time in Nashville.
This is one store that will definitely serve the community well.
Buddy Rogers Music - Cincinatti, OH
This is a pretty good sized showroom with a vast assortment of instruments.
You can judge for yourself regarding inventory.
And, of course, (more) saxophones.
The sheer number of tubas and french horns on the wall gives you an idea of the selection.
Bellingham Wind Works - Bellingham, WA
Look, I realize you can probably do better with a more vast selection if you go to Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. But I don't think you can do better in Vancouver (kind of close by and a lot bigger) or Seattle (sort of close by and also a lot bigger).
To have THIS size of a wind instrument dealer in a city this far from others like it in a city of about a mere 90,000 people is a bit of a jewel.
While no store is perfect, they rate very well on Google as a store that looks after their customers.
Check out their community page
Are you living in this area and looking for places to be involved musically? They have a page on their website listing all kinds of community and jazz bands and orchestras for you to be involved on the instrument of your choice.
Maybe not a biggie; but not every store website has that. It's a nice touch.
Quite an inventory of reeds, too. This is a serious music store for the size and area they are in.
And, of course, the inventory of instruments.
Just in case you're wondering, they have a good inventory of the usual wind instruments, both new and vintage. As of the time of this writing, for example, they had a King Super 20 tenor sax, a Buffet Super Dynaction tenor sax (and oh, am I sorry I ever sold mine). They have a good lineup of Buffet and Backun clarinets.
They also have a pretty impressive lineup of mouthpieces for brass and wind instruments. And don't forget that reed inventory. I've been in some pretty big music enterprises in some major cities that are not this well equipped.
Worth a look if you're ever in the area.
The Horn Stash - Palatine, IL
Not a lot specifically different here, but looks like a good selection of instruments. (Based on what I see, I think maybe even better brass selection than woodwinds.)
They have a good selection of vintage instruments, too - Benge, Martin, Bach and King horns to name a few.
But one of the things that makes this a great place is that it has a recital hall.
The hall is available for rent, of course. Give them a call.
Check out their upcoming events page
This place keeps an up-to-date "upcoming events" page, with things listed like their "brass horn showcase," their occasional "used instrument garage sales" and "french horn day."
Brooklyn Woodwind And Brass - Brooklyn, NY
Looking at it from the outside, it's an unassuming looking little place. But blends with the ambiance of the neighbourhood.
If you're into saxophones, they are a dealer for Rampone and Cazzani, which is a high-end sax on par with the best of them. They're handmade in Italy.
But you can find some other treasures here, too - especially if you're into vintage instruments.
They're also well-stocked on reeds and accessories.
But like I said, think VINTAGE....
Long and McQuade - Toronto, Ontario
Americans who live in big cities or huge populated areas have no idea what they have at their ready access. Or, if it's hard to get, it's still easy to get, compared to Canada.
Long and McQuade is a (the) musical instrument dealer in Canada. There are others, of course. Lots of stores and independents. But it's hard to find any wind instrument dealers who specialize in wind instruments in Canada who have better selection than Long and McQuade.
Keep in mind, they're a pretty darn good size. But that's because they're not primarily a wind instrument chain. They deal in all the main stuff - guitars, keys, drums, electronics and the like.
The main Long & McQuade store is in downtown Toronto. But in addition to their main store, they have probably 30 other stores in the chain across Canada.
And if the store near you doesn't stock the instrument you want to try, they will arrange to have it shipped from one of the other stores that have it to your store for trial.
They allow you to purchase and give you 30 days to try the merchandise to see if you like it. When I was shopping in Canada for a flute, I bought three different ones from three different Long and McQuade stores and took them all home to get cozy for a few weeks. Once I decided which I wanted to keep, I simply returned the other two to my local store - no questions asked.
Their selection is pretty decent, too - especially for Canadian standards.
In saxophones, for instance, they stock Selmer, Yamaha, P Mauriat and Cannonball. (The thing about Cannonball is that Cannonball doesn't like to have their dealers publish anything online about being a dealer. But you can find out.)
They also take instruments on trade. There is a pretty good inventory of used instruments and accessories, too.
To give you an idea of the store and it's capacity in general, you'll see from this shot of one of their guitar showrooms that they're comparable to what you'd find going into a Guitar Center in the US.
But like I said, they're kind of "it" for serious wind instrument stores in Canada.
Here is the layout of the wind instruments room in their main store on Bloor Street West in Toronto.
I don't have a shot of it but they do have a separate room with flutes and a selection of double reed instruments and the like.
They're stocked in flutes from Haynes, Yamaha, Trevor James, Altus and a lot of other names. So you might not be hitting Flute Center Of New York. But its pretty good.
Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center
These guys have been in business since 1958. And they do a HUGE volume in instrument sales. They don't look like much from the road, to be honest. But don't let that fool you.
They're not just a wind instrument store. They're more of a full line store - they do all the guitars, keyboards, drums and all that stuff that wind players don't always care about.
Part of the thing you have to know about this store is that they don't have a lot of wind instruments out on display; at least not the last time I was there.
I've only been there once, and it was on the way home from a cruise out of Baltimore. But they are good to work with. I did buy a wind synth from these guys.
But if you're shopping for an instrument, don't expect to see a big display room to gaze at them through the glass. I was there and was disappointed, until I asked.
When I wanted to find out about their wind instrument inventory, I was brought to another building, up a freight elevator and then down the hall to their extensive room of inventory.
