Sure, strings create intriguing sounds, but sometimes simply the sight of them are enough to induce awe.
After coming across an out-of-place full-sized zither that looked like it belonged at the Musical Instrument Museum instead of the thrift store it landed in, we couldn't help but wonder what other treasures were hanging around town. After taking a quick look, and here's what we found.
5. A vintage Martin ukelele from the 1920s ($1200).
Perhaps it's the semi-recent fad of YouTube darlings like Zooey Deschanel sporting these cute little stringed things, but according to the clerks at Music Brokers (420 North Central Avenue; 602-230-7777), ukeleles have been selling like crazy lately.
We can't guarantee that you'll suddenly go over a friggin' rainbow with magical, charismatic crooning skills after dropping the massive dime on this little beauty, but the tone and looks alone will certainly gain you plenty of hipster points in our book.
'Cuz we're keeping count.
4. A Bajo Quinto ($700).
This is the friendliest guitar we've ever seen.
Thanks to this Craigslist ad, we've met this little thing.
It appears to have a friendly little mustache, a wide open grin and even looks like it's giving us a whimsical little wave, as if to say, "Hola! Come play!"
3. A guzheng, or Chinese zither ($699).
This is the surprising find that started it all. Initially, this awesome fight scene from Kung Fu Hustle using one as a deadly weapon came to mind.
This wood-based instrument with something like twenty strings sat on top of a table directly next to the entrance of the Salvation Army Thrift Store (725 West Indian School Road; 602-788-9355) in a snug fitting case.
Almost every passerby stopped to oggle it.
A sign taped to the green felt on the interior of the case read, "Please Don't touch. Please Ask for Assistants," so we did. A store clerk mentioned that it had been in for more than two weeks, with plenty of lookers but no buyers yet.
2. An Indian sitar ($1000).
This beauty from this Tolleson Craigslist ad comes with a soft case, extra strings, bone tuning slides and a book on how to play.
We doubt the book could really help us figure it all out, but unfortunately, not all of us are cool enough to take lessons from Ravi Shankar.
With enough practice and determination though, you too could be Norweigian Woodin' it up in no time.
1. A Dobro Mandolin ($2500).
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When we first called Bizarre Guitar & Drum (4322 North 7th Avenue; 602-248-9297) to inquire about what kinds of rarities and oddities were in store for our visit, the response was not as exciting as we imagined.
Sure enough, upon arrival, vintage guitars stretched as far as the eye -- some even signed by stars like Peter Frampton and Ted Nugent. Disappointed, we prepared to leave without really seeing anything truly "bizarre."
Luckily, sticking around a few more minutes to explore the back room landed us next to a wall of mandolin spliced mini instruments like this Mandobird. The dobro mandolin, however, stole the show with its tiny frets and resonating glow.