Best Buy Musical Instrument Section: Really?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Handyman, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I was doing some Christmas shopping a couple days ago at the local Best Buy, and I dropped in to their musical instruments section. I had heard that they were shuttering this in most of their stores, but I guess the one near me has survived. At least for now.

    These guys sure don't care very much about the instruments they're selling. Nearly every one was in SERIOUS need of some basic adjustment. No wonder they've had trouble making this business profitable.

    The attached picture is from a Squier VM Jazz Bass. These are generally pretty decent instruments when the strings aren't nearly half an inch off the fretboard. The neck seemed nice and straight, the bridge just needed adjustment.


    This was pretty typical of most of the instruments in the shop. Some had enormously high action, some had severe back bow making them impossible to play, and so on.

    This particular Best Buy is nearly across the street from a Guitar Center that actually attempts to keep the instruments on their walls playable, along with some pretty decent and helpful sales guys. Why anyone would chose to buy an instrument at BB with a competent, well priced, and friendly GC across the road boggles my mind.

    Given BB's near exit of the musical instrument business, I'm guessing most people agree with me. :D

    I suppose this is what happens when a giant corporation tries to enter a market they don't understand.
  2. I walked into the instrument department at Best Buy once. A sales kid came up to me and said "Dude. Do you play?" while doing the worst air guitar motion I'd ever seen. :rollno:

    I couldn't respond verbally.
  3. EricssonB


    Apr 5, 2011
    CoSpgs, CO.
    "Hey, look what I got you for Christmas!" said the man to his son, who never, ever played the instrument, ever.
  4. parsons


    Feb 22, 2008
    I worked for Best Buy for many years until I was laid off recently 5 months ago. As I understood it, they are completely abolishing all of the musical instrument departments. Any that are still open are just sitting there waiting to be shut so yes, you will find stuff in complete disarray. The locations that closed up shop in my area still had thousands in inventory that they werent allowed to sell. I knew the GM of the location for a long time, he wouldnt sell me a thing and he is actually a very good guitarist. Corporate sent them direction to close up and await further notice.
  5. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    WHAT!?!? Can't they even shut down a department correctly?? EVERYbody KNOWS that to properly shut something down you have to let all of the remaining stock go at like 10% over cost, right? :smug:
  6. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    The condition of the current instruments don't seem noticeably different than the other time I dropped in a couple years ago.

    And if they do let their stock go at 10% over cost, I might eat my works and pick something up. I know how to operate an allen wrench. :)
  7. niki z

    niki z Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    The one here had a blowout sale 50% off. Someone got a brand new thunderbird for $600-$700.
  8. There are only a few of these stores in large markets. They poached quite a few people from Guiar center to run them. It was an experiemnt that didn't work out to well so they closed, or are closeing, most of them.

    About the set ups. Without a tech on hand to maintain them it's impossible to keep them all adjusted. I've never been into a Guitar Center without running in to really old strings, missing strings, shody set ups, nonfunctioning or dirty pots etc.

    I was in the Arlington TX GC over Thanksgiving. They have an Ibanez Ashula Bass. It's the 6 string bass with 2 strings fretless. The "C" string was missing. I asked the "salesman" about it. He said "I've been here for 5 months and it's always been this way". I said well, seems your tech isn't trying to hard. I'd really like to try it. He replied "If you're really interested in buying it I'll get it put on". I had a blank stare.

    They had several used pieces, a vintage J and a Kubici Key Factor. Both with strings that had to be 10 years old. They played and sounded terrible.

    You can't blame it on Best Buy. I've seen ALL music stores do this stuff and then wonder why an instrument sits on the shelf for years.
  9. jbiscuti


    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    The guitars & basses at the Best Buy in Union Square here are incredibly beat-up and in dire need of major setup work. I probably go in once every two months and sure enoguh, everything I pick up is damn near unplayable.

    It's sad, really.
  10. Knavery

    Knavery Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I always thought the high action and crappy setups were GC's modus operandi. I don't think I've purchased more than one or two basses from them in the 20 years I've been playing.
  11. IPA


    May 5, 2010
    I believe I know of both the GC and the Best Buy that you are talking about. I bought a bass at that GC a while back that was horribly set up. Most of the basses I played there were barely passable, but not even close to being properly set up.

    The employees at that GC are not as good as at the other GC in town...
  12. Handyman

    Handyman Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I agree about the two Austin GC locations. Driving past the South Austin location every day makes it more convenient, however...
  13. The Best Buy Music I was in was in Brentwood TN. I never played anything there becuase nothing caught my interest.

    I bought a couple of things at GC in Nashville, about 10 years ago. I dealt with an Artist rep and got some really good discounting. Other than this I avoid them.
  14. I remember what instrument buying was like here (Portland, Or.) before GC, MF, and real Internet shopping. Everybody used MSRP or near it as a pricing guide. The best thing (IMO) that GC did was lower prices overall and the Mom&Pops that I frequent had to match online pricing or disappear.

    Most GCs don't really care about instrument condition. The employees do to a point, but face facts. GC is owned by a Capital company in it only for the money. Thats the nature of retail; maximize profits which means hire drones for low wages and a few "managers" and sell as much as possible at the lowest overall cost of operation. From what I've heard (here), GC isn't doing that great and have been hovering near bankruptcy for awhile.

    Even though I hate GC and the Best Buy instrument dept, it's kind of sad to think of a world without them.
  15. IME, lack of set-up is the norm at GC, MF, and most of the big box retailers, whether brick and mortar or on-line warehouse. They are strictly pull-and-ship or unbox-and-rack.

    For this reason, the buyer has to be able to assess a bass that has not been set-up. Poor set-up, though a sign of laziness along the chain from production to the item landing in the consumer's hand, is not neccesarily a quality issue. I have purchased many excellent basses that were initially poorly set-up.
  16. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    The Best Buy instrument department near me is horrible. Everything is just beat up. The same instruments are on the wall since the first time I looked a year or more ago.

    It also looks like Sears is back in the instrument game as well. I did a few searches for something and Sears came up. The pricing is so high it's not even funny.
  17. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    I bet nobody saw this coming:meh:. It was doomed from the start. A kid who is just starting out and doesn't know any better will pick up a $1000 bass, sit down with it and think "Wow, bass is a really hard and uncomfortable instrument to play", put it back and walk away without ever looking back. Or the flip side of the coin, where seasoned players step into the BB instrument department, realize that what is for sale are mostly factory seconds with no qualifed service to speak of to answer any questions and walk away, shaking their head in disgust. With a business model like that, how could it not succeed?:rollno:
  18. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I bought a set of daddrio nickels there once for like 12 bucks. Not bad.
  19. IPA


    May 5, 2010
    Yep, I can get to the south one in about 5 minutes. I'd go to Strait if they carried a decent selection of strings or used instruments...
  20. If you order a bass on line that shipped from the GC/MF warehouse the last person to touch that was the final check at the factory. Usually the set up is pretty close to factory spec, but things can move durring shipping and climate changes.