Gear shopping (in person) in today's world
I've been frustrated over the last few years by a common experience I have when doing any gear shopping in person at stores in my town (or almost any town, actually).
The problem is that I find myself - having only done about 30 minutes or so of online research - knowing way more than the sales staff about the products I'm shopping for, and I find that really annoying. And I'm not an expert gear-head by any stretch of the imagination, either - just an average part-time local amateur hack (my band plays about 2x per month) with a wife, a mortgage, a child, and a 9-to-5 desk gig to keep the lights on. I have a handful of axes and pedals and really only two amps that matter.
Despite my amateur-musician status, I like to be somewhat of an educated shopper - any purchase usually represents at least a few weeks worth of savings. Typically, I'm looking at a handful of competing products and trying to choose between them. So if I'm looking at delay pedals for example, or loopers, say (my last two pedal purchases over the past few years), I will scour a few world wide web resources such as online retailers, the manufacturer webpages, gear reviews, video demos, and several online fora like this one (note the dorky but proper Latin plural of "forum"). I also usually call or email a knowledgeable friend or two. Then, my thinking goes, I am ready with some basic knowledge to go to the store and *really* start learning about the details of each product with the true experts, the sales staff. What I'm hoping to get is someone saying, "yeah, i heard that about these pedals, too, but the truth is so-and-so," or "this particular function works really well/poorly," or at a minimum, "I have had a lot of customers tell me good/bad things about these after using them."
However, what I'm actually discovering is that I almost always know volumes more about each product than the the dudes who are actually selling the stuff, and purportedly knowledgeable about it all, and making their livelihood off of doing so. That really bothers me for several reasons: first, it seems to defeat the purpose of going to a brick-and-mortar store to try and either shop local or just avoid the interwebs, and second, what are these people doing all day? If I worked in music gear retail and had the world's most up-to-date gear at my fingertips delivered every week, I think I'd be playing with the stuff to learn it so that I could better sell it (or just to have fun as a bonus of the job). I'd certainly be able to discuss the bare minimums. But I can never seem to get some really basic questions answered like, "what's the difference between this one and that one," or "what's the difference between this current version and the last one released a few years ago?"
Even the small, local shops aren't the best about this, but Guitar Spinner here is the absolute worst. Those dudes know NOTHING here.
When I was growing up, you went to music stores to learn about different pedals or guitars or amps or whatever, try out several with help/coaching from a salesman, and then decide based on that whole experience. Salesmen really seemed to know their stuff back then. Nowadays the internet helps us all be a bit more educated on the front end (or all of us except those who are in gear retail for a living, apparently), but still nothing beats hands-on demoing of the products themselves. I don't think this excuses the sales staff from knowing their products, though - if anything, they should know even *more* now, because it's so easy for the average hack to think he knows it all. Am I being unrealistic?
Apologies for the length of this and the tone, if it seems I'm flying off the handle.
Last edited by Scantron08; June 13th, 2011 at 04:14 PM.
Reason: accidentally posted too early