Best of the Bay 2013: BEST RIFFS KEPT REAL

If you’re looking for a vintage instrument with a personal touch, Panhandle Guitar hits all the right chords. Rock fiends will swoon for the intimate, nicely overstuffed shop’s collection of prime and shiny vintage guitars, basses, amps, and effects. Panhandle buys old instruments too — on consignment, or trade-in — and offers on-site repairs. Owner Robert Williams is known for his encyclopedic knowledge, and there’s a laid-back and welcoming vibe we dig, charmed by store windows cluttered with neon signs and a child mannequin in an oversized Panhandle Guitar T-shirt. Guitar Center this is not; the stated store hours seem more like vague suggestions of when it might be open, and Mondays are simply listed as “some times” open with a smiley face. This kind of store is sadly uncommon these days — a unique, owner-run vendor of rare instrumental goods, tuned into the needs of fellow artists.

1221 Fell, SF. (415) 552-1302, www.panhandleguitarsf.com