As a seasoned music enthusiast and vinyl hunter, I’ve created this quick guide to help find the best stores where to find the best music in the great New York City. We’ll send you in Brooklyn, as most hip stores have moved in this trendy neighborhood in the last decade, but also in Manhattan, where a few stores survived the tough years record stores have had since the digital format’s arrival.

What are you looking for?

First of all, you need to establish what exactly you are looking for. Is it new music? Used records? Rarities (what we called bootlegs up to the 90s)? Are you looking for good deals or are you willing to break your piggy bank to own something special? This will help you get to the right store in priority.

nyc jazz

You also need to prioritize the music genres you prefer. Some stores specialize in specific genres. If you are on a tight schedule (which is often the case in NYC as there are so many things to see), you’ll want to invest your time in the best stores for you. As some stores aren’t necessarily close one from another, you’ll also want to calculate the commute time between destination. Fortunately, NYC’s public transportation is rapid and efficient. Subway will be your best friend to go from one store to the other.

The best stores for used vinyls

In my latest quest for great music in the Big Apple, I was looking for rare gems mostly in reggae, jazz, early classical music (Baroque or Renaissance music) with an eye open for some cool indie rock and classical solo guitarists and pianists.

academy records

ACADEMY RECORDS

415 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009 – Website
This one is in Manhattan, and is one of the last used vinyl record store left on the island. Sad but true. Most of them are in Brooklyn now (see our article here), and there are only a few stores where there are connoisseurs who can really help you find the record you are looking for.

If you are hunting for rock or pop, don’t waste your time at Academy Records. This is the spot for classical and jazz music fans. And boy, was I in heaven in that store. The staff here knows how to take care of records: they are clean, well-protected in plastic sleeves, well-classified. Unfortunately, there weren’t any turntables to listen to the records, and they wouldn’t let me use their WiFi connection so I could listen to the albums I had an eye on on YouTube before purchasing them. I still did it, but on my personal data on my cell… which is painful when you’re on vacation and under contract with a Canadian telco!

academy records inside

 

I had to go for safe shots in that context: I bought baroque and renaissance albums, a few Glenn Gould records and classical guitar greats, from Julian Bream to John Williams.

The gentlemen in the classical section were experts in their field and really helped me find the gems I was looking for. A1 service (except for the turned down WiFi request).

On that day, I brought back these fine records home:

academy records

A1 RECORD SHOP

439 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009 – Website

Located in an area where there is not really anything else to visit many blocks at the East of Greenwich Village, A1 was a bit disappointing for me. There were a lot of reggae albums, but none of them really got me excited. Many were not in the best condition, so the $8 to $12 requested for an album still felt expensive, compared to other stores. There was a lot of waiting time at the turntables and it wasn’t the best spot to be comfortable listening to vinyls, kind of squeezed in the alleyways.

A1 records

After a few hours looking for gems (I even found LPs from Doug Yule’s post Velvet band American Flyer but they really suck), I ended up not bringing anything home.

But I wouldn’t rule out A1 Records store forever. With used vinyl record stores, you have to go in often to check out what comes in. I simply wasn’t lucky that day.

Check out our other “Vinyl Hunter” articles here! We write one in every city we shop vinyls!

 

Thank you to Marc-André Laporte, Julie Godon, Karl-Philip Marchand-Giguère, Nahame Obomsawin, Guillaume Cloutier, Vanessa Hauguel, Nadine Mathurin, Ritchie Kretschmer, Ben Shannon, and Jeff Rioux for their help in maximizing my March 2017 visit to New York City!

All photos by Nico Pelletier for RREVERB, all rights reserved.

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.