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Guitar Center...semi rant..


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Some guys say.. Boutique guitar/shoppe.. as if its degrading.

Its the other way around.

The traditional guitar Shoppe is not a Guitar Center type of place. The little instrument shoppe is THE traditional guitar shoppe.

 

Guitar Center is a toy store..made to dazzle little kids..and ween them on board to buy & sell from them forever...sort of the way the fast food industry does.. feeding & addicting kids on to Low nutrition GARBAGE.( Read this line again..its worth it)

To the point where the weened (weiners) only feel comfortable buying at one of those places.

Guitar Center is wall to wall full of things that look like instruments but they are not.

There is just a small handfull of select stuff but the only thing you can compare to those things is the very few competitors there or the cheap junk.I hate the damn places.

As I hate all those Mega Chains..Blaahhhh!

 

I saw pictures from the 50's of a Fender music shoppe.

It didn't have a thousand models of pointless waste product.

There was basically the best 7 wattamp on earth..the best 15 watt on earth..the best 30 watt on earth..the best 45 watt on earth..all tweed Amps..& a few Strats & Teles.

Anything you bought you can bet to last a couple of life times..

Now its a thousand choices in a Guitar Center but not one that is at that level..except in the "Boutique shoppe"...as it was back then.

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But they sure can be fun to walk into and kill an hour. Any serious shopping is done at a small handful of guitar shoppes, and never on the internet. I wanna see it, feel it, play it and hear it. That being said, I did wander into suburban GC a few months ago near Minneapolis, don't have a clue which suburb I was in... and played a very nice short-scale Advanced Jumbo. If I'd had the dough in my pocket it would have folowed me home. So, GC helped me put one on the hunt list. Aggravating as the visit may have been, if I let it get to me, I actually had some fun - bought a new digital audio in box thing so I can record on my computer (like I'll ever figure that out)and got to get lost in the strings for awhile. The nearest GC to where I live is 200 miles, so for me, its kind of like walking into a candy store.

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Stopped at the GC in Florence KY this past weekend. They had a new Gibson J200 they just got in. The top finish was already showing signs of finish cracks and the strings were about a 1/4" high at the twelfth fret. Definitely some humidity issues going on here. They definitely do not take care of the few decent guitars they get in and I don't know how they think they're going to sell it in that shape for the top dollar they try to get out of them. It's like watching those commercials on TV that shows the abused abandoned dogs. It made me go home and give mine a hug. (My J200 & my dog)

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While mostly agreeing with the "rant" about GC, the GCs of the world and small shops all serve a purpose. At the Scottsdale, AZ GC, I've discovered many things about guitar makes/models by experiencing them in hand. One of the most important ones is about what guitars "I'm not interested in." Big factor in my buying, playing, and enjoying the 14 guitars I have in the stable right now. I've never bought one at GC. I just try to be the most informed I can be so that when an opportunity to buy a fine instrument comes along, I have a "base" line of info about that brand/model. I guess the final analysis is this: always support the local, expert shops, and, of course, the well made guitar brands whenever possible and turn as many young people on to the joy of playing, feeling, living with and being a part of one of life's greatest experiences ... playing the guitar. Call me old fashioned, but being a part of the "stringed instrument" continuum that started eons ago with a gourd and some dried animal intestine and making "music" with some percussionist, no matter how I got started, works for me. The young will eventually figure things out. Didn't we?

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I've never bought a guitar from a GC store (though I have bought guitars from Musician's Friend, which is basically the same thing online). Their guitars in the brick and mortar stores are often shopworn, the sales people usually have no idea what they are talking about, the customers often play badly at high volumes, etc. All that said when I'm near one and have time I always stop in because you can try lots of guitars out for free!

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Despite the fact I have a GC about an hour down the road, I still have never been in one of those guitar meglomarts But I have been lucky and always seem to manage to live in a place that has a couple of neat old Mom & Pop stores around - some of which had been around since the 1950s. Then again I am very laid back about guitars. I have never gone out in search of one. I know if I just hang around some interesting ones will pop up. I am waiting now on a rumored banner J-45 that is supposed to make an appearance.

