Chicago Music Exchange

Shop at the Chicago Music Exchange

Before we take every vacation, we all sit down and talk about the specific things each of us want to do or see, and every member of our family’s requests are weighed equally. We do this because our vacations are just as much a break and adventure for our children as they are for us, and this way we make sure everyone enjoys the trip and gets to do what they want most.

In addition to seeing Dead and Company play the final two shows of their 2017 summer tour at Wrigley Field:

We had already done basically everything we wanted to do while visiting Chicago and had one day left to do some casual exploring, so after breakfast, we hopped the train and headed to the Chicago Music Exchange. Brian has purchased some pedals from them over the past year, and because CME is also a PRS Signature dealer, he was hoping that they would have a John Mayer Signature J-MOD 100 amp he could check out.

When we stepped into the showroom I think our jaws collectively dropped. We knew the guitar store was pretty famous for it’s incredible showroom, but nothing beats seeing one of the world’s premier collections of vintage guitars and basses in person. With just one look, it’s easy to understand why Chicago Music Exchange is a destination for musicians and celebrities.

We first just had to wander around and check out all of the gorgeous guitars hanging on the wall to be cherished like revered pieces of art. And, if the musician you’re with wants to look around longer or test out a guitar in one of the practice rooms, they have plush couches you can relax on.

Brian wanted to try out a PRS McCarty 594 and a vintage Fender Stratocaster, so a friendly-staff member lent him a cord and Brian snagged his own practice room. While he did that, we bought him a t-shirt and headed to the Building Blocks Toy Store two doors down to look around, to give him lots of time to play, before meeting back up with him at CME.

About Chicago Music Exchange

Chicago Music Exchange is an independent guitar store specializing in new, used and vintage guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass guitars, amps, effects pedals, guitar straps and accessories. The guitar showroom is a must-see destination for musicians all over the globe, including many of the biggest rock stars in the world.

For more than 25 years, the Chicago guitar store and showroom has been serving musicians and collectors. It is well-known for high-end vintage pieces that cannot be found anywhere else, and an equally impressive selection of new and used gear priced to sell.

CME also has a full-service Repair Shop that can take guitar repairs including refrets, fretdress, setups, electronic installs and more. CME technicians also perform amp repairs, retubes, tuneups and pedal modifications.

Chicago Music Exchange History

Chicago Music Exchange was founded in 1989 by Scott Silver who was buying and selling guitars out of his loft in Chicago. He accumulated so many guitars that he decided to open a small shop to buy and sell guitars. In 2005, CME moved to its current location with a beautiful showroom.

A major player in the global vintage guitar market, Chicago Music Exchange took an active role in vintage guitar boom of the mid to late-2000s.

In 2010, Chicago Music Exchange and its inventory of instruments was purchased by David Kalt, owner of, an open marketplace to buy and sell music gear. Since then, the store has added a full drum shop — Chicago Drum Exchange, specializing in new, used and vintage drum kits, snare drums, cymbals, drum heads, drum hardware and drum accessories — as well as a dedicated bass room, the BASSment.

Chicago Music Exchange also has a strong online presence, and is known for its active YouTube channel featuring product demos of new pedals and vintage pieces.

Know Before You Go

  • Chicago Music Exchange is located at 3316 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60657 — right off the CTA Brown Line Paulina stop, just north of Belmont and just west of Ashland.
  • Open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • If you’re a musician visiting with family, while you explore the showroom and maybe play a guitar to two, your family can visit Building Blocks Toy Store two doors down, or Dinkel’s Bakery across the street!

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