Monday, August 14, 2006

i am done with you, Mr. Guitar Center

i have been playing guitar since i was 16 years old. my first guitar was procured by my Uncle, who at the time lived in St. Louis and owned (i think) a music store. this guitar was an Alvarez dark sunburst acoustic guitar, full body, and easy to play. it was what i received from my parents on my 16th birthday, and it couldn't have been any greater.

my second guitar (and my 3rd and my 4th) were all purchased at Guitar Center. with each subsequent purchase i learned that these prices can be negotiated. some of them can be negotiated quite a bit. i think the Larrivee acoustic guitar i own was tagged at $2250, and i bought the thing for $1650. this is not "list price" vs "store price", the list price on the guitar was like $3000, which is completely absurd and completely irrelevant. "List price" should mean nothing to the musician.

before this turns into a long and unnecessary exposure of my guitar dream repository, here are the seven elements of my last trip to Guitar Center that made me officially disgusted with the place:

1. immediately upon entrance, three people flocked to my face like used car salesmen asking if they could help me find something.

2. signage is terrible. i have no idea where to frickin go once i am in there and i have probably been to 10 different Guitar Centers which all have different layouts. the place is a maze.

3. after stiff-arming the salespeople, the loud awful imitation riffs of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Three Doors Down pollute my earhole. correction: earholes. both of them. both ears instantly hate me and try to drag me to the exit. good thing they are made of cartilage or they may have had enough strength to remove my body from the store.

4. i cut through the jack osbournes and dave navarros to get to the percussion section. i love the percussion. however, once in there, the youngest Hanson brother was banging a no-rhythm symphony of awfulness and i couldnt hear myself think, let alone hear the conga or wooden-thing-with-fish-net-beads-on-the-outside-of-it-thingy that i was attempting to test for sound.

5. i leave percussion, go to acoustic guitar room. 3 dudes have pulled all the Martin guitars off the wall. i still dont understand the Martin. the most expensive Martin in there sounds like crap compared to my Larrivee of 1/3 the cost. just my opinion. perhaps my auditory senses were ruptured after listening to youngest Hanson brother.

6. i leave acoustic room after circa 5 min because i am already done. i just want out. upon acoustic guitar room exodus i get knocked to the floor by Eddie Van Halen who is testing out a quadruple Marshall stack at volume 11. this is what i like to call "Guitar Center Rock Star" and is available for concert at any local Guitar Center. it is a guarantee this dude is rippin pentatonic solos out with heavy distortion and wah effect 24/7.

7. i pick up the pace to a mild jog over to where you buy guitar strings. for some reason these are all behind a counter on the other side of the store from the acoustic guitar room. you sense make no. i ask for Elixir mediums. these are the best strings in existence and yes, it does matter. dude behind counter who appears to be on acid very slowly turns around, looks at the wall, then turns back and says "awww we dont carry Elixirs." i am floored. these are the best strings available and Guitar Center has always carried them. always. i almost leave. i should have looking back on it, but i didnt. instead he recommends "D'Addario's newest and best strings that are just as good as the Elixir strings and last longer." i procure. then i leave ASAP.

i get home and sometime later i restring my guitar. these strings are terrible. no comparison. do not buy them. the 9 year old Dean Markley strings i have in storage in my attic sound almost as good. i bought a 30 pack of these strings somewhere on sale and still have a few left, but they may as well be chicken wire in comparison to the Elixir strings.

conclusion: frustration, annoyance, and no more Guitar Center for me.


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