Why I Dislike Guitar Center.

Edit: A few months later, I realize that hate is such a strong word.

Preface: I’ve been to 6 different Guitar Centers. Hollywood, San Marcos, La Mesa, San Diego (pre La Mesa move), San Francisco, and San Francisco 2 (pre Van Ness move). So I think i’ve seen enough Guitar Center’s to accurately complain about them, but that’s up to you. Lets get started.

Guitar Center is the bane of the guitarists existence; the be-all end-all of guitar stores for the guitarist’s vernacular. When someone wants to try out guitars, they go to Guitar Center. When someone wants to buy an amplifier, they go to Guitar Center. When someone needs just about any musical gear, they go to Guitar Center. Every person who’s ever been to one knows the feeling they get. You’re outside the door and you hear someone butchering a popular song; Stairway to Heaven, One by Metallica, or some Green Day. At any other time, you’d be irritated, but when you walk in, you completely ignore that kid playing an American Telecaster on Neck Pickup through a Line 6 on full distortion, you ignore the guy who’s always too loud when he plays a small combo, and you forget the Metalhead shredding his pants off at the Mesa Boogie Triple rectifier. You see that wall of guitars and think “Damn, I want that wall.” Then it all sets in. The attractive woman at the door (I’ve been meaning to ask, but it might sound rude asking “Why are all of the guitar center door people attractive women” as I might sound creepy coming from a guy in a faded hat, old sandals, shorts, and an ACDC shirt that’s too big) says hello to you, you start looking for that guitar you want to play around with, and there are already 10 people’s eyes watching you, judging you.

Now why would I take time out of my day to rant about Guitar Center? Simple. Guitar Center is a business, and their business is music, so they run music like a business. Confused? I’ll explain.

The Levels: When you or I walk into a Guitar Center, everything is thought out about how it should look when we walk in. Their gear is organized in levels on the walls. They symbolize yearning and affordability, so basically the lower it is, the easier to buy, and with the elevation increase on that wall of guitars, the price follows suit. But the proof is in the pudding, so here’s an analysis of the “levels.”

The Low Level: The Squiers, Mexican Strats, Jackson Dinkys, PRS SE’s, Epiphone Les Pauls, BC Rich bolt-ons, Ibanez’s low numbered RGs, Jasmine acoustics, Baby Taylors, Fender acoustics, and so on. Usually, the lowest guitars are the guitars meant to introduce people to playing the instrument, and they only cost 100-300 dollars. So you’d think that they’re there for the new guitarist? One would hope so. These are the Guitars that the parents buy for their kids on Christmas, the younger player gets when they save money, and the older person gets to try and rekindle their youth. However, the companies that make the guitars are trying to keep a steady profit while also selling expensive instruments. Rarely does a company specialize in top of the line gear without making cheap stuff to keep the money flowing in. The thing about the cheap stuff is that the companies don’t really care about it. They use cheap materials, cheap labor, and no quality control. These mass produced instruments should be used by no one, but there’s no getting around it. The companies don’t set the guitars up when they send them to Guitar Center, so when that young kid who gets a guitar complains that his fingers have been hurting too much, his strings keep breaking, and the sound keeps cutting out, it’s because there’s absolutely no setting up at the factory. I actually feel like the companies might be deliberately keeping the action on guitars high so people will want the more expensive ones, therefore associating easiness with the more expensive guitars. These cheap guitars are meant to be played for about a year, then the person either gives up guitar or is forced to buy a better guitar.

The Middle: At mid-level are the middle range guitars which are good bang for your buck instruments which will last awhile, and still sound pretty good. I’m talking the Ibanez Prestiges, Fender American Strats and Teles, Jackson bolt-on Soloists, Gibson Faded models, Schecters, Takamine and Parkwood acoustics, amongst plenty of others which cost anywhere from 400-1000. These are actually good guitars, but they don’t have the construction quality of the upper level guitars. These are the guitars for the player who wants to upgrade or get another guitar of equal quality to another guitar. They are perfect backups to the ultra expensive guitars, and are great for experiments customization such as pickups, hardware, and different wiring. Guitar Center puts these there because they are slightly harder to reach than the cheap ones, therefore signifying that someone might know what they’re doing if they’re going out of their way to grab one. These guitars are semi-well set up, which means the guitar player used to the cheap guitar might associated these guitars with something better, and give them a reason to beg their parents for one. Personally, i’d save up for a better one, but for a temporary halt to the begging of your kids, these will work for about 5 months.

The Upper Level: These are the instruments you’re supposed to aspire to, and they take a months pay to get. Gibson Les Pauls, Fender Player’s choice american Strats, Jackson American Soloists, Charvel San Dimas’, Ernie Ball Music Man, PRS Santanas, BC Rich Platinums, Ibanez JEMs, and pretty much any guitar from 1000 to 5000 dollars. These are the instruments that the companies know you want, so Guitar Center puts them out of reach. You’re only supposed to look at these things until you can actually get one, and rarely does anyone have the brass to ask a Guitar Center sales person to reach down a $3000 Gibson Les Paul Supreme unless they have the money to afford one. These guitars are made with good quality materials, most likely constructed in America (Partly the reason for the price), and they have been professionally set up. If anyone gets a chance to pick one up, the company wants you to know that this represents the best in instruments and is what the pros use.

First you get the money: Guitar Center makes musical instruments a Corporation style event, and while you’re looking for the best instrument for yourself, they just want you to buy anything. They don’t really care if you get the best deal, really love the instrument, or if you’re getting a quality instrument. The salespeople are paid on commission, and the prices of everything are hiked up in the first place. That means that the Fender Telecaster that says 400 dollars plus tax, you can probably get it for 350 flat if you actually talk to the sales person. Experience shows that a Fender Fretless Jazz bass for 450 plus tax can be bought for 375 with no tax. The sales people are willing to haggle because they just want you to buy anything. That’s why they wander around the store aimlessly looking for their next victim, and I referenced it when I talked about the experience of entering guitar center and seeing the 10 people judge you. 5 of those people are the wandering musicians in the store, and the other 5 are salespeople figuring out how much money you might spend. That’s why if you’re dressed as a college student, you’ll get the cold shoulder, but if you’re an older man, if you’re a mom with your son, or if you just look rich, the salespeople will swarm you like vultures to a dead gazelle.
What does it all mean?: Guitar center wants you to think that the best guitar for you is the one at the top of the wall, they want you to think that the most expensive thing must be the best thing. You have to look up to see it, you have to think about it from afar, and it catches your eyes and memory, so you have to associate it with the best.

But it’s not. In fact, there is no best, especially not the ones at Guitar Center.

Guitar Center doesn’t really put competing guitars and gear in their store. There’s only a handful of modeling amps there, mostly Line 6, but there are lots of others out there which are better, and better priced. There are only a few of each expensive guitar at the store, and there are limited options, but the company has made thousands of these expensive guitars. There’s only one Fender Eric Johnson strat at each Guitar Center at a given time, and it’s to keep up the idea that it’s being sold (Don’t get me wrong, the Eric Johnson strat is one of the best sounding guitars ever made). They only sell the Line 6 Pod, when there are actually a good amount of other Pods out there for a better price and more functionality (Behringer V-amp, Johnson J-Station). There are literally thousands of distortion pedals out there, and Guitar Center usually has about 30 of them, mostly Boss and Digitech.

The companies out there actually pay Guitar Center to keep one of a certain iconic object available, instead of giving options that would be available had there been more.

Sadly, there’s no alternative. Mom-and-pop stores are pretty much nonexistant, their prices can’t compete, and there’s no one out there willing to fight Guitar Center’s unorthodox style of musical instrument selling. And what should be a fun hobby/joy/profession such as music, is instead turned into a car dealership.



Filed under center, guitar, guitar center, guitar player, guitar rant, Guitar store, music

146 responses to “Why I Dislike Guitar Center.

  1. hey guitarist,
    i’m liking your writeups; there straight from the hip, and i lke how honest they are! this post reminds of many of some stores in canada i’ve been into!

  2. chris

    Right on with the people who crank there amp and try to impress everyone else in the store. I especially hate the metalheads who think they are good but are way to scared to play clean and realize how awful they are

  3. Nate

    Nice to see someone who agrees with me on the subject of guitar center. I hate how everyone thinks they have to impress someone in a guitar center.(Most of them are usually terrible! and it’s usually the humble ones who are good) I also hate how prices are so jacked up everywhere else because they can’t compete with it. There is no viable alternative. It’s funny because I followed your schema of purchasing the low quality then working my way up, Although I wouldn’t dare step into a guitar center and ask to play a JEM unless I was sure I was the only one in the store lol.

  4. Paul

    Good write up and I agree with most of what’s said. My wife and I own a “Ma & Pa” music store and we are able to compete, price wise, with GC on the brands that will talk to us. Alot of the manufacturers don’t deal with the small purchaser like us and in some markets, our larger competitors tell them not to deal with us. Also, due to the volume that GC and online dealers have, they don’t have to “jack up the price”, which pays for small things like rent, staff, time for setups, answering questions of the new customer……

    The outcome is that we carry some great guitars and gear, but not with the “Name Appeal” that the general music public assumes means quality. Case in point, our Austin Electrics are leaps and bounds ahead of all the lowend name brand mentioned above. When the customer does take the time to try out the goods, they generally purchase!

    We have a GC moving in soon to our neighborhood and I welcome it. They’ll get all the no talent kids showing off and we’ll get the real customer. Our customer will still get the “online prices”, but with service, sanity, lessons, and respect.

    • Scott Davis

      I so wish all the Guitar Center/Sam Ashes would go belly up. It is a mystery to me how they are still in existance.
      Their treatment of repeat good customers is a absolutely horrid! they don’t care in the least about those of us who have spent thousands, even tens of thousands in their stores. I will never spend another penny with them…ever!
      The smart mouth punks they hire as “salesmen” and the way they rob you of trade ins is enough alone to hate their existance.
      I wish YOUR store was near me I would give you all my business. These conglomeret chains ruined the industry as far as I’m concerned.

      I remember when I dealt with a “mom pop” store like you described. I was treated with respect and they knew when I was looking to but that they would do their best give a fair deal for both of us. Not so with these chains! I pray for the day we return to single stores with customer service and salesmen who realize who keeps them in a job.

      • Wade Q

        What a stupid response. You don’t seem to grasp the concept of retail with your tiny mind. They have to resell the item you are trading in, and they have to pay the associates to take pictures, haggle with you, complete the transaction, upload all the info to the website, and finally, take the time to sell the item to another customer. Quit being lazy and sell your crappy gear on Craigslist instead of whining on the internet that they aren’t giving you top dollar for stuff they have to MAKE MONEY OFF OF.

        In my experience, GC tends to give 40-60% of resale value on traded in goods. Good luck getting that at a pawn shop.

      • Wade Q

        Also, keep in mind that if you trade something in towards another item, you get 10% off. I have a hard time seeing how you are getting ripped off by possibly saving $300 on a new Gibson by trading in a $20 Danelectro pedal.

    • James Wirth

      So, where are you located? I’ll stop in if I’m in the neighborhood.

    • Corey Nash

      Where is your store located? I’ve been looking for a place that deals Austin Electrics.

