By: Pro Lessons
Guitar Stores: A Musician's Best Friend

Who doesn’t like spending time at a guitar shop? There’s nothing quite like dozens of beautiful guitars of all shapes and colors hanging on the wall. Amps ready to plug into and fun representatives ready to assist you in your quest for the perfect guitar, amp, pedals, and, most of all, tone. Never do business with a music store that won’t let you play the merchandise. Who wants to buy a guitar you can’t play a while or an amp you can’t crank up for a minute to see what she can do? Also, if you mail order, you can’t hear it or play it. It’s risky business ordering online and waiting to see if it’s what you really wanted. Sure, you can return it, but what a hassle. Guitar stores where you can explore the inventory and dig to find that one guitar, amp, or pedal you can’t live without, now that’s a great shopping experience.

Music Store Etiquette

A musician’s best friend? Maybe. Stores like Guitar Center are in business to make money and, while you certainly can make yourself at home there, there are still a few things to remember.

First, be mindful and respectful of the property. It’s never cool to just sit for hours and shred on a brand new instrument you have no intentions of buying. If you do, now the guitar is used and you just cost the store money. You leave wear on the pickguard that may result in the guitar having to be sold as damaged or used. You can expect to be monitored while trying out any guitar at these retail stores.

Second, try a guitar or amp out if you like, but only turn up an amp for a few minutes. Five minutes is plenty enough time to decide if you like the tone or not. Remember, the phones are ringing and it’s hard to hear with you blasting “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on 10. Keep the volume reasonably low if you’re gonna be a few minutes on the guitar.

Third, don’t waste their time. If you just came to hang out then say so and don’t expect to be pampered while other paying customers are standing around or leaving frustrated because they couldn’t get help. Don’t be a leech! Let them know you have some time to kill and you just want to look around. You don’t want to burn any bridges by being a thorn in the store’s foot.

Beyond these, just go and enjoy yourself. Ask to play an expensive guitar. They’ll be glad to let you with supervision. That’s the advantage of shopping at a major music store.

Guitar Stores On Steroids

Retail stores like Guitar Center don’t just have a main brand or two, they specialize in all things guitar. This means they have all the major brands or at least a good representation. Where else can you go to try out a Fender, Line 6, Marshall, Peavey, Badcat, Black Star, and dozens of other amp options. In the guitar category, you’ll find everything from Ernie Ball to Gretsch. You’ll find options for days. In fact, it might take a couple of good trips to Guitar Center to land on what you feel is the guitar and amp for you.

There’s always friendly guys and gals waiting at the door and ready to assist you at guitar stores. You’ll find new, used, and vintage gear ready for purchase. Guitar Center offers a line of credit for those who qualify and a 30-day return policy if something isn’t working right or it’s just not what you wanted. Guitar Center is one of the friendliest places on Earth for musicians. There are definitely advantages to shopping with big retailers like this.

Guitar Stores: A Musician's Best Friend

Mom and Pop Guitar Stores

In smaller towns or just smaller music shops in general, you’re likely to find less inventory and fewer choices as they can’t afford to carry more than a couple floor plans. A floor plan with any of the bigger companies requires large orders at once and therefore large payments monthly or quarterly. These local shops tend to price everything at suggested retail and stick to it. However, when the floor plan payment is due and the bills are mounting, you will find an owner eager to sell and he or she will likely get serious about the price. Always know your facts. If the same amp or guitar is selling online for $499, don’t pay $999. You can’t expect them to match it since they have more overhead than catalog stores, but you can find a happy price somewhere in the middle. A 25% discount is worth buying local. Most of these small shops do a good job of fixing issues that may arise or helping you keep your gear maintained. Also, there’s just something about buying your favorite guitar at the local shop. It’s a nice memory to have.

Guitar Stores Online

Sites like Sam Ash, Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend, and even Ebay offer stores with countless options for all things guitar. These mega sites offer you the ability to stay home and order what you think you’d like. Hopefully you’ve done your research and you already know you want an SG versus a Les Paul. It can get costly returning guitars at $50 or more a pop. Yes, you can return with most of these companies within 10-30 days and get a full refund, but you’ll likely pay return shipping. Descriptions are great, but if you’re just guessing and you really aren’t sure what you’re looking for, it would be better to visit brick and mortar guitar stores and try things out. Ordering online can save you money or end up costing you more. We like the idea of you cranking an amp up on 10 in your own house and waking up the neighbors. Better there than in a local shop where the phone’s ringing but no one can hear or customers are leaving because you’re being obnoxious.

We wouldn’t expect a local shop to be too excited about repairing a guitar or amp you ordered online. They didn’t make the sale and frankly don’t want to be bothered with issues you have with the guitar or amp. They’ll repair it for you for the normal bench price but don’t expect a warm welcome. You shopped online to save a buck or two, then you bring them something broken to swap or repair and you want a discount? It’s not likely to happen. Loyalty is a big deal with most local guitar stores and their customers pay for the special treatment. Keep that in mind. There are advantages to shopping with each shopping experience. You’ll know your guitar when you play it or your amp when you hear it. Just shop and buy with a level head.

No matter what you buy or where you buy it, you’re going to need some guitar lessons to ease the learning process. Whether you’ve been playing five years or today is your first time, lessons allow you to pick up on things a little faster since you’re learning the proper methods. Pro Lessons offers affordable online guitar lessons that can get you playing in no time. Find out more by clicking below.

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