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GooberNumber9
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Post by GooberNumber9 » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:17 am

minorleagues wrote:If you are looking for staffs with a lot of know how, shop at Front End Audio or Mercenary or Atlas Pro Audio, they'll have an answer and a product for your everything. But instead we go to GC in the hopes of scoring a sweet deal, and don't feel bad hagglin' and having a short temper with their employees because, face it, the majority of us could care less about how we come off to them. And really, they could give a flying f*** about us to.
That must be my problem with GC: I never saw their prices as a sweet deal. As far as I can tell they are just like any other big music retailer when it comes to prices. I could just order from Sweetwater and get free shipping. The best prices in the DC area are at Chuck Levin's, not GC.

The only reason why I've ever gone to GC is because I need something right away. From where I'm sitting I could score an SM58 at a GC in less than 45 minutes round trip, and I know that because I've had to do it before. If I didn't need it right away and it's mass market, I'd order it online. If it's not mass market then I'd go to a boutique place or order it online, in which case god help me if I need it right away.

I think GC would do a lot more business if they took the time to make sure their staff knew audio 101 (especially the pro audio people). If you work in Pro Sound and you don't know what a TRS cable is then I have no sympathy for you at all.

Todd Wilcox

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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:31 am

We might as well go clothes shopping at Target and complain about the incompetence of the tailors and haberdashers who work in the clothing and accessories departments, the way we all keep holding GC employees to such high standards ... seriously ... what do you expect?

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Smitty
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Post by Smitty » Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:38 am

Tatertot wrote:We might as well go clothes shopping at Target and complain about the incompetence of the tailors and haberdashers who work in the clothing and accessories departments, the way we all keep holding GC employees to such high standards ... seriously ... what do you expect?
every time i turned on the radio this past weekend, i heard the same ad on repeat from Guitar Center, hawking their "expertly trained staff" who are supposedly ready to educate me in every aspect of my gear-buying journey.

Target is what it is, and makes no bones about it. Guitar Center is trying to dress itself up like something it's not.

Also, Target employees aren't working on commission.
"I try to hate all my gear equally at all times to keep the balance of power in my favor." - Brad Sucks

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Post by hughmanatee » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:12 am

I actually have a friend who works for a number of big fashion companies, and they all have sub-companies that make the clothes/fabrics for target. this friend of mine designs most of their target lines of clothes,fabrics,kitchen utensils etc. at low cost, so really its the same manufacturer as it would be if you shopped at a big outlet store, just cheaper, materials, workers, QC.

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Post by Jay Reynolds » Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:09 pm

minorleagues wrote:If you are looking for staffs with a lot of know how, shop at Front End Audio or Mercenary or Atlas Pro Audio, they'll have an answer and a product for your everything.
It hurts ICB Audio's feelings when you say things like that :wink:
Prog out with your cog out.

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Post by jakeao » Mon Mar 17, 2008 8:16 pm

So, having worked for the competition, I have no love for GC either. And their business model has more to do with being a big-box retailer than a music store. And I've got horror stories galore from dealing with them. But, this one was a bit much and illustrates why most people with a decent amount of knowledge and self-respect won't stay in retail.
1. Consider how you'd feel is you were working on a $2000 gear buy with the assistant manager and he bails on you to get a $20 needle? Or something has gone wrong with your $2000 gear buy and he takes a break from fixing it to get the needle? Maybe your replacement stylus wasn't the biggest issue in the store during that 10 minutes.
2. Its not like you rolled in and said "I need a M447 replacement stylus". You asked for a "needle". And then you pointed to something in the case. Thats on par with saying "I want to put songs in my computer" and then picking out the least expensive box that has the words USB on it. So maybe he wasn't as confused about your application as he was about the likelihood of anything in the case working in the first place because...
3. Consumer audio is a compatibility nightmare when it comes to using dj replacement parts with old turntbales. It just is. Trust me. Why not shop for this part at a consumer audio store that sells turn tables? I know they're not as prevalent, but there's at least one in each city.
4. Lastly, and this is a big one, trying to pick a fight with the manager when he's ringing you out is straight-up bush league, my man. It takes a pretty small set of stones to trot out the sh*t stare and sh*t language on someone who is obviously never going to ask you to step out side. Try that act out at a gig or in the control room sometime and see where it gets you.
I've worked in customer service before so I'm always polite when I deal with customer service staff. I let them set the tone for how things are going to go. When they don't listen and aren't helpful though, it gets under my skin. If you don't know something that's fine. I don't expect people to know everything, You should however be smart enough to say " I don't know. let me find out", or something along those lines. I understand that my $20 buy wasn't the biggest issue in the store. It was however the only thing my sales rep was working on at the time. All he had to do was open the case, hand me the (needle, stylus, whatever :P ) and I would have been on my way. Instead he wasted my time, and the Ass. Managers time by not listening to what I was telling him. As far as consumer audio stuff being difficult to match, I brought my old stylus in with me. I saw one that looked EXACTLY like my old one, told the guy, who then had some sort of borderline meltdown. I was in no way trying to pick a fight with the manager. I was simple trying not to prolong the ordeal by trying to communicate with them. That being said I would have no problem picking a fight with someone who was willing to 'step outside' as the kids say these days. Be it a gig, control room, bar, your mothers house, whatever. :P

