The Guitar Shop

September 6, 2013

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The “Guitar Shop” intrigues me, I don’t know why as I’ve been in many in various countries around the globe.

Strangely they all follow the same formulae – 100’s, if not 1000’s of guitars crammed in to all sorts of places. All carefully placed so if you so much as breathe on one it’s bound to smack in to its neighbour.

The hardest place ever to actually find a guitar shop was, most surprisingly, New Orleans, despite being swamped with live music in every bar. One thing in favour of the US is the ubiquitous Guitar Centre. Industrial sized sheds, totally soulless but crammed with zillions of beautiful shiny guitars, from the carpet tiles up to dizzying rafters, requiring a cherry picker to inspect the stock. They have not only the biggest range of guitars but prices too. From a $100 to a PRS $100,000 custom built effort inlaid with slivers of unicorn horn.

AND they were the most enlightened store I’ve ever been in – “Would you like a blast” ? enquired the sales assistant gesticulating at the Unicorn.

Unfortunately the worst place I’ve ever been in is our very own, in a manner of speaking, HARRODS – some £20k special EC Limited Edition Strat, not a unicorn in sight, the suited ok selling it wouldn’t let me touch or play it and just talked bollocks about its potential collectability, passing judgement before I could get my wedge out.

However Guitar Centres aside, most shops have poor quality ancient shop fittings, a bit of low tech mdf slat wall, faded gig posters, dead flies, rust and have never seen a hoover or any other form of suction. Surly youth assistants, who’ve never seen sunlight or a vitamin. Goateed over weight owners loitering behind the counter, talking drivel and ripping off the occasional blistering lick – I guess they do have to know a few and have plenty of time and gear to practice.

So now it’s a hot afternoon in London. Boilingly tropical infact. I do Tin Pan Alley – what a dump, talk about resting on your laurels. As it’s so hot I decide to walk, rather than do Gas Mark 6 on the tube and check out a couple of other BIG names in the guitar shop world. One having something to do with royalty and the other the Devil – probably always been a link there come to think about it.

How disappointing, cracking web sites but in reality like me Nan’s best room and she’s been dead 36 years.

It’s really bloody hot now and the specimen behind the counter (who to be fair was very pleasant), was wearing a thick wooly hat pulled tight down around his face. I wondered if he’d had some sort of cranial problem and was trying to keep everything in. He could barely move for guitars, pity the same could not be said for customers.

Rack up on rack. Must be at least £100,000 + if the ticket prices are to be believed. God knows why they don’t buy a tin of paint and a coffee machine – let’s face it you’d get a better reception on a used car lot. At least on a car sales pitch they do not look at you thinking “can he drive” ? I just know Skull Attack’s thinking “can he play ” ? – and I’m thinking “Jesus what should I try and play ” ?……. Same the world over.

Do I really want to spend £3,500 of my hard-earned on an instrument that hasn’t been cleaned or re-strung, in a grubby room with a sofa out of the Young Ones, while beanie bonce shreds his heart out, demonstrating the inadequacy of my musical dexterity ???

I can only assume the formulae works and I need to take heed !!! I’m off down the tip to find a sofa.

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