Friday, February 06, 2009

Develop a relationship with your local music store

The college district I work for serves the city of San Diego, and has six Continuing Education campuses, each serving a different “neighborhood” in the city. During my beginning folk guitar class last Tuesday, we had a surprise visit from Mark, the owner of a local music store just a few blocks away from the campus. Mark brought some guitar picks for everyone as a “getting acquainted” gift, and talked about adjustments a repair shop can do to make your guitar easier to play.

This got me thinking about how important it is for music students to have a relationship with at least one music store in their area. As the owner of an automobile, you probably are very happy if you have found an auto repair shop that you trust to service your car. Why not have the same considerations for your instrument? If you are a beginning guitar player, for example, a guitar shop or music store can put on a new set of guitar strings for you when your old strings need replaced. A neck tension adjustment can lower the action on a hard-to-play guitar or eliminate annoying buzzes. Pickups on an electric guitar can be adjusted for best response. When it comes time to amplify your acoustic guitar, a good music store can install a pickup system in your instrument and recommend an amplifier to suit your needs. If you need a particular book or piece of music, the store can order it for you. Your music store can also take care of all your accessory needs such as picks, effect pedals, microphones and stands, cables, cases, straps and a whole lot more.

There are so many things a music store can do to make your playing more enjoyable. Find a store that treats you with respect, has a friendly staff, and has a reputation of serving professional musicians in the area. Get to know the owner and employees on a first name basis. I have one store that I deal with so much that they recognize my voice when I phone them. If you decide to get a better guitar, a second guitar or an amplifier or PA system, it would be wise to consider buying from the store that has been doing their best to meet your needs. If they have had the opportunity over time to get to know your playing needs, they would be better able to make recommendations. Also, since they know that they are the ones who will be servicing the instrument, they might be more likely to sell you something reliable that fits your needs exactly. They might even be willing to trade in your old instrument or help you sell it on consignment in their store.

A local music is also a good place to make connections. You can meet other people and start a band, get referrals for wedding and dance engagements, find out about local workshops, seminars, classes, concerts and other events, or get opinions about music equipment from other customers. Some stores have a bulletin board where you can post ads. Most stores also offer private music lessons.

I always tell my classes to make frequent visits to several music stores to see what new and used equipment is available. New things to make your playing more fun are constantly being developed, and you need to stay aware of what is available. It is difficult to walk into a music store and not find something you want to buy! As a guitarist, I have always delighted to see older “vintage” instruments hanging up on the wall. These fine old guitars are a part of music history. Even though I have been playing guitar for 45 years and teaching for 40 years, I don’t claim to always know about the “tools of the trade.” Playing an instrument is on one level, teaching is on another, and music merchandising is on a completely different level.

Another person to get to know well is your music teacher. Between the owners and employees of your favorite music store and your music teacher, you will always have a willing person to answer your questions and concerns and to make recommendations.

As always, I enjoy hearing your comments on my posts. It is reassuring for me to know that some people are actually reading these messages that I put a lot of work into creating! Enjoy!


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