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Chelsea Guitars and Old Homestead Steakhouse

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.

It was getting close to dinner time, so I had an appetizer of a Sid Loves Nancy guitar pick. Another nod to the neighboring Chelsea Hotel.

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...

And here's the familiar face, friendly bartender, Robinson. You may remember him from the 365 blog or on one of our Saturday Night Cheeseburger adventures.

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.

Chelsea Guitars
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.)

Further reading: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, New York Magazine and Vintage & Rare.

Ah ooh, smokestack lightnin’,
Shinin’ just like gold.

Surprise link...click on it...I dare you!

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?

References (3)

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Reader Comments (37)

Ha! Just happened to catch your post. Looks like a great store.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikeyC

I've got an old Army buddy that's going to go NUTS over this post...

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

I enjoy browsing music stores also, even though I can't play a damn thing ... makes me jealous that I have zero musical talent ... they are just cool places to check out.

Old Homstead ... I've visited the place before ... but it's way too expensive for me ! ... I paid $8 for a Bud bottle there ... sipped on it very slowly ... then wandered off to a different part of the neighborhood. I looked at the menu and see you dropped at least $65 there ! ...... but, I have to say, it looks delicious ! Next time I find a $50 bill on a street up there -- I'm spending it at Old Homestead !

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@MikeyC: It's a great place and everyone working there is really friendly, a fun place to hang out!

@Jaws: I guess your army buddy must play guitar...or eat steak!

@GENE: I hear you about music shops, always fun to wander around in. As far as Old Homestead, it is pricey, but worth it in my opinion. I was celebrating something I'll mention in a week or so here and wanted to treat myself to a great meal and it was great!

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Back when I was a kid in the 1960s used to go Family Court (a long story boring story) which was across the street from Chelsea Hotel at the time and I always stopped and looked in at the guitars in the windows, right by the fishing tackle store. A few sleazy guys came in and out of the guitar store, I suppose jazz musicians at the time. This was in the days Dylan showed up in NYC, fast talking, free loading, free wheelin', blowing in the wind. Oh, those were the days... Damn, where's the hell my harmonica?

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk

Well I think everyone knows Chris Spedding also helped produce the original demos of Problems, No Feelings and Pretty Vacant.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

Marty, As a Guitarist I always love the small guitar shops like Chelsea Guitars. They have amazing guitars that make musicians drool with envy. I always wondered how many different people played these guitars.
I agree with you on the fact that guitars are sexy as hell & resemble a woman's curvy body. Thats why I love Gibson over Fender. If a Guitar was a woman she would be from Brazil.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny the Freelancer

@ Marty...not so much steak anymore, he's still recovering from his third heart attack.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: Those were the good old days indeed! Always sad to walk by the closed Chelsea Hotel these days.

@Spike: You win the t-shirt, sticker and guitar picks! And I've still got a plastic monkey to give you as well. When you get back from your vacation we'll have to get together and I'll give them to you! Congratulations!

@Danny the Freelancer: "If a Guitar was a woman she would be from Brazil." Ha ha ha! Great observation and too true!

@Jaws: Wow, must be one tough guy, I hope he's feeling better and recovering well!

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Man that meal is making my mouth water.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason

It's corny, but when I saw the lost credit card, "Crying" started playing in my head.
Here's a video of Roy Orbison's crying.
Have a good week.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Used to live in Chelsea many moons ago, remember salivating in front of the guitar shop a lot. AND in the Old Homestead, which is still my fave steakhouse in NYC--thanks Marty!

But I have to be one of the biggest Chris Spedding fans in the US and I didn't know about his production of those demos. OK, I don't actually remember those bands, either! lol Getting old or pickled or both.

Keep on celebrating, Marty, hope to see you soon!

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdark1p

@Jason: If you've never eaten at Old Homestead, you should check it out sometime, amazing food there!

@csp: Quite a different version of "Crying!" Thanks for the linkage.

@dark1p: I didn't know Chris Spedding was in the Wombles till I watched a documentary on The Sex Pistols and Steve Jones told a story about how he complained it was hot wearing his Womble outfit! Great meeting you last week and let's definitely hang out again soon!

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Hey Marty - love that shirt. Gotta get one for my older son who's "gitar crazy". And that filet is just amazing! I've been by the Old Homestead many times but never been in. Looks like that's where my next steak dinner is coming from.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave - Everywhere

I wish I knew how to play more than one song on the guitar. Actually, I know how to play three songs, but only because they're just different progressions of the same three chords. Anyhoo, cool shop! And nice dinner! I'm drooling a little over that potato pancake platform.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

I'm a Grestch fan:)
i named my dog Gretschen cause she was sturdy...
i LOVED the Carl Perkins signature
everyone loves Elvis.. I love me some Carl...
i'd have a field day in there:)
The steak looked AMAZING
wow.. im hungry now.
was gonna eat a burger for dinner might have to switch to filet... hummmmmm

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

@Dave - Everywhere: I agree about the shirt, congrats again to Spike for winning it! And you should definitely check out Old Homestead, if you like prime rib, it's the best in town. Pricey, but worth it!

