Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ikebe Guitar Station, Shibuya (池部楽器店 ギターズステーション)

As part of my regular diversionary series, I'd like to say "I went to a great guitar store today." [And I can say that, because this place is awesome. You thought I was leading up to a snide remark, didn't you?]. The Ikebe complex in Shibuya is cool - more for sampling and playing the real high-end stuff than for buying, but that's true everywhere in Japan.

First, a little Shibuya nightscape. This is going north from Hachiko, up toward Jinnan and then Omotesando. After years of confusion, I'm finally starting to understand the geography of Shibuya. Previously, I would have described this view as "The street leading to the ESP store."

So, the Ikebe complex. This one little street on the southwest side of the station (cross the pedestrian bridge and look for the Ringerhut) has, no lie, 5 very good guitar stores, all of which are of the Ikebe empire. Here, some guy is going into Guitar Station, but you can also visit Amp Station in the basement of this building, Woodman 1 and 2 (vintage acoustic and electric), and then 246 (used) and the main Ikebe, which are more normal stores.


Guitar Station has only two rooms, and here's one. While you may recognize a bit of Fender on the wall there, you may also notice that the bulk of it is James Tyler, Suhr, and the ever-delightful Tom Anderson. The amps are similarly awesome (although you have to go down to the basement for the /13, and that's well worth it).

As usual, I feigned interest in something so I could play a shiny new Anderson Drop Top for a while. The subject of my feigning was the 65 Amps London model - your basic 18-watt, EL-84 kinda guy. The clean channel has a good deal of grit (courtesy of the helpful master knob), the drive channel even more. I'm not sure if it was the Drop Top or the amp, but it was quite addictive to play. They made the mistake of putting me in a private room since another guy was noodling on the stools pictured here, and I just parked there until they dragged me back out. Someone came in from another store after a while, and they looked in the door hopefully, like I might leave, but no. No. Ahhhhhhh.

The back room is more normal, guitar-wise (the obligatory Wall o' Gibson), but the big selection of Carr amps makes it cool again. And if you're really paying attention, you'll see a couple of Two Rock amps, and on the bottom of the stack a Dr. Z just like mine...except that the price is three times what it should be in America.

A cautionary tale, that.
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