For those of you who are uninitiated, Guitar Center is the one-stop shopping music mega-store. It is a subsidiary of Musician’s Friend whose website I patronize frequently. However, all the things I like about online shopping with Musician’s Friend are the source of frustration I have with guitar center.
I visited my local Guitar Center for the first time today, and I was reminded why I hated going there when I lived in Knoxville. Guitar Center is like the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey. You are called there by sales and discounts for the walls and walls of Les Pauls, Strats, Marshall stacks, Fender Twins, etc. However, when you begin to walk around the store, you are dashed on the rocks of pushy, inexperienced salesmen; useless, eye-candy merchandise; and (the identifying mark of one-stop-shopping) absolutely no selection!
By far the worst part is the salesmen. They are like all the sterotypes of used-car salesmen. I realized today that I was trying my best to avoid seeming interested in anything for fear that I would get the, “Can I help you?” So, I wonder around the store trying to read the price tags as I wiz by the stuff that I’m interested, a kind of drive-by-shopping. I learned my lesson in college. I will always remember the feeling of realizing that I knew a lot more about guitars and guitar equipment than the guy who was trying to sell it to me in such a condescending manor. “Oh, no,” he would say, “they don’t make those; I’ve never heard of anything like that.” I’m really not an expert about these things either; he was just that clueless.
Anyway, my mission today was to pick up some mic cables. I also wanted to look at some keyboard amps and hotspot monitors. They only had one brand of mic cable! Actually there were three, but one was an extremely low grade product that they had in a pile next to the cash register for impulse buys, and the other was the Monster Cable brand which is so high quality, the church could never afford it, and I would never let anyone use it for fear of loss or destruction. So, there was only one mid-range brand. SO that was the one I had to buy even though it was more that I wanted to spend.
I left without taking the risk of asking to look at the other stuff I was interested in. While I was at the checkout, the guy there made a joke, “Two mic cables it for you? How ‘bout a Marshal Tube Amp to go with them.” Har, har, har. It’s funny because it’s true.
So what is so much better about Musician’s Friend online? I am in control. I can look at as much stuff as I want to without feeling pressured to buy something that I don’t need. They also have customer reviews of the products so that you can find out what it is really like in the field. The manufacturer is always going to blow their own horn, but reading these true-life testimonials, you find out whether it is going to break after two weeks or whether it is just as good as the more expensive brands.