Hummm? How come guitar center looks so empty now?

Mr Jeff 7

Disabled Account
2015-11-14 6:10 pm
Michigan
Hi everyone. Sorry am not trying to ask a question that makes me look like a dummy? So I walked into guitar center the other day to look for some small active speakers for my daughter . I asked the sales guy? How come every time I come in the store it looks like you have less product and more shelves put out? He told me we have what we always have had. Well am no dummy but, less workers and less buyers as I see it? Maybe on line sales are better? That is one thing I don't like is buying on line unless I really have too. I like to physically see the product and make sure that's the one I want because the pictures on line don't always tell the story. So that's the story. Jeff
 
I have been to the Pittsburgh Guitar Center exactly once. That was to pick up a 200 pound Chinese studio desk that is actually quite nice for $400. I had ordered online, ships free to the store.

The sales people tried to sell me every thing they could, and even offered a 20% discount on that days purchases if I signed up for their credit card. I played with a couple of guitars, and amps, got the guy to show me how one of those DJ beat boxes worked, and played with for nearly an hour.....didn't buy anything.

Last Thanksgiving day I went to the local town Walmart, the crowd was quite subdued compared to last year. I got 2 bicycles, for $59 each, and I haven't broken mine yet. We were leaving, and I went to get some bananas.....of course there was a guy standing in front of the bananas with a stack of 40 inch 1080P TV sets for $149 each. Why aren't these things sold out already. He said that he had only sold 3 all night. I bought one, it makes a nice big computer monitor.

Black Friday we went to the biggest mall in the area. I took some pictures at noon on Black Friday in Walmart and Best Buy......There were plenty of things to buy, but something was missing.
 

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Very simplified explanation:

Start with 18 Million US Industry workers.

Lay out 400 workers , produce that stuff for 1/10th the cost in China and sell it for 1/2 price (which is still 5X the cost) to remaining US workers is a very good business model.

Any significant change going from 18000000 to 17999600? (400 less)

No, not really, and this particular brand will outsell all competitors (acceptable product quality for 1/2 the price, how can you NOT sell a lot?)
And said Company is earning 5X as much as before.

Go on and on and on and a small Mom and Pop shop becomes Guitar Center, Walmart, Amazon, etc.

Of course thousands of *other* Mom and Pop shops die, but who cares?

So it goes on and on and on, for *decades* ; everybody is happy , there are lots of very successful Businesses.

Yet more and more formerly well paid blue collar workers now sell real estate , home insurance, home cosmetics, flip burgers, even greet buyers at Wal Mart or become GC shop employees.

So the mass of good buying power people becomes less and less.

Slowly if you start huge, but eventually:
manufacturing_jobs.jpg


You can hide that for, say, up to a decade by offering cheap credit to everybody (so they keep buying) but eventually debt must be paid and buying power shrinks.

Any similarity to real facts is only coincidence, of course :(

Shorter fresher statistics ( I *shudder* thinking about the last 4 or 5 years which nobody shows) :
z-3.gif
 
Last edited:

Mr Jeff 7

Disabled Account
2015-11-14 6:10 pm
Michigan
I have been to the Pittsburgh Guitar Center exactly once. That was to pick up a 200 pound Chinese studio desk that is actually quite nice for $400. I had ordered online, ships free to the store.

The sales people tried to sell me every thing they could, and even offered a 20% discount on that days purchases if I signed up for their credit card. I played with a couple of guitars, and amps, got the guy to show me how one of those DJ beat boxes worked, and played with for nearly an hour.....didn't buy anything.

Last Thanksgiving day I went to the local town Walmart, the crowd was quite subdued compared to last year. I got 2 bicycles, for $59 each, and I haven't broken mine yet. We were leaving, and I went to get some bananas.....of course there was a guy standing in front of the bananas with a stack of 40 inch 1080P TV sets for $149 each. Why aren't these things sold out already. He said that he had only sold 3 all night. I bought one, it makes a nice big computer monitor.