Turns out they stock all the standards - P Mauriat, Keilwerth and the like. But they also stock some other brands that are a little harder to find such as Lupifaro and Rampone & Cassani.
They have Ridenour bass clarinets, Schilke, Getzen, Scodwell and Shires trumpets.
This isn't an exhaustive list. But it does give you an idea that you can find some real variety here.
But if you're going to do some shopping here, it's best to call ahead and find out what they have ahead of time. You'll want to probably make an appointment to try stuff out.
They're perfectly willing to let you try it, by the way. But they have reasons for not putting everything on display. And if you know what you want, their prices are VERY competetive.
By the way, I brought up this notion of not having all this stuff out on the showroom floor.
And when I did, I realized just how difficult it can be to service customers in this market.
The guy in charge of the department told me that some parents will bring their kids in and have them try two or three of the different instruments, unwrapping them from the plastic and lining and stuff in the cases (freshly opened) and then when they pick one, they ask for a "new one." (They JUST opened the one they tested, but that was "used" now. They want a new one.
So I can have some sympathy for them wanting to know you as a customer as you look at them as your dealer. Seems fair.
Meridian Winds - Okemos, MI
Okemos Michigan isn't exactly in the middle of nowhere. It's near Lansing, Michigan. So it's a music store in a good sized community. Except, I've seen much bigger cities with a lot less selection for wind instruments.
The nice thing about this place is it's within a two hour drive from a lot of major centers.
So what do they have to offer? Well, to give you an idea, take a look at the amount of reed inventory they have in their shop.
So what makes this place so special? Service, for one. This kind of testimonial tells you a lot about what they are willing to do to serve their customers.
After doing online research and contacting another (larger) retailer about a particular tenor saxophone ligature, I didn't find enough satisfactory information to place an order. So, I decided to call Meridian Winds to see if they could help me over the phone. Melanie went out of her way to test the different sizes of this ligature on a comparable mouthpiece to mine and found the one that best fit. THIS is the type of personal service I was looking for! I ordered the ligature on the spot and had her ship it to me. Thank you Melanie, and thank you Meridian Winds!
Just do a spot-check on their inventory and you'll see they're surprisingly well stocked.
For instance, regarding saxophone mouthpieces, they carry D'Addario, Rosseau, Otto Link, Jody Jazz and Selmer. For brass, they stock moutpieces made by Bach, Faxx, Mutec and Schilke. That's a good inventory for a store that serves an area more remote than NYC and LA.
But perhaps a look at a testimonial about their unusual inventory is helpful to decide whether it is worth a drive.
Meridian Winds maintains a full stock of a wide variety of goods. One of the things I was looking for was ergonomic neck screws for my Cannonball tenor sax. The question was not if they had them, but which finish and inlay I wanted. Bear in mind, they don't even carry Cannonball saxophones (plenty of Selmers and Yamahas, though!), so they wouldn't otherwise have any reason to carry ergonomic screws for them. Harnesses? All sizes of most major models. Mouthpieces? Multiple of each facing of even some rather niche pieces... I was given a wide variety to try. In fact, I tried more tenor sax mouthpieces than my usual store has on hand at any given time. Ligatures? drawers full of some really snazzy ones, plus some "mere mortal" models on a display.
They're also a dealer for Vibrato saxophones
Don't know if you've seen those or not but they're a polycarbonate saxophone. If you don't know where to try one of these, this might be worth a visit for ya.
Kessler and Sons Music - Las Vegas, NV
Kessler is one of the "big box" type of music stores. What Chuck Levin's is for the Washington, DC area, or what Buddy Rogers is for the Ohio valley, Kessler is for the Las Vegas area.
The beautiful thing about it is that it is in Vegas. And that means a lot of horn enthusiasts will be able to get there if they're hitting Vegas as a vacation spot.
For me, I'm not a gambler. But the flights to Vegas are surprisingly cheap. So, if I'm looking for a new flute or bass clarinet or something, I just might hop a flight to Vegas because it's cheap to get there - cheaper than LA, for a lot of people.
And you can shop for horns to your heart's content. Check out this sax showroom at Kessler's main store.
Please keep in mind - if you're into brass, they've got tons of that, too, including some art. Check this out.
Seriously, though, they've got a great selection of all kinds of instruments and accessories.
They sell Pearl, Yamaha, Amedeus, Azumi and Di Zhao flutes; Yamaha, Holton, King, Carol, Bach and Getzen brass.
They sell loads of accessories, too - reeds, mouthpieces and the like.
Location, location, location.
Like I said, if you gamble right, you get to take home a new horn for free (sort of).
No doubt I've missed some.
I'm sure there are at least a few more of these out there - wind instrument dealers that have a good selection, or that offer outstanding service, or an oasis of woodwind and brass in a desert of guitar stores that dot the land.
Like I've repeatedly said, not everyone can get to LA or NYC.
And some of them were added just because in my travels, I've gotten to know some of these people and I appreciate their passion to serve their communities and be helpful to the areas they serve.
Keep these places in mind as you travel. They will give a wind player a nice scenic oasis as you travel back and forth across the continent.
If you know of others that need to be added to the list or have any helpful comments for my readers, please let me know.
Don't forget to check out the other, more "specialized" wind instrument dealer lists I've put together...
Pleas let me know who else should be on my lists. I don't want to leave out any good dealers - not anywhere.