I can say that this was not my typical GC shopping ordeal, it just happened to be my worst. Most the time it's very forgettable. Go in, buy shit, go out. Nothing worth remembering. I will just never forget the wierd noises the guy keep making. Looking back on it, he had to be on drugs, or needed to be on drugs. :wink:

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Post by Andy Peters » Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:40 am

minorleagues wrote:Considering people as "into" gear as those who post on this message board and others make up 1% of GC's customers, there is no reason for all of their employees to be as knowledgeable with gear because they are going to get ask "My son wants to learn to play guitar, what should I buy him" and "I need a distortion pedal that will make me sound like Zakk Wylde" than "I'm looking for a Beyer M201".
Well, yeah, I was looking for a deal on an M201, though it would have been fine if they had one in stock at the usual $250 they go for elsewhere and had it been in stock, I would have bought it.

But, seriously, explain why they put a $109 price on an item, then tell a customer (with cash in hand) that they can't sell the item at that price because the computer won't let them. One has to wonder how many sales they lost that week because of their ridiculous system.

-a
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Post by Wolfman Sack » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:03 am

I'm reading this thread carefully because I'm suicidal enough to be opening one of those "mom and pop" guitar store/lesson studios in the Chicago suburbs this fall - modeled after the great guitar and record stores that big box stores like Guitar Center and Best Buy thought they drove out of business. I want to open a store like the ones I learned how to play in and bought my gear from when I was a kid. Since there's an indie revolution in the record biz now, I want to see the same thing in the retail biz.

It seems like I might be on the right track, given everyone's dissatisfaction with the service at GC -

My question though (and if I'm hijacking the thread, please ignore me or tell me to f off) - since all of you are working musicians - how important is service vs. price in practice rather than in theory?

f there was a cool store that carried affordable used and vintage and nicer beginner stuff like the overseas G&L and Epiphone and could talk to you for days about the features, offer trade in at 100% of purchase price for other gear, etc - would you actually ditch GC for that place? Or if it was $100 cheaper online would you use mom and pop as a showroom and then leave and order online?

I was curious to hear the honest feedback on that....

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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:45 am

I finally have broken the habit of going to GC to pick up two cables and maybe save 4% on the deal. It has taken me fifteen years, honestly. My problem with smaller storefront shops has been that they are all either too high-end or too low-end. Lately the low-end ones are going extinct and that leaves (for me) local places like solidbodyguitar.com - nice people, but I don't really need a $45,000 plexiglass Fender Jaguar prototype that was once owned by Duane Allman (or whatever).

There are a few great niche shops in the Minneapolis area: Willie's, which is a bit steep with a surfeit of Matchless amps and such; The Podium, which is all acoustic instruments and totally kicks ass in that category, and the surviving few Music Go Round shops which are a great place to run through every few weeks to cruise for weird mics and such.

The shop that finally cured me of GC for good, though, is Twin Town on Lyndale. They are just a bunch of nice people with good attitudes. I'm finally to the point where I'll drive an extra half hour to buy stuff there compared to the GC. Check them out if you're ever up here.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, your question about service. I long ago learned to hold my phone next to my ear and pretending to have a conversation whenever I am in any big box store, to avoid dealing with officious "sales associates". So, there's such a thing as too much service. Sometimes in a small shop (music stuff or otherwise) I get creeped out by owners/employees who try to be too helpful. It seems desperate. At Twin Town in particular they seem to have the perfect balance of availability and leave-me-the-f*ck-alone that I particularly enjoy.

I am a bit of an introvert though. A shop in the suburbs would make it huge by serving as a community center for local guitar kids, the same way skateparks attract kids who just want to hang out. If you can actually manage to create a teen hangout without going batshit crazy, you'll definitely be successful. Lessons, band practice space, etc. There are gazillions of moms/dads who actually want to encourage their kids to play in bands, I bet. Cater to them by offering a safe/semichaperoned place for kids to rock out in practice rooms and you'll be filling a very important niche. We used to use our high school music rooms for that but I bet that's not happening at high schools as much anymore

Good luck

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Smitty
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Post by Smitty » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:03 am

Wolfman Sack wrote:f there was a cool store that carried affordable used and vintage and nicer beginner stuff like the overseas G&L and Epiphone and could talk to you for days about the features, offer trade in at 100% of purchase price for other gear, etc - would you actually ditch GC for that place? Or if it was $100 cheaper online would you use mom and pop as a showroom and then leave and order online?

I was curious to hear the honest feedback on that....
There have been (and are still a few) such cool places around where i live, and in cities past. I've always been interested in the dynamics that happen to these stores when the big box boys move in, and I've developed a theory.

The mom & pops that survive are the ones that:
1) carry boutique or high quality product lines that aren't easily acquired at the big box stores or online.
2) carry a good amount of interesting used gear at fair prices.
3) offer a high level of individual customer interaction and service, and cater to real musicians as well as the general public.
4) create a friendly and inspiring atmosphere.

