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Buying Gear Online: Which Retailers and Why

[J.K.]

Member
Messages
477
So, first thing's first: I do not want any store-bashing here. I just want to feel out some different takes on the general pros/cons of various online retailers. As it stands, I'm about to load up on some recording gear, a new interface, and maybe a new mic pre. From my vantage, it all looks to be a little similar, more or less. I've had really good experiences with Sweetwater, and okay experiences with Musicians Friend, but I don't know about zzsound and some of the other fringe companies out there. As far as I know, Musicians Friend is the only store that really has coupons available, but I know that most stores do some version of price matching.

When it comes to the online market, my wish list is available across most of the major sites (including Amazon, who has some amazing deals of their own every now and again). What do you all choose and why? If it isn't for the ability to use discount codes, then what is it that attracts you to any online store allegiance?
 

335guy

Member
Messages
5,228
I do appreciate Sweetwater. In my experiences with them, they have been helpful. I bought a guitar I wanted to return and they made it painless. I also like how the photo and weigh the exact guitar I'm looking at. Not many online vendors do that.

But I've had positive experiences from MF, Zzounds, Cascio Interstate Music, AMS and a few others. I've also had a few, less than great experiences with MF and AMS. I haven't used Amazon to buy music gear, but I've used them for other things. A major consideration for me is some online vendors are required by my state to collect sales tax, which is 9% for my area. Sweetwater and Casio Interstate are not required to collect sales tax, nor is Zzounds. I know I must declare and pay the sales tax on my state income tax return for items purchased out of state where tax was not collected. But I prefer to do that myself ( pay the tax to the state ) rather than have the vendor collect it at the time of sale.
 

jim683

Member
Messages
303
RMC Audio Direct is a great company. I've never found better pricing on Roland V-drums than here. They don't carry every brand, but ones they do, the pricing is hard to beat.
 

AC4RD

Member
Messages
20
I've had very good experiences with Musicians' Friend and with Amazon--I order a lot of household stuff on Amazon and it's convenient and fair-priced to get things like strings and cables from them. I just got a Mustang II from Amazon, too--fast shipping and a fantastic return policy if I had needed it. I've also had some really good purchases on ebay lately--some inlay, tuners, and pickups, for some repair stuff I've been doing. And I just ordered a kit to play with, twin-humbucker double cutaway with a set neck, from a vendor with the ID "bargainmusician2011." The kit hasn't arrived yet but I asked the seller to pick me one with nice flame on the top, and he sent photos of the one he shipped, and it really does look downright beautiful. For what it's worth.
 

DiPa

Constant GAS
Messages
14,420
Muisician Friends, Sweetwater, and Woodwind and Brasswind are my fav.
WnB had a 20% coupon sale last week on just about most of their products.
 
Messages
14
Hi guys,

I'm here to ask for advice. I'm in the process of creating an e-commerce site for gear, but I want to take my time and do it right. Obviously there is a lot of good quality competition out there, but I'm pretty confident I can still fill in some of the gaps. Obviously I have ideas of what I would want, but that's a pretty narrow and biased reference point. Can anyone let me know what is top priority for you when making the decision to purchase through a specific avenue (accessibility, pricing, customer service, etc.), and what makes you stay away from specific avenues? And do you generally stick to 'tried and true' avenues, or do you shop around?

Sorry to go a little off topic here.
 

Bogner

Senior Member
Messages
6,674
If you really know what product you want then just go for price. That is what I do. All the internet companies mentioned above are good to purchase from.
 

MoPho

Formerly tripp2k
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,656
Hi guys,

I'm here to ask for advice. I'm in the process of creating an e-commerce site for gear, but I want to take my time and do it right. Obviously there is a lot of good quality competition out there, but I'm pretty confident I can still fill in some of the gaps. Obviously I have ideas of what I would want, but that's a pretty narrow and biased reference point. Can anyone let me know what is top priority for you when making the decision to purchase through a specific avenue (accessibility, pricing, customer service, etc.), and what makes you stay away from specific avenues? And do you generally stick to 'tried and true' avenues, or do you shop around?

Sorry to go a little off topic here.
I'm with Bogner. When I know exactly what I want to buy and I'm buying new, price is the overriding factor in where I buy. Prior experience and reputation weigh in but are only minor factors. The reverse holds true when I buy used. If I were doing what you're doing, I'd give a close look at this website http://www.vintageking.com. Slick website.
 

