Guitar Center Tanking?

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rbc
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Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by rbc »

I tripped over this today on one of the technology sites I frequent. This guy, Eric Garland says it's all over for Guitar Center:

http://www.ericgarland.co/2015/02/03/end-guitar-center/

The authors assessment of Guitar Center was pretty dark. Anyone know better?
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Guitarvamp
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Re: Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by Guitarvamp »

rbc wrote:The authors assessment of Guitar Center was pretty dark. Anyone know better?
I worked there for three years. I qualify to comment a little. :) I'm not going to comment on how the company is doing as a whole, since I don't care and didn't care (even when I worked there).

Things at a store level are grim.

I equated Guitar Center to being like Walmart - they carry a lot of mediocre and medium-grade things, and many basic things that everyone needs (strings, picks, straps, sticks, drum heads, etc), the employees are not cared about and payed very little, and the customers usually aren't cared about except for their money. They tried running the prices much like a Walmart - price matching, trying to be the cheapest around, etc. They really did well on that front. But they got pushed around by almost every customer. Everyone wanted "deals", special pricing, "a hookup", or free things. How many companies make money by giving away free things??

As a salesman, we got paid a small percentage on how much we sold, or minimum wage, whichever was more. I can tell you.... even selling $40,000 - $50,000 every month still meant you were only getting paid about $8.00 per hour (minimum wage here is $7.40). Stunning. Most everyone in the store had to sell some of their gear just to pay the bills. You know something is wrong when that has to happen.

Now, just a basic observation.... I'm a musician. I worked there. "What is the problem?" I asked myself. How much gear did I ever buy there before I worked there? I'm not sure I bought anything there. Why? I just tended to buy everything, mostly used pieces, elsewhere (online or brick-and-mortar). They would price-match... And I came to realize (while working there), especially as of late with their online ability, you can pretty much get ANYthing you want sooner or later. Seriously. I saw several vintage Marshall Plexi heads, vintage guitars, stunning custom guitars, rare pedals, etc., even Rockman units. Even still, I didn't buy anything from there.

Now, the clientel... Mostly young kids "wanking" on the $1,000+ guitars, playing their 'chugga chugga' drivel through the Mesa or 5150s. :roll: You quickly realize that 99% of these people have no talent, no individual creativity, or both. We always said that there were three types of people that shopped for guitars: 1- the people who wanked on the guitars that litterally did not know how to play. These were beginners or just people not well-versed in playing. 2- peole that DID know how to play, but felt the need to "show off their mad skillz" for some reason.... usually at a louder volume. 3- the third class of people did their homework, read reviews online, heard gear elsewhere, knew what they wanted, trusted in a return policy, and just bought the freaking gear without being annoying. :lol: We had at least a dozen 'regulars' that would come in every day and play for a few hours. .... HOURS..... every day. Seriously. The hope of the company was that little Jimmy would wank every day on his favorite gear, grow up and save his paper route money, then come back in and finally buy that beloved amp/guitar/pedal.

Now, I understand that some gear needs to be tested out in person, especially guitars. Each guitar is unique and individual. When I buy a guitar, I want to fully inspect it - frets, wood, neck, electronics, wiring, etc. Playing a lousy rendition of Sweet Child O' Mine doesn't accomplish this, or help the employees. Take it home. Amps come in second place - I know what they should sound like and do. They either work or they don't. No need to make eardrums bleed in the store. Again - take it home. Plus, speakers will sound WAY different in the store as opposed to where you normally practice/play. Pedals and effects are simple - you need to take them home and plug them into your own setup to get the full effect. At the store, you're not playing your guitar, you're not playing through your amp, and I'm sure you have more than just the one pedal, plus the store's acoustics are crazy.... take it home.

I mention all that because, when so much gear gets handled, things happen. I've seen guitar necks broken, guitar bodies dented, cracked, scratched, and abused, untold broken strings, parts stolen, complete items stolen, blown speakers, etc, etc. These new items that are damaged in such ways can't be sold for new prices... so loss of profit. And of course nobody beats the heck out of the $99 Fender Squires. ;) No, it has to be the $5,000 Fender Custom. And there really isn't much markup on the big expensive stuff.

