What's your ideal guitar/amp store?

enigma

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With the Guitar Center being the giant in music retail and Best Buy and others nibbling in this market I really miss the boutique retail stores that not only carry the high end guitars and tube amps with dedicated sound rooms, BUT also one that really understands and embraces high-end digital gear such as Fractal, Eventide and others.

Meaning, wouldn't it be great to walk into a store and have an amp room set up like those retail stores with home theater equipment?

I'm thinking of opening a very high end retail-boutique store with the right ambience, service and products.

What are your wishes?
 

Blanket Jackson

Every day is like Tio's birthday
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Rudy's is mine, although they are not too digital. For instruments, Rudy's is the NYC go-to. Next to that, prob Ludlow Guitars.
 

cvansickle

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I was out in San Jose, CA last month, and found this place called Guitar Showcase (thanks Vinni!). It's got the quantity of a big Guitar Center, but with the QUALITY of the best boutique store. You could spend days there!
 

enigma

Silver Supporting Member
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3,416
I love boutique stores, and there a lot of them throughout the country. But, I'm also thinking a store that has a different vibe altogeter, both vintage and modern and carrying digital equipment as well.
 

84Bravo

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I love boutique stores, and there a lot of them throughout the country. But, I'm also thinking a store that has a different vibe altogeter, both vintage and modern and carrying digital equipment as well.
Radio Shack.
 

johnjd52

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304
Motor City guitar in Waterford Mi. Not really a lot of vintage but they do have some vintage amps from time to time Great selection of guitars and great deals.
 

ImmortalSix

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1,962
I can tell you what bugs me. I'm willing to bet that a lot of the bros on the board share my sentiments:

The main thing that bugs me about GC is that there are too many high school kids in there doing the full distortion thing with Schecters and the modelers.

Stay with me.

It bothers me because I am there to try new amps, new guitars, whatever, and I can't ever get to the amps I need to plug in and try because the amp rows are clogged with teenagers playing screamo riffs. I hate to sound like this, but it's the truth and we can't run away from it in the pursuit of political correctness. I'm a serious player with an actual dollar to spend, and it seems like the staff at the GC does nothing to a) recognize that and b) maybe ask the teenagers to move on so the older guy can plug into the AC30 they're shredding on. I'm just being honest.


What bothers me about my local music store is that it's too confined and close-quartersy. I wanted to fire up a Hot Rod Deville in there, and it's so small that if I did, all the other sardines in the can wouldn't be able to hear themselves think. Get space, and get sound isolation. Possibly more than one amp room. Hell, more than 3 amp rooms. Make it like a studio with several little sound isolated amp rooms. Nothing bugs me worse than when I search high and low for a guitar amp, finnaly find a shop that has it in stock, and I can't play it because the store is too crowded for me to clog up one of it's tiny rows.

Knowledgeable staff. At both GC and my local mom and pop, I know more about guitar nerd stuff than the people who work there. Probably too much SDUGF and TGP time --- consider asking your employees to log TGP time :rotflmao

I walked into my mom and pop shop, told them I was there to play some 6L6 amps, and they said "never heard of em."

I walked into the same store to talk pickups with a store dude, brought up AlNiCo 5 and he said "we only carry Duncans."

Get Knowledgeable employees. They'll also be able to tell the difference between people who are serious and want to spend money on gear, and, God forbid, enable them to try out the stuff they want to try.



-Hunter
 

ImmortalSix

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1,962
When I walk in give me a scanner.

I will scan the guitar I want to play, then scan 3 or 4 guitar amps I want to play. I might even scan a few effects.

As I walk around the store doing this, reading hangtags and such, your store monkeys are seeing what I scanned pop up on their screen, then taking that guitar and those amps, and those effects into a private, sound-isolated room for me.

Once it's all ready, a knowledgeable and friendly associate will say "Sir, the equipment you're interested in has been assembled in room #3. Would you like me to join you?"

I'll say yes, and your associate will come with me into the room, of course hooking everything up, but also describing the unique features of each amp, each guitar, or each pedal to me, as needed, and will have an impeccable sense of when to shut up.

