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Where can a gal get a guitar?

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Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Thusnelda » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:46 am

I'm looking for an acoustic/electric guitar, hopefully with a pickup, a solid top and a hardwood neck, hopefully for under $300. Used is fine (if you have one, or know someone who does, that would be awesome!). I've scoured Craigslist, but I'm just not too familiar with brands and features, so I worry about buying from someone who's, y'know, not pre-vetted by the intarwebs :P

Aside from those people whose name rhymes with Shittar Schmenter, which places around town would you recommend? And for anyone who knows stuff about guitars, what brands and features would you recommend I look for or avoid?

Other specs:
--Recipient (not me) is a semi-gigging drummer. He doesn't really care about how nice his guitars are, but it'd be nice to have something better than a $40 First Act.
--It'll typically lie around in the living room for impromptu playing, but on occasion it may be used for Jonathan Richman-esque covers at open mics. No Dave Matthews, no sir.

Thanks!
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:54 am

Hmmmmm.... I this economy I understand that pawn shops are doing quite well and with no Music Go Round I'm sure Mr. Money is better stocked than ever. But... They in the past havent had a clue what guitars were worth and I somehow doubt that's changed. Plus they could be in pretty poor repair. What's left of music stores in Mad-Town? Good n Loud. Not sure what lines they carry at present seems like it's gone from a good selection of highly recognizable brands to a collection of Indonesian knock offs. Ward Brodt has all but destroyed their MI department leaving only a smoldering mess of low end low cost student instruments. As much as I love Guitar Shop on Atwood I wouldn't buy an acoustic there.... Full Compass sells Fender Products. and cheap but there is no stock on acoustics it would need to be ordered in. I really like Paradise Guitars in Beloit if you want an old school music store with good guitar lines and staff.

As far as specific instruments? I worked MI for a long time. I like Walden Guitars. Almost all solid tops. great electronics and pretty damn low prices. Great looking/sounding instruments. Spruce Tree sells them in town I think but their prices aren't spectacular. Does that help/hurt?

Noticed I didn't say Guitar Center. They are the equivalent of Wal-Mart to me.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Bluehead » Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:57 pm

There seems to be only one place to buy a used or reasonably priced acoustic/ electric (Guitar Shop of wisconsin on atwood) and only one place that has brands like oscar schmitt..I bought one there for under 300 that is awesome. At least start there ..he will give you real info instead of a commissioned salesman who looks at you like you have a target on your head.

Hey fisticuffs...why wouldn't you buy an acoustic from Guitar shop ?

Oh and by the way ... You make it sound like Music go round's closing was a bad thing..Music go round was a waste of time and its owner was the largest douchebag in music retail.....don't get me goin about that rude little wad of arrogance. I hope he finally learned how to spell Karma.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:28 pm

I just didnt think he much in the way of acoustics at least not new or slightly used ones. Most of his store with a few exceptions is vintage (he does have G&L which I love). Don't get me wrong its my favorite shop in town. Might be a little scary for a non-musician though.

No one knows the former Music Go Rounds owners douchebaggery like I do. I worked there for 4 years. I loved the store and thought it was a great mix of new/used. You never knew what was going to be hanging on the wall but yes the owner was socially retarded and a gigantic asshole.

O. Schmidts are garbage IMHO.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:43 pm

I really really like this guitar for the money. Looks like it's $349 at most places online
http://www.waldenguitars.com/D550CE.html
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Thusnelda » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:00 pm

Yeah, I'm hoping to stay with a smaller local shop. I'm a musician myself, but being a cellist can only get you so far in a guitar shop :P

This info is a good start; thanks!
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby supaunknown » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:06 pm

I'd probably go to Spruce Tree for an acoustic guitar. They're a knowledgeable place with no sales pressure. I was just in there recently (annual bass checkup) and noticed a few reasonably priced acoustic guitars that looked wonderful. If you get a strictly acoustic guitar you can always buy a clip-in pickup for the sound hole. Keeps the integrity of the acoustic guitar body intact.

I'm no Guitar Center hater. They're usually the cheapest place around. Plus, their selection is impressive. Kind of chaotic in there, like a toy store around Xmas.