Black Friday we went to the biggest mall in the area. I took some pictures at noon on Black Friday in Walmart and Best Buy......There were plenty of things to buy, but something was missing.

Wow that's pretty empty. I see no shoppers in the store. Jeff
 
The plant where I worked for 41 years does not allow photography inside even though we once made camera phones by the MILLIONS in that facility. Last time I visited, it looked like WM on Black Friday......no one home.

At one time there were 5000 employees at that site. The company employed 140,000 worldwide, about 30,000 in the US. Now what's left of the company employs about 250 (best guess) at the site where I worked, and the building has been sold. The new owners are converting it into a medical park. There are less than 20,000 employees left worldwide, less than 1800 in the US. The exact numbers are not published.

You can hide that for, say, up to a decade by offering cheap credit to everybody (so they keep buying) but eventually debt must be paid and buying power shrinks........Any similarity to real facts is only coincidence, of course

Coincidence?
 
I think many players don't mind buying online especially directly from the manufacturer to do away with retail markup. I can agree that's being a smart consumer.

I have played hundreds of guitars but have purchased very few, there are subtle differences with each instrument even within a specific model in a specific assembly line. I am pretty much a one guitar guy, I fall in love with one and get very attached to it. I hate using other guitar players guitars...... it feels like I am cheating on mine lol.
 
I would never purchase a musical instrument online!! I need to play it

I would agree with a guitar. Every one IS different, especially when buying a cheap model like a Squire Strat. It took me 2 days to pick out my $129 Squire Strat. I played every one that was on display in several stores for under $150. I got an ugly red one from Ace music maybe 30 years ago. I still have it.

Carvin has been selling guitars by mail for decades.

Carvin also builds custom guitars to the customer spec, and they are good guitars. My brother in law lives in a state "hotel" where he can't leave and has no contact with the outside world. I went to visit him found out what he wanted, and ordered him a $2000 custom guitar from Carvin. He loves it.

I think many players don't mind buying online especially directly from the manufacturer to do away with retail markup
.

Even in the days of CNC machined guitars, each one is different, and I would play it before I bought it. Some other instruments are like this, especially at the high end, but mass produced keyboards, MIDI controllers, audio interfaces, DAWs and other software, speakers, and to some degree, amps, are all the same. I get that stuff from Musicians Friend (owned by GC) when they have a sale, or send me a % off coupon.
 
We took our 9 year old drummer grandson to GC after school (his big brother had a doc. appointment). He has been studying with real drums, so this was his first experience with electronic drums since learning how drums work. Spent well over an hour there. They have only one half the stock that I remember them having. But they don't have any customers either.
 
I would agree with a guitar. Every one IS different, especially when buying a cheap model like a Squire Strat. It took me 2 days to pick out my $129 Squire Strat. I played every one that was on display in several stores for under $150. I got an ugly red one from Ace music maybe 30 years ago. I still have it.

There are some real gems out there for cheap if you are patient. I had a very similar experience. I wasn't even shopping for a guitar one day and came across an Epiphone Dot Deluxe with Grover Tuners and Alnico pickups on sale at GC for $300. It played and sounded so nice I had to buy it. I had some Seymour Duncan 59' PAF pickups laying around so I threw them in it. It blows the majority of Gibson ES-335's I have played out of the water. It is my go to guitar for gigs that I don't want to bring my Collings to. Like outdoor gigs where it might rain or bars with unsavory patrons lol. Before I got the Collings it was actually my go to guitar, people couldn't believe that a $300 guitar can play and sound so good. I played it way more than my American Strat. I will never get rid of my Strat, nothing else has that sound. I can almost always tell by ear if someone is using a Fender Strat.



Carvin also builds custom guitars to the customer spec, and they are good guitars. My brother in law lives in a state "hotel" where he can't leave and has no contact with the outside world. I went to visit him found out what he wanted, and ordered him a $2000 custom guitar from Carvin. He loves it.

I agree, Carvin makes quality instruments!



