Perhaps there is no feeling greater than the sensation of walking into a shop which carries everything you ever need for your favorite hobby. As a ham radio operator I can attest to this. I can tell you that I see a lot of fellow hams going to these things we call ham fests where every conceivable piece of ham radio gear can be bought and sold. My mom likes to sew and when I was a kid I spent many an afternoon waiting for her in the fabric section of any department store where she would buy notions and fabric and other things. One of the most infamous of these kinds of stores is the guitar store. If you go on YouTube and you search the term “ what it’s like to work at guitar center “you will see a series of hilarious videos depicting the various types of customers that frequent these shops. Why are guitar stores different? You don’t go into Hancocks fabric stores and see people comparing the difficulty of the project they are working on. People don’t go into ham radio shops to show off the most expensive radio because having a more expensive radio does not necessarily indicate one skill in the hobby. In guitar stores it’s different. The instruments are hanging on the walls just waiting for eager fingered performers looking for a way to spend a Saturday afternoon and perhaps their tax refund check.
Let’s take a tour of one such place. most of us have heard of Guitar Center. I must admit, their selection is quite impressive and the guys that work there know their stuff. They will be smiling and seemed eager to help but they run across a variety of people. Let’s take a tour.
When you walk into a Guitar Center are any of the many similar shops, you will find shelves at racks full of guitars, bases, drums, Keyboards, karaoke machines, microphones and all of the other accompanying gear. It is not for the faint of heart to go into one of these places because the selections are very intimidating and so are the patrons
The first thing you’ll notice is kids and sometimes adults running around tinkering with the various instruments on display. Massive tapestries of melody and percussion are woven in the air as would be experts tinker with keyboards drums and guitars. This can be intimidating to any shopper.
Perhaps you’re not in the store to purchase an instrument. Perhaps you need some drumsticks or maybe you need some rosin for your bow, or perhaps you need a new guitar cable. You have to go into the gear section. This can be just as bad because there Is an absolutely limitless selection of guitar cables, picks, Drumsticks and other accessories that you need. Along with that, you have expert shoppers who are conversing with the smiling sales clerks about how they only use One particular brand of strings or one type of guitar cable. You’re not in there to get an expert opinion on strings or cables you just need a cord to hook your guitar up to your amplifier. Now you’ve been standing here 10 minutes waiting your turn while this expert on gear continue conversing on and on about his favorite pick and how he used it to great affect in his last album.
The next thing you have to be wary of is being sold things you don’t need. whether it’s enthusiastic sales people or a guy in your local pawn shop trying to unload as much stuff on you as possible you should go in to one of these places armed with some knowledge of what you need. I am not saying that every associate in these stores is out to empty your wallet. I am saying that just like any other endeavor where you’re trying to buy something, you should be aware. The old saying applies. Let the buyer beware. Do some research on the products you need to buy. Get specific brands and models of things. Find out if there are similar brands of a product you like in case they don’t have the specific item you’re looking for. Just be hard for information. It’s just like going into an auto parts store. Know what you want before you go in there.
If you’re going into one of these places looking for an instrument, It is especially important to do your homework. If you’re new to this whole game you’re going to find that there are guys out there who are very strongly drawn to one brand of instrument or another. This is especially true with guitars. You are going to have guys who say that fender is the best brand hands down. Others will tell you that fender is the worst brand and that you should buy Gibson. Still others will say that fender and Gibson are old hats and that you should be buying a Schecter guitar or a Paul Reed Smith. Worse yet, you’re going to have guys that tell you that Floyd Rose bridges are the only way to go if you want to ring accuracy while others say that Floyd Rose bridges are a nightmare to work with and are not worth the trouble. None of these names or jargon make any sense right now don’t worry about it. Forget all of that and consider what you can afford and what you like within your price range. Play a few guitars that are within your price range. Don’t worry about what the brand is or what you’ve heard people say. If you like the way your particular guitar feels and sounds to you that’s probably the best fit. Yes I do understand that looks are important and you should like what you’re playing with the most important thing is if the guitar feels good in your hands. If you haven’t played much that doesn’t matter. If you like playing it it’s probably the instrument for you
To summarize all of this, when you go into an instrument shop, you should go armed with the information you need. Half of the guys that you see talking about the last album they cut or the last big gig they played haven’t really done all that much. They’re just trying to impress the people around them. Try not to be intimidated by this and just focus on what she went into the store for. Your cell phone is an excellent tool these days. Get pictures and advertisements of the products you’re shopping for. Do some research on YouTube and you’ll have a better idea of what to buy. While shopping in a music shop can be intimidating, armed with the right knowledge it can also be a lot of fun and you can walk out of there with the tools that you need to embark on your musical journey