All in all, I saw the store take a loss on more gear than I care to remember. Clearly not everything is that way, but it all had to add up. Or at very least, the company could be MORE profitable if they could curb some of that nonsense.


That does raise a good question.... I assume we are all musicians here, and guitar players at the least. Do you shop at Guitar Center? If so, what do you normally buy there, and how often. If you don't shop there, why not? Where do you normally shop, and for what?

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iZheil9152
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Re: Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by iZheil9152 »

Guitarvamp wrote:Do you shop at Guitar Center? If so, what do you normally buy there, and how often. If you don't shop there, why not? Where do you normally shop, and for what?
I have only bought 2 thing at a Guitar Center: picks and a sustain pedal for my keyboard. The only thing that really catches my eye when I'm there is the used gear section; I've seen a Crybaby 535Q for $50 and other things for even lower. I don't really buy guitars/amps/pedals from there because they are so overpriced. Sure... they have price match, buy why buy a MXR Carbon Copy for $150 there when I can get a brand new one for under $100? ...or a used one with no audible differences for <$80 on ebay?

My friend who is relatively new to guitar thinks GC is the coolest thing since sliced bread. He will take me to go with him and ask me to play something cool on one of the "fancy" guitars on a huge amp. I always say no. I'm constantly trying to deter him from making purchases there because I can tell a good deal/product from a bad one.

Oh, and none of your walmart analogies really apply to me. Living at their HQ and all, every one is treated nice :) But I do understand what you are getting at with the merchandise

Speaking of Guitar center, anyone heard about their anger towards fender for opening up all guitars for online purchase? I haven't really looked into it, but a family member told me about it a few days ago*

*I have not read the article above if it talks about this, I mainly replied to Vamp here.

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Guitarvamp
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Re: Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by Guitarvamp »

iZheil9152 wrote: The only thing that really catches my eye when I'm there is the used gear section;
I can't speak for all Guitar Centers, but the one I worked at worked like this: for used pieces, we would look on Ebay and Craigslist for 'sold' prices. Throwing out oddball prices, we took the average selling price, then determined if it was reasonable. We also looked at other Guitar Centers for similar pieces. After determining a fair price that WE could sell it at (usually a bit less than average Ebay prices), we would give the customer half of that price.

Boss pedals were awesome.... usually if a pedal sold new for $100, we would buy it from the customer for $25, and sell it for $50. The point wasn't to make tons of money on used items, but turn them over quickly at a fair price.

But you're right - the used gear has some real gems. You just have to be patient and wait for something great to show up. That's where your best values are.


I find it interesting that you, too, don't buy from Guitar Center for no real reason.

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rbc
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Re: Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by rbc »

Guitarvamp wrote:That does raise a good question.... I assume we are all musicians here, and guitar players at the least. Do you shop at Guitar Center? If so, what do you normally buy there, and how often. If you don't shop there, why not? Where do you normally shop, and for what?
Mostly I've bought accessories and strings. Some Boss foot pedals and instrument cables come to mind. I did buy my daughters Taylor GS Mini there. We had been to an independent store first, but she didn't like any of those guitars.
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iZheil9152
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Re: Guitar Center Tanking?

Post by iZheil9152 »

Guitarvamp wrote:I find it interesting that you, too, don't buy from Guitar Center for no real reason.
It's a rip off both ways. There is no reason to buy stuff like pedals or guitars from there when I can go ebaying for cheaper new stuff.

Guitarvamp wrote:we would look on Ebay and Craigslist for 'sold' prices. Throwing out oddball prices, we took the average selling price, then determined if it was reasonable.
I have had this experience. My friend wanted to sell his (in relatively good condition) Epiphone ES-175. The average was around $600-750 for used in good condition at that time. The employee stated that they were going for that much on ebay and could take it off my hands for ~$400. Being the moderator of the conversation for my friend, I walked out with the guitar and took it to a local music store that had a 10% consignment fee. Got ~$170 more than GC was gonna give him.