@Biff: That hash brown cake was a welcome surprise, very tasty!

@Gidget: Too cool you named Gretchen in honor of the guitar! I'm a Carl Perkins fan too. And that steak was amazing, I think you should switch dinner ideas!

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Geeez, I WISH i had THAT kinda dough.........eatin' QUITE high-on-the-hog (errr.....cow), eh?

BEST thing about the site so far = you have a Hubert Sumlin tag.......but put the "t" in Hubert in the tag ok?

Keep on chooglin'!

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrBOP

I love the unique smell in those old guitar stores, just a great aroma from acoustic guitars. Also a big fan of the Les Paul,,,probably the greatest guitar ever, according to many. The small body makes it very versatile for everyone. I love the history about the Chelsea and have seen the documentary about the hotel and also the Sid and Nancy movie,,,both worth seeing. Hope they reopen soon. Isn't that Spanish restaurant with that great bar right around there? Old Homestead looked great, though I had to do a double take with that lump crabmeat, it looked like miniature whole chickens before cooking,,,,,I actually see legs and wings,,,,gotta stop doing acid.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@DrBOP: Whaever.

@Al: I hear you about guitar store aroma and I totally agree with you on Les Paul! And yes, the El Quijote is right next door to Chelsea Guitars. I just looked back at the crabmeat photo and you're right! They do look like little chickens...did you dose my beer?

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Another great one!
I love that they kept the tailor shop sign ... respect :)

The guitar pick on the tongue might be your best self-portrait yet!

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwendyvee

Sid Viscous was innocent! I saw that scrawled on a bathroom stall wall.

@Al-"Also a big fan of the Les Paul,,,probably the greatest guitar ever, according to many." Very true

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Duncester

Of course, I meant “Vicious”. Dam you Word spell check, damn you all to hell.

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Duncester

@wendyvee: I agree with the tailor shop respect, nice to see that! Glad you liked the guitar pick tongue shot!

@The Duncester: Great article, thanks for the link! And yes, typos suk!

August 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Sid Viscous is now the Duncester's new porn name.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Stellar post Marty! Beautiful peek at two NYC institutions that continue to resist the coming Mall-pocalypse.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNed Sparks

@csp: Ha ha ha!

@Ned Sparks: Thanks, glad you liked it! And I love the name: "Mall-pocalypse!"

August 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Ok this post is so incredible. First of all I LOVE guitars and guitar shops. I have been playing guitar since I was 15 years old. My brother plays too and he is amazing. In fact he and I were just discussing guitar stores the other day.

Secondly thank you for posting about the Old Homestad Steakhouse. They just put one in the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and we ate there the last time we were in Vegas last month.


It is cool that you like guitars too. I have had some cool ones throughout the years.

Thank you Marty!!

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Suie

Great post Daddio! Once again, I was late to the party.
We'll catch up soon!

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

@Tiki Bar Susie: I forgot you played guitar! Really glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for the link to the Vegas Homestead, very cool!

@"Boris:" Thanks, Daddio, I know you have a lot on your plate right now, so I appreciate you chiming in! Let's try and yak soon!

August 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Hey Marty - I have to admit that I haven't been to NYC for a few years, but TWM is giving me the itch to get my butt back there soon. Between Joan Jett, Coney Island, great steakhouses, and guitar shops - I am starting my itinerary now .....

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

@Kat: Let me know when you plan on coming and we'll hang out, you can be the guest star on TWM!

August 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty


August 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternight goat

@night goat: Thanks for the link, I read about it on Jeremiah and in the Post. What a fucking shame, think I'll do a post on it Monday.

August 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Cool store. The guitar is one instrument I have always wanted to play, but have never taken the time to do so. So there sits an un-played one in my closet for many years now. Someday. (sorry it's been so long since I've commented here, I hope you're doing well!)

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkari

@kari: Good to see you chiming in again! I tried guitar lessons years ago as a kid and just couldn't do it. I've always loved music, I just can't play it unless it's a record or a CD!

August 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Enjoyed this post, after all the guitar is nothing short of the greatest musical instrument man has ever created. No instrument is as versatile, expressive, guttural, ethereal, stately, heartwarming, or cool as the guitar. Well maybe a piano comes close but a piano can't go with you wherever you go. Word. Steak dinner looks pretty righteous too.

August 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlegitimate beef

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