Heinz57Pep

Senior Member
Messages
11,270
Obviously there is a lot of good quality competition out there, but I'm pretty confident I can still fill in some of the gaps.
Care to expand on that? Because as Bogner and tripp2k said, the vast majority of people only give a damn about price and "amazing deals." Which doesn't leave any room for profit unless you've somehow been blessed with the buying power of the big boys and can negotiate favorable margins. Short of that, I'm not sure what gaps you can fill.

Price notwithstanding, clear photos and specific details about each piece in your inventory (guitars especially) are a must. That's what gives Sweetwater the edge over the other big box stores for me. For smaller retailers, I like Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI.
 

Mark Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,669
I have a local store that offers great pricing. I prefer to support them. I don't go for internet sales. But living in the Los Angeles area is pretty helpful; there's a lot nearby if you're gassing. I am also old, (57) and have a lot of gear, not really accumulating any more.
 

4inchjones

Member
Messages
2,030
My current go-to retailer of all things musical is zzounds.com. The payment plans are great and since they have a distribution center in MS, free shipping to TX takes a whooping 2 days.
 

Steve Hotra

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,135
Full Compass has been a good resource for me. No pressure reps, and they have a decent selection of product.
 

fisticuffs

Member
Messages
5,405
Full Compass has been a good resource for me. No pressure reps, and they have a decent selection of product.
We also set up every guitar before we ship. Sweetwater does as well. We've been getting some great reviews on the setups over at Reverb.com..... A lot of other places blindly ship you a box.
 

Steve Hotra

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
9,135
We also set up every guitar before we ship. Sweetwater does as well. We've been getting some great reviews on the setups over at Reverb.com..... A lot of other places blindly ship you a box.
This is true.
I bought a MIM La Cabronita from FC. My rep ( Martin V) was awesome throughout the whole deal.
And I purchased a Yamaha Mox6 keyboard from them, too.
Beat GC by 10 %.
 

teefus

Senior Member
Messages
8,945
never had any problems or regrets in dealing with sweetwater or musicstorelive.com
 
Messages
14
Care to expand on that? Because as Bogner and tripp2k said, the vast majority of people only give a damn about price and "amazing deals." Which doesn't leave any room for profit unless you've somehow been blessed with the buying power of the big boys and can negotiate favorable margins. Short of that, I'm not sure what gaps you can fill.
I think your skepticism is quite well founded, but I think that there can be other motivational factors aside from just pricing (though it is indeed usually the highest motivational factor). I can't expand too much on my ideas for fear that someone else might run with them, but let's just say that nothing is ever perfect and there is always room for improvement. Every market has needs and values and there will always be some that aren't being met, which becomes an oppotunity for someone to see this and meet that need. Hence why I am trolling forums to speak to you guys one on one to hear what you have to say: what you appreciate and what you would like to see change. A personal approach and taking the time to listen will always pay off in some way or another.
 
Messages
14
Hi guys,

I'm here to ask for advice. I'm in the process of creating an e-commerce site for gear, but I want to take my time and do it right. Obviously there is a lot of good quality competition out there, but I'm pretty confident I can still fill in some of the gaps. Obviously I have ideas of what I would want, but that's a pretty narrow and biased reference point. Can anyone let me know what is top priority for you when making the decision to purchase through a specific avenue (accessibility, pricing, customer service, etc.), and what makes you stay away from specific avenues? And do you generally stick to 'tried and true' avenues, or do you shop around?

Sorry to go a little off topic here.
Related to my question last month, and first YES I know it's completely nerdy to quote myself, but it keeps things coherent. Anyway, I'm getting frustrated with teh website builder I'm currently working with. It's just not perfectly situated to be an e-commerce site. I know that chances may be slim, but has anyone else worked on building an e-commerce site who coudl give me tips on what to use? I came across this e-shop builder, but I don't have experience with this company and have no idea if it is good or not.

Any thoughts or feedback appreciated. Or if you can direct me toward the appropriate thread, or even another forum that may be helpful.....also appreciated.

Thanks!
 

Ivo

Member
Messages
2,190
Chicago Music Exchange is pretty swell. Although, a pedal I received yesterday arrived with a loose washer and a wonky footswitch. First issue out of a dozen or so good experiences.

Rogue Guitar Shop has been good to me. Personable, responsive customer service and prompt shipping.

Music 123/WoodwindBrass are what you expect. Excellent with returns, which I greatly appreciate.
 




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