Whats happened to the guitar store?

Thrill

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Do people really prefer to buy guitars online without touching it? Without feeling the neck and the weight and all that? I mean, I get it for the obscure, hard to find stuff, or the super high end, small run stuff. But for your average production guitar? The work horses?

I went in to a Guitar Center today (for the first time in a couple years), and its probably not the best example with all their money problems and all, but theyre one of the last guitar focused instrument shops around me. The place looked like theyd been ransacked over night. Maybe a dozen and a half guitars on the wall when there used to be 35-40. Maybe 7 or 8 amps when there used to be double that. The "used gear" section was damn near empty, when it used to look like the new section does now. Pedal wise they barely had any when they used to have a huge display case full of just about everything you could want.

And I have to drive a half hour just to get to this run down place. There were only 2 guitar focused shops in my immediate area, one is still open, but only sells super cheap and refurbished stuff, and the other, that used to have lots of quality guitars and vintage stuff, closed down a few years ago. The only other shop that sells guitars is a piano store that has a small wall with a few guitars on it.

It makes me sad. And frustrated. Im not into buying online when it comes to guitars. Gotta feel it and hear it before I commit to throwing $1000+ on it.
 

fett

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It's the same story bout brick and motor stores that have much higher overhead. They can't compete. My local pawnshop has lots of guitars. They consider them more as a pain than profit center. It is sad.
 

Thrill

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My pawn shop has guitars, but Ive never seen anything higher end than an Epi LP Standard, and that was a rarity. I took my Gibson LP in once to pawn for some quick cash and the guy was amazed, like it was the highest end thing they ever had on their counter lol.
 

MikeyTheCat

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The only guitars that were bought online were my two PRS, and that was by my wife. No issues with either.
My Les Paul was definitely hands on. It looked beautiful and played OK off the rack but I only decided to buy it after it had a good setup.
 

Tone deaf

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Most guitar store operators, for a variety of reasons, can't turn enough profit to make it worth while.

Small guys (who have been crushed by he big box stores for decades) can't afford to be authorized Gibson dealers. For new gear they have other brands that don't require their retail partners to commit to such large sales numbers. Some carry other well known brands. That said, inventory costs money. 100 new guitars on the wall at an average cost of say $750/guitar is $75K invested, costing interest daily. Add the cost of carrying lots of amps and all the other inventory to that. All that inventory in the store is bought on spec. Who knows if it will actually sell.

Used gear used to have nice margins. However, to build up a great used inventory, you have to have stuff for which people want to trade (tough to buy lots of quality, used gear on spec with the milk money - most of it comes in from trades). These days, folks with good stuff that they want to parlay into something else can get more money selling said gear on CL than they can get in trade. So, it's a tough to build and maintain a good used inventory. GC had a strong advantage in this department because they could play with the large inventory they carried, but I haven't seen really good used inventory in a GC in 5+ years.

Most of these shops need to sell lots of pedals, strings, cords, tuners, picks, stands and other accessories to keep the lights on.
 

motowntom

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We're very lucky, have one good one left, and it happens to be one of the best around, I think going on 50 years, great people... Huber Breese Music, don't know what I'd do without em.
Cheers
 

Thrill

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We're very lucky, have one good one left, and it happens to be one of the best around, I think going on 50 years, great people... Huber Breese Music, don't know what I'd do without em.
Cheers
I googled it to see where it was, and looked at their pictures (wish every store had pictures like that, its like google street view inside a building, you can go everywhere). THAT is a guitar store! Wish there was one like that near me.
 

meatball

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I still use Ye Olde Music in Hanahan SC . Great service, and a lot of equipment . The mom and pop attitude is alive and well here . And Guitar Denter is 4 miles down the road. I buy all my equipment from Michael Davis ,..... period. Even if it’s list price I buy here because he has it in stock. Plus he likes college Football ! Go to their Facebook page and check out his store. I don’t get any money for saying this.
 

TheX

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We still have incredible stores in Austin.

Austin Vintage has amazing vintage instruments at collector prices, but they have a HUGE selection.


Fiddler's Green for acoustic/classical and other stringed instruments.


Guitar Rez is my favorite local place for regular guitars/amps/etc.


This is the guitar room at Guitar Rez.

guitar-rez.jpg
 

TheX

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That is how I envision the wall in my next man cave.
They have some great stuff. On the website (which is not very modern) you can see pics of pretty much everything. I buy used guitars from them probably twice a year.
 

strat1701

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I'm amazed that one local store here didn't get gobbled up by Guitar Center's influence, having starting up just when GC was taking over here about 25yrs ago. I won't do business with them because I think the owners are assholes, but it's nice to see that not ALL small music stores fold under the thumb of GC. Maybe they paid off GC who knows, I wouldn't put it past them TBH.

Contrast to my hometown in Buffalo, all the small mom and pop stores, some of which were in fact Gibson dealers, ALL of them got turned into used 'school grade' music shops, losing their respective dealer status. Elmwood Music, Kubera, Keppler, and even the mighty Edwins all folded. They were staples of the local music scene there. I'm glad I still own two pieces of gear I got from Elmwood music. back in the early 90's. The last time I was there even the GC in Bflo which caused all of them to fold was utter shite. They barely had anything decent.
 

TheWelder

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I live in the Twin Cities, and we have a few really nice stores left. I try to support them as much as possible.

Willies American Guitars is great, and despite being known as a 'vintage' guitar store, they actually have quite a bit of affordable inventory.

 

CerebralGasket

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Austin Vintage and Guitar Rez are awesome.
I have purchased a few guitars from both places in the past.
 

morats8up

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I live outside St. Louis where there is only a pawn shop to really find anything worth while.
I bought 5 guitars last year from them and got such a great deal on all of them. Once you build a rapport with the owner and they know you know what they are selling the negotiating is really in your favor.
It is true though about not having a lot of high end guitars, it’s hit and miss for sure.
 

Dolebludger

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I live in a small Colorado city. We used to have a couple of music stores that had significant guitar inventory a decade ago. Both closed a few years back. But the co-owner of the best one opened a smaller store recently that carries 90% guitars and related gear. I’ve visited this store several times and have bought a number of things. The majority of guitar inventory there is used on consignment. But even that is mint or near. And this store has begun selling more and more new gear. It looks like the store will make it.
 

TheX

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Austin Vintage and Guitar Rez are awesome.
I have purchased a few guitars from both places in the past.
Some of the Alembic stuff Guitar Rez carries is just plain secksi.
 


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