So he'll be my knob-turner or my amp switcher or, hell, if I ask him to, he'll dial in some tones that he's found on the amps or guitars or effects that really showcase their "sweet spot."

Wouldn't it be nice?

Management consulting: not just for multinational corporations,
Hunter
 

seantk

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2,079
Here in fresno, we have got a few options, most are small, cramped stores that you have to watch your step so you don't knock anything over. Also, Best Buy sells equipment too, but I am not buying any guitars or

amps there.We do have a Guitar Center here, but it just isn't the best environment IMO. It is so noisy in the store sometimes you can't evaluate an instrument properly (it is hard to concentrate and get a good listen).

When I lived in San Jose, back in the early 90's, there was a great Guitar Center that had isolation booths, so you could check guitars and basses out in peace and the selection of equipment was absolutely great.
 

VHS analog

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5,003
The main thing that bugs me about GC is that there are too many high school kids in there doing the full distortion thing with Schecters and the modelers.
I'll only go into a Guitar Ctr during weekdays and not after 3pm. I'm the only customer, it's great.
 

enigma

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I do have the luxury to go into GC when it's dead and I'm practically roaming the place myself :)

ImmortalSix, I truly know what you mean.
 

StompBoxBlues

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19,941
Music stores, to me, have always been magic places.

Back in the 70's when I was a kid, i was a little intimidated by them, but also back then it seemed to feel like we all liked the same music range.

But I still love music stores, every time I walk through the door of one I get this immense feeling of hope...of possibilities. Of finding that perfect amp, guitar, pedal..strap, pick, whatever.

Stores that dissapoint me are when you walk in, and there really is nothing much special in there. It's not that I dream of a store with all the boutique and major player amps, guitars, and pedals, but kind of more a feel like "home". Like "here are my people". People like me, interested in music, the guitar in all its glory, and tools to make it all come together.

I love music stores that look at first glance to be a little disorganized. That have lots of pedals (and lots I never heard of) whether in a glass display case or out on the floor. That have some Les Pauls, ES-335's, Srats, and Teles' as well as other brands. That have a decent selection of amps, out in an open area where it feels like you can go out amongst them and just plug in and try them out. Far enough away (or in an amp room) where you don't feel like you are bugging the people that work there.

But I also have found music stores that were postage stamp sized that I loved browsing in.

I agree...a music store with a lot of teens blasting away is a turn off. I'm 53...

I love music stores that seem friendly, but also let you alone to try out stuff.

I have this uncanny ability to find music stores anywhere. Even when my wife and I were travelling in a tiny little town in the south of the Czech Republic...I just suddenly smelled it or something and said "there is a music store around here" and found it. She went shopping, I ended up trying out guitars even though I wasn't really needing an acoustic...the guy heard me playing on a cheap guitar and dragged me over (I thought for sure to show me a really expensive model, but that wasn't the case) to show me a Furch guitar...as he said "made HERE!" that I fell in love with and bought.

My heart races, and I feel like I am on a treasure hunt when I walk into a music store...some stores somehow keep me in that state, while others...I walk out of almost as soon as I walk in...sure that it has nothing for me.
 

barryg_nyc

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569
Meaning, wouldn't it be great to walk into a store and have an amp room set up like those retail stores with home theater equipment?

I'm thinking of opening a very high end retail-boutique store with the right ambience, service and products.
I think we'd all love to visit the shop you describe, with a soundproof demo room and great service.
But, I think there are a few challenges you'll face (none are insurmountable, but you should think about them first).


  1. Starting with the obvious, the NYC area is a very tough market. Lots of competition already (30th Street, Matt Umanov, Carmine Street, Rudy's, etc)
  2. Very expensive rents for a spot big enough to equip with custom rooms unless you go far off the beaten path.
That said, the biggest challenge to me would be converting visitors to buyers. I have no doubt that if you create what you describe above, there are mroe than enough serious musicians in the NYC area that you'd have a lot of store traffic. BUT, in today's environment, what can you offer that will get those visitors to buy it at that site? What's to stop them from using your facility as a demo room, then going to GC or MF or Sam Ash to buy the equipment at 10-15% lower prices? It will be hard for you to be price competitive with those companies which have much more pricing power than you will.

