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Can we talk about large chain music stores?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by musicman5string, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    You know who I'm talking about; there's 2: GC and SA....I don't know if it's ok to name names. Anyway, what is with these places? Do they want to sell instruments or not? Anytime I go in there, no salespeople want to help, and if you do ask them a question they have to go over and type in the computer for 10 minutes only to come back to you with "No, we can't do that", or "It's not in stock".
    And what about setup (or the utter lack thereof) on basses, or ANY guitar really.....horrible. I have never picked up a bass at one of these places that was either in tune, intonated, or had decent action and/or new strings, or at least not crusted over strings.
    Why is it always such a hassle to plug in to one of the 10 amps they have out that YOU want to plug into? It's like these guys have no idea how stuff is wired, so it's takes half an hour for them to get electricity to your amp. And it's also like that in the keyboard rooms, monitor and outboard gear rooms, etc.
    Can we talk about why they must have Guns and Roses blaring through the entire store's PA, have Steve Vai cranked on the DVD players, and let a 12 year old crank the **** out of a Marshall so he can play "Iron Man" incorrectly while I'm trying out something?

    Grade: F minus.
    Summary: Suckfest.
  2. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i didn't think the NY GC was too bad when i went there. i really don't like the amp selector devices they have, though. they never work for me.
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    It depends entirely on the store, and the manager of each. The two Guitar Centers by me are great, and the new Sam Ash is well, new. The Guitar Centers have reasonably well trained staff, and where they lack, their managers are willing to help out a LOT. I have a rep at each, who are always willing to help me out on price to land the sale.

    My Sam Ash on the other hand just opened. I go in, no used gear (because they just opened) but I sold them some gear for a decent price, because they had nothing on the floor. I joked about getting a job there, and two salesmen told me not to, that it's really not great. But they also admitted that it's a local job for something they really don't care about. I on the other hand just love being around guitars and basses.

    Long story short, the large chain stores depend entirely on the manager. Go down to Edison, NJ, the Sam Ash is pretty good. Springfield, NJ's Sam Ash sucks. NYC Sam Ash's are pretty good. Guitar Centers in Wayne and Springfield, NJ are nice, but I wasn't too fond of Cherry Hill, NJ.
  4. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    Have you been to Paramus?
  5. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    May be the only GC in NJ I haven't been to.
  6. While I won't try and defend the almighty GC and SA, as they are in most cases horrible, I will try to give some insight about the workings of a large music store, seeing as I work in one, although in Canada...I'm sure you can figure out which one I speak of :).

    All guitars and bases cannot possibly be setup properly, unless of course you don't want any service. A proper setup, as you can probably atest to, takes around 1/2 hour of work, so at most, an employee who actually knows how to do work like that could do 16-20 instruments a day. And that's not counting actually doing anything else, only setup. Now consider we sell at least 20-30 instruments a day, then bring out more. It can't be done, unless again you don't want any staff help, only people doing setup 9-5.

    Now, not everyone who works at a store is capable of doing this, for example, does Slash setup his own stuff? Probably not often, that's what Techs are for. Many people who work in shops are players only, and can at most change the strings on their guitars.

    Tuning: I try and tune every guitar/bass, and stretch the strings so it stays in tune, before it comes out on the floor. Of course, with any amount of playing the strings will stretch furthur, and thus need re-tuning. Now multiply this by approx 200 instruments on the floor at any time. Are you seeing my point? Also, if an instrument is out of tune, why don't YOU do something about it? Are you not capable of asking for a tuner and doing it yourself? On this same note, when an instrument does go out of tune, someone will try and tune it, and in most cases will be wrong, because the string they choose to tune to will be out just a fraction. Let alone those people who choose to throw something in Drop D for the hell of it (grrrrr.)

    Service should be a must in any large store, and at my store we are always ready to help people, so no excuses there. But as for having to look stuff up in computers and asking questions, hey, we don't run the store, our managers do. We can't make those kind of decisions without proper process, just as I'm sure you've had to look to a higher authority on occasion in your work.