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  6. Ryan

    Business is business whether its a mom and pop shop or GC. Almost everyone is out for the $$ in retail. I’ve dealt with guitar center on many occasions and it strictly depends on the salesperson you get. I’ve had both excellent and awful experiences. I can also say the same about many of the local mom and pop shops in my area. I work on commission ay my job and hate the “vulture” stereotype that I get from people. I have NEVER ripped someone off to make more money (not saying there aren’t those people out there.)

    If anything you should be happy to talk to someone on commission. In order to make money they need to know their shit. If they aren’t personable and educated on their gear then they dont make a paycheck. I would take a good salesperson on commission over a chump making 8 an hour any day. It is pretty easy to tell a guy trying to rip you off from someone who really wants to help you. Just as easy as telling a poorly made Les Paul on GC’s wall compared to an amazing Les Paul at your local music store.

    Guitar center is not a place for a critical guitarist. It is somewhere for the beginner/intermediate guitarist/musician to go and get OK gear for a good price. When you are as large as they are it is tough to find vendors large enough to support the amount of volume push out the door. The quality of your “boutique amps” and custom shop Anderson guitars would go through the toilet if GC picked them up. It just so happens that all of the large companies that played their cards right over the years get a chance to be sold at a place like that.

    I wouldn’t be so critical of the place because of the teenage kids go in there and like to “show off.” Those “no talent” kids will grow up to be a good musician and a valued return customer one day. Not to mention, any guitarist would be drooling over a $4000 PRS if it was at GC or your local shop. Just my two cents.

    • James Wirth

      I’m an old guy now. I started going to the local music store when I was 9 years old, and I miss them. Mostly I was treated well through the years, but even at some of the old local small businesses you sometimes felt a coldness if it didn’t look like you were going to buy, unless it was a place you went to all the time where they knew you and you knew them.
      I’ve been to one GC, several times, and my experience is mixed. Sometimes a salesperson who thinks he’s all that (far superior to you in every way), but mostly some friendly guys, at least in the acoustic guitar and drum depts.
      But like the man said: where do you go to see, hear, and feel the desired instrument today? There is a vintage guitar shop near and a bass shop, but they are limited. I’d hate to see the brick and mortar stores gone. I see no practical way to compare 5 guitars if only online stores remained.

  7. JP

    Did you see Electric-Guitar-Review.com’s review of this post? You nailed it!

    Have you read Ed Roman’s rants about GC? Same viewpoint.

    Great rant!!


    • Ian

      My biggest gripe isn’t with the employees. I despise the usa predatory corporatist elitist philosophy of refusing to pay employees a LIVABLE WAGE to begin with and forcing them to busk for tips or commissions. The managers sit back and rake in profit off the backs of others whilst doing very little by comparison. Screw that. I’d rather pay more and visit an independent shop..the same ones the Walmarts have tried to destroy.

      In addition to paying a silly pittance, they then expect an EXPERT in every piece of gear or instrument that’s ever been manufactured or “you don’t know your stuff” and encourage infighting. Not everyone will make the fade, just like not every fish in the tank will grab the food before it gets eaten. GC knows this and then threatens to fire those who don’t make it.

      A great guitar teacher may not be a great player and the other way around. It doesn’t take an “expert” (or the requirement to be a Richard Thompson with your guitar skills) to sell gear (not really, nor should it be expected) just like that 1000 pound guitar won’t make you a better player.

      The whole thing – catering to people who haven’t done their research and being expected to know everything about mostly irrelevant details about mostly overpriced things that only idiots care about – and doing so for slave wages is absolutely silly. If they want CEO performance and people that care, they should pay the appropriate wage.

      Even if you fade, it isn’t enough to put up with all that BS, and it doesn’t excuse the corporatist dropping the rest of the sales staff off the side of the boat (there are only so many customers and so much gear to sell) and threatening to fire them or just letting them wallow in poverty whilst the company rakes it in off their sales. (Selling enough to almost cover the fade but not enough to avoid being fired is a lot of work.) In short, the entire thing IS A RACKET.

      • Ian

        Even worse are the idiots who refuse to buy anything at a music store unless the salesman “knows his stuff.” LOL. Hey man, I thought it was important for you – the one spending money – to know YOUR Stuff. Let’s place the responsibility where it lies. A music store is an outlet for the things you should already know how to use. Stop expecting FREE lessons in audio and guitar playing and setup from minimum wage slaves. Of course, the corporations love you for it.

  8. Wayne

    I would NEVER purchase a high-end guitar from one of these stores. I remember looking at a Martin – Eric Clapton model.. it had been played by every greasy fingered kid in town.. and looked like crap.. there seems to be a total lack of quality control, who knows what these instruments have been through before you buy one?

    • 111111110000000

      They usually get you one new in a box from the back or orde you a brand new one if you they don’t have any…

    • B

      yeah man…the one on the wall that every greasy finger kid has drooled on? that’s called a floor model. just like at wall-mart when u buy a new tv. They tell you that they’re getting one from the back, new and in the box, or if the floor model is the only one left. they leave that choice up to you and can order you a new one. they probably had at least 2 or 3 of that Martin Clapton model in the back. Untouched.

      • Just...No. Quiet. NOW, B.

        Actually, it is policy to get a new item from the back. There are ramifications for NOT getting the new items from the back and it’s MORE work to fill a hole on the wall. Think about it.

        What employee wants to fill 20 holes on the wall at the end of the night, unpacking, serializing, re-tagging, and re-hanging for an extra hour past close ON TOP of standard closing procedures? NO ONE.

        You know not of what you speak, B.

  9. Ry

    Guitar center was actually the last music store in my area that I had the chance to go to, and I thought it was the best one. The atmosphere is definitely not as shady as some think, and the salesman at mine are good guys. Your argument on their business ethic was pointless, because that’s just how businesses are. They want you as a customer. Basically when you’re shopping for higher end gear, if you have a decent idea of what you’re doing then you’ll be fine. It is true that they mark stuff up, but if you show interest then they’ll tell you right away. It might just depend on the location you’re at. Anyways I work at a GC, in Ops, and at least in my area there’s really no better place to go. Just do some research before you go spending and it’ll be all good.

  10. Bob

    I’ve never been to a GC, but I recently read that GC bought “musicians friend” I do buy stuff from musicians friend and have always been very happy with them. The reason I’m writting is to vent some things that bug me about musical instrument shops. They mark up their instruments about $250. for their “gold level set up” Ok, why should I pay them $250+ to throw a shim under the neck? Are there really people out there who can’t adjust their own instruments? That’s fine for people who don’t mind paying it, but I’d rather get the instrument cheaper and set it up myself. Another thing, I could care less if a guy is playing a million dollar Gibson or a home-made two string two by four if it sounds good who cares? If you can’t make a cheap guitar sound good, then paying an extra $4000. isn’t gonna make you sound any better. I wouldn’t buy a Gibson if my life depended on it because to me it just announces to everyone that you are dumb enough to pay way too much for a brand name. Get an Epiphone instead it’s the same guitar. If I ever get rich and famous, I’m gonna play a Rogue or a squire just so I can show the kids that it aint the gold plated

    • Wade Q

      “I wouldn’t buy a Gibson if my life depended on it because to me it just announces to everyone that you are dumb enough to pay way too much for a brand name.”

      While I understand the point you are trying to make, that’s just not true at all. There is undeniably better tone to be had with Gibsons over Epiphones. Maybe there’s not a huge difference, but it’s there. A lot of that stuff could just be made even by upgrading the Epi, but then you just end up spending the same amount of money.

      The biggest issue is the stigma associated with Epi stuff. You take the stage with a bunch of Dean and Epiphone gear, people really aren’t going to take you seriously. And I’ve noticed that a majority of the time, better players have better gear. Which is because they care enough about guitar to save up and buy a really nice one. When I see someone pull out a Gibson, and they don’t look like some trust fund kid who got it from mommy, I usually give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some chops.

      • “You take the stage with a bunch of Dean and Epiphone gear, people really aren’t going to take you seriously.”

        The only people who care about that are gear snobs, who usually are jealous that they can’t sound as good with their $2500 Gibson as the guy on stage with the $500 Epiphone.

        Nobody in the general public could care less what brand of guitar or amp a band uses. All that matters is whether or not they like the music hitting their ears.

        It’s a shame that so many musicians put so much worry about a name printed on a headstock or a plastic badge on an amp. Far too often one guitar is thought to sound better than another because it is more expensive, but put the same two guitars in a blind test and they sound the same, or the cheaper guitar sounds better.

        There’s really nothing quite like mistaking a $400 Squier for a $2000 Fender Custom Shop guitar in a blind test.

      • brett

        I agree with you Wade. Justin, there is a huge difference in quality among various instrumnets. Within on line of gutar, for example, there are several stages of quality.. The idea from a marketing perspective is to provide several price points for the consumer. So, if money is an issue, of course you shouldnt let that stop you from playing, and go ahead and buy what you can afford. But to say there is no difference is way off. In gutars, as in anything, you get what you pay for. Some instruments have collector value and I cannot speak about that kind of value (a $15,000 guitar for example), but I can say that among the consumer level instruments, quality makes a big difference in terms of tone, fretwork, materials and build quality.
        While, I dont think many listeners today pay attention to gear, in many cases (like with Phish, or Yes,or Zepplin, etc, etc,) fans pay a great deal of attention to gear because its inseparable from the music. Gear matters dude!

  11. Bob

    My guess is the reason they put the more expensive instruments up higher is because they’re safer up there. I know I keep my grampa’s original 51 fender in a safer place than my “around the campfire” acoustic. I could care less if a guy is playing a million dollar Gibson or a home-made two string two by four if it sounds good who cares? If you can’t make a cheap guitar sound good, then paying an extra $4000. isn’t gonna make you sound any better. I wouldn’t buy a Gibson if my life depended on it because to me it just announces to everyone that you are dumb enough to pay way too much for a brand name. Get an Epiphone instead it’s the same guitar. If I ever get rich and famous, I’m gonna play a Rogue or a squire just so I can show the kids that it aint the gold plated tuners that make it sound good, it’s the years of practice and the heart and soul of the player.

  12. Bob

    oops. sorry, didn’t mean to send the first one.

  13. tim

    man ive tried every music store in my city and no one is hiring but guitar center, i fuckin would hate to work there but i dont know what to do, i figured at least being able to work around what i love is better then not, does anyone have any suggestions? someone please save me from having to work there…..

  14. Nicely stated. I am looking to have a guitar built as I am so dissapointed with the selection that is given to the public.

  15. GC guy

    I am currently employed at a Guitar Center and I feel compelled to respond to your rant.
    First off, ANY business is out to make money, no matter the size of the place. You point out many things, but you seem to have no coherent thoughts to most of them. We are not in business to put out the ma and pa places, actually we refer alot of business(lessons, repairs, etc.) to many of these local businesses. I believe we are here to provide some competition and better selection. While it is true some sales people are shady and do not care, for the most part that is not true. I mean, you sound like you’ve never had a bad experience with sales people anywhere else. Our crew here is sincere and honest, because we want your business, yes, but also because we want to to succeed and excel.
    I think you should reconsider your opinion(s), and realize that you are living in a corporate driven country. Unfortunate, but true.