I hear ya on Good & Loud's wack stock these days. Last time I was in they mostly had a bunch of overpriced, cheaply-made junk. I feel bad for them. They must be getting killed by Guitar Center. If I were them I'd try the other end of the spectrum - stock high-end gear and quality new/used guitars. Reinvent themselves as THE place to go for upper-tier electric guitars and basses. I get the impression that Ward Brodt has a stranglehold on many of the school-type contracts, so where does that leave Good & Loud now that Guitar Center is the low price leader locally? They need to figure out their niche. Of course they should still offer starter instruments, but also have the "wow" factor stuff that is a step above any other place in town. Just a suggestion.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:16 pm

I would love to have a store in town that had some nicer stock but I dont think Good n Loud is going to go in that direction anytime soon. I'm still somewhat in the MI industry and can tell you high end instruments are the first thing to stop selling during tough economic times followed shortly by all other musical instruments. That segment of the bigger pro audio industry has been hit the hardest with more struggling and failing retailers than anywhere else. Good N Loud probably isn't in the best shape financially even in good times and cash flow is a major issue. Should we order 1 $1500 guitar or 15 $100 ones? They are going to go for quantity over quality. Paradise still has a nice selection. Guitar center though cheap just makes me feel icky. I went in with the intent of dropping over a grand on a Musicman stingray once. Every one had a neck that needed tweaking badly and was covered in dust. They couldn't do anything about it while I was there but said if I came back they would be in playable shape. Nope that didn't happen. Plus it's the only non-locally owned music store. Its also the only publicly traded MI chain.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Nate535 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:49 pm

I second the vote for Spruce Tree. The only problem is that it's a small store and I have no idea what they have in stock as far as the lower price ranges go. It's certainly worth a stop in.

As far as brands go, I think both Seagull and Alvarez make pretty nice guitars for not a lot of money. Here are two good options:

Alvarez RD20sc
http://www.alvarezgtr.com/prod_page.php ... &ItemID=87

Seagull S6 Cedar (not sure how much to upgrade to the electronics)
http://www.seagullguitars.com/productoriginal.htm

I used to work in stores as a salesperson and as a sales manager so here are a few helpful recommendations for dealing with salespeople and getting a good deal:

I good salesperson will offer to sell you a bunch of accessories that may or may not be necessary for you to buy. This is because the markup on those items are really high (50% - 75%) It's a good idea to decide the things that you want before you go in. Salespeople will be willing to give you a great price on some accessories to make it fit your budget. There is nothing worse than settling on a price for a guitar that fits your budget and then finding out you want $100 more worth of stuff. The two things I would recommend are a tuner (if you don't have one already) and some sort of case or bag. Some places will have used cases or bags for really cheap if you ask.

Always ask for a deal! For guitars in that price range the margins will be a little tight (25% to 30%) so they won't be able to drop the price a whole lot but every little bit helps. Most places will match online prices for accessories because they have room to move. I used to sell a tuner for $30 that sold online for $20...same goes for cases and bags. I would suggest writing down the model numbers and checking them online before buying.

Always ask to have new strings installed and to have a set-up done. If a guitar has been sitting on the floor for a month, the strings are probably bad. The vast majority of guitars on guitar floors are not set-up properly and some have warped tops and fretboards. At the lower price points, brand new guitars can have problems so make sure a tech has looked at it before you buy. This is something they should throw in for free.

I hope that helps.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Nate535 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 4:22 pm

There are a lot of reasons for the crappy stock at local places. Fisticuffs is right on the "money" when it comes to buying. Every business needs to have a certain level of cash flow and unfortunately you see a quicker return on your investment with the crappy knockoffs then you do with premium instruments. Good N Loud has some really killer guitars (PRS, GnL, Fender custom shop) that have been there for 5 years. Unfortunately there isn't a market in Madison for those guitars...not even with a good economy. The dealers are actually most at fault in this case, that's not to say Good n Loud hasn't made some mistakes, but they are a victim of of a lot of factors.

