As a music teacher in my community for over a decade doing private lessons and teaching in schools, everyone expects me to know about every instrument and have everything on hand they may want for guitar. I’m not a music store, so I often send them there with my recommendations.
But I learned early on in my career that even the recommendations aren’t enough. Sometimes a music shop just isn’t good, and it’s more interested in making money off of you than in giving you the right gear. There are 5 music stores near where I live, and now I only send people I talk with to 2 of them.
I can’t be everywhere, but there are 4 things to keep in mind when deciding if a music store is trustworthy.
#1 Client Recommendations
You can’t beat the reviews actual customers give a place. Google the shop name and read the reviews. Visit their Facebook page and check out what they post and, more importantly, what other people have said. If you notice a number of the same complaints, take it as a red flag and stay away.
#2 Knowledge Of Content
Ask them direct questions about your instrument needs. See if they blow off your answer or if they explain it well. Don’t just take their word for it, ask them to explain it to you in a way you can understand. Any knowledgeable place should be able to do that.
Now, I understand not every person can know everything about every instrument. Each one is different! But here is the key to listen for in an honest store if the employee doesn’t know the answer:
- They admit they don’t know.
- They call or message the expert on that instrument.
If they kind of scooch by your question without admitting or calling in someone who knows more, they aren’t trustworthy.
#3 Who They Partner With
Music stores don’t make all the instruments! They get them from manufacturers and dealers just like everyone else. But if they don’t partner with the big brands in a field, they’re not worth it. They also need to partner with local luthiers (guitar makers) too. If they only deal with one type or they’re missing a huge brand completely, something fishy is going on.
#4 Return/Refund Policy
Not every instrument is the right fit. Sometimes, it feels fine at first, but after a week, you know it’s not right. A music store should offer some form of refund or return. Their goal should be your satisfaction. Same thing with repairs. Ask them what happens if they fix it and the same thing happens a month later. They should be willing to fix it again for free (or at least dirt cheap).
Every time I’m asked by someone outside of my area about music stores, this is what I tell them to check out. Call ahead, message them online, or do whatever you have to do. Don’t go in there without knowing if they’ll take you for a ride (or worse, damage your instrument!).
I take my students and audience trust seriously, so I don’t recommend things I don’t believe in and I don’t want you to get ripped off. So when I say, I like Guitar Tricks for online guitar lessons, you can believe it’s worth it.