    On average we receive 20-30 new guitars/basses every single day, let alone new amps and pedals and straps and..... There is stuff in the back I don't even know about that I would love to have on the floor, and as I'm sure you can understand, we can't have all our stock on the floor at once. Not having stock is a fact of life. Every day I order things for customers that we don't have, because we can't have everything, there is not enough space to keep all that stuff. If you want a store that has everything, you'd need warehouses and warehouses full of inventory, and no sales staff, no way to try things, just a box you can take home and a wish for good luck.

    As for plugging in to amps and the like, I can't explain why GC are such idiots. We have a selection of amps on the floor at all times which are easily plugged in to many power bars all over the place. We also do not have any music playing in the store, except to test rental gear and even that is low levels. No Steve Vai wankery on DVD, and no piped in speaker music, it just creates an atmosphere of one type of music, and would annoy the hell out of me (unless I got to choose the setlists, that would be sweet).

    Sometimes, people get out of hand and turn stuff up. We either direct them to the "sound room" a small room which we've sound-proofed (at least to a degree) so that people who want to play quietly can play on the floor and those who need serious noise testing can do it in there. It's not perfect, but in most cases people are willing to turn it down when asked nicely. Maybe this isn't the case in the States :)

    Also, at my chain of stores, the average age of employee is around 25. This may contribute to the ability to know things. What would you say is the average age of the workers at your local?

    Hope I've spread some knowledge about the inner workings of a store, but as I say above, good service should never be a question, and anything less than satisfaction is not something I put up with. So while I do my best to do things right, I'm only human, as are we all.
  7. I don't really see what is wrong with the large chain stores, usually where I live, the salesmen are really helpful and would go out of their way to help you out. I usually go into those stores knowing what i want to try out, so really the only mistake that a salesperson could make, in my opinion, would be not knowing how to get an amp to turn on, or not giving me a cable so i can plug into the amp. these issues rarely happen. Also, sometimes the basses are out of tune...but its doesn't take that long to put them back in tune. i don't think that should really be a complaint at all since you have to tune your own instruments anyway. my only gripe with the large chain stores is that they don't have any modulus Q6s that i can try out! :scowl:
  8. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    Really? There is no way the ones I'm familiar with are selling that many.
    Perhaps I wasn't clear; I don't mean "Oh no! the G string is a little sharp and I don't know what to do about it"...I mean the G is maybe tuned to A, the D tuned to B, the A also tuned to B, and the E tuned to..I dunno....A sharp? This is not a good way to keep an instrument, as it will screw up the neck with all the incorrect tension on it. Is an employee at said store not capable of once in a while giving a quick run through to make sure things are where they ought to be?
    Well it sounds like you work at a great store.

    Years ago I worked in a music store too. It was not a chain, but still did a good amount of buisness. At least that place paid attention to the things I mentioned. It's not a matter of not having the time to do it, it's having the WANT to do it. The places I'm talking about usually have the sales guys sitting around eating chinese food watching the Pink Floyd DVD while all this is happening. Maybe it's just the ones I've been to....
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    a topic like this is more appropriate in the misc. section. basses is for talking about specific instruments. :hyper:
  10. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    How so? That's one every 20-30 minutes, including cheap instruments. I've seen this done at about every GC I've ever been to.
    Once again, still takes a LOT of time. This is something I'd like to do working in a shop, but I can't guaruntee I'd have the time. Don't forget about keeping everything clean, stocked, etc. Have you ever worked retail? Too much work and not enough time. ALWAYS.
  11. Schwaa


    Feb 25, 2006
    Well, I've spent years working retail and as a mechanic in bike shops.

    What I've realized is that usually in the smaller more personable local shops you can get better help because there are fewer employees who need to know more and help out in all areas. Also alot of these shops have more of a family thing going since they are small and everyone knows everyone... That tends to lead to a more caring enviroment, there's also accountability on the employees part, if one person keeps screwing up it soon becomes clear where the problems arise.

