Dirty Scruffy Guitars in Music Shops

This subject was always going to be at the top of my rants and raves, partly because it’s avoidable and unnecessary, and more importantly because it annoys me probably more than any other subject.

First of all, I know customers wish to try guitars in store, hence the nature of this will inevitably mean finger marks on that nice glossy finish – Hey no problem!!!!! – I want customers to try my guitars, as it is the only way to find out how good the guitar is and if it is what they require – Is it the right feel? – What about the tone? – How does it play? – So when they have finished trying the guitar, the nice clean polishing cloth I always carry in my trouser pocket, will come out and do its intended job, so the guitar looks nice and clean again – This cleaning and polishing is part of my culture, regardless if the customer intends to buy the guitar, or if it goes back on display – Now tell me how often you see this carried out at other music shops.

How often have you gone to try or buy a car and seen it on the forecourt looking dirty and scruffy, as if it has just finished a rally stage ? – In fact how often have you driven past a car showroom and seen staff cleaning and or polishing the cars on the forecourt ? – Many times I dare say, like I have.

How often have you visited a jewelry store and seen dirty, grubby watches, chains, rings etc for sale ? – NEVER !!!!

How often have you visited your local Dixons, Richer Sound or any other hi-fi or electrical store, then seen the TV, home entertainment system or hi-fi package looking dog eared and covered with a layer of dust on it ? – again NEVER !!!!!

How often have you visited a showroom for pots, pans, knives, forks, plates and dishes etc, then seen them looking dusty and covered in grubby finger marks ? – I’d be surprised if you said anything other than NEVER!!!!

But if the answer to the above example was not NEVER and that the jewelry was dirty and the hi-fi was covered in dust and the car looked like a serious car wash was required, what would you do ? – Most popular options are probably walk away from that showroom and visit another business, or ask for a good discount as they are presented in poor shop soiled condition.

Now let’s get back to your local music store – Is the guitar you intend to buy clean? – Does it have any dings or marks on it? – Are the strings clean? – How thick is the dust ? (look in the cutaway or headstock as it is often worse there) – I’ve not finished yet – Does it have all the appropriate extras with it ? – i.e. allen keys for the locking tremelo system, or what condition is the case or gig bag in, that should come with it. – Now you buy your guitars and accessories from whoever you wish to, but this store is out of order, does not care about its products and probably does not care about you either, so now why don’t you exercise one of those two options – Walk away or get a hefty discount from them.

I’ve had customers come to me with a new, recently purchased, Ibanez Guitar with a locking trem system, for a set up (not purchased from me I hasten to add), supplied to them with no allen keys – Now I’ve unpacked loads of new guitar cartons from many suppliers and I assure you the extras are in the carton when shipped to the dealer – The dealer can not be arsed to look after them for you – I’ve seen cases badly stored in a dirty scruffy store room (or dump maybe a better observation), and they present you with a marked, scratched hard case to go with that £3000 PRS guitar, that you have spent months saving for – Again I’ve unpacked 100’s of new boxes from Fender, Gibson, PRS etc and I will assure you, they do not send out marked cases with their beautiful guitars – But the dealer once again can not be arsed – If you are still going to buy from the can’t be arsed dealer – THEN I SUGGEST YOU GET A GOOD DISCOUNT.

I’ve seen guitars on display with broken strings, flapping away – I’ve seen guitars covered in dust that you could write your name in – I’ve seen them on display with selector knobs missing from the switch – I’ve seen shed loads of guitars that are old stock with rusty, dirty, grubby strings on them, hoping that you are going to fall in love with them – Look at the condition and cleanliness of the frets – I’ve seen loads that are dirty, and you’re hoping its going to play and feel nice – NO CHANCE !!!

Once more, if you still want to buy from the store that is not proud of its stock – THEN I SUGGEST YOU ASK FOR A GOOD DISCOUNT – Hey if customers continually ask the dealer for a discount owing to the condition of the guitar , they’ll soon get uptight about the profit they are losing for not caring and that will soon get them changing their opinions and policy – After-all, dealers like their profits

How many guitar dealers take their recently part exchanged guitars, then display them with a view to a sale in the “as is” state – ie dirty and grebby (spell check does not recognize this word – but you know what I mean) – They can’t be bothered to restring, set up, dust, polish that guitar – So why are you bothered about buying it – UNLESS THERE IS A BETTER DEAL ON THE TABLE !!!!

If you’ve read other parts of my web site, you’ll see the name of a chain store I previously worked for. At one senior management meeting, I asked all store managers why they can’t keep the guitars clean and presentable – Have a guess at one of the answers I received – Bearing in mind this answer is from one of their ‘blue eyed boys’ making them a seriously good profit – THE ANSWER WAS ” we are too busy to keep cleaning them” – Maybe if more customers voted with their feet and walked out, that would give them more time to clean them -Hey! These stores are making serious profits – If they won’t take on a junior member of staff, or get existing staff to help with the above and put some pride back into the condition and presentation of the stock, then as stated earlier – WALK WITH YOUR FEET OR GET THAT BETTER DEAL

If the guitar has a price card on it, indicating that it is shop soiled, or has a marked case, dirty strings, grubby frets etc etc, or indeed any other examples you’ve seen, or I’ve not mentioned, then that is a commercially acceptable price for that guitar – If on the other hand that poor scruffy looking example of a guitar does not have a ‘marked down’ price card on it, then insist that the dealer offers you a substantial discount – DO NOT ACCEPT their pitiful excuse of “its already cheaper than rrp” or “its already got a discount” or any other poor comment they might come up with – The price the dealer quoted or indicated on the attached price ticket, is for when it was first unpacked and displayed, as the supplier/manufacture intended it to be – In perfect clean condition – The example you are now holding, stood at the counter, wishing to buy it, was new but is now dog eared.

Showroom ticket price = New condition – DOG EARED MEANS GIMME A BETTER DEAL OR I WALK.

I’ve listed below a guide line that you could use to determine the extra level of discount that the dealer should be giving you for the condition of the guitar he intends to sell you :
1) dirty strings – £10 discount
2) dirty frets – £20 discount
3) dirty neck and/or headstock – £20 discount
4) dirty front of the body – £30 discount
5) dirty back or sides of body – £20 discount
6) marked case or gig bag – £30 discount
7) missing extras – trem arm, allen keys – if you still intend to buy it – £20 discount

This is a guide line for guitars under £1000 – for purchases that cost more than that, then I suggest you double the above – HEY who knows it might even get the dealer to wake up, have some pride in his stock and more importantly you the customer, and put these matters right. If you ever happen to find any of the above examples on my guitar stock, I will gladly give you the a fore mentioned discount

I would like at this stage to point out, that a small and I mean small percentage of dealers (and I am certainly included within this) look after their stock, investment and ultimately you the customer – I even keep the large majority of cases in the store room, in the factory supplied boxes to protect the case and keep it pristine – All guitars are regularly checked, dusted and if required restrung – So after every customer tries a guitar, that clean duster from my trouser pocket will be put to good use

In many other retail businesses, dealers would not be allowed to get away with the examples listed above as they represent poor trading principles – The supplier or manufacture would insist on high standards as part of the franchise and reputation of the brand/product – But don’t think about complaining to the UK importer/distributor of most leading guitar brands, as I don’t think many of them actually care either – When all is said and done, they’ve had their order from the dealer for the guitar stock.

As a final comment, I believe all the above is irrespective off the price of the guitar – A youngster buying their first £189 Squier Strat, who has spent months saving for it with pocket money contributions, has the same rights to a good clean guitar as some body else who has saved for a £3000+ PRS, Gibson or Fender etc.