Best Place to Buy Music Gear

Atomic Music
(multiple locations)

Rock ’n’ roll musicians are oft-mythologized as carefree, intoxicated, debaucherous court jesters, but this reputation is paid for with tedious, expensive, harrowing sojourns to Guitar Center. Fortunately, D.C.-based minstrels who 1) wish to avoid a generic, big-box equipment-buying experience; 2) do not fetishize shiny PRS guitars; and 3) cannot bring themselves to haggle with a 16-year-old cashier over the price of patch cables as a Santana solo blares in the background can take shelter at Atomic Music. A mecca for vintage equipment lovers since 1994, Atomic is a gear-geek’s wet dream—an enormous, dusty room crammed with dusty collections of dusty equipment in which, at any time, an underpriced gem may be unearthed. By holding fast to a 70 percent buyback policy that makes purchasing an expensive instrument 70 percent less stressful, owners Luis Peraza and Eric Schwelling have built a business that actually facilitates music-making. Synthesizer enthusiasts may lament the store’s limited keyboard selection, but the average Atomic employee’s posi-tude (which makes the average Guitar Center employee look like a used-car salesman) rightfully makes Atomic a destination for touring musicians and an invaluable resource for locals who may, on a whim, want to pay $100 for the same Rhythm King drum machine used by Sly Stone on There’s a Riot Goin’ On.

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