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  17. Nate

    I think you should tell the store manager that their sales people are chodes. I work a GC. I don’t sell just anything to anybody because I don’t want the return. Yeah, we work on commission and if you notice alot of the GC”s have a huge turnover rate. The reason is because they don’t make money. The reason they don’t make money is because their customer service sucks. I sell people what they want and what they need. And if some kid wants to play any of our Eric Johnson strats (yes we have more than one) or our Les Paul customs (once again plural). I make sure they’re serious before I hand it to him. I don’t sell just whatever I can. I want to sell what’s going to make the customer happy. I make 10 grand a month in a small store because I make people happy. And people don’t grind me on price because I make people happy. As far as the profit mark ups go all stores mark up. Even mom and pop stores. Even whatever business you work for has a mark up on whatever service you provide. How do you think a business grows? I think you just need to evade the dorky sales clerks and find a guy that wants to sell you what’s right for you. Pay a visit to GC 338.

  18. Dave

    Well, what about people that can play worth a shit, but have the cash (or the will to get it) and want a nice instrument to learn on. Guitar Center isn’t really set up for you to take an instrument and plug away at it and not feel like a knob. Sure, they have a room that you can use, but you either have to know about it or ask about it. If I worked there, I would regularly tell people, “hey, if you’d like to play any of these I can set you up in our private room so you can spend some time with it.” Those guys never do that. They are horrible salespeople. And what’s with all the “guaranteed lowest prices”? Who has the guaranteed “lowest” price. All I see is everyone has the exact same price on the exact same gear. It should be “guaranteed same price as everyone else”. So why shop there?

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  22. Gary

    I would say that blog is pretty much on the mark.

    Look at it this way… for someone trying to start out with a couple of hundred bucks and looking for their first guitar, GC is probably as good a place to go as any. Consider the alternatives: They could go to Wal-Mart where they can buy a REALLY crappy Strat clone. Next is the pawn shop where they can pay almost new prices for someone else’s first instrument or drug habit, and hope that the guitar is still in decent shape. I’m not counting going online since Musician’s Friend is owned by GC, and other places like zZounds are essentially the same thing. Finally, and this was brought out in the blog, local music shops just can’t compete on the low end… at least that has been my experience. Part of the problem too is that a beginner simply does not know enough to ask the right questions or what kind of setup works best for them, so it only follows that they are going to get the “cool” guitar.

    Once the player moves into the intermediate range and above, then the situation changes. There I think the GC approach works against them, since at that point they are trying to find their sound, and being able to to find the right guitar (not necessarily the most expensive) and gear for them is more important.

    Of course that’s just my opinion 🙂

  23. Quent

    Wow. I can’t believe how much nonsense some people get away with.

    Okay, the expensive stuff is at the top for basically ONE reason, not for some silly psychological suggestive reasoning that the top=higher=better=makes me want to spend more money… the reason that the expensive stuff is up there is because GC has learned a thing or two about being the biggest music retailer in the U.S. —> namely, that a lot of soccer moms in the ‘burbs’ have found GC to be a suitable babysitter for literally, entire afternoons, whenever they want to drop off the kids somewhere for awhile. It’s a merchandising/loss prevention strategy. Lots of kids come through who have no respect for the gear, they leave stuff out, they drop stuff, they act like it’s a playground. But those same kids eventually get jobs during the summer and make money, and they unload their paychecks at GC. It’s beautiful, like a drug habit almost… But seriously, those kids help us meet our numbers. Yeah, a lot of them suck, but they’ll get better, and we help them keep a passion for a hobby that is at least a benefit to society rather than a dredge.

    GC built its reputation on being user-friendly, as it was really the first music retailer that encouraged people to come in and play the gear, after all, how else can you know what you like. I’ll also tell you this, GC has done a lot for young musicians who never had the opportunity to purchase instruments say, 15 years ago. I remember that a Percussion Plus Drum Kit, which is crap, could cost $750 at a music store. Now, you can get a Gretsch Catalina at GC for that same price. Perhaps some of you aren’t old enough to remember the ungodly prices that the independents hacked you to death for. GC was really among the first to give you big-box prices. If you don’t recall those days and you are up here whining and complaining about GC, then you might do well to stop the gum-flapping in that it only makes you sound very narrow sighted, and not fully informed.

    Also, to say that you can’t get the high-end product at GC is a misnomer. Each store has a level rating. That rating dictates what kind of product gets shipped. And just because GC doesn’t have it locally doesn’t mean you can’t get it transferred from another store. As well, we can get anything out of the warehouse from any of our vendors with our own pricing on it. All you have to do is find someone in the store and say, “I want _______!” You will have it!

    Oh yeah, and don’t make fun of GC for saying “Guaranteed Lowest Price” — they pioneered this affordability concept for musical instruments back in the 90’s, and everyone else just had to find a way to compete.

    As for the sales associates product knowledge. Cut them some slack… I have worked for independent stores that knew less about a product than some guitar center employees. And as well… you would be shocked at the level of credentials for a lot of folks at GC. 10 of almost 30 of our sales associates have bachelor’s degrees in music or a related field. Two of us hold masters degrees. If we don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s probably because there is so much stuff out there that we are learning at any given time, that your singular issue might just happen to be something that slipped between the cracks.
    So, it is what it is…

    If you don’t like us, don’t shop with us. Our time could better be used with people who appreciate our efforts.

    • Matt

      umm if u have a masters then y the hell ru working at guitar center i mean if i had a masters i would be doing something much more fufilling

    • Matt

      also having a masters in music and working at GC is like getting a masters in culinary arts and working a mcdonalds

      • Benjamin Minor


      • Wade Q

        Because the music business is saturated, idiot. What a stupid remark. Working in sales with no limit to how much you can make and being a fucking frycook earning minimum wage are two completely different things.

  24. Jeff

    I don’t know about your town, but compared to the “Mom-and-Pop” stores in our town, the prices at GC are much better. To me this just sounds like a rant from a poor son of a bitch that got talked into buying something he really didn’t want. As long as you know what you want, have done research on the product and pricing, you should be fine.

    And this whole thing about no setting up at factories. How the hell are factory workers supposed to know how you like your guitars set up? If your not stupid, you’ll ask how to lower the action, and if your strings keep breaking, here’s a thought………….buy a new set of stings or try a different brand and a heavier guage.

  25. max

    yea, I dont like how the only stores around are guitar center cuz i hate to have to play the guitars u can tell that the last kid who played it had maple syrup on his hand. I prefer the ma and pa shops cuz ucan see the true beauty of guitars that way. Now I go to guitar center sometimes AND am a teenager so u all think “oh this kid must not get this” but I never buy from there I like to play quiet cause I know that I would be a hippocrit for bein mad at the loud obnoxious players. i dont listen to any of the bullshit u hear about wut is the good stuff. I personally like Schecters and a couple average ibanezs even though kids tell me im retarded to pick a Schecter over a Gibson, but schecters feel the best to me and I like them.

  26. proteus

    ok ok.. i work at GC, and i have to tell you that really, all things considered..? it’s a pretty impressive company. as far as being big-box, it is.. but this is a big-box economy, guys.. this is a capitalist country. we don’t do what we do to put mom and pop out of business.. like what was said before, i actively SEND business to mom and pop music for things we don’t handle, like repairs, sheet music, lessons, certain brands, etc.. and yes, unfortunatley, there’s going to be people out there who had bad experiences at GC.. there are always exceptions, we can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time, i don’t know many places that can.. and while i feel genuinely bad for the people who didn’t have good experiences, i feel genuinely good for the hundreds of happy customers who leave my store each week.

    different GC’s are exactly that, as well.. different. i’m lucky to work in a great store with a good crew, most of whom are musicians themselves, but there are some stores out there that have people that either don’t know enough or don’t care or both.. but they are the minority and usually don’t last very long. to make it work at GC and still be able to pay the rent, you have to know your shit and work with your customers. i have people who have come to my store to see me for YEARS because they know i’ll take care of them. i don’t automatically try to sell the highest-priced items we have because most of the time it’s not what the cusomer needs.

    and just to clear up any doubts or have-truths, yes we are salespeople, we are a business, trying to make money, just like anyone else. you don’t go to mcdonalds and ask “hey, can i get that combo for $2 instead of $4.95?” so what if it only cost 10 cents to make? dosen’t matter. thats money in my pocket, and thats what a business is. if you don’t want to pay $4.95 for a hamburger that costs 10 cents to make, then don’t buy one. you being hungry is not going to motivate me to lower the price when i’ve got people lined up to buy. i might knock some bucks off for something if it’s for a non-profit, or for a customer whom i get repeat business from.. or people who actually come there to spend money and buy gear instead of wanking on equipment they could never afford nor utilize 100% of they could. if someone wants to come in and drop 3k on a PA system, sure i’ll work with him on price. some guy haggling me over a $10 cable, or minivan mama buying a starter pack for her kid? no.. there’s no “mystical dark energy source” that powers GC’s dominance in the market. there’s a reason we are who we are, it is what it is. also, we do price match any printed regular price, if you find one on the same gear thats lower.. what else do you want? if you can get something cheaper/better from somewhere else, why are you even talking to me?

    i also hate the vulture salesman stereotype, but then again, it is what it is. i try not to hang around people, but the last time i checked you can’t walk into any store, grab what you need and check ourself out at the cash register.. you’ll need assistance at some point. some GC employees are better at it than others, but remember that we are here to SELL gear, thats what we do. we’re not a studio, hangout, babysitter or playground. we’re trying to make the company money because, well.. thats our job. we’re trying to make ourselves money as well. and usually when the prices start to come down, it’s us taking money out of our OWN pocket as our commish is based on what we make selling, so yeah.. i gotta have a pretty good reason.

    lastly, we do make commission, but we also work on hourly (state minimum wage) draw, which means we have to “pay back” our hourly salary in commissions before we actually see any to take home. people working at GC don’t do it for the money, take my word for it.. cause we don’t make much. i’m a part of GC because i WANT to be, not because i have to be. we do get a killer discount on gear, though.

    but anyway, yeah.. don’t let one person’s bad experience turn you off.. everything is a double edged sword. any doubts? come to my store.. i’ll do my best to take care of you.

  27. Baldenario

    Baldenario advises novices that the Guitar Center and its relative, Musician’s Friend, have excellent instruments at very attractive prices. As with virtually any musical instrument store, inventory changes over time, and smart shoppers can get great instruments by knowing as much as possible about instruments and pricing . . .

    So far, Baldenario’s most impressive bit of Guitar Center shopping mapped to purchasing a Les Paul Custom Shop Canary Yellow Catalina guitar for $800, because it did not have a case (so the accounting people decided to sell it at a heavily discounted price).

    What about the case?

    Well, since Baldenario was a frequent shopper and apparently the matching case was sold to someone who purchased a Les Paul Custom Shop Ace Frehley guitar, the sales person sweetened the deal with a free LP Custom Shop Ace Frehley guitar case . . .

    Additionally, it is a very good guitar, separately from everything else . . .

    Baldenario also got a truly remarkable one-up, specially made Fender Custom Shop Telecaster in a similarly outstanding purchase, based on the person who originally ordered the guitar not being entirely pleased with a tiny flaw in the wood grain of the fingerboard, which was only a visual flaw and has nothing whatsoever to do with the way the guitar plays and sounds . . .

