Why Buy From A Specialist Classical Guitar Shop?
The internet can be a wonderful thing, offering consumers more choice today than at any other point in time. But all of this choice comes at a cost – both in the short term (I.e. your purchase) and serious long-term effects too. Specialist classical guitar shops are disappearing from the high street at an alarming rate here in the UK, and with it go specialist advice, expert insight and knowledge as well as personally tailored recommendations. What we will be left with are photographs on e-commerce sites and YouTube reviews by people who may or may not be benefitting financially from their review (how can you really tell if it’s a genuine review or a paid product review?).
But let’s look at how your choice of retailer affects you personally before we get into the David vs Goliath debate. After all, you want the best guitar for your money and your first concern should rightly be your own purchase.
Specialist Guitar Shops Care About Their Stock
Yes, all retailers care about their stock. They would go out of business pretty quick if they neglected care completely. But specialist guitar shops such as ours really care for their instruments. If you visit our studio, we have the humidifier running 24/7, maintaining a constant relative humidity of between 45-50%. Why? Because we understand the importance of regulating relative humidity to ensure our stock is in the best condition and not at risk of developing structural faults. Do the big online-only retailers do this in their warehouses? I can’t say for certain, but that alone would make me question whether their guitars are kept in optimal condition.
Small shops such as Classical Guitar Academy don’t have streams of visitors every day. We see clients on a one to one basis. When we demo guitars in the studio, we advise on how to look after the guitar to make sure your investment lasts. This also means that every single one of our guitars stays in tip-top condition while it’s in the studio. No button rash on the backs and no scratches or dents. This is unlike a lot of large brick and mortar stores where customers freely grab instruments off racks, totally unsupervised. I don’t know if you’ve ever checked out the finish on one of these guitars, but next time you try one out, inspect it in the light. If it’s been in the hands of a lot of customers, there’s a good chance it may have developed a little button rash.
If you want to guarantee buying a classical guitar in perfect condition, it may be best to shop at a specialist classical guitar shop.
Stock Check on Arrival
As the owner of a specialist classical guitar shop, I personally check every guitar we order in to make sure it’s free of faults and is finished to the high level I would expect. If it doesn’t meet the standard I’m happy with, it goes back to the supplier. While this means the business incurs additional postage costs, it ensures the quality of every instrument we sell is of the highest calibre.
Do the large online retailers do this? Do the instruments even get taken out of the box before they’re stored in the warehouse? Returning purchases made online is an inconvenience we could all do without. There’s nothing worse than waiting for your much-anticipated guitar to be delivered, only to find that it’s damaged, or the neck is warped, or it has some other defect that falls below expectation. Do you send it back or live with the fault?
I also check our guitars because playing new arrivals is perhaps the most exciting part of my week! But let’s pretend it’s just for quality control…
Expert Advice and Guidance
Here at Classical Guitar Academy, we personally tune up and play every instrument in stock. We find out what each guitar is capable of and assess its character. By doing this we understand what type/level of guitarist each instrument would be best suited to. This means that when you phone us up and ask about a guitar for a grade 5 player, we can offer our honest and qualified opinion. Or if you ask us about guitars in a particular price range, we can advise you (we will ask some follow-up questions to ensure you’re shopping at the right price too – this could well save you money).
Our advice and guidance is based on over 20 years of experience dealing with classical guitars. Not only that, because we were musicians and teachers long before we were retailers, we always give genuine advice based on what we believe is best for you. Integrity and a desire to help our clients have been conditioned into us through our teaching practice for many years. We approach retail in the same way because it’s in our nature. In the event that we can’t make recommendations from our own store, we will happily recommend other retailers who we trust. The goal is always to make sure you end up buying the right classical guitar to suit your needs.
David vs Goliath
Small businesses are fighting tooth and nail right now to stay afloat. At the time of writing, I can think of two well established classical guitar shops who have closed their studio doors. From conversations I’ve had with one of our suppliers, it’s my understanding that the problem is much greater throughout the UK. Derby town centre is also about to lose the presence of a general music shop which has been in the same place since 1908. It’s heartbreaking.
Why does this affect you? Well quite simply, if all of the small and specialist shops go out of business, you won’t have anywhere to go to try out new instruments! You’ll be limited to browsing photos of guitars online, sifting through video reviews with no guarantee whether they’re genuine or not, unable to access expert advice from retailers who fully understand their products and you’ll be at risk of receiving a guitar which has not undergone the same level of stringent quality control operated by most specialist retailers.
So yes, it affects businesses massively, but supporting large e-commerce companies over the smaller specialist shops could be catastrophic for the immediate future of musicians, and even more devastating for future generations.
Do you know the most frustrating bit for specialist retailers? The price of the product is often the same or similar, regardless of who you buy from…
So if you’re looking to buy a new classical guitar, why not see what some of us specialist classical guitar shops have to offer? Your custom could make a huge difference to small business owners and you’ll benefit from a great service too.