Even though I can’t play guitar, I’ve always liked looking at them. I’ve always found guitars really sexy, maybe it’s because they’re shaped like a voluptuous woman, maybe it’s because I’m nuts. Anyway, I’ve always liked looking at them, so it’s only natural I enjoy looking around in guitar shops and there’s lots of guitar shops in New York City. I thought that every now and again we’d take a tour of one, here on TWM. One of the more famous gitbox shops in the city is Chelsea Guitars on 23rd Street, right next door to the Chelsea Hotel. It’s just about ten blocks from where I live, so I figured this would be the perfect place to start our debut of guitar shops in New York City.
Here we are on 23rd Street, not far to go now.
Fresh fruit alert!
We're real close now, here's the Chelsea Hotel.
Which is sadly still closed to the public.
And right next door is our destination, Chelsea Guitars. This place used to be a tailor shop and they left the "Alterations For Men and Women" sign stay above the door, which is a nice nod to the past.
The front window has some very cool guitars on display, including a Les Paul on the left.
As you can see, it's a narrow shop inside and it's jampacked with guitars.
The first thing you notice in here is the giant sea serpent crashing through the ceiling. I was told his name is Stanley, named after Stanley Bard, the former manager of the Chelsea Hotel.
Here's the owner of Chelsea Guitars, Dan Courtenay, strumming on one of the guitars from the walls of the shop.
As you can imagine, Dan has seen all kinds of famous guitarists come and go in Chelsea guitars. He told me a few people you wouldn't guess that has shopped in here include, Jonathan Demme, Arthur Miller and Allen Ginsberg. Dan cited Joan Baez as being one of the nicest customers to shop there and he said he was knocked out when Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's former guitarist came into the shop to get a guitar when he was opening up for Los Lobos here in New York.
Acoustic guitars line one side of the shop.
And various electric guitars line the other side.
A shot of the shop from the back.
Here's Roy Orbison's Diners Club card, I think he'd be happy to have it hanging here amongst all these great guitars.
Three ukuleles hang with their larger stringed brothers in the shop.
Close up of some of the electric guitars hanging on the walls.
Check out this painting, it looks like Bob Dylan has gotten food poisoning.
Guitar cases are stored above the guitars on display in the store.
Pedals and fuzz tones are stored in the case at the back of the store.
Bass guitars can be had here as well, here's a Fender Jazz Bass guitar.
Carl Perkins autographed this guitar.
In addition to guitars, you can also purchase CDs in here.
And for the official Saturday night dinner, I decided to wander over to the Old Homestead Steakhouse.
Those of you that have followed my past blogs will recognize the bar in here and maybe we'll see a familiar face as well...
I started off with a lump crabmeat cocktail.
And here's the main course, a 10 ounce filet with a hash brown potato cake beneath it.
Delicious! It was a great meal and wonderful to see Robinson again. And big thanks to Dan and the friendly crew at Chelsea Guitars for letting me hang out and take pictures.
224 W. 23rd St. (Near Seventh Ave.)
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 11AM to 7PM • Sunday: Noon to 6PM
Old Homestead Steakhouse
56 Ninth Ave. (Near 15th St.)
Chelsea Guitar T-Shirt Contest!
I bought this t-shirt at Chelsea Guitars, because I believe in supporting local businesses that let me come in and pester them by taking photos and putting their guitar picks on my tongue. And so I thought I’d give it to one of the TWM readers and commenters. So the first person who can answer this guitar related question wins the shirt. Warning: You will have to give me your address, which means I may show up at your house or apartment, drink all your beer, eat all your cheeseburgers and watch all of your internet porn, so you’ve been forewarned! Okay here’s the question: Name the guitarist for the band, The Wombles, who had a connection to The Sex Pistols and tell me what the connection was.
First one to answer in the comments wins the shirt! And I’ll throw in a Chelsea Guitars sticker and a couple of picks as well. What a generous motherfucker I am, huh?