Where to awaken the musician within, in Bangkok

Where to awaken the musician within, in Bangkok

From traditional Thai flutes to Cold Clark guitars, here's a guide to the city’s best musical instrument shops
Bangkok music shops
Inter Music's impressive selection of guitars runs the price gauntlet.

Maybe you want to be the next Jimmy Hendrix. Or maybe you just want to fulfill that childhood dream of mastering the Thai ranart-ek.  Whether you are a total beginner or a lapsed genius, the right instrument is waiting for you in one of Bangkok's dozens of music shops.

Keep in mind, there’s a wide discrepancy in the value of the deals available in Bangkok. Some shops are jaw-droppingly overpriced so it pays to shop around. We decided to do just that and offer this guide to Bangkok's music shop scene for the budding maestro.

Chinatown

One of the best areas for deals on instruments is Chinatown. Half a dozen or so shops are interspersed around one city block on the northeast corner of Wat Tuek Intersection of Yaowarat and Chakrawat roads, on your right-hand side less than five minutes walk up (in the direction of traffic) Yaowarat Road from Ratchawong Road. 

One of the more popular shops is Inter Music, which specializes in guitars and drums but also has a small selection of brass, woodwind and other instruments. Here you can pick up a cheap acoustic guitar for 2,000 baht or splash out on a Cole Clark for closer to 70,000 baht.

Bangkok music shopsTheera Music offers great discounts on its display models.

Other shops nearby, all offering similar prices, include Theera Music and its smaller, sister shop around the corner, which has cheaper deals for display models. Here you can also find some more obscure instruments, with melodicas on sale from as little as 1,200 baht. For helpful English speaking staff check out Asia Music, on the edge of the block by Chakrawad Road on the corner of Soi Nakhon Kasem 3.

The only downside is the opening times. Almost all these stores are shut on Sundays and only open from 9:30am to around 6pm. 

Thai instruments

For traditional Thai instruments, you cannot go wrong with Suksan Panit, just by the McDonalds at Democracy Monument (towards Khao San Road) on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue.

Do not be put off by the appearance of this school supply store. The ground floor is full of books and other educational supplies but upstairs is full of Thai instruments at very affordable prices. Open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturdays. Closed Sunday.

Bangkok music shopsLooking for a polished ebony grand? Music Square is an official Yamaha dealer.Pratunam

This central area of Bangkok is home to a handy cluster of music shops. The hardest to miss is the grand looking Lucky Music, with its big glass façade and spacious interior. Although the quality of the instruments here are hard to argue with, the prices are easier to pick a fight with.

Open Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 6pm, Lucky Music, between Petchaburi sois 13 and 15, acts as a dealer to other shops as well as selling individual items. If you’re looking for a professional standard double bass then you can pick up a Hofner for only 400,000 baht, or a Challen baby grand piano for 540,000. But you can also lay your hands on a China-made upright piano to squeeze into your condo for only 89,000 baht.

If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper, then Second Music, behind Lucky Music (just go down the soi to the right of Lucky and you’ll see it on the left-hand side of the courtyard) comes highly recommended, with stacks of amps and other equipment as well as guitars, drum sets, lighting equipment and anything else you can think of crammed into this small and friendly store. Contact storeowner Muu on +66 (0)81 813 8279 for more info. 

Bangkok music shopsBeat Spot carries modern takes on the classics, like this 'silent bass.'

For the beginners out there, about 50 meters down Petchaburi Road, directly opposite the Indonesian Embassy, is Rex Records, which has a good collection of instructional DVDs and books if you want to learn anything from flamenco guitar to Latin drums.

Another nearby option is Music Solutions, opposite the First Hotel and Petchaburi Soi 11. This shop has the usual range of instruments, with a leaning towards digital pianos and keyboards and other electronic equipment such as sound mixers and samplers. A shop tucked away in a corner of the third floor of Pantip Plaza also offers good deals on secondhand electronic music equipment. 

Siam Square

Music Collection has a chain of over 10 shops around the city, including stores in Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery. Again, these shops stock all that you would expect and although not the best prices in town, you can find the occasional great deal.

Bangkok music shopsMany of Bangkok's music shops offer lessons, too.Also in Siam Discovery is Music Square, an official Yamaha dealer selling classical instruments with all the after sales service and frills you would expect, as well as the prices. Here you can pick up a polished ebony grand piano for a cool 6.9 million baht. They also stock the popular Silent Series, as well as the rest of the extensive Yamaha range including brass and woodwinds.

Its sister store, Beat Spot, on the third floor of Fortune Town by Rama IX subway station, stocks all the more modern Yamaha electrical equipment as well as drum sets and a wide range of accessories.

The Internet

For the agoraphobics out there, the Internet also offers some great options, particularly for those looking for second hand instruments on the cheap.  For all things music, Bangkok Jungle is one of the best sites for foreigners around. From buying and selling instruments to finding out about concerts or people looking for band members, this is the place to go.

If you can read Thai then Thaisecondhand.com is another great source for used instruments. 

Ismail Wolff is a Bangkok-based writer. His work has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and on BBC, Reuters and Press Association among others.
Read more about Ismail Wolff