WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, PART 2!!!
Whenever a customer comes into the store looking for an instrument, they usually have an idea of what they want to buy and other times, it can be very vague. What a customer NEEDS can be a lot different from his or her WANTS. I' m going to profile a typical customer who comes into the store shopping for an instrument. See if you can relate to any of these situations I'm about to present.
"A.J." comes through the door and asks for assistance. He proclaims that he has decided to get back into playing guitar again and is looking for a new instrument. A.J. says he's been "out of the touch" for almost 15 years and confesses that he doesn't recognize half the brands he's seen so far. I asked if he has any idea what he would like in an instrument. He says he would like an acoustic guitar with a pickup and a cutaway. He would like to buy a good one and spend the money now, so that he wouldn't have to buy another ever again.
First, I told A.J. that as much as I would like to take his money, I could not guarantee that he would not want to buy another guitar ever again. The truth is that your needs, wants, and tastes change with every musical trend and every personal life crisis. If he really got into playing the guitar again, chances are he would end up purchasing and owning more than a couple instruments in his lifetime. By then, you could get G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) and you could end up owning ten or more instruments. More on this chronic ailment will be discussed in a future article....
I have personally bought a new guitar every time my musical taste changed. When I got into jazz, I got an archtop guitar. When I listened to classical music, I bought a nylon stringed instrument. When that got too boring, I went back to three-chord rock and roll. Sometimes you buy a guitar because you think it will make you play better, which is true up to a certain point. I can remember years ago when I bought my first Les Paul. After playing it for a week, I came to the realization that I still don't play or sound like Jimmy Page!
The good news is that there has never been a better time to buy an instrument. Manufacturing techniques and cheap overseas labor have made available some of the best quality instruments produced, in all price ranges. The guitar that A.J. bought today would be 10 times better than one he could have bought 15 years ago at the same price.
I asked A.J. if he planned to "plug in" a lot...that is, use the guitar on a gig. He said no...he would like have it just in case he might need it, like maybe for accompanying the Sunday choir. He doesn't play much past the 5th fret, but says he likes the cutaway because it looks "cool". I pointed out to him that both an on-board preamp/pickup system and a cutaway will affect his overall volume and tone. The reason is that both features reduce the size of the acoustic chamber. It is obvious that the cutaway would do this, but customers always look at me with amazement when I tell them a pickup system does the same thing. So, it becomes a question of how much you plan to use the pickup system or the cutaway. If you use either feature a lot, then it's a fair trade off. If you don't use either, then you end up paying more money for less acoustic tone.
Anyway, armed with more information than he bargained for, A.J. thanked me for my help and left through our front door and disappeared into the sunset. I never saw him again, but I hoped he eventually found his dream instrument, even if he bought it from someone else. I hope you also will find the instrument of your dreams, too. Next time you visit us or your own neighborhood music store, remember this quote from the Rolling Stones while you're shopping for that next guitar..."you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you get what you need!"
ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF FASHION...
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