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I thought the US of A was the customer service centre of the world; seems not maybe. The stories I have heard over this side of the pond are that if you walk in a store the staff will bend over backwards to make a sale and you leave with 100% satisfaction.

 

We do not have such large guitar chain stores over here but there are a few sizeable ones such as dv247 and Guitaguitar and GAK (there are others). I have dealt with those 3 and made enquiries with some other smaller stores and they cannot be more helpful.

 

I must speak with my son who now lives in north CA and see what his experiences are.

 

Bob

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I find the GC here to be a big asset. Not perfect, but nothing is where human beings are involved. I wish there were some decent "mom & pop" stores around here, but there are not. The non-GC stores sell Jasmines, Jacksons, Squier, and Applause. I'm simply not interested. I tried to buy a J165ec from a one store seller in Wichata, Ks. Nice place. Found the place in this forum. Honest place. They flat-out told me they could not match GC's price. Turned-out that I was at GC when they opened the box on a J45, and I bought it........ I can't speak for all the GCs, just the one here, but they'll order-in a high dollar Taylor, Gibson, etc and I can play it to see if I like it. No guarantee that I'll buy it. "Mom & Pop" can't even get the guitar, let alone get one so I can test-drive it. I wish there were a lot more "mom & pop" stores, but they're gone and not coming back. Not too many blacksmiths or seamstresses left either. Time moves-on. Things change.......I figure you buy where you want, where you can afford, and you buy what you want. I understand that GC is viewed as the bully in the neighborhood, but I don't necessarily see them that way. So far, they're survivors in a dying country. How long they'll last, who knows? I'd hate to see them go, because there's no one to fill the gap...I have no rant against GC or the so-called "mom & pop" stores around here. I just wish the little stores offered more than they do, but they don't, and that's not really their fault. It's not GC's either.

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Maybe because I live in the SF Bay area and humidity is generally not an issue here...... I've bought two really nice guitars from GC.

 

Both were and still are excellent guitars, neither had a scratch, crack or smudge on them, and neither have a scratch, crack or smudge yet!

 

One was new and one was used.

 

When I visit the GC near me, (about 10 miles away), I don't feel comfortable taking the guitars off the wall and playing them.

 

I bought both my guitars from them without playing them, (one was sent to my house from the SF Store, and I drove to San Jose

to pick up the other. Of course, I played the one picked up before taking it away, but I'd already committed myself to buying it.

 

Had I not like either, I simply would not have kept it...but that wasn't the case.

 

So....Guitar Center has been a pleasure to deal with.

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Like anything else, I don't think that we should paint all GC's with the broad brush of negativity. Where I used to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, there was a GC that was truly exceptional and I used to go there 1-2x/week just to browse and talk to the enthusiastic, customer-oriented employees and managers. They all knew me by name.

 

I bought several guitars from them over the years as well as other gear.

 

To paint "all" GC's negatively is simply untrue and unfair.

 

Just my $.02

 

MJ

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The problem I have with the local stores, If I try and go there and find ANYTHING I need, or am looking for, (even strings) forget it.. either out of stock, or they just don't have it.

 

One store is better than the other, good staff, used to teach at this store, know the owner, most of the people who work there, good friendly folks, but, they stock what they stock.. The other store has been on the fringe of bankrupcy for years, it's depressing to even walk in the place.

 

I've bought a few big items at the Framingham Mass and Nashua GC stores. 3 Yahama Digital Piano's and a few guitars, (one being my SG Classic)... You have to make sure what you're buying hasn't been smacked around but it always a good experience with the staff. In fact my first Yahama Piano I needed (well wanted) to return, just decided to go with one of the more pricey pianos, and they bent over backwards to make me happy, of course, I was dropping more cash down, ($1,500 to $2,500 for the one I really decided on) so they had no problem with that.

