Pittsburgh Instrument Shops: Hollis & Germann

There are a few environments that make me uncomfortable. Bike shops, instrument stores, and ski shops are all on that list. For others, the computer store might be a tough place. They all are places where being a novice can be intimidating, and in the wrong store, you can feel seriously stupid. All it takes is one condescending employee to make you feel incredibly dumb and out of your depth. Thankfully, Hollis & Germann Music on Library Road in Pittsburgh is not a place with any condescension, intimidation, or other nonsense.

Located in the Stoner Centre plaza on the second floor, the first thing you see as you ascend the stairs to Hollis & Germann are saxophones hanging on the far wall. The sight of a nice mix of vintage and new instruments immediately put me more at ease, since they do their own repair work and these appeared excellent. Entering the store, you find no less than six repair benches with employees busily but carefully cleaning and repairing all manner of woodwind and brass instruments. Along the walls are more instruments, and a few accessories are scattered within counters and on a couple pegboards. Overall, the impression is that this is an instrument specialist, not an accessories shop.

The people at Hollis & Germann are attentive and really quite nice. Considering I broke no less than a dozen rules of saxophone purchasing (buying it online, buying it without a play-test, shipping a baritone saxophone across the country, buying a baritone saxophone before I could play a saxophone at all, and so on), they were kind enough to not point out all of the things that could have gone wrong. In the end, they took the saxophone back and tried it out, just like I wanted. [ In the end, my baritone proved to be a good purchase, and he was complementary about how well I had done on both price and quality considering how little I knew.]

If I had a hankering for another woodwind of any sort or a brass family instrument, this would be my stop. The people were nice, the prices were within reason, and they were demonstrably knowledgeable about the instruments. The technician knew, at one glance, everything that I took hours to research about my saxophone, and the other technicians all seemed to have similar knowledge. Not only that, but I could see that between the four men working that day, I would estimate that no less that $30,000 of instruments were spread in carefully arranged pieces across the room. If people will trust their magnificent horns to these people, that is a good reason for me to as well.

They also run an online website which can order things that they don’t normally have in stock. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, ordering your miscellany through Hollis & Germann Music will help support this local business and keep good instrument technicians in the area.

In the end, if you are a woodwind or brass player, you will need a music technician and instrument repair shop eventually. Whatever your reasons, Hollis & Germann treated me like a valued customer long before I was one, and they made me feel comfortable in an intimidating environment. It is worth a fortune to have a store you can trust for repairs, and Hollis & Germann on Library Road in Pittsburgh is that store for me.

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