Are Guitar Stores Intimidating?

Posted by Andy on 19th March 2018

Let’s talk about guitar stores.

Guitar stores are wonderful place right? Where else are you going to find your new favourite guitar or pedal? Where else can you find so many awesome amplifiers and plug in and play?

But, if they’re so great - How come so many guitar stores are so empty most of the time?

How come every time someone messages me about should they buy this guitar or another – they have found them online and they’ve never even seen either one up close? How will you know if it’s better for you if you haven’t tried it?

People would rather buy a guitar online that they have never seen or held before rather than go to a store and try them out?

How come people will hang out at coffee shops and apple stores and watch and listen to music on their phones, but they won’t hang out at guitar stores

The answer is simple.

Most guitar stores are intimidating and stale places, especially for beginner guitarists.

From being nervous playing in front of others, to being afraid of saying something ‘wrong’ in front of staff or others you think know more than you, many guitar stores are just not doing enough to get people through the door and make them want to stay and spend time there

https://youtu.be/ReM5JZ55agk

This is made even worse if you’re a beginner guitarist. I remember buying my first set of strings in my local guitar store. The guy rightly asked me “What guage?” I had no idea what he meant. I literally pointed at the guitar on the wall that looked the most like mine

Do you agree with this? Before I make my suggestions, I want to know your experience of your guitar stores. I’d prefer you not to mention any store names, this goes way beyond any one music store chain, but I do want to know what you think and I want this to be the start of a
conversation 

Why dopeople find stores intimidating and how can we change this?

Let me know your comments below!

By Andy

By Jo on 19th March 2018 at 20:29

Hi Andy, 

Frankly, I don’t know where to start, other than by agreeing with you wholeheartedly.

My first guitar (acoustic) was bought from the internet, based on reviews. There is absolutely no way I would have dared to go into a guitar store as I felt I fell outside the “normal” demographic for buying a guitar and was worried what people would think. If only I’d found your video on other people’s opinions years ago….

The first time I went into a guitar store, I just wanted to try and work out how an electric might differ from an acoustic in terms of playability as a beginner (probably around a month in) and work out if buying one would be worth the investment. Unfortunately, the sales person basically just took the guitar off me and put it back on the rack. No chance for questions; or anything other than fleeing the shop feeling like a fraud. I wouldn’t even have tried to play anything at that point knowing that I’d make a fool of myself. My previous music shop experience had been in woodwind shops where you got a sound proof booth to try out your shortlist – and I was super-intimidated by the guy showing off at full volume in the middle of the store.

Last weekend we had time to waste and a bitter wind to avoid. John suggested going back to the guitar shop. I was unsure. After a while, a salesperson came over. I was ready to bolt – but as always, they approached John first. Lesson 1: it’s not only guys who play guitar!

Great sales person – he listened to my questions, and not only answered them, but passed me guitars to demonstrate the answers. First to touch; then to hold; then he produced a stool so I could sit down and hold them comfortably. So I started trying them out – finger picking so no one could hear. A couple of guitars in, and onto my affordable dream guitar… then he brings out a cable to plug it into an amp. By this time I’m feeling more comfortable that I would have imagined and actually allowed myself to carry on playing. And yes, he was good enough to turn down the volume, so that I still felt OK practicing barre chords in the corner. I’d never thought that I’d ever feel confident enough to play where other people could hear – let alone in a shop and in front of someone who really could play.

To cut a long story short – today I called up the store. Someone had bought that guitar, but my number’s on
the list to go back when it’s in stock later in the week to try out some amps (more great advice on the phone too). I’m so glad I had the opportunity to try out the instruments – otherwise I would almost certainly have made a different
choice. But it shouldn’t be a trial. Lesson 2: the experience appears to be very much down to the salesperson. 

Apparently guitar stores are where all the cool kids used to hang out in the 80s. It doesn’t feel like that now. Unless you are going in to spend money (and know what you are talking about) it can be very off-putting. I’m not sure how you make the beginners feel welcome, but you should. They might not buy the most expensive guitar first time, but they’ll be the people upgrading in future.

Somewhere to try things out a little out of the way would be ideal. You wouldn’t feel that you were competing with the show-offs. And events would be great – where you could go into the shop, particularly in an evening, without the pressure of buying, but have the potential to pick up ideas and see what was on offer.

Thank you for a great video!

Jo

By Mark on 20th March 2018 at 14:10

Guitar shops can be very intimidating for a beginner, I can relate to Both Andy and Jo's comments we all start as a beginner.  I have been to a few music shops some have been really positive experiences I called into a shop In Blackburn it's the main music shop in Blackburn big shop, has a separate acoustic practice room and a huge choice of guitars. I called in to buy a stand for my Washburn WD10  Sub £300 guitar brilliant sound . The sales assistant was great he asked me what I played so I told him he asked have I tried the Martin range and offered to show me , we sat down with 4 different Martins . I had to  to tell him I had only been playing for 1 year so I didn't embarrass myself he said that's fine just strum some cords and get a feel for the instrument even showed me a few things. His Job was to sell me a guitar, and he was doing a good job , if I ever wanted to buy a new Martin guitar I would return for sure.

Also went to a shop in Newcastle, had the show off finger picking  a riff sat in a corner . I was looking around, the sale person and customer were fist pumping each other and talking like American surfers form the 70s , very off putting! Especially  as they both had Geordi ascents. eventually I was asked if I needy and help from a Lad who had very little interest in answering my novice questions. 

My local shop in Stockport is great, he is independently run and also opens on a Sunday , get lots of people like me hanging around "all the gear no Idea". Next time I am in I will tell him about our Bolg and see if I can get a comment out of him.

 

By Andy on 22nd March 2018 at 08:59

Thanks for the detailed replies guys! Great to hear there are plenty of good experiences in guitar stores as well as some bad. Hope some beginners read this your words and see that there's nothing to be scared of, and to not be put off by a one off bad experience. Trying guitar in stores is the best way to learn about the pros and cons of different guitars and try them out for yourself!