 

Everything else I've done lately was either Musicians Friend or Sweetwater, and those places are both great to work with. (My SG Standard was a sweetwater buy, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again)

 

One of the places I used quite a bit about 10 yeas ago was EM Shorts in Kansas, and those guys were just THE BEST. Bought several high priced items there, and they made it right every time, never had a problem with them - ever. Bought my Gibson Goldtone GA30RVS from there and UPS destroyed it, Jon Ray at EM Shorts pushed UPS real hard to fix it quickly, then had to wait what seemed for ever (3 months) for Gibson to get out another one. Jon worked directly with Gibson in Nashville and they sent that amp from the factory, to my door, in a packing container you could have dropped off a C130.

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But they sure can be fun to walk into and kill an hour. Any serious shopping is done at a small handful of guitar shoppes, and never on the internet.

 

 

I ended up finding the disconinued Gibson of my dreams on eBay. Of course, it took another $150 and a week at a phenomenal luthier's just to make it sing like she should...so I guess you're still somewhat right ](*,)

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I ended up finding the disconinued Gibson of my dreams on eBay. Of course, it took another $150 and a week at a phenomenal luthier's just to make it sing like she should...so I guess you're still somewhat right ](*,)

 

I don't think there's a "one size fits all" thing with buying instruments.

 

You do what you have to do to get what you want/need.

 

Sometimes that means buying on ebay, sometimes it means driving 100 miles.

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The big fish eat the small fish. I wish we had some more Mom and Pop shops but we dont. There is a small guitar shop up the road from me but the best new guitars they sell are Hagstrom and Jay Turser. Both fine for what they are but not for me. Then about a mile apart from each other are a Sam Ash megastore and a Guitar center in the same lot with a best buy that has pretty much the same stuff. If you want to buy a Les Paul and actually hold it before you buy it that is it.Its sad to me but it is what it is. I do go to the little guy any time I need strings or accessories or any other little stuff. I think of that as my way to support the local business. I will play the megastores against each other for the best price on a guitar but they will never sell me a pick or a strap or a book or anything else. My local shop truly appreciates even the little business.

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I don't think there's a "one size fits all" thing with buying instruments.

 

You do what you have to do to get what you want/need.

 

Sometimes that means buying on ebay, sometimes it means driving 100 miles.

 

 

And that's the truth!

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I've turned more good deals at GC in the past few years that you can shake a stick at, including vintage pieces at extremely good prices, and new instruments that became crazy affordable with trades & discounts. The local manager is a great guy & a pleasure to work with, as opposed to the often arrogant small shop owners I've run into over many years. Sure, there are some good mom & pops, but there are crappy ones, too, with overpriced stock, the hard sell, minimal product turnover, and poor return policies. Bottom line for me is that a good instrument can turn up anywhere. The more options you've got to locate one, the better.

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Sure, there are some good mom & pops, but there are crappy ones, too, with overpriced stock, the hard sell, minimal product turnover, and poor return policies.

 

read this story, and then ask yourself, is it any wonder some local stores and small chains fail, and would GC MF, Sweetwater or any large chains treat a customer like this?

 

in '96 I bought a Marshall JTM60 2x12 combo at a local store. The amp had problems, which required it to go back for warranty service about 6 weeks after I bought it. (Store was a small chain, 3 stores in Mass and one on CT)

 

They would NOT honor a return, even tho they had more in stock. Bear in mind, this amp set me back about 800 bucks, and I had it for a month and half before it twizzed out on me, had a few talks with the chain owner who said he understood my frustration but each store had it's own "stock" and it wasn't policy to send from one store to another, (which was a lie, they did it all the time when they wanted to)

 

The local store was one town over from my residence managed be lazy SOB who never followed up on anything.

 

So, 4 months pass, (keep in mind, I was in two working bands at the time, forced to use a backup/borrwed amp) In that span of time, I called the manger of the local store about 3 times to get a status on my repair, each time I called, he had nothing, but "going to call tomorrow and get back to me in the afternoon" this never happened.

 

The 4th time I called the store, the manager (Tom) actually had the nerve to ask me if I had ever considered taking meds, "you realize you're OCD?" guess he thought calling once a month, about a follow up which he never had the decency to do was too much for him, so I must have some emotional problems right?

