An amazing and dangerous place to visit is RetroFret in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. A used and vintage collection of stringed instruments, RetroFret is a museum, a retail space, a place to learn and an occasion to silently crunch numbers in your head in the corner as you figure out if you can really afford the five string handmade banjo that is cradled in your hands like a newborn.

Guitars, mandolins, banjos, electrics, flamenco, classical, violins, ukes, amps; they have it all. I learned so much in my hour long visit about the history of some instruments and was able to play a lap steel solid body Gibson, the first electric guitar.

Call and make an appointment today and leave your credit cards behind. They also offer repairs on guitars, violins and your church’s organ.

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

This was an early 70’s Ramirez, a flamenco blanca. I have played numerous Ramirez flamencos and as is true with this famous maker, you have to really search for the authentic gems amid all of their clunkers. All of the previous Ramirez’s in my hands were incredibly heavy and dead with a thick and boomy sound, so deep and ponderous.

The one pictured below was a dream. It had a rich, throaty and deep voice, sonorous and woody and dark. Playability was a dream and the guitar was incredibly light and responsive. We were putting the guitar down on the workbench to get the dental mirrors out to identify the particular luthier at Ramirez that had created this one.

I can still hear this blanca. And I did not buy it.

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim

Retrofret, Gowanus, Brooklyn; Nikon D300, 12-24mm Nikkor © Doug Kim