    The general point is that if you know something about guitars and take the time to look at every guitar of the type you find interesting at least once a week (including the guitars on the top row, if that is where they are), then sooner or later you are quite likely to find a true gem . . .

    It always helps to purchase something each time you visit, if only a few guitar picks or a set of strings, because this tends to build a bit of rapport with the sales folks. If you are careful with the guitars when studying them, then after a while the sales folks pretty much decide that you have a clue and then give you a bit of space without any of the higher pressure sales stuff . . .

    One certainly can suggest that if a Guitar Center has 50 virtually identical three-color sunburst Fender American Deluxe Stratocasters, then statistically one or perhaps two of them will be just a little bit better than the others, and the only way you can determine which one is the best is to study each and every one of them in as much detail as possible . . .

    Sometimes, you might need to examine several hundred of them over the course of six months or a year before you find a truly great one, but if you do this consistently every week or two, then you are very likely to find a really great guitar. In fact, since some of the sales folks are guitarists, they can provide some help once they learn what you consider to be a “really great” guitar, because ultimately they are the people who receive the guitars once they are shipped to the store and then put them on display . . .

    As an additional bit of advice, if a sales person tells you that all the Fender American Deluxe Stratocasters of the same color and so forth are identical, then this is a good clue that they have no clue, because each guitar, no matter how identical it might appear to be, is unique in one way or another, if only because no two trees are the same and no two pieces of wood cut from the same tree are identical in every respect . . .

    Overall, what you want to find is a guitar made by someone who truly enjoys making guitars and does a bit more in one way or another than the other folks making guitars on that day or during that week . . .


  28. Follow these guidelines and you will build that new home with little, or no, problems. asbestos siding can help…

  29. I don’t know what happened to you in those guitar centers that you went to, but I seriously do not think it was tha sales reps or customers. I work at a Guitar Center, so I know what kind of overhead we have on gear. Tha reason we’re willing to mark down prices is not because we jacked them up. It’s because we’re told from tha get-go when we join tha sales team to do whatever it takes to make tha customer feel satisfied.

    I guess you were never at tha stage in your music where you had to improve, otherwise you’d understand a young musician butchering (also known as practicing) one of your favorite songs.

    I’ve never judged a customer walking in. Some long haired unshaven forty-something guy might walk in with holes in his pants and drop a few thousand on a guitar. People trust tha brand names out there because they’ve stood tha test of time. I think you need to lighten up a little. Judge not lest you be judged and all that.

  30. TheStone08

    you couldnt be more wrong..prices are not jacked at all…they offer the Garenteed lowest price..you cant find the equipment anywhere cheaper..if for some reason if u can they price match…yes they buy the guitars cheaper then they sell for but thats a BUSINESS!!! its called profit! The reason they all look at you is because its a form of security..there are no cameras in the place if u noticed! that is their way to keep people from stealing. people dont look at richer or poorer by appearance..i had a guy who looked like the biggest scumbag ever buy a 4000$ taylor off me the other day..its true they get commission but most people are they to help you find the guitar u want not to make profit..atleast i kno at my guitar center we take pride in what we do for our customers and not always look for a profit.. so your statement seems to be completely false…atleast on the east coast..

  31. Alex

    So long time a ago when I was 15 , 1989, I went into a local Ma & PA music store to buy my first real new guitar. I knew exactly what I wanted, an American Strat Plus. They had 6 of them and when I asked to have the special room with all the real guitars opened so I could play them and choose the one I liked the most, I was told NO. I had over a thousand dollars in my pocket from every summer job I had done that year, I could have bought almost any guitar in the store but they would not let me in to the room with the “good guitars”. The next day I took BART (thats the commuter train all) to the Guitar Center in Berkeley and hung out for hours playing almost every quality Strat I could. In the end the salesman pulled out of the stockroom a used 84(?)CIJ Squire Strat, Sunburst with Rosewood neck. Its the best Strat I played all day, I still have it and people ask me all the time where I got it. The kicker is I payed $350 with case, a third of the Strat Plus I wanted. Now i’ve walked in to Guitar Center and asked a salesman questions and imeadiatly known that I knew more than he ever would about music gear. Its not where you go it’s who you deal with.

  32. Danny

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels a bit intimidated every time i walk into a GC. The funny thing is my first experiences there was with an associated named Ian, he was completely down to earth, from the get go i told him i’m not looking to buy cuz i’m broke but i want to explore the sounds of gibson, prs and high end fender. He immidiately grabbed PRS Mcartey hollow body, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s fender strat, Gibson les pauls…he would show me how the knobs worked and the cool tones you can get if you know what you’re doing, he never hesitated to let me play…2 weeks later he was gone…go figure…my experiences at GC after Ian have been really embarassing or just humbling…they really do put you in your place the second they see you. And i absolutely hate hearing kids shred on nauseiating volumes. How are you supposed to know what a PRS Custome 24 plays like if they frawn at you when you want to try one…and i don’t look rich either so i guess that’s why.

  33. benny

    I was injured at guitar center as a employee and have been screwed by them . They do not take care of their people and do not pay them accordinly . That is why they have such a t.urnover rate. you would think guitar center making as much money as they do they would help the poor employee a little

  34. Starfire

    I’m a semi-retired pro musician who has been spending way too much time in music stores for over 20 years all over coastal California. I’ve been in one of the newest GCs numerous times (in West LA) and was just at the Sunset flagship last night.

    A few thoughts:

    GC’s “captive market” really isn’t true in places like the Bay Area or LA, and that is probably also the case in other places like Seattle, Chicago, DC, NYC, etc. In my experience, all of those places have independent music stores which can compete on price and selection. Also, Sam Ash seems to have stepped up their presence in the past decade, literally across the street in the case of GC’s Hollywood store. Is it true out in the sticks? Maybe. But why wouldn’t someone hop on a train or drive a few hours to give themselves a choice if they were really investing a few months’ savings for an instrument?

    I think the real axe people have to grind with GC (no pun intended) is just that they are the Wal-Mart of music stores, with all that this entails. Much like Wal-Mart, they are a good place to buy something which is more or less a commodity, and a good place to have a limited, predictable selection presented at a good price. Also, much like Wal-Mart, it is probably easy to feel like you aren’t the most special person in the world when you deal with them, whether as a customer.

    Now, that being said, even though I’ve had plenty of experiences visiting them, I have almost no use for them for anything except stuff like strings, tuners, and stands, though I appreciate their convenience when I need these things ASAP. Typically, most pro musicians never buy big-ticket gear new (except for software), for a variety of reasons, and the only GC I’ve seen with a decent vintage selection (Hollywood) seems to be more of a museum than a salesfloor, and the prices reflect the lack of motivation to really move product at market.

  35. Pingback: » He who Despises Guitar Center Atomic Squat: Discussion About Whatever…

  36. wakinglife

    I am from australia the land of overpriced guitars (think a MIM telecaster is valued at $1049 here) the dollar xhange rate is roughly the same. Our version of GC is either Billy Hydes or Allan’s music store. Allan’s is kinda gross with complete disregard for there instruments and they end up completely dirty and not setup and sell at top dollar. Its just wrong. I choose to go to the little shops a) you tend to get very good advice b) always received better deals oh and if something does go wrong they fix. Great rant awesome to hear someone take the time out to voice the concern of the way things are. I guess all i ask for music shops is take a little bit of pride in what you are doing. Billy Hyde atleast sets their guitars up and cleans them.

  37. ?

    I don’t really like guitar center either, but the guitar centers in my city there are no attrative women at all. It’s all guys with long messy hair and long beards. Most of them are old too!

  38. in some area’s your comments are correct, people working for commission want your money.
    but uh, thats how it works. it’s pretty stupid to complain about being sold something when you go there to buy it.

    my experience with GC has been hit and miss. they screwed up one of my orders and over-refunded my credit card causing serious problems. but that was resolved that night.

    since then i was given everything at cost. i got a 7 string hellraiser for 430$, an ampeg 4×12 HLF classic for 300$, and a gallien krueger backline 600 for 250$ brand new.

    no other store would ever do that, and if anything they lost money on me. but they obviously bent over backwards to make sure i was a returning customer.

    since then i have moved to the portland area (above mentioned store was in michigan) so now i have the west coast experience.

    out here everyone scrambles to do whatever i tell them. i wanted to hear some KRK rpg-2’s, the new ones. and they quickly tore open a direct box some live wires and a mixer and hooked it all up so i could play my cds through them. i was sold, they sounded great and the ones i bought were new in box not the ones they tore open to let me hear them.

    also recently i played every guitar in the store looking for a new sound. the salesperson helping me was really trying hard to help me find something that i liked. finally he suggested a michael kelly model that most GC’s do not carry, and neither did this one. so he had me come back the next day, and he brought in his own guitar for me to play. not only that but he stuck me in the luxary booth with the mesa triple rec half stack and other boutique amps and just said have at it and left me there. alone with his personal favorite guitar and their most expensive amps. you dont need to “know about” the luxary room or even ask.

    so i ordered the Kelly and opted for the 3 day select ups shipping because i really wanted it immediately. well it ended up taking 2 days for the shipping center to get to my order and because of the holiday weekend it looked like it was going to take a full week from the time i placed my order to the time i would receive it, making my shipping choice pointless. so i called them and without any yelling or complaining they mailed me out a gear card for the amount of the ups shipping. not only that but my phone conversation with the customer service rep got cut off (due to my cell phone) after he went to go check with his supervisor about me getting a refund. well the line dropped and i had to call back to a different customer service rep. they said that even though my call had dropped he had gone ahead and refunded my account and mailed out a gear card with the shipping amount on it and i didnt even get to talk to him after “ill go check with my supervisor”.

    in my opinion GC has great customer service and if you know what your talking about and find the right person (dont go into pro audio and ask about a les paul) you will have a contact there who will give you price breaks, insider info, BRING IN THEIR OWN GUITAR FOR YOU TO PLAY, ect…

    also: why do you think they put attractive women at the front counter?


    and as far as the way they layer their guitars with the pricier ones at the top, uh…im sorry thats too obvious for me to even comment on.

  39. Erin

    First off, I just want to say thank you for the compliment, as I am one of those door girls 😀 I have been at Guitar Center over a year and let’s face it, standing at the door gets boring, hours at a time, 6 days a week. I am in the process of transfering to sales and I am researching feedback people leave, good and bad, about Guitar Center employees so I don’t make those same mistakes or can continue the wonderful customer service. I am sorry you have had bad experiences with Guitar Center in the past. Let me assure you, they are all not like that and I can personally assure you I will not be like that.

  40. Malcolm

    You are so right. I’m 12 do you know how freaking intimadated i was going to buy my first guitar and for some reason everyone there makes me feel like stupid.

  41. Bob Wiegand

    They work on commision.

    They don’t sell the best guitars made.

    They don’t give a shit.

    Educate yourself. Learn the feel and sound you like.

  42. Alex

    man i love reading this review! i could literally picture myself standing at the counter and looking up at the gibson es335 of my dreams and thinking to myself, “God, that’s an amazing guitar! look how high up it is!” one key point that i personally dislike about guitar center is their used gear deal. selling your gear at GC is like getting a bullet in the leg.