The big names brands like Gibson and Fender decided that in order to become a licensed dealer you would have to put up a minimum investment. On top of that they would force dealers to carry the full line by mandating that certain percentages of the minimum investment be spent in different product categories. In other words, they would force a deal to spend X dollars on inventory that, given the market of the dealer, wouldn't sell for 3 years instead of letting them invest that money in inventory that would sell in 3 months. If a dealer could afford to make the minimum investment (which the vast majority of independent dealers could not in the case of Gibson) they where not able to tailor that investment to fit their customers. Many stores that took the gamble overextended themselves and were not able to turn their inventory fast enough to have cash to pay pay employees and reinvest. Independent stores like Ward Brodt and Good n Loud made the guitar companies what they are today so it really is insulting to them to be put in a spot where they cannot run a successful business.

supaunknown wrote:I'd probably go to Spruce Tree for an acoustic guitar. They're a knowledgeable place with no sales pressure. I was just in there recently (annual bass checkup) and noticed a few reasonably priced acoustic guitars that looked wonderful. If you get a strictly acoustic guitar you can always buy a clip-in pickup for the sound hole. Keeps the integrity of the acoustic guitar body intact.

I'm no Guitar Center hater. They're usually the cheapest place around. Plus, their selection is impressive. Kind of chaotic in there, like a toy store around Xmas.

I hear ya on Good & Loud's wack stock these days. Last time I was in they mostly had a bunch of overpriced, cheaply-made junk. I feel bad for them. They must be getting killed by Guitar Center. If I were them I'd try the other end of the spectrum - stock high-end gear and quality new/used guitars. Reinvent themselves as THE place to go for upper-tier electric guitars and basses. I get the impression that Ward Brodt has a stranglehold on many of the school-type contracts, so where does that leave Good & Loud now that Guitar Center is the low price leader locally? They need to figure out their niche. Of course they should still offer starter instruments, but also have the "wow" factor stuff that is a step above any other place in town. Just a suggestion.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Walter » Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:48 am

I bought a Garrison AG-200 at Good'n'Loud on University a couple years ago that I have been very happy with...it was around $250 w/out a case. This was before Gibson bought out Garrison so I don't know about their quality now but they were better than nice entry level acoustics. I don't think they have any 'lectric/acoustic models at that price, though. Go over there and see what they have...test drives are free! I have seen nice Simon&Patrick guitars there close to your price range, too.

Waldens are nice. Art Paul plays one and if it can hold up to what he puts a guitar through, it's worth every penny. My next acoustic will be a Walden and I'm getting it at Spruce Tree. I had work done on an old Epiphone there and it was a real pleasure doing business with them.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby benfury » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:32 pm

Spruce tree is a really great store. those guys know everything about acoustic instruments. i would go in there, if not to buy, to at least absorb some knowledge.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby ColumbiaCounty » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:53 pm

Madison Music on the West Beltline has some nice, affordable acoustics and great service.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby ColumbiaCounty » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:53 pm

Madison Music on the West Beltline has some nice, affordable acoustics and great service.
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Re: Where can a gal get a guitar?

Postby Thusnelda » Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:52 pm

So I stopped by Spruce Tree, and he had a couple of nice Waldens and a used Yamaha, but none of the three had the right combination of stuff, and they were a little more than I was willing to spend. That store is obviously for people who care about their instruments, and I say that with minimal snark.

I stopped by the Guitar Shop, and a very nice guitar player hanging out in the shop with Greg sat down and played a couple guitars for me. Which was perfect, because lord knows it takes me five minutes to set up a decent chord. And, actually, it turned out to be John Masino. So yeah, I'd trust his judgment :)

Greg had a decent Rogue that was surprisingly cheap, and then there was an Ibanez around $400. John pronounced the Rogue pretty good, with a nice comfortable action, but then he played the Ibanez and got a big smile.

Of course, the Ibanez was much more expensive, and while I was mulling it over Greg mentioned that I'd need a wooden case to protect it from humidity changes. Remembering how cranky that made my cello, that sold me on the Rogue (laminate top). The Ibanez did look and sound great, but we didn't need something quite so nice, and I'd rather have an easy-to-pick-up instrument that we can leave out and don't have to worry about so much. Greg threw in some strings, and I was good to go.

So... yeah, this question was kind of like asking Jeremy Clarkson what kind of Yugo to buy. Knowing where to go made a huge difference, though, and I think the boy will be really pleased. Thanks!
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