Do you prefer to shop for equipment locally?

I have noticed that a few people here seem to dislike buying from local music stores. I happen to be one of them. I was curious as to how many people buy locally and why they do or don’t. Stories are welcome. :)


I guess I could start off explaining why local music shops turn me off. Where I live, the common markup on equipment (guitars, amps etc) is around 100%. The sales people tend to either lie or be incompetent much of the time.

At one point, I opened a music store and sold equipment at just above wholesale. I had a small store but we were loved by the public and hated by the larger local music stores.

One of my favorite stories involves a customer that went to a large chain music store and saw a sign that claimed “best prices on guitar strings”. This person told the manager that my little store sold strings for much cheaper. The manager replied that my store must be selling at a loss just to make the other stores look bad. Of course, that was a lie. I sold packs of strings at a $.50 profit per pack. And the simple fact was that the large chain music stores get the same packs of strings (large quantities)for much less than a small store can.

Anyway, what is your preference?


Ain’t you got any more good holes to look at Mike? :)

I prefer to buy locally but if something is cheap enough online I will buy it.
Once you add shipping in if it not much more to buy at a local store I would rather do that:
a) because I like to be able to touch, inspect the thing I’m buying
b) if there is a problem it is easier to take back (I had to do that with my soundcard and the store was very good about letting me swap it for another one that worked better with my PC)
c) I like to support the local store/s as a couple are really good.

I do buy strings online as they are a LOT cheap for this brand that I can only get online.

And then of course there is ebay for 2nd hand stuff…

I would never buy anything for my PC (soundcard included) online unless I new 100% that it would work on my system.
A couple of times I’ve bought things for my PC and have had to go and swap for a different model/brand due to incompatability issues…

Also sometimes I get impatient and if i can go out and buy something that day and come home with it, I’d rather do that than order online and save $10 but wait a week for it…


Threre is only one pretty big local music shop with lots of great stuff where i live.
I tend not to like going there though…
1. most of the employees act like jerks cuz they think theyre better than you for some reason
2. second most of the time they don’t even know what theyre talking about
3. theyre prices are usuall more than musians friend but sometimes not
4. they mainly are looking out for unsupecting parents with children so they can convince the parents to get all this crap for their child and get commision off of them
5. they have a really crappy return policy All Sales Final

I like online shopping because…
1. you can find out alot of information really fast once you know what ur looking for
2. you can compare prices with other sites
3. you can get free shipping, or not pay a state sales tax!
4. sometimes they throw in exra freebies which are nice

I am cheapo musician. I go with price. Regardless of where it is. I agree with Studiofat on the local stores employees being pricks, but that’s ok, I just be a bigger prick. By saying “hey I can get that cheaper from MF” will make the stores match prices most of the time. Strings I never buy local, they charge full price plus tax, which sucks. And before buying a guitar, I gotta have in me hands first, before purchase. Too much like mail order bride, she looked nice, but was a mega bitch! :D

I voted half and half. That’s probably very close to my situation. Some “equipment” purchases have been online/catalog, strings, picks, cables, etc usually from the local shop. I have bought a few effects pedals and such from the local store… BUT only because they matched The Fiends price when I asked.

As far as service goes, the local store is hit or miss. They have a continuous stream of pimple faces rotating behind the counter. I ONLY buy from the local store when I KNOW what I want. I never go in there for advice…

ME: "What’s the signal to noise ratio on this mic preamp?"
Pimple face: “Dude… I g-g-guess it’s like um… can I get back to you on that?” (He is CLUELESS.)

Having said all that, I DO prefer to support my local economy if at all possible. On reflection though, half and half is probably accurate.



I have noticed that a few people here seem to dislike buying from local music stores

Qualification: I don’t like to buy from local music chains like GC. For the most part, the turnover at GC is incredibly high & most people who work there are useless.

There are a couple of local shops that I like but the prices are much higher. I’m looking for bargains too.

But for me, the internet makes the world local, so the world is my local. It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it?

I usually do research online for reviews and prices, etc… if I need something right away, I’ll buy it locally. Otherwise I buy from - they usually have free shipping, and I save the cost of the 7.25% sales tax we have in Texas.


Well, I considered buying my soundcard from the US for quite some time, and the saving would have been considerable (1300 local, vs 800 plus shipping) but I went local based on the possible returns problem. As it was, I did have to get the unit replaced. I’ve brought a few things online, probably the most expensive was a $200 geforce4ti4800se video card from an australian company.


5. they have a really crappy return policy All Sales Final

That would be illegal over here.

I buy locally. The guy who runs the store likes me so last year I bought a adat hd24 (brand new&boxed) for $1059.00. Well below what everyone else was selling them for.

I buy a lot of things online because there just aren’t the shops locally for recording gear. Several guitar shops nearby though.

I would never buy a guitar without trying it first so that’s always a shop deal for me, even if it means a trip to London.

A few years back we had a couple of decent “family run” type guitar shops locally but they’ve gone out of business and the “superstore” guitar shops have moved in. High prices and no deals.