    In the larger stores I've worked for people generally care less because of several reasons.
    1-it's easier to get buy doing less/not as good of work. With more people, not knowing each other, not knowing the owner, ect... it's easier to feel you are just another number.

    2-Stock.Smaller shops have less inventory, so it can be easier to keep track of, take time to tune, polish ect...
    In a large shop you can be pushin big numbers, and with alot of people slacking it can be hard to keep stuff tuned up.
    once again, in a small shop it's easier to motivate one slacker to do something, when you have 20 you might as well not even try.

    3-Managemment-In a small shop this is probably the owner, or the owner has close ties to whoever is managing. If the owner is not happy the manager hears about it directly.
    In a superstore the manager might never even meet the owner, again it comes down to that feeling of being a number.
    If there's a large chain of command stuff gets spread out and diluted thru each manager right down to the last guy on the floor.
  12. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I've encountered basses that are unplayable. I mean getting a thud at certain spots on the neck. I've also seen many of the instruments have fret sprout problems, which means the humidity in the place is not correct. Stores really should have a handle on that considering the amount of stock and money they have in there. I can understand that it is impossible to get everything playing nice, but I've been to stores that have 75% of their instruments setup very poorly.

    One thing that I am very surprised about - and this doesn't only apply to instrument retailers - is how little some of the salepeople know about what they sell. I generally research stuff before I go out and look at it or plan to buy anything so one of my tricks is to ask questions that I already know the answers to. That will tell you what you're dealing with. I would rather get the answer "I don't know" than get lies. Poor product knowledge is inexcusable.
  13. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    The only dissapointment Ive ever experienced in Chain stores is when I visit Sam Ash (Both of the ones on Sunset Blvd and one in Canoga Park).

    Entirely useless, unhelpful, unfriendly staff. GC tries, Sam Ash just wants your money.
  14. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    I've read about so many GC horror stories on this site but the two chains around here are pretty damn good. I've never had a problem with the smaller independant stores I've been to either. Knock on wood...
  15. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    I guess it all depends, as some have said, on the individual store/management. I'm very surprised so many here have good things to say. I wonder what you guys would say if you came to my neck of the woods......

    *mind you, I have no personal vendetta against Sam Ash or Guitar Center, I'm just fed up with the service (or lack thereof) and attitude. If I'm playing a $2300 guitar and it's completely out of whack, I don't need a salesguy coming over and saying "So, you want it or what?"
    There are a ton of stories I have, stuff you ordered for a set date but it never got ordered in the first place; guys giving you MAJOR attitude if you want to return a piece of gear that doesn't work; asking the simplest questions and getting put on hold for 20 minutes and then being disconnected; wanting to try a pedal but they don't know how to hook it up in the signal chain the have it bolted to....etc.
  16. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    Move to LA. :p

    Basses are in general nice condition, guys are generally nice, SOME aren't too knowledgeable, but they make up for it by not bothering you.
  17. GC in Brea, CA- Usually helpful, always a staffmember lurking around the basses corner, setting things up, and are helpful. I've gotten pretty good deals there, and it is generally pretty good. Some of the basses could use a setup, but I can still sit there and play them.
  18. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    I'll say it.
    Let the buyer beware.

    When I go into a store looking for gear, I'm armed with knowledge. I know my brands, I know my specs. I know my prices. That way jr. the 25y/o sales dude can't walk me over to the entry level amp and convince me it's what everyone's using.

    Another thing.

    I go into a lot of stores looking for nothing in particular and buying nothing, but I always wave and say hi to the staff.
    A little face time goes a long way when you're ready to gear up.

    gc sa or anyone else is there to serve you, but it's much more difficult if you don't know what you want or how much you'll spend.

    Of course they'll try to sell you up, that's the drill. They get paid to do that.

    If a bass isn't tuned, I ask jr. to get me a tuner or tune it himself.

    Once they figure out that you're serious, and they can't blow smoke at you, they'll give better and more effective service.

    At least that's how it works for me most of the time.

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