Even in the days of CNC machined guitars, each one is different, and I would play it before I bought it. Some other instruments are like this, especially at the high end, but mass produced keyboards, MIDI controllers, audio interfaces, DAWs and other software, speakers, and to some degree, amps, are all the same. I get that stuff from Musicians Friend (owned by GC) when they have a sale, or send me a % off coupon.

I agree completely which is why I always play a guitar before I buy it, in fact I have to play it through my amp or something similar so I know how the interact. The CNC machines are very precise but the wood grains differ from specimen to specimen, also pickups will differ slightly too. As you mention electronic gear like MIDI controllers, electric keyboards, and effects whether digital or analog are safe to purchase without a test run.

I love instruments and gear, I have no problems admitting I am a gear slut :D
 
We took our 9 year old drummer grandson to GC......his first experience with electronic drums

So how did he like "plastic drums?" For now, I have a cheap set of both, but the digital set has two vital features that the real drum set doesn't have.......a volume control, and a headphone jack!

My 10 year old grandson has been eyeing my Pearl drum set, which did belong to his mother when she was in high school. He has no interest in the plastic set even though it can mimic some of the video game sounds he finds cool.

I love instruments and gear, I have no problems admitting I am a gear slut

I have to admit that I have more toys than I can play anymore, but most were obtained cheaply or by trading and I have had some for a long time.....I got the digital drum set at a hamfest last year for $75 because it was "broken" and his kid never played it. The wrong power supply was in the box, and a few small parts were missing, but it works.

As you mention electronic gear like MIDI controllers

Back in Florida we had a GC, a Sam Ash, a Mars Music (RIP) an ACE music (RIP) and a few other smaller shops. All of the big stores, and most of the smaller ones would let you come in and play with all the toys without high pressure to buy something. We bought most of my daughters stuff, Pearl drum set, Roland JV1000, Squire Strat..... at Sam Ash, so I could go in there almost anytime and make all the noise I wanted. It's still the best way to figure out WHICH new toy you really wanted. Magazine and internet reviews can only go so far, and often they are written by company shills.

About 25 years ago I was experimenting with digital audio using a PC. State of the art was 44.1/16. I decided to purchase a set of studio monitors, and I had a $450 to 500 budget.....that left out some of the big players. Armed with some commercial CD's and a couple of CDR's that I had made, I started hitting the stores and making some noise. I couldn't make up my mind, so put the idea on hold for a while. One of the guys from Sam Ash called me and told me that they were about to reorganize the store, including the renovation of their "recording room." He told me exactly when to show up, and how much to offer the manager for the three different speaker sets that I had been interested in. picked up a pair of Yamaha NS-10M Studio speakers for under $300. The sales people were all musicians, with knowledge of the products that they were selling, and most seemed to care about the customer.....those days are gone.

During my only trip to the Pittsburgh GC, it seems that the sales guy's main interest was in getting me to sign up for the GC credit card.
 

Dude111

Member
2013-04-06 5:18 pm
I got a good interconnect @ guitar center for my VCR to AMP after spending 2 months or so with crappy ones and having bad sound.... (I must have tried 4 ot 5) (The one I got IS NOT 100% as good as my other one but its the BEST I have found since my original interconnect started having problems)
 
So how did he like "plastic drums?" For now, I have a cheap set of both, but the digital set has two vital features that the real drum set doesn't have.......a volume control, and a headphone jack!
My 10 year old grandson has been eyeing my Pearl drum set, which did belong to his mother when she was in high school. He has no interest in the plastic set even though it can mimic some of the video game sounds he finds cool.
He took lessons for 9 months on a practice pad, before he got real (adult size) drums for Christmas. His speedskating buddy (2 day younger) got his father's old electronic drums for Christmas. Our kid liked all the different sounds that he could make on the electronic drums. We will see what happens next Christmas.
 
Folks, let's just stop pining. This kind of thing happens all the time, especially in the Big Warehouse (multiplied across dozens or hundreds of outlets) model.

It also happens when demographics of the public change. Let's be realistic about the playing of music instruments, shall we?

