Music Store Blues
A decision I face everytime I buy a new axe (not that often) is new vs used. I usually start by seeing what's on the web, what's new out there and what really turns me on. Then I hit the reviews and forums such as this to see what the "word on the street is".
I always start with the altruistic ideal of supporting a store, particularly those who are not chains, but always find I'm disappointed. Before I get started, here are my criteria. I consider €50 to €400 entry level, €400 to €900 mid range, €900 to €2,200 high end and anything above €2,200 to be in the collector/professional range. You may disagree with my criteria and it is possible to find as many guitars in the high to professional/collector ranges that are sub standard as it is to find excellent axes in the mid range.
I am generally shopping for mid and high end guitars and here's my problem. I see an Ibby, Jackson or ESP, it looks cool, the fretboard is well finished, the finish on the whole guitar is great, I've even found a colour I can live with and then comes the moment. I plug it in, put my fingers on it and the action is like a violin, the strings are rusted to **** like Yngwie Malmsteen's exercise bike. Here's the deal, if I'm paying €500 or over on something I want to know it suits my needs, I don't want the hassle of returning something, dealing with fault lists etc., I want a good indication that it's a keeper. In the end I always find what I'm looking for by trawling adds for pristine used guitars which have been well taken care of and I have never been disappointed.
Here's my gripe. Why can't the people at music stores do at least a basic setup on their mid and high range guitars, not a super pro setup (flying Rich over would kill their profits), just get it playing well. I'm not going to risk my cash on it being a dud because the store staff are not motivated enough to give a rats arse. I walk in, take it off the wall, if it plays like **** or has the action of a suspension bridge I put it back. I've picked up €2,000 plus Jems with excitement only to discover the €300 LTD down the rack plays better. I understand that there is time involved in doing this, so it's simple, build it into the price. I will buy the same model guitar for €100 more if the one at X store plays better than the one at Y store, because guitars are individuals.
I'd like to see what Rich and other dealers think, maybe I'm talking out my arse, maybe I'm alone in this view. However, if you were buying a car, went to a dealership and test drove a few cars where the seatbelts didn't quite click, the doors didn't quite close and the brakes didn't work you'd quickly find another dealership. I feel that the stores could sell a lot more mid to high end guitars if they put a little effort into checking the quality and resolving minor issues.
Please let me know what you think.