What I don’t like:
1. Cheap instruments that aren’t really set up or in playing condition, even though they are new from the factory.
2. Managers who won’t say hello when you walk in, and who don’t seem interested in talking to you. I guess when a mom comes in with an eleven-year-old looking for a little Strat copy and some guitar lessons, that’s where the real money is.
3. Sales people or managers who have to tell you every time you come in that their son or daughter plays a gazillion-dollar instrument. I am impressed with big-time musicians, but not with name-droppers. I really don’t care if your kid shines Yo-Yo Ma’s shoes or dusts Emmanuel Ax’s piano.
4. Sales people who are more interested in playing a guitar than handing it over to me. Hey, I’m the one with the money trying to buy something, so let me play some instruments.
What I like about music stores:
1. It’s great when you find someone who has had the same problems as you. How do you solve your banjo intonation problems? Which violin mute do you use? Do you have this problem with the high G string breaking on your 12-string?
2. I like to play instruments before buying them. I have ordered instruments online with mixed results. I bought a Gold Tone Maple Mountain long-neck banjo a few years ago, and I still kick myself because the thing is a lemon. In a music store you know what you’re buying. A friend and I went to four different stores a few years ago when I was shopping for a 12-string. I thought I wanted a Breedlove Atlas until I played a few. When I got the first Guild in my hands, I knew I wanted it. That after playing twenty other guitars.
3. Repairs. I don’t like repairing and setting up instruments. It’s such a great feeling when you trust the people at a music store to take your instrument and give it back later in excellent condition.
So, when I find a good music store, man that is so great. Unfortunately most of them are fairly irritating to me. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe some other folks out there have had similar experiences.