Shop Spotlight: Regent Sounds in London

Regent Sounds is now a well-established guitar shop on London’s fabled Denmark Street, but its story didn’t begin that way. As owner Crispin Weir shares with us below, Regent Sounds first opened in 1949 as Regent Sound Studio — a space well-known to bands as an inexpensive place to record.

During those years, a handful of bands that are ubiquitous today recorded and rehearsed there, before it was turned into a specialist bookstore, and finally, the guitar shop it is today.

We headed over to the historic road, sandwiched between trendy Soho and the theatres of West End, for a quick chat with Crispin about the ‘60s bands that have walked through the studio’s doors and some of his favourite vintage gear that now lines the walls.

Can you tell us a bit about how Regent Sounds got its start?

Regent Sound originally opened in 1949 as a studio for the publishers on Denmark Street to record acetates. By the mid-’60s, popular bands started to realise it was a cheap place to record.

The Rolling Stones recorded their debut album here in 1964, as well the majority of the second album and first EP. After the Stones had used the studio, the majority of ‘60s bands used the space as a place to experiment and demo songs. That roster includes Tom Jones, Elton John, David Bowie, The Kinks, The Who, Slade, The Bee Gees, Mott The Hoople, Genesis, and The Equals to name just a few.

Regent Sounds

Jimi Hendrix rehearsed in the studio in 1966, as did the Eagles in 1970. Later that year, Black Sabbath recorded their first album, followed by Paranoid in 1971 in Regent Sound Studio. It was graced by thousands of musicians over the years, including the cream of British guitarists from Clapton and Beck to Albert Lee and John McLaughlin.

The studio closed its doors in the ‘80s and after a brief spell as a publishers and a specialist music bookshop called Helter Skelter, it became a guitar shop in January 2004 with the idea of specialising in the entire range of Fender guitars. This quickly blossomed to include the full Gretsch range and Vox amps.

Over the years, this has remained central to what we do and who we are while expanding into several other areas, like boutique pedals and amps and a good selection of vintage and used guitars. We strongly believe in selecting the best quality products available and providing the best customer experience around.

You’ve got some impressive vintage gear. Could you pick out a key piece with some history to tell us about?

1972 Fender Thinline Telecaster

Our favourite vintage piece at the moment is the 1972 Telecaster Thinline in rare factory black. This is an unusual piece to have (as not many were made) and comes with its original case. The original wide range humbuckers that Seth Lover designed while at Fender have the now-famous CuNiFe magnets, which give them their own unique sound, making these guitars highly sought after.

How important is the internet in connecting a shop like Regent Sounds with customers all over the world?

Our online presence has always been very important to us. Stocking unusual and unique guitars helps attract attention from all over the world. People are always interested in limited editions and one-offs and pieces they can't find elsewhere, and this is something we have always tried to deliver.

What’s on the horizon for Regent Sounds?

This would be giving the game away too much, but we have a lot of surprises in store and are very much looking forward to the next few years while these take place.

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