    • Justin

      I guess that Guitar Center should either carry less merchandise or build bigger stores so that vaginas like you don’t have to be so scared to ask for assistance.

  43. PA-Gtr.

    There are great points to both sides of the argument here. I’m from a small town in PA and the only instrument stores I’ve ever known have been mom and pop (or “ma and pa” is more like it for my area). I think that you can get an a-hole sales clerk anywhere you go, people have bad days, they get dumped, receive speeding tickets, and lets face it have to endure 8+ hours of some pretty dumb questions from some pretty dumb customers (i was always under the impression “the customer is always right” is a method of calming down the service worker that knows the customer is almost always wrong.). It is my observation no matter what music store you go to there will always be some greasy caveman ripping through some Megadeath solo somehow leading it into Pantera – Walk. For some reason this will never change. Recently I made a road trip to the closest guitar center (50+ Miles away) and found nothing different in atmosphere or product quality for that matter. Maybe it’s because the local music shop employs the same amount of no talent, flunkies as any other major guitar store. For me any music store experience is terrible, I love buying online even strings, because I don’t get hassled to buy a string winder and picks with every pack I buy. For a couple years now I’ve been kind traveling around the country online and making some nice guitar purchases from companies such as Warmoth for strat necks (bought a highway one strat body off of ebay for $150 and put a warmoth neck on it), Carvin for an AE-185, and A Builder named Dave Bunker (bunker/treker guitars) from Utah who built me a custom Trey Anastasio/Paul Languedoc Style guitar which is amazing. I think if you want quality instruments you really have to hunt for them, which i think is cool because it gives you something original and most of the time you can have them modified to your specifications at the same prices of the big guys standard models. I think it’s obviously different for every individual what they want in guitars and gear: I also believe that having the attitude that one store can cater to everyone’s needs is foolish. Why don’t we all just agree to let the show offs Shredding through Heavily Distorted Solos have guitar center, then at least their moms will know where to pick them up.

  44. eric huff

    I thought I was going to be reading a well thought of AND well reasoned article, but to be honest you’re just complaining because a company is putting their expensive gear out of reach. 1. It’s not so hard to say hey peon, grab that LP for me so I can try it out. That’s just showing that you’re a pussy. 2. Would you put your most expensive equipment in “snatch and grab” range? Because I sure wouldn’t. It really just seems like you’re bitching because you’re either too much of a pussy to ask for someone to pull down a 1k+ guitar, or you think they should put expensive shit down where anybody can grab it and run off with it, or damage it. To be honest, I wouldn’t want just anybody grabbing a guitar that I want, because if you’ve ever actually looked at the ones at the bottom they’re treated like shit.

  45. Big

    Eric Huff’s point is null and void. any reputable guitar shop will have floor models of every low end guitar any way, the one’s you buy will be in the back in a box. Well thought out and well reasoned? You think your vocabulary is well thought out and reasoned? Calling the article author a pussy? Give me a break and go back to your cave. I guess any one is a rogue scholar who uses the words “pussy” and “shit” twice in one paragraph. Thanks for the input Thoreau.

    • Justin

      I agree with Eric and I also think you’re a shit-head pussy. To be sure that I’m using them twice in the same paragraph…Eat shit, you fucking Pussy.

  46. Eric Huff

    You’re witty asshole. Keep fighting the good fight on the Internet and all!

    My point is valid; if he would just ASK someone to pull the guitar down, his argument wouldn’t even have a base.

  47. Big

    Actually he’s simply stating that guitar center centers its business around creating false pretenses through symbolism in their store’s layout. The author is saying you don’t have to necessarily buy a $5,000 guitar to have a great playing guitar, you can modify and get a professional setup on lower end models and come out with practically the same result. The article more focus’s on how they get you to waste your money by falsely representing a professional music store because they don’t take the time to set-up and properly care for the lower end models of instruments as they do higher end ones, and they especially don’t tell you to get a professional set-up when you buy a mexican strat they wait until your hand hurts and hope you come back to buy an American made one. How hard was that to pull out of this article you caveman? There was one line in this whole article about asking a salesperson to get a higher end model down, and that is what you say his entire message is trying to convey? Go back to middle school and get the diploma you obviously need. It wasn’t that hard to understand the quality points being made in this piece. You’re just an idiot.

  48. drummer

    I am a GC employee. I work in drums. Drums involves a lot of special ordering of random parts and pieces that we do not stock. Bottom line, we are going to make you happy based on the performance of that certain sales person you are working with. If that person is not willing to try every option they can to get you what you need, they are not doing their job. As far as the beginners, drums are worse than guitars as far as the annoying riffs. Young dudes come in, ask for sticks, and sit down on the most expensive kit we have set up (totalling in the range of $10,000) and make an attempt at the latest Slipknot beat- While I’m on the phone or simply trying to talk to someone that is two feet away from me. It is hell to deal with sometimes, but ultimately, the whole “playground” aspect boils down to business. When that kid is ready, he/she will come to us for their gear because we allow this chaos. While I love dealing with experienced players, talking shop all day long, It’s a very satisfying experience to set that kid up with his/her first kit that they will play for years. I’m not in it for money, I don’t make much. I care about music. I’ve had bad experiences at GC, Sam Ash, and independent stores. I know that if you come in my store, you will get the best service we can offer. It all depends. If you can’t understand that, sit at home.

  49. AdvancedPlayerW/CheapGuitar

    Nice website, a fun read. I would disagree with the following statement, however:

    “The thing about the cheap stuff is that the companies don’t really care about it. They use cheap materials, cheap labor, and no quality control. These mass produced instruments should be used by no one, but there’s no getting around it.”

    I guess it depends on what cheap stuff you’re talking about. I’ve been playing since 1994. My first real guitar was (and continues to be) a black “Squier Series” Mexican Strat I got at a now defunct DC area music shop (somewhere between the mom + pop and GC scale, on the spectrum of store size, geographic coverage, etc.) I paid $250 for it at the time, and in the meantime I’ve swapped out the pickups and machine-heads (totaling approx. $120), and couldn’t be happier with the instrument. It plays, to my ears, feel, etc. like anything in your medium range. And the original body, neck, and construction in no way whatsoever resemble a cheap instrument that tortures the player and is gotten rid of after a short while. It’s been fourteen years, and the axe is still an indestructible tone-machine.

    As someone not in possession of large amounts of disposable income and falls somewhere between the novice and the pro in terms of skill (perhaps a category into which most of us adult players fall?), it doesn’t make any sense for me to shell out serious bucks for an American Strat, Les Paul, or PRS, etc. My normal playing venues are my living room and a local pub or jam session, where good, dependable tone are what I require. I have no interest in making others drool over the name on my headstock or the figuring of guitar’s body.

    While I agree with many of your observations about Guitar Center – especially about the mind-numbing cacophony of deaf teenagers who play nothing but pentatonic scales at 3,000 m.p.h. – and that we should be vigilant in ensuring that our instruments, equipment, etc. are produced ethically, I disagree with the implication that good, fun, valuable music can only be made on guitars costing $1,000 or more.

  50. cool site, good read.

    @AdvancedPlayerW/CheapGuitar, i agree with you… same concept applies to semi-pro digital cameras and things like that.

    i have a friend who won’t play anything but PRS (he sucks… i’m a fender guy) and a friend who plays epiphone… both are incredible musicians – all got to do with… lol… disposable income and taste.

    @the Guitarist – hate is a strong word, but i’m not too far from there. that’s why i’ve tried to find smaller stores that are more concerned with treating customers right. sometimes you can’t help it though…

  51. Pingback: Big Music Retailers and Their Nefarious Ways « Stratochrister’s Blog

  52. Brian

    This is the best summary of Guitar Center I have heard yet. Totally true. I have been to GC’s all up and down the East Coast and this is the way it is unfortunately.

  53. urafuckingmoron

    You’re a fucking tool. You obviously have no clue why businesses are in business and can’t seem to understand that because an employee is on commission, its makes him obligated to sell, rather than sit around and ignore you.

    If you’ve ever been to a mom and pop store whos guys were not on commission, you’d know how “great” of service they’ll give you while they’re texting away or reading a magazine. They could give a fuck less if you have questions or need help.

    Grow a fucking brain moron.

    If you want to know what its really like. why don’t you try working and try living off the pay?

    Fucking idiot.

    • Justin

      Thanks for putting these whiners in their place. I don’t really know what they expect when they walk into a musical instrument sales store. “Everyone was judging me”… would someone call a whambulance and make sure they bring Vagisil for his hurting pussy.

      Now to all of the idiots that agree with the “I don’t like Guitar Center because they want me to spend money there” poor excuse for an article. Try to beat they’re price…You can’t. So if you want to spend more money at a little shop that has to make a greater profit off of each customer in order to stay afloat, go right ahead. I hope it helps you sleep better at night because it certainly doesn’t make yo a smarter consumer.
      Lastly…Wah, wah, wah, I bet you don;t like Wal-Mart either because they’re such a sucessful merchant.

  54. matty

    I suppose it is a bit different here in Britian, most of the guitar shops I know are not to big or to small, staff are friendly and don’t care if you buy or look, and it is a much more comfortable experience than shopping in what sounds like a “supermarket for guitars”

    • Ian

      I think the reason it’s different in Britian is because they get paid a wage one can live on – which is why no tipping of bartenders, etc is expected – instead of being forced to rely on tips/commissions by the corporate greedsters?

  55. Brian Chen

    Everyone here seems to rip on metalheads, but I’ve gotta say, I live with a guy who loves metal, and he knows what he wants out of a guitar and plays his very well (he nailed a beautiful Genesis song; fantastic to hear a live guitar playing it), so for all the mindless shredders in guitar centers everywhere, there are maybe fewer, but still many metal-minded guitarists who stay at home, and have a genuine appreciation for great music

    I think you kind of nailed it about what’s wrong with guitar centers, but while it’s painful to admit this I think it’s partially a tradeoff for its popularity, sort of like how good music that is in guitar hero is made to feel a little stupid when tight-polo frat boys blast it out of their suburban SUVs. I’ve been to a few bad guitar centers

    I think someone else mentioned this though: even if guitar center didn’t have middle schoolers ripping out the metal every time you walked in, would it be able to satisfy really specific needs? I’ve been searching for a hollowbody electric to play similar to Trey Anastasio’s (which is how google lead me here), but I doubt I can find a shop where I can play anything similar unless I go to vermont, where Phil Languedoc makes his home.

  56. Wass

    I had a Yamaha classical guitar that used to make a metal sculpture on my wall buzz whenever I played loudly (especially on the bass strings). I thought it was the guitar itself buzzing, not something on my wall. After about a year of trying to learn classical guitar I became discouraged; actually I got quite angry one day and punched my guitar, with my fist, right at the bridge and my fist went right through the guitar. Then I plopped the guitar on the floor and stomped on the rest of the soundboard, then flipped it over and caved the back and sides in. The neck splintered in half when I took it outside and whacked it against a redwood tree. I never regretted for once ever smashing up that damn guitar. I hate guitars!

  57. @ Justin.