I see a few possible ways to solve that:

  1. Much in the way that the big home theater providers will do custom installations, perhaps you can leverage your expertise (particularly with digital) to help setup racks, configure pedal order, etc. But, the typical guitarist is much more hands-on than the home theater buyer, so am not sure how far you can take that.
  2. Hire Great Techs.
  3. Provide uniquely exceptional service. Provide "white-glove" delivery of equipment to people's homes. Offer same-day delivery of tubes. Allow "try before you buy" programs where someone could rent an amp for 30 days then decide whether to buy it.
  4. Position yourself as "exclusive" - there are lots of things people buy at a premium price when they could get the same thing elsewhere for less. Figure out ways to position yourself as attractive to the high end (w/o being obnoxious like and Ed Roman) - and you can get high-end users to come and buy.
You'll need to really differentiate yourself, but there could be an opportunity if you're creative.
 

enigma

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StompBoxBlues, you hit the nail on its head with regards to the "feeling" when one walks into a music store. I too look for music stores in my travels; it's good for the soul, but dangerous to the wallet.
 

84Bravo

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11,551
Well, I got my glib post done, so here's how I really feel: when you see me walk in with a head of gray hair, you can assume that I'm either someone's dad there to buy a present, or a guy who's been playing for a while, in my case longer than the store employees have been walking the planet. So, ask why I'm there and I will tell you. Then let me roam and play because I don't play guitars while wearing my coat and I take care not to scratch them. At my local GC the in-store music is cranked to annoyance levels all the time and seems especially annoying in the acoustic room where it's so loud you can't tune. One day I was in the acoustic room trying to tune when an employee walked in and started hammering on a mandolin. Great. I'm invisible.

For sure convenience and personality and knowledge, you can't beat Daves in LaCrosse. There was a time when I traveled a lot and visited a lot of stores. His is the best I've found. I feel like one of the family. Years ago there was a great guy who worked the acoustic room upstairs at Rudy's, I think his name was John. I got good service across the street as well.
 

enigma

Silver Supporting Member
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3,416
barryg_nyc, your analysis is right-on with my analysis. I do have a few ideas up my sleeve that incorporates other "retail" atmosphere into the picture. And, my imaginary store will be very high end one that caters to gear snobs, gear aficionados, hobbyists as well as professional musicians.:stir

Have you read the new magazine, "Guitar Aficionados"? They are right on with marketing. I can relate to everything in that magazine. Key word is diversifying what the store brings to the store; a hybrid of some sorts :)
 

StompBoxBlues

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StompBoxBlues, you hit the nail on its head with regards to the "feeling" when one walks into a music store. I too look for music stores in my travels; it's good for the soul, but dangerous to the wallet.
Heh...but what is a wallet (other than a cow that is no more) in comparison with the feeling???

I know you get it. I bet a lot of folk here do. The best is finding some hole-in-the-wall place with all the toys you ever wanted...

And every time I walk into a music store, I think "THIS might be the one!"
 

StompBoxBlues

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19,941
barryg_nyc, your analysis is right-on with my analysis. I do have a few ideas up my sleeve that incorporates other "retail" atmosphere into the picture. And, my imaginary store will be very high end one that caters to gear snobs, gear aficionados, hobbyists as well as professional musicians.:stir

Have you read the new magazine, "Guitar Aficionados"? They are right on with marketing. I can relate to everything in that magazine. Key word is diversifying what the store brings to the store; a hybrid of some sorts :)
The only thing...it could end up just a store for posers. For RICH posers.
The coolest would be a store where most of the folk that came in felt like you did about music, guitar, equipment.

In my experience, rich folk take all the fun out of everything...once you establish yourself as "upscale"....you get a bunch of folk that are no fun to deal with. Even if you make money, is it fun?
 




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