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ARIA Award winning artist Ruel picks up a Cole Clark guitar at Guitar Paradise this week

While many states around Australia are beginning to loosen Covid-19 rules, in Melbourne it’s a different story. Due to the recent outbreak, the southern city is back in lockdown on level 3 restrictions. However for Melbourne musicians requiring music gear, there’s no reason to fret! As per the initial lockdown period, musical instrument stores remain open and ready to help service your musical needs. Yes you are allowed to visit a Melbourne music store. In the same way that if you need to repair a damaged item in your home, you can visit Bunnings and get what you need. If you broke a heel on your boot, you are allowed to visit a shoe store to buy replacements. If you’re a songwriter/performer and need guitar strings, picks, home recording/streaming gear or whatever it is that helps you to continue to create, then you may visit a music store. Clearly online shopping is available and encouraged if you don’t want to physically visit a store but if you do, you can be sure that the stores have gone to great lengths to make your shopping experience as safe as possible.

Guitar Paradise in Richmond had a very busy day on Wednesday with customers under the incorrect impression they’d be closed the next day. “Were still open but with restrictions,” said Guitar Paradise’s Neville Hill. “There are time limits instore. We’ve still been incredibly busy, especially on Wednesday, the last day before lockdown as people expected us to be closed. We’re open and available for pickup, get in and out, we can’t let people hang about in the shop all day jamming on guitars. TNT are picking up every day and delivery is going well but supply is an issue and people are starting to realise that. If there’s something you like that’s available, don’t muck around, grab it! We do have a new shipment of Epiphone and Gibson, they’re quite strong at the moment.”

Importantly, Neville is going to great lengths to ensure that the details of the stock listed on their website matches what’s actually available. “We’re making every effort to make sure our website reflects our stock,” he says. “I think that is important. If you click on an individual item, it will tell you whether it’s available for immediate shipping instore or if there’s going to be a back order delay.”

Guitar Paradise had a surprise celebrity visitor on Wednesday when 17 year old ARIA award winning artist Ruel stopped by to acquire some gear. “He was in Melbourne from Manly to film a video clip,” Nevile explains. “He wanted to buy an Australian guitar, which was great and he bought a Cole Clark and I guess he’s stuck in Melbourne now!”

Anthony Ursino, owner of Macron Music in Flemington is also keen to reinforce the message that Melbourne music stores are open for business. “We are open for business as much as possible to help people but we really need people to work with us in the social distancing and our safety measures,” he says. “All of our staff are wearing gloves and masks again and obviously wiping everything down and have hand sanitisers etc. We have curbside pick up and a fully functional online store. The doors are open but we don’t encourage browsing because we want to keep our staff safe.”

Stock-wise, Ursino tells us that they have just received a delivery of fabulous Casio gear, there’s plenty of kits and bits for drummers, and he recommends Source Audio, a new pedal brand they are now stocking which he tells us will appeal to fans of Strymon pedals. They also have new deliveries of gear from Yamaha and Roland in a couple of weeks.

It’s all happening at Macron, with international superstar Tash Sultana recently visiting to acquire some new home studio gear for her lockdown needs. Macron also recently helped out the Make a Wish Foundation, granting a wish for a young guy who just received a kidney transplant in Victoria. “So he will have his dream guitar package consisting of some Fender and Cole Clark stuff. Once he’s out of recovery, he’ll have a bunch of nice guitars waiting for him,” Ursino tells us.

There seems to be a misconception that music stores aren’t an essential service but try telling that to a musician! Out at Boronia in Melbourne’s east, Craig Johnston from KCs Rockshop took a minute out of his busy day for a quick chat. He tells us that every second call he takes is from a customer asking if they are open, so that’s the message he’d like to get out to the public. “Our doors are open and we are still doing deliveries all over town. We have reasonable stock and about to get even more from Yamaha, Fender and Roland.”

Ken Volaris at Volaris Music in Brunswick told us, “We have had to move our music school to the online lesson platform which has been challenging yet successful, but our store remains open. People are very understanding. We have set up a door bell system and customers can come and get what they need. We are trying to serve people while keeping them and us safe. It has been great to see people connecting with music during the pandemic, it has been a positive to come out of this. We have reasonable stock with deliveries of product arriving on a daily basis”

Out Oakleigh way you’re sorted for gear too. Ross at Pat’s Music in South Oakleigh said they’d be staying open for the time-being subject to observing the typical safeguard requirements, such as customers sanitising hands on entry, filling out a register for tracing purposes and limiting the number of people instore.

The message is clear, Melbourne music stores are well and truly open and available for your gears needs and advice. Online shopping is recommended and deliveries are frequent. If you do need to physically visit a store, you’re allowed but be aware of the health rules and be mindful of those around you.

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