I’m almost 100% online these days - can’t find most of it locally at a reasonable price. The only stuff I don’t get online is special drum stuff I pick up from Don Bennett’s that can’t be found as easily on line, plus they give me a discount that makes them only slightly higher if you consider shipping and tax. I only slightly feel guilty. I worked with and around a few stores in the past and already know for the most part what I want so I don’t need their input to help me decide on what to get. I also don’t get very much stuff. It would be a bit different if I was buying guitars. I can’t imagine buying a good/expensive one online, even ebay, without first having my hands on it, though I suspect my next guitar purchase will be mail-order (it’s work related discount that good enough that I’m willing to take a chance on a relatively cheap guitar).

Forgot to mention, the guys at my local always do me great deals, plus they’ve been there for years, and I’ve known them on a personal level for about the same time. This place: Allans is probably the biggest chain in oz, but they also do the online shop: Musicians warehouse which will regularly undercut their won shops…


Man, you must have some really crappy local guys where you live. I but as much locally as I can for several reasons.

1. Price shoul dalmost never be an issue. Sure, GC may have some super special on Strats for $12, but they are usally crap. The local guys can compete on price 95% of the itme and so long as you level wih them, they are usually happy to do it.
2. If something is FUBAR I know I can call up my guy and he’ll make it right. (This is at more than one store. Always find “your guy” at the store you go to.)
3. If there is something weird that I need, they will whip out their distributor catalogs and get me whatever I want.
4. I can fiddle with it before I buy it.

I have a hard time believing you don;t have stores with professionals working there. The places I go in town are all guys who play out, I know not only through the store but through the music scene, and there is a mutual respect. I know they are making a living and they know I could go to GC but I am trying to give them the biz. If you are cool with folks, level with them, and avoid the pimple kids, I always find as good if not better deals. I got my sampler locally a few months back at $80 below where any catalog was at. I get my mics for similar prices. LAst night I special ordered Shure in ear monitors. Dude handed me the distributor catalog with the wholesale prices, told me to pick what I wanted and name my price so long as he was either at catalog prices or making reasonable margin (30% is pretty standard.) Relationships are what it is all about. Be the guy who they know your name when you walk in like the old dudes at the hardware store. If you are aloof or not involved in the music community yourself, they are going to think you are just another tire kicker looking to see if you will match GC. It is insulting to a sales guy when you don’t use them for anything more than a price matcher.

Dr Guitar, in your shop, where did you make your money? Did you do large volume? Have something the other guys didn’t? I used to sell Kaman stuff (Ocvation and Takamine) all day doing three times the volume of the Sam Ash across the street because we had the same price, more selection, and I could actually speak like an upright walking human being. Low prices with no volume ain’t gonna fly long, so I am curious.

hey!! where’s the option for “i build this stuff myself!!”… :D


Bubba, if you are responding to me, you need to take a look at the stuff I bought. The local stores and guys working there are pros and do a fine job. Mainly because I already have everything I want and need I have little need to go there anymore. I’m not young and I don’t look into getting new stuff anymore. I buy replacements for broken old stuff and bargain bin items. My house payment is also half my paycheck so every penny counts - clearance is a necessity. If I were into buying and could afford it I’d be an eBay whore. :)

All but two items was from clearance. All was MF or American Musical.
New but scratched Gina24 - $149
M-Audio BX8 - $299 (still available at that price)
Pulse piccolo snare - $29
Wuhan splash - $12
16 20’ low-Z mic cables - $2.99 each
Behringer ADA8000 - $219
24" bass drum head - $9
24" bass drum head - $12
DW Bass drum beater - $4
Zildjan 13" recording hi-hats - $169

What I bought locally was three complete sets of drum heads (12", 13" 2-14", 2-16") - clear, white coated, and fyberskyn, plus 2-20" and 2-22". 4 DW cymbal stands, 2 DW hi-hat stands, 3 DW snare stands, and after 25 yeas of using the same DW pedal, a new DW5000 bass drum pedal. I got all that at Don Bennett’s at prices just a little higher than MF. I looked at first at Don’s for the recording hi-hats. Many other replacement parts.

By the way, I totally agree with the argument to buy local and all the reasons for doing it in spite of my own actions.

Phoo, nope, not at all responding to you specifically. Perhaps you guys simply don’t have the competiton in your areas? We have a Sam Ash and a GC. The local guys that have survived … survived for a reason. There was a mjor house cleaning in town about 8 yars ago when Sammy came to town and whatever dead wood was left, went down after GC moved in.

I can’t think of one major purchase I made from someone who wasn’t local except for my EMU 1820M. That I got from Sweetwater from a guy I know… (Our guitar player used to be a Sweetwater rep.) All of my cymbals are from the local pro shop where I get the same price and can pick the exact cymbal I want. Sorry, no two K Constantinople rides, A Custom Crashes, Paiste Signature whatevers sound alike. Cast cymbals are not consistant thus their beauty and demise. I have spent maybe $100 over the past 5 or 8 years with the Fiend on piddly junk… one order of strings, a few drum heads, and sticks. Past that… all local.

Plus, I hate hate hate walking into GC or whatever. I don’t need some pimple faced kid telling me how great the Berry is compared to the Mackie. Pro shops know the scoop and have the good stuff GC and Ash won’t stock because there is not enough volume in Larivees, Hamers, and Ayotte.