In a market thoroughly overpowered by Guitar Center, it’s tough to find a low-key, specialized guitar shop, a place where one can browse, say, hand-crafted banjos or elegant 12-strings without some hairsprayed Sunset Strip victim next to you practicing his hammer-ons, Marshall stack on 11. The Fretted Frog is the brainchild of French expat Roland Belloir (the “Frog”) and his Echo Park shop is utterly relaxed, a haven for acoustic guitar fans and players to gather for impromptu jam sessions and between-strum banter. Belloir’s stock features rare and hard-to-find brands, small companies that specialize in beautifully crafted instruments. His staff gathers a selection of some of the Eastside’s finest musicians, at home and in their element, and you’ll find none of the leopard-print leggings or attitude (or exorbitant pricing) that makes those national music store chains less than inviting. Instead, there are Oriental carpets, exposed brick and a comforting, neighborhood-friendly feel that says (in a French accent), “Come on down and get to noodlin’.” 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park. (213) 353-0734, —Jessica Hundley

LA Weekly