 

I asked him to please repeat what he just said to me, and he did.. word for word... I called the chain owner immediately and said "Mark, want to hear what your buddy Tom just asked me" So I convey the conversation and he freaked out and I guess he fired Tom a few days later.. (didn't want the guy to get fired, but that was over the top)

 

I took the remaining issues up directly with Marshall, and eventually I got a brand new amp (took 2 more months!!) that I still use to this day. Funny thing was, a few months later, UPS drops off the first one I bought, the repair center realized they STILL had it, fixed it and sent it to me, not the store. Then Like a fool, I called the New York HQ and told them what happened. they called for a UPS pickup.. Everyone told me I was nuts, for the hassle I went through I should have kept it. I didn't think it was the right thing to do back then, but I've always wondered, should I have not sent it back.. Jury is still out, 16 years later..

 

So I guess the question, Would MF or GC jerk me along like these guys did? I say no,, it'd never happen. I bought an Epi Regent that wond up with a huge finish crack a few days after I got it.

MF replaced it. no questions asked, - the whole exchange took less than 2 weeks

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Maybe because I live in the SF Bay area and humidity is generally not an issue here...... I've bought two really nice guitars from GC.

 

Both were and still are excellent guitars, neither had a scratch, crack or smudge on them, and neither have a scratch, crack or smudge yet!

 

One was new and one was used.

 

When I visit the GC near me, (about 10 miles away), I don't feel comfortable taking the guitars off the wall and playing them.

 

I bought both my guitars from them without playing them, (one was sent to my house from the SF Store, and I drove to San Jose

to pick up the other. Of course, I played the one picked up before taking it away, but I'd already committed myself to buying it.

 

Had I not like either, I simply would not have kept it...but that wasn't the case.

 

So....Guitar Center has been a pleasure to deal with.

 

You expected very little from them is why...

Last time I went seriously shopping I went to Mandolin bros about 6-7 times..some of those times we spent the entire day in there free to reach out & try any guitar at prices up to $30K...and more.

Taking guitars from room to room to compare.

Instrument selection like that is not possible at a Guitar Center.

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You expected very little from them is why...

Last time I went seriously shopping I went to Mandolin bros about 6-7 times..some of those times we spent the entire day in there free to reach out & try any guitar at prices up to $30K...and more.

Taking guitars from room to room to compare.

Instrument selection like that is not possible at a Guitar Center.

 

I'm sure you're right...but... I STILL ended up with guitars I couln't have exceeded no matter how OCD's I'd been with the store.

 

I can be a real jerk if I don't get my way....but it isn't my 'way of life'.

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Why not take them off the wall and play them? Everybody else does and most of them can't play as well as you do and a good many won't be as respectful in their treatment either. You are a person who actually goes into a shop and buys a guitar off the wall, ergo you are the target market; these were purposely put out there for ones such as you to try.

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I'm sure you're right...but... I STILL ended up with guitars I couln't have exceeded no matter how OCD's I'd been with the store.

 

I can be a real jerk if I don't get my way....but it isn't my 'way of life'.

 

Den...my middle name is OCD : ) A definate improvement on life is not to be so burdened such as I with it,but it has its place.

In a good specialist guitar shoppe they invite you to play the instruments.

At Mandolin Bros I think they didn't even notice I was there all day...really good place.

When I was young I used to basically set a goal to "get a Les Paul Reissue" or what ever & pretty much be satisfied to just get one.

..which resulted in selling them off a lot of times.

I think to myself had I inquired to compare one of those new Les Pauls in 1976-8 to that original 1960 Sunburst that was hanging there at just under double the price of the new one($600) Id have realized it was a lot better than anything new..

Id have sounded better for the next 30 years & have a guitar worth $200K now.

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I think to myself had I inquired to compare one of those new Les Pauls in 1976-8 to that original 1960 Sunburst that was hanging there at just under double the price of the new one($600) Id have realized it was a lot better than anything new..

Id have sounded better for the next 30 years & have a guitar worth $200K now.

 

 

This is a common issue for most of us of a certain age, so don't feel all alone.

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