Playing a musican instrument competently requires … some latent talent, an almost irreducible amount of practice (and an instrument), and depending on the talent a reciprocal amount of lessons. It requires time. It requires parental tolerance and/or indulgence. It requires a parallel musicianship-is-cool narrative.

In our day (anything before smart-phones and game-boxes, say 'pre 1990'), the musicians-are-cool narrative was strongly present. One might get some basic performance exposure at grade school, with sand blocks (for the most inept), hollow gourds, recorders and maybe even toy xylophones. Kids, being veritable sponges, dutifully did what they were asked to do; those with even a half-hat of musical talent quickly went on to take more advanced expectations-in-music-playing classes.

Now, the really indulgent (and forward thinking) parents might have invested in music lessons. And trips to Guitar Center (which didn't exist yet), to pick up the usual succession of crâp-instruments … in ever larger and more expensive incarnations, so long as The Kid was also reasonably enthusiastic about continuing his/her musicianship endeavors.

It also helped if a kid was allowed to staple up crookedly hung Idol Musician posters. A lot. And allowed to go to open-air concerts. Especially without the parental units.

TODAY, even though just about every school (even the ones that once couldn't even countenance affording dedicated music classes!) offers music programs, and yes … the number of kids actually getting experience is larger in proportion to their number than "our years" subscription, even though this, today's kids are also deeply divided between a LOT of "free time consumers". WE (as an example) didn't have most of our grammar school classmates being carted off in SUVs to Crew, or Soccer, or Martial Arts, Gymnastics, Math-tutoring, Science-Exploration, Little-League Baseball, Junior Football or Ballet every afternoon. Including weekends. We didn't.

We also didn't have 24/7 access to 'txting' phones. Or pads that allowed to endlessly watch videos. Heck, we didn't even have TVs with more channels than could be counted on one's 10 fingers. What was a boy to do?

Well… remember that musicians-are-cool narrative? Hundreds of thousands … millions … of (mostly) boys got guitars and practiced them whenevery they could get away with it at home. They played to their favorite albums. They learned 'licks' and 'riffs'. Some like me were lucky enough to have a competent piano and parents that indulged a few years of piano lessons on them. We din't learn guitar (or maybe we did!). Some got drums, and hid them deep in the sub-basement, which was outfitted (indulgently) as a "boy's cave". And there we played. And played. And played.

As we got older (in this narrative of musicianship), many of us continued our fantasy/skill development into and past our college years. We took it further, and finally had the income to buy competent (or at least flashy!) instruments. The really competent musicians, still subprofessional, became collectors. GAS. Gear-acquisition-syndrome. Dozens of guitars. 6 or more keyboards. Adding ever more doohickeys to our drum kits. Cymbals. Upgrade brands. Zildjian over Paste. Moog over Rhodes. etc.

BUT TODAY?

Today the problem is free time erosion coupled with OK, you can do that! attitudes of parents, and the nearly universal parent-kid narrative of it is always OK to change to something else. As if endless diversity without gaining any true competence thru work … is an end unto itself.

THIS IS WHY GUITAR CENTER IS FAILING.

It is failing because music instruments don't rot like boxes of apples. They live for a LONG time. With the natural decline in older buyers (hey, we all move on at some point, unless we're unapologetic hippies or real pros), coupled with the decline in new buyers, coupled with the almost complete change in narrative regarding the “coolness” of musicianship in general, coupled with an endless and chaotic 'noise' of cross-attracting interests … leads to a precipitous drop in demand.

And that leads to empty shelves. Because the credit-worthiness of big store centers like Guitar Center … declines. Their credit goes to poo. Only their staunchest (and most likely also-struggling) suppliers stick with them.

_______

Consider "Radio Shack"! It is nearly the same situation. Its genesis was what, the 1950s? The words "radio" + "shack" implied that it would have a nice big assortment of everything-a-budding-HAM-operator-would-want to bulk up his GAS (see above) and his own private "radio shack" (HAM station, in a basement or wherever). The problem though was basically the same: HAM operators were "popular" because of the TUBE era. Learning high frequency radio stuff was the culmination of having an 'electronics hobby'. WW2 further boosted the esteem and mystique of “the radioman operator”. Big stuff. Young men (of the 1950s) could bond with their fathers and uncles over a shared exotic hobby. And their rapidly rising income propelled sales.

