The latest Guitar Jar Mystery Shopper finds us a Budagov Instruments, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Israel is a stunning country to visit. I’m here on business, but that often means I can thoroughly mix business with pleasure. Or pleasure with business. Or whatever.
If you haven’t been to Tel Aviv, I thoroughly recommend it. A vibrant city with a good mix of history, culture, architecture, partying, businesses, restaurants and of course, music and the arts. The city is only an hour away from Jerusalem, so there are loads of activities and sights to see enabling you to soak up as much of the culture as possible.
Budagov Instruments is a store owned by guitarist Shmuel Budagov, who’s regarded as the most famous guitarist in Israel. He’s had a career spanning some 40 years and allegedly has released nearly 1000 albums/EP’s in total (at least that’s what the store owner informed me!).
The shop itself is within walking distance from the railway station, but if you’re coming from the airport or the Tel Aviv beach (think Miami Beach!) you’ll need to take a taxi. I walked from the store back to my hotel and although pleasant, I was drained by the end of it (the humidity and heat really is something else).
The store is fairly large and didn’t disappoint. The shop helper during my visit was very polite and helpful. He admitted he was more involved in the “drums” aspect of the store, but shared me with some useful knowledge and insight to the background to some of the guitars on display.
The most noticeable aspect to the range of guitars on show was the large presence of self-branded electric guitars, acoustic guitars and amplifiers. The quality of the instruments was impressive; take a Les Paul copy for example – stunning finish with what seemed to be high quality hardware throughout.
Price wise, Israel as a whole isn’t cheap, but with the Les Paul copy priced at approx. £750 (4500 Shekels), you’ll do well to find one new with just as good a finish & appearance in the UK. If a guitarist as well respected as Shmuel Budagov launches a self-branded range of instruments, you kind of think they’re going to be of good quality and good value for money.
Effects wise they had a fairly good range; some quirky T-Rex and Wah pedals among the mix of usual suspects, the same going for the range of guitar amps.
But the real winners in my eyes goes to a lovely pair of Yamaha SG’s placed high up in the shop, well out of reach of mere mortals, sandwiching an old Les Paul. I’m a fan of Yamaha SG’s and having previously owning a rare SG1500, I often keep an eye open for any that I can see going at a bargain price. This one, unfortunately, was nowhere near aligned to my kind of budget.
Budagov Instruments is an interesting shop run by friendly people, stocking some pretty cool guitars. In fact, the whole of Tel Aviv is pretty cool. And on that note, I’m off to find a local bar that serves ice-cold local beer… Shalom!
Visit the Budagov Instruments website (requires translation).