    You’ve responded to like 5 posts, and you call the last poster a “lonely loser” (spelling loser wrong btw). Who has enough time to write replies to 5 people calling them pussies?….A lonely loser perhaps? I guess in this case it must take one to know one, or you wouldn’t have been able to pick it out just by a paragraph. Or it might just be you’re the expert on everything! I don’t bust out this term often, but you’re a complete piece of shit. No respect for anyone’s views other than your own, and too damn dumb to state your own opinion in terms that might actually make sense. Instead you just call everyone a pussy. Great argument! Everyone sees your side now, apparently all you have to do is call someone a pussy and bam! Argument defeated. All arguments bow before Justin because he holds the power to call you a pussy!

    Small business in any situation gives you the satisfaction of being involved in a community. We pay higher prices because small businesses unlike wal-mart usually don’t screw over their employees and force them to live under the poverty line with no health insurance. If paying $25 more for every purchase of $300 gives someone in my community a job for a year, you better believe I’ll pay it every time. Being a part of a community means doing everything you can to help that community succeed. Huge chains do nothing for the community other than put stores that were all ready there out of business. We all deserve a chance to work and prosper, and we all deserve the courtesy of being treated how we wish to be treated. If these people think a huge chain store can’t offer them that, then that’s their prerogative, don’t call them a pussy because their in a place that doesn’t make them feel welcomed.

    Just because you have a lower price doesn’t mean you’re better. McDonald’s has the lowest price cheeseburgers and yet I’m not eating a cheeseburger there every time I want one. I’ll pay a little more for service and quality. Most of the mom and pops I go to set the guitar up for free with the purchase(increasing both service and the quality of the guitar). Guitar center won’t do that. So I pay more at the mom and pop (I’ve never paid more than $50 more than GC btw), and I get a free $50 setup including a brand new set of strings of my choosing. Not a bad deal IMO.

  58. Danny Man

    Guitar center seems to be the Wal-Mart of guitars.

  59. Steve

    Mom and pop shops will charge a fortune for stuff and give you even less for tradins. Guitar center at least has consistant pricing. I agree with a lot of your arguments (original Poster) but you arent complaining about guitar center- you are complaining about every single business in America. This is the way it is, don’t hate on a single company for following suit. My local guitar center is great, the sales people in the drums section are all long time drummers, the guitar sales people are all long time guitar players etc. etc. They all know their stuff and I buy all my musical equipment from them including my fender, my wife’s bass, amps for both, music books, and a lot of drum equipment/hardware so far to fix up my 70’s Slingerlands. I have yet to have a bad experience with them or feel ripped off. There is one local mom and pop shop I went to and the dude sold me drum heads for higher price then GC and I had to get him to mark a USED cymbal stand down 20 dollars just to get it to match the price of a equal quality NEW one at GC….Oh, and I get to go in there all the time and bang on the drums and the same employees welcome me back every time and remember me and don’t hound me or treat me like crap even though I only make a purchase once out of every 8 visits.

  60. Yup, I went to guitar center again today, and I still fucking hate it more than any other store in our galaxy…

    I HATE fucking guitar center….

    Thank you and goodnight…

  61. Rachel

    Just got my first guitar 2 days ago from GC. Getting ready to start lessons. I’m 17. My dad has played guitar pretty much his whole life, so even though I don’t play (yet) I know the difference between the cheap shit guitars and the good stuff. The first day I went into GC, yeah, I felt intimidated and stupid. Not because of anything the guys that worked there were doing to make me feel that way. I was doing to myself. I’d never been to a GC before, usually just my town’s Mom n’ Pop store. The first person that helped me that first day was a very loud, intimidating, hell-of-a-nice-guy. Told him I was just looking, no intention to buy. He showed me to the room where all the Acoustic Guitars were, and turned me over to the guy in that department. That’s when the fun started. I’ve never had that much fun in a music store. : ) No one tried to twist my arm to buy something I didn’t want. I told them I was a beginner and was just trying to get a feel for what I liked, and they did everything they could to help. Not in a “Quick, lets try to sell her a piece of shit and get another victem before we get off work” kind of way. They weren’t like Vultures. They were patient. They got down 2 different guitars from the “Higher Level” just so I could here the sound and feel what they were like. I didn’t ask them to do it, they just saw me looking at it, and they were showing me their “Dream Guitars”. I was in there for 2 hours just looking around. No pressure. Now, I don’t look rich. I’m not rich. I’m a teen and a girl and a beginner. I wasn’t there to buy anything. I’m not an experienced guitarist. I only know my scales, and a few other things. I got a lot of hateful looks from other customers, but never from one of the guys that worked there. (Note: Please don’t be so harsh about teenagers “butchering” there way through a song. Weren’t you ever a beginner?! I do agree that a lot of the teens that go in there are very disrespectful of the guitars they handle. Not all teens are like that though. I’m not.) I learned a lot from that trip to GC. My dad wanted to get one of the guitars he’d seen in there, so we went back the next day, and I spent another 3 hours in that room. There were different salesmen, but they were every bit as patient as the guys from the day before. I told the two guys that I was thinking about buying a guitar. They did everything they could to help me find a guitar that I loved. I told them what I wanted, what I didn’t want, and what my price range was. We sat on some of those wobbly little stools and passed around maybe 10 or 12 different guitars, all while they were teaching me and helping me any way they could. They knew their guitars. I hadn’t handled anything I really liked, when one of the guys said he wanted to show me his guitar. They had one in the store, so he went and got it. I loved the little Yamaha he brought in and the price was very good. I dicided that I wanted to have that guitar for my lessons. It felt good in my hands, and this particular Yamaha had a very beautiful sound, not like the other two that I fooled around with that had sounded flat, twangy, and average. Beautiful guitar. : ) I got it, and I’m very happy with it and the price I payed, which is a LOT less than what I would have payed at the local Mom N’ Pop store. My dad is also very happy with the guitar he got from GC. I guess the reason I’m posting this is to say that it really depends on the particular salesmen you get. I saw a couple in there that were real jerks. But the ones I had were awesome. Don’t throw tha baby out with the bath water. Guitar Center is a good store. Guitar Center does employ some very helpful, friendly, honest salesmen. (And yes, they employ some jackasses too). Guitar Center is a good resorce. I’ve been to Mom N’ Pop stores where the prices were inflated beyond fairness, the owners wouldn’t let you touch a guitar even if you were going to buy it, and the staff didn’t know the difference between an Electric and an Acoustic. It depends on who you deal with. GC is, over-all, a good place to get what you need.

  62. GMAN

    I have done the tour, and yes the big box stores have a lot of stuff. Most of the staff wants to make the quick sale and move on. Certian prices are ok, but many are high and I feel that price is NOT everything. I shop two stores in WV, I think they are a mom and pop shops but have never meet the owner, but they stock about 400 guitars each. The store I like the Best is called Showtime Music. The sales people treat you like somebody, and they care about the instruments. No matter if the instruments are 100.00 or 5000.00, they are are set up and ready to play. They carry top brands as well as some great entry level products. They are always up on the products, and they tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about anything…even if they carry it. They have a great collection of many instruments that are not for sale but are awsome to see. The EVH 25K guitar, a Les Paul custom which is one of 175 made in 1992, they will not even price this one and I have never seen one of these before, but you are correct, the special instrument are up really high on the wall, and many old great guitars to wish for. They offer free apprasials on instruments and have always been the best service I have every received. Their price on many instruments are below GC and many a few bucks above, but every guitar I have bought there, I get to meet with their guitar tech, he comes out of the shop, sits with me for about 10 minutes to check out my style of playing, and then takes the guitar to his operating room, sets it up for my playing style, and WOW, it palys the way I want it to, feels great, and then he makes me bring the guitar back within 6 months and does another complete set up, inspects the guitar, talks to me about any changes, and BAM…it happens again. After one year and a couple of complete set ups by the doctor, every guitar I have bought there plays like a million bucks. I will never sell or trade a guitar I have bought there and my friends that pays my guitars always says, wow..what model is this, and I always say, ” it is not the model, it is where I bought it and what they did”. I know I may pay an extra 100.00 bucks for the 1000.00 guitar, but it is worth every cent.
    They have even helped my other instruments bought else where and put them in a playing condition that was never before. And yes I paid for that service, but it was worth it. Over the past 5-6 years, I now drive about 6 hours to this store to check out the instruments and this is the only place I will buy. I know I will pay a few extra bucks, but I do not care. I have even shipped guitars to them for a set up since they know me and my style, and have now discovered that they WILL NOT let me ship the guitar unless the weather is compliant for the days required to ship and they explained the temp’s ( 58-82 degrees) and humidity must be in the 42-60% range defore shipping, other wise I wait or travel. What a difference it makes to have a real guitar shop that is not all about the price, but concern for the guitars I own and buy. If you can find a shop like this, get married…you will not have a divorce. I do not have their phone number, but they are located in Bridgeport WV and I think another store in Beckley WV, another great store is rt 60 music in Huntington WV I beleive, not the same service, but still a good mom and pop shop. They have some of the smae service but not like where I buy my stuff. I own 23 guitars from old to very new, and all have been checked by my doctor at Showtime.


  63. gary

    Anyone hear how Best Buy is doing with their entry into the MI market?
    Next up will be Wallgreens, drugs and strings. The Pharmacist will take care of your sick guitar.
    I can remember the double take when I was in a small Georgia town. Vaccume Cleaners and Music Center. They were doing what they loved and what paid their bills at the same time. This was all when USA actually manufactured the goods.
    The business model for MI manufacturers now is mass-produce, mass market, minimum go-between (dealers), direct to customer if possible. They have created a bubble of need to sell 1,000 per month per retail outlet. They will not usually drop the little guy who can only sell 10 a month but they will make sure his profit margins are small enough that he will have to quit. You see, the 1,000 per month customer (GC, etc.) is a long legged beautiful babe. The 10 per month is, well, you get the picture. The manufacturers are at an all time low when it comes to ethics in business. The pressure they have created for themselves to Mass produce is scarry because all bubbles burst and markets saturate, and sometimes these CEO’s and their Cronies actually find a heart and conscience in their chest. Could it be that China is not far away from owning a bunch of empty manufacturing facilities and real estate? Sure, because China is now manufacturing automobiles. Look back to Japan and Korea. When they Industrialized and built their automobiles the Fat Cat CEO”s of the USA of Greed hauled tail out of there–off to China where they could get $.25 cents per hour labor. Vietnam is proported to be the next country to experience the wonders of American Capitolism. Maybe they can get labor costs at $.10 cents per hour and keep their 5 homes across the globe. CEO’s are making 615% more on average than the average worker. Yes, the passion and industry of music deserves a sensible musician/business person at the helm, one whose greed is an occasional cold–not a terminal disease. For the time being it appears we must settle for those who will prostitute themselves and their product to the few who will buy the most. There is no such thing as a retail store anymore. We need to call them MAP (minimum advertised price) stores. Retail means NOTHING. The perceived value of many American products is “cheap” because the manufacuurers jack up the “retail” price so that they can allow their babes to buy and advertise cheaper than the next guy so the beautiful blonde babe won’t go away. By the way, how about my cheap butt? Am I willing to buy from the little guy in the know who can actually care for me and have connection with my needs? Nah, I’ll probably just continue to join the masses and buy from that long legged gal. She might actually give me her eye.

  64. greentooth

    only when i want sum mid range guitar strings i go in guitar center…everything else, private sellers,ebay..