In the 1960s Radio Shack actually had a bunch of 'radio shack' equipment! Powerful receivers, kits to make them, transceivers, class C amplifiers, baluns, boxes of connectors, huge spools of coax in 12 varieties; it had YAGI kits for cool looking antennas, it had almost everything one might hope to use in building the 'radio shack'. It provided endless "little gifts" for uncles to give nephews, for sons to give fathers, for friends to give each other.

But that demographic changed with the advent of TV. Instead of being 'stir-crazy' and needing a hands-on hobby, one could arise from the dinner table and enjoy a nice 2 to 3 hours in front of the BeubTeub. That nascent 'radio shack' hobby? It might have gotten half-way off the ground, mostly as a 'shortwave' receiver, which if you din't put time into it was kind of boring. The Tube had most everything worth talking about (at work, with friends). News, shows, stuff.

Thus by the 1970s, Radio Shack carried almost no 'shack' equipment. It had to move on to consumer electronics. It did. Poorly. By the 1980s, it looked to be a chain-on-the-way-out. Oh, some of us still demanded that they keep their electronics drawers modestly full of doodads. But for the most part, this became "just a tiny corner" in the back of the joint. By the 2000s, Radio Shack had moved most of its retail outlets to very small 'strip-mall' offices. Now in 2016, even these are being slowly closed as the young generation really don't even use Radio Shack for much more than AA batteries.

THUS IT GOES. Musicianship is all but dead, as a hobby. GC is therefore all but dead. It is sad, but is it more sad than the demise of the HAM radio operator as both a skill and a hobby? Nah… it is what it is. Kids don't whittle any more. They don't make apple-crate gravity powered carts. We don't buy them wooden horsies, or even Erector kits. Lego has become “make this kit” instead of “cardboard box of uniform blocks”. Imagination? zero.

sorry for the long write up. It is a sensitive subject for me. I only 'worry' that by shipping most (if not all) our technolgoy jobs across the ocean to the lands of cheaper labor, that we're necessarily also diluting the narrative: “its OK to be a geek, to learn technology competently enough to design stuff”. It becomes our material loss … down the road.

GoatGuy
 
It must be human nature to want "instant gratification"; e.g. Sitting at the boobtube instead of practicing your instrument. It's about dedication to one thing and sticking with it that gives the greatest gratification and it's sad most will never know what that's like.

And as pointed out there are to many distractions via "smart phones" that make it hard for people to stay focused. Now we have a couple generations of people with "A.D.D.". I feel I have a form of A.D.D. but I can force myself to stay focused, or sometimes I do something else constructive for brief period of time and then go back to what I was doing originally.

I am not old enough to have been a part of the good old days when the ratshack was in it's glory. I regularly try and find new blood to play music with but it's almost impossible at this point. It's much easier for kids to buy Ableton Live and make a bunch of noise (instant gratification) instead of taking the long road of learning a real instrument. I am not knocking Ableton Live, it can be a fun and very powerful tool but not as organic as I would like music to be.

What I find difficult to swallow is the obsession with technology but the ignorance to how it functions. I don't expect everyone to be an electrical engineer but I feel since electronics is all around us we as a society should have a better understanding of how it works. I would have expected the rise of all this technology would bring forth more curiosity and therefore more electronic clubs but it seems to have done the opposite. I had a few friends ask me to help them because they were interested in learning about circuits and what not but our electronic club maxed out at a whopping 3 members including myself and then fizzled out when they found out they might have to do some math.

Back to music. I am finding since I moved this past January that I have had zero luck finding some local musicians to get together with. I figured it would be easier before the warm weather hit but I guess not. I don't think anyone can be bothered together a few times a month and learn songs anymore, too many facebook apps to play with :(