I’ve been in other, larger music stores where as soon as you walk in a sales associate accosts you, asking for what you’re looking for and if they can help you find it and I must say, I just don’t care for it much. While I’m sure many appreciate the prompt, professional attention, I prefer a more low-key, laid-back music shopping experience; which is why I like Doc's West End Music in Lehigh Valley.

West End is independently owned and operated. They sell instruments as well as repair them, and offer music lessons. I use the word “they” (in contrast to “it”) intentionally. While the store isn’t exactly some idyllic mom ‘n’ pop place, it does have a more intimate feel to it. I’ve seen people negotiating prices (usually to no avail, but hey, the point is prices aren’t handed down from on high) and regulars stopping in just to see what’s up.

I came to appreciate all of this during my six years of guitar lessons at Doc's. As an impressionable 12-year-old quite taken with Jack Black’s affable performance as “fat loser with body odor” Dewey Finn in School Of Rock, I decided to take up his instrument. Although I can only personally vouch for (and recommend) Gene Fries -- not only an excellent guitar player, but one of the nicest people I’ve ever met -- from all the instructors, I know plenty who have taken lessons with different people for different instruments, and I can’t recall a single complaint about anyone.

It may not be the be-all-end-all of music stores, but West End has its own personal charms and I highly suggest you check it out. Support your local music store!