  65. iceman

    If you want to get screwed by a bunch of idiots who are trained to deal like used-car salesmen, go to Guitar Center. When it comes to proper business practices or ethics, they SUCK! They only care about making a buck. One example: A 17 year-old girl walks into a Guitar Center with her mother, looking for a beginner’s guitar. Logically and ethically, a good professional would try to sell a low to mid-range electric or acoustic guitar to start off with. But no, this so-called professional salesman pushed and pressured this 17 year-old into buying a 7-string Ibanez Steve Vai Universe model, which at that time was priced at $1499. Whoa! A “7-string” Universe for a “beginner” guitarist. Am I missing something? Guitar Center’s business practices are some the worst, with no consideration for the customer’s best interests. Personally, I would rather deal with a small “mom & pop” independent store with a less selection, but better service. I’ve got a better suggestion. Screw Guitar Center! Here is the bottom line- If you really want the BEST quality guitars for the money, as well as GREAT service, go with Carvin guitars and amps. Check them out @ http://www.carvin.com! Carvin’s guitars will put anything on Guitar Center’s walls to shame!

  66. thatchickcara

    Okay so I have worked at GC for almost 4 years now and I definitely care about getting my customers the gear that will sound good for them, and will make them happy for the amount of money they have. I’m sorry that you had some bad customer service at like 8 stores i know our store is badass also how can you hate a company as a whole…lame. Just go get that sand out of your gina and stop griping. Oh and you complain about the selection, well maybe if people would stop being cheap and buying crap maybe our stores could get cooler gear. Oh and just saying but if you ran a business wouldn’t you produce what the customers were buying…how many people do you think will come in daily to drop $5,000 or more on a guitar daily…does not happen all the time. Also about the small selection of pedals, how many pedals do you expect one store to hold…there is only so much physical space i don’t know where you could go to fit your thousands of distortion pedals and what would be the point! They are not that freakin different, it’s all about tweaking what you can man.

  67. Pete

    I’ve been working for Guitar Center for the last 4 years. It can be a great job most of the time, except when you have a customer that wants you to hold their hand the whole time. There is nothing worse than someone that thinks they are doing someone else a big favor by shopping at their store.

    I hear it every day, “I’ve spend tons of money here” or “I shop here all the time” – NO you don’t. You really don’t.

    You can tell who those people are that have some huge problem with Guitar Center. They are always the people that have a chip on their shoulder from something in their past. It’s easy to pin negative emotions on a corporation that seems so big, but you must remember the people that work on the sales floor ARE musicians or music lovers from your own town.

    ICEMAN, that story about a GC sales guy trying to sell an Ibanez Universe 7 string to a 17 year old girl is total bullshit. You know how I know? Because that would never happen. Guitar sales people have go-to beginner type guitars they recommend to people starting out. Usually between $200-600 on the higher end.

    Most guitar sales guys I work with lean towards a Yamaha FG700S because it’s cheap and feels great, so it be easy to learn on and most importantly WONT GET RETURNED.

    We’ve had a couple used Carvin guitars come through our store. Nothing major. They’re good guitars, but with a proper set up anything could be a good guitar, right?

    It’s funny to hear some of the fabrications that disgruntled former employees or negative “i want it my way” customers have with Guitar Center.

    The people on the sales floor at Guitar Centers are real people that want to sell you something you will use and love. That’s the bottom line.

  68. I worked at a Guitar Center for a little over a month before they absolutely screwed me! They have “sales” meetings every couple of days on how to screw customers out of their money. They could care less if you work your ass off for minimum wage or you are a working musician that is lucky to make $50 a night, they are only there to take your money. They might as well be selling appliances at Sears, most of the sales people are only concerned with a commission and not a customer.

    • JD

      the sales meetings are about how to know the products your selling, keeping departments clean, being aware of customers on the floor, and knowing how to comfortably approach them to give support and provide answers. At no point have i ever been told by a manager or GM, “find a way to screw the customer.” What you are saying Rich is factually incorrect. the next thing to know is that a shitty salesman WILL in fact only make minimum wage because they aren’t familiar enough with the products they are talking about and dont have enough patience and/or care to stick with it and help the customer do what we call “understand” the gear they might be interested in. when i was 18 i bought a marshall head and boogie cab from a salesman at GC. i spent about 2800. it was THE BEST instrument buying experience i ever had. The salesman was so awesome. and now i work there with him and he happens to be a great friend of mine. everyone has good and bad experiences at a store. but until youve been on both sides and you fully understand, you shouldnt point the finger at “the corporate machine.” especially if you are going as far as saying sales meetings are about “how to screw customers out of there money.” if thats how you interpreted what was probly being taught to you as an intelligent and informative sales pitch, than you shouldnt be selling instruments. because your the type of dick that a customer would be turned off by. i hope you got fired.

  69. You talked about many engaging things here. I came across this by using Bing and I have to admit that I already subscribed to the website, it is extremely good 😀

  70. Supertuscan

    Nice rant.
    I don’t think you meant to list BC Rich Platinums in the
    high-end category 🙂 Perhaps you were thing of the Dream Shop series?
    You write well.

  71. Cory

    To start, I’m in the probably 80% of people that are looking at or play guitar that are not likely to ever own a guitar that is more than $2,000.

    I started playing about 2.5 yrs ago and love it. I spend a lot of time at the GC. I’ve had 2 complaints over the past 2 years:
    – It was intimidating the first time I went in there because of the people playing loud and proud and the shear amount of choices.
    – When I was looking for my first guitar, I found it frustrating because the sales people were almost too knowledgeable and each person had a different opinion about what brand/model was a good starter guitar for me.

    Then I bought my first starter acoustic and they treated me like I spent $2,000 not $200…even after the sale. When I brought the guitar in for the first re-stringing…they spent the time with me to show me how to do it myself. I’ve now purchased 3 guitars from them (also purchased a Fender Squire Strat for tooling around with and have now purchased a Taylor acoustic) and I’ve been extremely happy with their patience with me (took me about a year to figure out what type of acoustic was right for me) and their service. In fact, I went there last weekend and and one of the sales people recognized me and asked me how I was liking my new acoustic. I was floored that he remembered me from 4 months ago.

    Also, we don’t have attractive girls at the door at my local GC.

  72. Nick

    Go to the nearest Best Buy Musical Instruments Store. They have brands like Gibson, Fender, and Marshall. They are a non-commission force that gets paid a high hourly and are extremely knowledgable. Anyways, I love working there and believe in helping people find what fits their needs and wants.

  73. Benjamin Minor

    Some of you talk about not buying guitars hear or there well where the hell are you suposed to buy them on the freakin moon. I hate local music stores full retail pricing. . Example D’Addario Flatwound Strings $17 bucks you can get them at places like GC hell even good ol ebay for less than $10. And you talk about oh how more freindly local music stores are hey there are A%^holes everywhere in life mom and pop’s included I’d rather shop at GC or any big box
    music store and get gear way cheaper than paying retail. That’s like telling your insurance company oh you don’t have to give me that discount I like paying full price. Also to those kid haters out there you where freakin kids too hammering away on a guitar acting like pete townsend at one time so when you see them on tv one day making millions you will say man I shouldn’t have made fun of him or her years ago at GC. And to whom ever wrote this go F your self and stay the hell out of places like GC and the like.

  74. brett

    Firstly, any business is in business to make money. Neverthless I disagree with your comments regarding guitar center. Perhaps these stores vary from one another depending on the particular location, but my experience with guitar center was very much different from yours (El Cerrito, Ca). I dont find anything unusual about the placement of equiptment. Its obvious that the more expensive equpitmnet is placed up high out of reach of kids and causal browsers. In order to test these guitars, all you need to do is have a sales person bring them down. This suggests that you are serious customer. The cheaper stuff was within easy reach of anyone. There was a quiet room with 2k plus guitars, I saw no restrictions as far as going in there. The sales people were far from aggressive, they were helpful but distinctly non- interfereing or pushy. I often had to track down the person helping me, to ask a question. They set me up and pulled down several instruments for me to play. I was there for 2 hours and could have walked right out without anyone bothering me. The store manager, Matt, himself was helping me. As far as selection, no store can carry everything, however guitar center’s selection was very thorough and appropriate, including a fair amount of used gear in good condition. The basses I was interested in were all represented. Finally, price. Guitar center was very flexible in this area, not only matching a published price, but going even lower. I was very happy with my experience. This experiece was in line with my previous experiences with them. Because an instrument is a personal experience, its hard to know if you will like it, I get 30 days to return the guitar if im not happy or it doesnt suit me. I have had to do this in the past and there was no problems. (I ended up upgrading, so this policy often works in their favor). I do not wish to malign ‘mom and pops’, and I often go to these for strings, accessoroies and set ups, but most mom and pos will never take anything back -once you leave the store its yours. I do not work for guitar cenet and have no advantage for writing this other than to post an actual customers experience.

    • Walker

      You said exactly what I would like to say! Guitar Center is amazing, this guy’s just a jerk who hates on anything that everybody else likes….

      • JD

        yea, i was pretty open to what this dude had to say for the sake of being objective. i work there now and its much different. Customer service is our most important goal. but even so…it seems his problem doesnt really lie in the salesman as much, but more of the type of people that show up and crank the amps. i mean yea, im a salesman, it gets annoying when people come in to crank amps and they suck. but thats the point!!! come to GC and play shitty licks on really nice gear for as long as you want. it INSPIRES people to continue playing. when i go buy a TV, i dont go to some smelly tv store on main street in the middle of nowhere, i go to walmart or best buy where they have huge fuckin awesome tvs on a wall where i can stare and say “give me that one.” except the difference is this, when i go to walmart, its more common that they expect me to know what i want. when i would go into a GC i have four options, research myself before buying, talk to a KNOWLEDGABLE salesman, talk to a manager, or buy anything and return it if it sucks. period. GC is not the problem. its the ignorant people that walk into a GC with this preconceived notion that its a shitty place to be. everyone is a know-it-all. find the right guy to talk to before you hate something thats successful right?

  75. East Coast Music blows !!

    I have been to the Guitar Centers in Winter Park and Orlando Florida many times. They have a great staff and I love shopping there. Yes, there are the deluded players that crank it up and sound like an amplified train wreck. For that reason, I plan my trips to GC for mid morning on week days. Very few people. I feel comfortable asking to play any guitar in the store.The staff at both stores are awesome and it is why they get my business. I have played music for 36 years and have been to good stores and dumps like East Coast Music on Merritt Island, Florida. G.C. gets nothing but high marks from this discerning customer. Phil M

  76. Walker

    None of this stuff has ANYTHING to do with guitar center whatsoever. The only thing you are dissing is the guitar manufacturers for making guitars the way you do. I personally love guitar center, they hire people who actually know what their talking about. They never are trying to sell you the guitars for the highest price. The last time I was there we asked if we could just buy the used display model cheaper. The employee took the 10% off for the used guitar and then took off ANOTHER 10% just because he found another scratch! They clearly don’t care about money, they care about good service and low prices. Go to any other guitar store in America and tell me that Guitar Center doesn’t have the best prices.

