Bellingham and Whatcom County are filled with musical talent. Live performances happen pretty much every day, from classical to punk, at venues ranging from concert halls to private living rooms. So, it makes sense that we are rich in music stores, too, where you can buy or rent an instrument, take a lesson or just play something new for fun. Here’s the lowdown on Bellingham music stores:
On the corner of Champion and Prospect Streets in downtown Bellingham, you’ll find a shop as fine and rare as a Stradivarius: Quist Violins, where they offer sales, rentals, repair services and instruction on bowed instruments.
That means violins, cellos, violas and basses from all over the world. Jim Quist has owned the shop for twenty years this month, always in the same location, but expanding over the years. The shop also stocks bows, cases, sheet music and accessories.
You can find both new and used instruments here in many price ranges. About $300 will get you a starter package, including everything you need to start playing the violin. Prices go up from there, based on factors like the level of hand or benchwork involved in building the instrument.
Quist Violins also offers in-house music instruction. Jim teaches group fiddle classes for adults and teens, while Jane Perkins teaches individual violin and viola to all ages, starting at about two and a half! I was happy to hear that it’s not too late to make my inner dream of playing one of these beautiful instruments come true. Students in school music programs may rent a wide range of high-quality instruments, with an option to purchase (100% of rent is applied to your instrument purchase for one year).
And by the way, if you’re wondering about the difference between a fiddle and a violin (I know I was), there isn’t one, really—except fiddles are for playing folk music, while violins are for playing classical music. That’s just the way it is.
If you have a bowed instrument that’s less than perfect, bring it to Quist. They handle simple repairs right in the shop, while more complex repairs are performed by well-known luthier Dave Nerad.
Whether you’ve wandered by Quist Violins and have always wondered what it’s about, or you’re interested in learning how to play, stop on by. The shop is lovely, the background music is beautiful and I know you’ll enjoy talking with Jim about his passion for the violin, viola, cello and bass.
Quist Violins, 320 W. Champion St., Bellingham 98225
Monday – Friday noon – 6:00, Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Quist Violins on Facebook
Mojo Music is a Bellingham institution. It’s been serving local musicians for over 40 years, and since 1998 has been located on Meridian Street, right between downtown Bellingham and the Bellis Fair Mall area.
The store is large, well-laid out and stocked with tons of musical instruments and accessories for musicians at any level–from beginner to professional. Mojo carries acoustic and electric guitars, (they’re an authorized Fender dealer), as well as drums, ukuleles, brass instruments for school lesson rentals, keyboards and even pianos. They sell both new and used instruments, rent just about everything, and do in-house repairs, too. Of course, you can find strings, picks, sticks and cases, as well as amps, mixing boards and lots of other recording and performing equipment.
Are you ready to learn to play the drums? How about the ukulele? Sign up for instruction at Mojo! They offer group lessons for uke and hand drum, and individual lessons for acoustic and electric drums, guitar, harmonica and more. Students are accepted year-round.
There’s a big selection of beginner to advanced sheet music (including Bruno Mars for ukulele—who doesn’t want that?), and Mojo can download any sheet music from publishers. Stop by, tell them what song you want, and you can buy it on the spot!
Mojo has long been a part of the Bellingham music community, and they’re known for giving back. In fact, on August 23, 2015 they’re presenting their annual Community Music Fest, a fundraiser for Blue Skies for Children, which provides enrichment activities and essentials for homeless, low income and foster children. As in previous years, the event is happening at Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro. Enter the raffle for a ukulele and enjoy live music all day.
Stop by Mojo Music to look around, pic up a rainbow ukulele or learn from the knowledgable staff. You’ll probably run into a musician friend there, like I did!
Mojo Music Discount, 2626 Meridian St., Bellingham, 98225
Monday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 7:00p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Mojo Music on Facebook
Bellingham Music and Bellingham Academy of Music is another long-running Bellingham music business, serving professionals and aspiring musicians since 1983. The store is located at the corner of North State and East Champion Streets in downtown Bellingham.
Bellingham Music specializes in stringed instruments, folk instruments, violins, banjos and ukuleles. Hand drums, Latin and Djembe drums are available, too.
The Bellingham Academy of Music offers instruction in piano, guitar, bass, violin, flute, cello and voice for all ages, from beginner to advanced. Owner Ron Rondello teaches classical guitar, and other instructors teach rock, folk, jazz and classical.
Four music studios are filled with students diligently learning their instrument, and new students are always welcome. Bellingham Music also rents brass, woodwind and string instruments for school music programs. If you’re looking for sheet music, you’ll find plenty here, including method books, “fake” books, anthologies and educational CDs & DVDs. And, you’ll find all the usual and unusual accessories, from strings and tuners to capos, reeds, instrument cases and more.
No matter what your skill level, you’ll feel right at home at Bellngham Music. And anyone can pick up a harp or kazoo, to start making music today!
Bellingham Music, 232 E. Champion St., Bellingham 98225
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m., Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Bellingham Academy of Music by appointment
Located out on the Guide Meridian, Guitar Center has been open for two years. In this 8,000-square-foot store, there is room for a lot of stuff. They stock a LOT of electric guitars, which by the way, are free to demo any time you want (I did not partake this time). There’s a dedicated acoustic guitar room, as well.
You’ll also find percussion instruments, acoustic and electric drums, hand drums, snares, cymbals, keyboards and more. In other words, Guitar Center has everything you’ll need to outfit your own band. And when you’re ready to take the next step, check out their selection of equipment for live sound and recording, whether you’re playing around at home or playing out in public.
Guitar Center also offers lessons, with eight instructors and a collection of rock band-worthy instruments, including keyboards and vocals. Periodic workshops, jam nights and other events keep things interesting. Need to learn about recording basics, the ins and outs of the music industry, or DJ gear? Check out their events page.
Guitar Center is offering a special back-to-school deal on music lessons, with 25% off the first month if you sign up between August 9 and September 7, 2015.
As the door says, “All we sell is the greatest feeling on earth.” And for many locals, it’s true. Making music and playing it for people to enjoy is truly one of the greatest feelings you can have.
Between these four amazing music stores in Bellingham, you don’t need to go anywhere else to fulfill your musical instrument, accessory, equipment or instructional needs. It’s so easy to keep it local!