This was a really interesting, and lucrative, adventure. I got a call from a marketing group that was putting together a focus group about musical gear. After a phone interview, it was determined that I qualified. They offered $75 for two hours of my time. They also wanted us to bring in advertisements and any catalogs we found interesting (most people brought MF catalogs. I took Bass Player ). When I arrived, they had sandwiches and sodas for everyone, plus the ubiquitous sheet of questions. Then they had a raffle, which was unexpected. I won an extra $50! Way cool! I and ten other people gathered in a focus room, and filled out more paperwork. When the group discussion began, there was a lot of focus on online merchandising. It became very obvious, to me and others, that Musician's Friend was behind this. We talked about our favorite e-commerce sites and how we use them. Craig's List came up several times as an e-source and I got the chance to crow about TB and how it is probably the best research tool available (+ Harmony Central) for serious bass players looking for gear. What was hilarious is that the moderator had us do reaction responses to three brand-names and then discuss them. The first was Rogue. The consensus was "garbage." It was the same for a brand I had never heard of, Pulse (cheap drum gear?). The third was Musician's Friend (a heavy tilt toward "garbage merchant"). The MF reps on the other side of the glass must have been having a field day. Then we talked about customer service. Now that was a spirited discussion. I got to talk at length about my really bad experince with MF and a defective cabinet that they did not want to take back. Others had similar stories. The next go-round was an opportunity to pick apart the MF website. That was fun! I called for a more intelligent search function and everyone blasted the cheapo clearance ads that clutter the main page. We blasted their brands, graphic layout, and gimmicky give-aways. The last part was a face-to-face with the operating officer in charge of promotion and e-commerce. A nice guy, but obviously a little put-off by our criticisms(or so it seemed to me). He admitted that they were owned by Guitar Center and operate at least two other mail-order/e-commerce businesses. All-in-all a great time. Plus, I now can afford more gear!