  77. Steve

    Nice stupid little conspiracy theory you got there…This is America, businesses exist to make money just like you and I get jobs to make money. Maybe they don’t have the thousands of pedals in the store because they have a website to order them on or they don’t want to waste tons of space for storing them? Maybe the guitars that are expensive are on the top to keep the little kids from grabbing at them? The salespeople in my experience are not in it for the money, they are people passionate about music and know their stuff (again, just in my experience). Until I read this I never even knew they were on commission, that’s how great they have been. The salespeople I’ve had the past 5 or so times I’ve been there could have sold me a more expensive guitar or amp and made more money, but they didn’t. They suggested ways for me to save and have been very helpful. Just because you may have had a bad experience with guitar center, you don’t need to go mindlessly bashing EVERY guitar center with no facts. Maybe you should be with Jesse Ventura with your crazy conspiracy theory.

  78. Dylan

    I don’t like Guitar Center because of all the dirty looks the employees give you as you’re walking into the store. I try to avoid GC like the plague just for that one reason.

  79. Joey

    Haha too true. Everything is dead on except that in the GuitarCenter I usually go to (Covina, CA) the most expensive guitars are in a separate room near the exit. I guess this gives it prestige because they are in their own room as if they deserve it

  80. GC isn’t the plague. you can look at it however – but it’s “a vehicle capable of taking you on life’s musical journey”

  81. ####

    So what would be a good store to buy an upper-end guitar (e.g es335 vos)?

    • George

      Well musiciansfriend.com is the online partner of guitar center, look in their private reserve if you want to see some great high-end guitars.

  82. George

    Well what an interesting rant there. I was dumbfounded to find this article with people agreeing on it. I’ve only been to one guitar center (Akron) and I have to say I love it. I’m sure there are other environments out there but my guitar center is fantastic. The employees are friendly and never judge you for anything, hard workers. You do of course have to deal with the problem of metalheads playing loud music badly, that’ll happen everywhere. But all-in-all the friendly environment, expertise, and great prices make MY guitar center a winner in my book. My advice, move to akron to see what guitar center is TRULY supposed to be like.

    • JD

      Its funny that you say that, because for the past couple years (and i know this cause im an employee at a different store) Akron has been among the top store in the district. the district is pretty big too. it includes youngstown and some stores in the NY area. So to say that the store is really nice and comfortable with great sales guys also goes along with saying the store sells a ton of stuff…sucessfully, without hurting anyones feelings. i would venture to say GC is a great place for musicians whether you are buying or not. if you have a bad experience, whatever, make an effort to have a better one next time instead of going in with a nasty chip on your shoulder. ive always felt that ill get a better deal if some likes me rather than if i strong arm someone because im pissed that it didnt work out as well last time.

  83. I’m not sure where to begin … There are many points that are just wrong. First, if you don’t dig GC, that’s fine. They are big and loud and whatever. But, it’s like comparing a Barnes and Noble to corner book store or something. They just don’t serve the same purpose. If you think there is some ulterior motive to placing expensive guitars up high other than to keep everyone’s hands off them, you’re thinking way too hard. As far as pricing goes, GC isn’t undercutting the mom and pop stores. Everyone gets about the same price on everything. Maybe GC gets an extra 5% off for buying a ton of something, but it’s not like their cost is half. In a lot of studies, mom and pop stores were actually undercutting GC prices more often than the other way around. I might add, I like mom and pop music stores and enjoy shopping with those guys. If you don’t think they can be bad as GC, you are mistaken. They’re just different, and do different things worse. And, I’ll add – older people can back me up – they used to really, really suck. Customer service was horrible, selection was awful and they tried to sell things at full list price whenever they could. You can thank GC for making these guys get it together or go out of business. Not as much in your blog, but in some of the comments, there’s the typical “every GC salesperson is a moron and out to take your money” which isn’t the case either. Do you think there’s some employee warehouse the GC orders a new moron from every month as they put in an order for more strats? No, these people are musicians just like you. Probably more than you, if you think about it. Anyway, they have literally hundreds of products to learn about. If they haven’t memorized every little thing on the one product you researched for a week, how about you give them a break? They often know maybe three things that make it different than the other thing that’s almost the same thing in the same price from a different vendor and that helps 90% of everyone. Oh – and if you think there’s some huge markup on everything, think again. The big names are at every store. It’s super competitive and whenever that happens, prices as low as they can until it doesn’t make financial sense to stock them anymore.

    And I will say that I did work for Guitar Center. I have no idea why they door girls are always attractive women, although it was seriously 90% of all applications were from attractive women. It’s like hot chicks see other hot chicks working some place and apply there as well.

  84. Ange

    I’m an attractive door girl at GC. 🙂 They hired me because I’ve been working in music for a long time and have a great work ethic. They hire women that can put their foot down while being really sweet and polite. We also have guys that do this too at my store, which is rare…so they are not always women! BUT as door girl you have many people coming and going at the same time that have gear. Sometimes people don’t want to wait five seconds for you to check out their bag, but when you have someone trying to sell 10 things that all need to be logged and a just purchased 7 piece drum kit with extra cymbals and hardware that all need to be logged as well, it takes a certain pretty girl to say “Hey guys, just give me a second, he’s just trying to sell this, I’ll be right with you all, I appreciate your patience… thank you thank you thank you” *smile* to make the men wait. Afterall it’s mainly men shopping there. That’s my take on it atleast. I also feel like a girl at the door eases the anxiety of a woman or young girl coming in learning an instrument or buying a gift because it is such a guy’s store. I make other women feel welcome and comfortable. Make sense?

  85. Doug

    I am not that crazy about Guitar Center but not because I find them unethcal on unknowledgable. Every thime I have been in one the staff is attentive, friendly and even well informed on the products they sell. The prices are fair as is the selection. I just like a more intimate or boutique setting for my shopping experience. In fact, the shop I prefer is owned by the same corporation that owns Guitar Center and the on-line monster, Musicians Friend. HOWEVER, the fact is that I will shop everywhere and do business with whoever can give me the best value. There are 2 mom and pop music stores in my area and while they are fun… they are poorly stocked, extremely cramped and very disorganized.
    Thanks friends

  86. jeremy

    ive been to quite a few guitar centers , i never had problems with them of corse they try and tell you what you need but just research on what you really want “youtube or web sites” try looking on eBay get the lowest price you can take two weeks if you need to , and don’t let them take control put you foot down and explain what you want , and always try a guitar before you buy ive bought two guitar here they can be really help (i shop at the west covina gc)

  87. Joe mamma

    Wow no wonder u dont get treated with respect ur a bunch of bitches. They are jst trying to run a buisnes. I think Its good that they have stuff in price ranges doesnt it make shit easier. U cant blame the buisness for the way the employees treat u. Fuck all u haters ur just little bitches that think ur cool cuz u can talk shit on the internet. Oh ya and why are u tryin to blame normal people testing out merchandise on gc. Not like there intentionally makin noize to piss u off anyway. I bet u play stairway to heaven crudely and just dont want to admit it.

  88. Steve

    I used to go to the original GC on Sunset Blvd. I used to plug in Les Pauls and Strats (when they were only MIA) and they would leave you alone. Those days are long gone.

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  90. Eric

    Totally agree that they just want you to buy anything. As for the mom and pop guitar shop though, they do still exist, but you just need to search really hard for them.

    • Just...No. Quiet. NOW, B.

      NO DUH, they want you to buy. ITS HOW THEY PAY FOR THE GEAR AND (THE ELECTRICITY THAT POWERS IT ALL) that you get to play around on FOR HOURS for FREE. DUHHHHHHHHHH.

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  92. dino

    you sound like a retard who took too many drugs..You must have had your own little store or someone you knew and are just pissed because they put you out of business…Move on jackass…And to all your coat tailors who said “right on man” are probably just as uneducated as you are…get a life douche..

  93. music go around is open everywhere now …google it

  94. Alexander

    This is any guitar store. Selling cheaper guitars and only keeping a few good ones on hand. Anyone who works on commission, which is most stores, does exactly what you’ve described. Guitar Center is a great place to try out guitars or amps. I’ve done this and them bought similar equipment from a mom and pop store. What you’ve described is ANY big business.

  95. Noah

    This might be a dumb question, but when you buy a guitar at guitar center, don’t you take the guitar that people tried-out? What if somebody screws it up and just puts it back, will they replace it free of charge?

  96. brett

    “What if somebody screws it up and just puts it back, will they replace it free of charge?”

    Guitar center has one of the best return policies anywhere, 30 days, no question returns….as a customer I have never had a problem returning anything there (some few items non returnable like softwre)

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  100. nonya

    Who told you a PRS Santana is top gear. Guitar Center is just a store like Walmart. If the dude reaching up to get your flavor of the day had any talent, he wouldn’t be there. Truthfully the ones that do have talent are instructors happy that anyone is still interested in playing guitar. Perhaps you shouldn’t watch “Waynes World” before shopping for a guitar. It’s 2013. The cool kids aren’t working at tower records anymore.

  101. stratt

    i’m so sick of hearing people talk shit about guitar center. most of the people who have a problem with guitar center are people who are just too cool for school. if you know a little about guitars then you will be able to navigate the store appropriately. and if you’re so bent out of shape by and critical of people who don’t play guitar exactly how you think they should then you must be the best guitar player in the world. or maybe just a pretentious asshole.
    furthermore, if you go into GC knowing what you’re talking about and knowing what you’re looking for, the staff will 9 times out of 10 go above and beyond to point you int he right direction and help you out. the mom and pop shops are where i’ve found the sales people to be snooty dickheads who have shitty attitudes and roll their eyes at anyone who doesn’t play or like exactly what they do.
    it’s just like any other business. grow up and stop whining.

  102. Mat

    Your a dumb ass whinner an i bet u still go to guitar center cuz u know its better than th

  103. Marlon B

    I live in Jersey. Our guitar centers are awesome. The ppl are laid back, the girls and guys are all pretty much normal looking people. All the places you listed are filled with shit people.. soooo, yeah

  104. dholmesimr

    There is nothing wrong with the people who work at Guitar Center for the most part. There are a few bad eggs, but at the end of the day they are following orders of corporate demands. The real issue with Guitar Center is that they brand their salespeople as “experts” when in fact there is no real qualification regarding the knowledge behind the products they are selling.

    If you want to go to a store to try out some stuff and make a fun purchase, Guitar Center is great. If you want expert advice and guidance, go to Sweetwater.

    • I agree with dholmedimr, mostly. But I would add that I will buy a product where I looked at it. Too many people go to the brick n mortar to check out the item, then buy it online at some discount place. The brick n mortar’s are not showrooms for online discount houses and if sales fall off far enough they will close their doors. Then where will we check out how that guitar actually feels and plays?

      • Thank you James,

        I too like to think of myself as an ethical buyer. I actually pride myself on never having done that before, even to Guitar Center.

        In my experience, I’ve found that Sweetwater and Guitar Center have very similar prices, so the incentive to do so would be purely out of spite.

        There are only a few instances where I will buy something without trying it first (i.e. microphones, recording interfaces, etc.), but online music retailers (including Guitar Center) have very lenient return policies that make it easier to purchase something without trying it, so I would argue that you can still have that physical store experience at the convenience of your own home.

  105. Agree with you, but i think they are more into doing a business rather than providing something that people would actually love….Though there might be a few bad people in the center but not all

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