I shop on amazon.com quite a lot when buying musical accessories and instruments to find great deals at low prices. In this article I will be comparing the pros and cons of buying online vs. buying at your local music store.
The pros of buying online
Whenever you shop online the first thing that you will find is the large variety of items available to you. One of the cons of shopping in a music store is that you can only buy what they physically have in stock. With online, if a dealer doesn’t have the item you are looking for, no problem; just go to another website and buy it from there. If you don’t know what you are looking for a couple of searches online can help you find something that you like. Both Musiciansfriend.com and Amazon.com have search filters to help you narrow the search down to find something a bit more specific. For example, I normally search for guitars, but if I have a certain budget of let’s say $300; I’ll check that box so that items within my $300 price range will show up. If you are shopping for gifts or a hobby instrument you will know that everything displayed on the page will fit into your budget.
Sometimes I look for something a bit more specific like Fender guitar amps, so I’ll check the box to only display Fender amps. One of the cons of shopping in an actual music store is that you can’t narrow your search down like that. In fact just the other day I was in a local music store browsing their electric guitars and amps and there was another customer in the store that was also looking for similar items. The sales person and customer spent at least thirty minutes moving amps around and looking through all the items to find a specific type of amp that they couldn’t seem to find. Even after I left the store they still never found the amp. I love music stores, but sometimes they have amps and gear all over the place which makes it a bit hard to find the exact item that you are looking for. If you shop online you normally won’t have that problem.
As named above you can normally check a little box to view items within a certain price range, but on top of that most websites have sales for crazy low deals. For the Holidays Epiphone had a Les Paul Junior for $99.00 flat, shipping included. I don’t think I’ve ever found a new brand name electric guitar for such a low price. I found that most online dealers have lower prices compared to your local music store, ranging from new strings to musical instruments. Online dealers have a lot of really low prices and if you know what to look for you can find some excellent deals.
The Pros of shopping at the music store
The biggest problem with shopping online is that you can’t physically see the item in front of you. If you buy something online you get it as is. Cracks, dents and mold could be a few problems that you find after you open the box when buying something online. When you buy instruments online you can’t test out how they feel in your hands. Every instrument is unique, even if the instruments are the same type and brand they all have their minor imperfections; some more than others. I like to actually see those flaws before I buy the item and I like to find which instruments are the most comfortable in my hands and give them a good look over before I actually pay for them, that way I know for sure that I’m not buying a dud. Holding the instrument and inspecting it for flaws before buying it is something that you can only do at a music store.
Another great thing when buying in a store is that you can ask for help and advice, which will normally help you make a better decision before purchasing your item. Sometimes the sales clerk will even be nice enough to open the box and let you test the product out in the store. Music instruments, amps and a lot of other equipment are sometimes left out on display so that you can test it out before bringing it home. If you get really lucky you can sometimes even negotiate with the music store owner to get a lower price.
If you show the sales clerk an ad paper or tell them about a better price you found elsewhere, most music stores will match the price or even throw in some special offers to try and even out the value. If you come in often as a loyal customer they may even start to show you special treatment and give you lower prices on items. My sister’s violin once had a problem with the tuners slipping out of place and our local Luthier at the music store helped us out and fixed everything for free.
Sadly you can’t get that type of service online. If something is wrong with your instrument that you bought online you will have to either ship it back to the seller or take it into a music store to see if they can fix it for you.
Which one is better?
What it really boils down to is money and quality. You will never really know what you will be getting online until you open the box to see what’s inside, but you will more than likely get it at a lower price. At the music store you will always know exactly what you will be getting before you buy it to insure that the product is at its best quality before bringing it home.
Share with us which one you prefer, online deals or the music store service?