IMHO, if you're just another strip mall guitar store with 3 overpriced vintage guitars and 45 no-name imports, you're not going to make it. you can't outsell or outprice GC or Musicians Friend when it comes to the crappy stuff.

but i make it a point to frequent and support the places that have the above things going on, because i can find rarer and cooler stuff there, and being there makes me feel like a musician instead of a giant walking dollar sign.

also, having a competent repair staff/service is a plus... i end up spending a lot of time perusing gear at a place, even if i just brought my guitar in for a setup and didn't plan to buy anything.
"I try to hate all my gear equally at all times to keep the balance of power in my favor." - Brad Sucks

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:52 am

Tatertot wrote:A shop in the suburbs would make it huge by serving as a community center for local guitar kids, the same way skateparks attract kids who just want to hang out. If you can actually manage to create a teen hangout without going batshit crazy, you'll definitely be successful. Lessons, band practice space, etc. There are gazillions of moms/dads who actually want to encourage their kids to play in bands, I bet. Cater to them by offering a safe/semichaperoned place for kids to rock out in practice rooms and you'll be filling a very important niche. We used to use our high school music rooms for that but I bet that's not happening at high schools as much anymore
this is a Really Good Idea.

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Smitty
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Post by Smitty » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:54 am

Tatertot wrote:A shop in the suburbs would make it huge by serving as a community center for local guitar kids, the same way skateparks attract kids who just want to hang out. If you can actually manage to create a teen hangout without going batshit crazy, you'll definitely be successful. Lessons, band practice space, etc. There are gazillions of moms/dads who actually want to encourage their kids to play in bands, I bet. Cater to them by offering a safe/semichaperoned place for kids to rock out in practice rooms and you'll be filling a very important niche. We used to use our high school music rooms for that but I bet that's not happening at high schools as much anymore
i can see that being a legal nightmare.
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;ivlunsdystf
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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:13 pm

Smitty wrote:
Tatertot wrote:A shop in the suburbs would make it huge by serving as a community center for local guitar kids, the same way skateparks attract kids who just want to hang out. If you can actually manage to create a teen hangout without going batshit crazy, you'll definitely be successful. Lessons, band practice space, etc. There are gazillions of moms/dads who actually want to encourage their kids to play in bands, I bet. Cater to them by offering a safe/semichaperoned place for kids to rock out in practice rooms and you'll be filling a very important niche. We used to use our high school music rooms for that but I bet that's not happening at high schools as much anymore
i can see that being a legal nightmare.
...which is exactly why high schools lock 'em out at 1:50 pm sharp.

Somehow skateparks survive though, year after year. There are some amazing teen hangout/skateparks here in MN. Also, those megachurches somehow have it figured out so they can have teens hanging out (I suppose the general moderating presence of The Lord Our Saviour helps though)

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Smitty
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Post by Smitty » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:25 pm

don't most skateparks have a sign up that says, in effect, "break your ass at your own risk"? city provides it, but they're not responsible for what happens there.
"I try to hate all my gear equally at all times to keep the balance of power in my favor." - Brad Sucks

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Post by Wolfman Sack » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:09 pm

Great ideas, guys. I probably won't have the space for practice rooms at first but that's something to keep in mind when moving on up.

I stopped making major purchases at GC after I went in there to comparison shop Roland JV1080 vs 2080 synths back in the early 90s (they are the same synth but the 2080 has 4 extra expansion slots and was slightly more expensive as a result). I didn't know they were the same synth at the time. They were racked up right on top of each other, so I sat down and started comparing patches.

GC Guy: "Nice, right? I like the sounds on the 2080 better, myself"

Me: They look like the same patches (scrolling through each one, patch by patch). What are the differences?

GC Guy: Oh man, you don't want the 1080. The 2080 has much better sounds and the synth technology has been totally upgraded. The 1080 is for the amateur crowd.

Me: But they're the same sounds...(pointing at screens on each, twirling knobs, hitting keyboards)

GC Guy: Can't you hear the difference?

At that, my friend suggested to me - loudly - that we go to Gand music and get the hell out of there.

Not to mention getting a cord to try out an amp or guitar at the f'ing Guitar Center on Milwaukee in Chicago back in the day was like pulling teeth. If you could even get a guy's attention it was something - they were too busy standing behind the counter comparing who had the hottest riffs - Malmsteen or fucking Vinnie Vincent, and flipping their golden locks around.

Although that also happened at a high end Vintage Guitar emporium in Chicago that does a lot of "exchanging" (hint). I walked in there - a 30 year old - with $2K worth of gear money in my pocket ready to buy a vintage Tele. I was the only guy in there, found a guitar I wanted to try out, walked it up to the counter - and was unable to interrupt the deep discussion between two guys wearing "ironic" 70s sitcom T shirts arguing about feel vs. theory. I cleared my throat several times and started at the sides of their heads for more than a minute - including an "excuse me" - and they ignored me until they finished the argument. I laid the Tele on the counter, showed them the wad of cash I had on me, flipped them off, and walked out....

I'm keeping all of those scenarios in mind when it comes to customer service...

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