The Do’s and Dont’s of Testing an Electric Guitar At a Music Shop

Here’s one that hits close to home. Just the other day I was treated very rudely at a local music shop here in Penang  for testing the guitars they were selling.  Unfortunately, the salesman I was dealing with at the time was under the impression that I was practicing.

Though this false assumption may have been supported by how a friend of mine was testing a bass guitar and we were having a mini jam session, his decision to rudely grab the guitars from our hands after turning off the amps and repeating in an angry and demeaning voice “No practicing!” after we had been testing our respective instruments for less than 10 minutes the empty shop that morning was not up to our expectations of how music shops should treat their customers. That being said this is a short piece on the Do’s and Dont’s of testing electric guitars or any instrument in general.

1. Do Not Test Instruments When A Lot Is Going On

Sometimes it pays to wait a while before testing an instrument, especially a potentially loud instrument such as an electric guitar. If a series of lessons have just finished and students are filing out while a few customers are making purchases or enquiring regarding instruments or repairs, the shop you’re at is going to be fairly busy and/or noisy. Naturally they’d appreciate it if you could try out whatever instrument it is you are looking at a less chaotic time so it doesn’t annoy or distract anyone while they’re just trying to go about business as usual.

That being said, when you choose to try an instrument is completely up to you. Personally for me, I’ve always preferred trying out instruments when a shop is empty so the sales people can help me out if I need assistance regarding anything and I won’t feel like an ass for making the next guy wait his turn to test his guitar or amplifier like a kid at preschool . For example on the day the incident mentioned above happened we entered said music shop after breakfast which was around 10am so we would be free to compare guitars and amplifiers without having to make anyone wait for their turn, disturb anyone having lessons or create the wall of noise often heard at music shops when 3 guitarists, a pianist, 2 bassists and a drummer is trying out their respective instruments.

2.Do Take Your Time Testing That Guitar

Remember that you are making an investment in that instrument and that you are buying and unless it’s a cheap instrument and/or you have a lot of cash to spare you probably won’t be getting another one for quite a while. So I suggest you put in the effort to make sure you don’t regret that choice. Before misunderstandings occur, taking your time to test a guitar does not mean starting a small concert in the music shop or blasting out your rendition of Hotel California or Stairway To Heaven for the whole world to hear.

Taking to time to test a guitar means putting it through its paces and making sure it can do what you intend it to. Move through the different pickup selections offered by that guitar so you’ll know if you’re happy with the tones that guitar can give you. Feel free request to play on a specific amplifier that you are familiar with so you know what it will sound like, my personal choice is usually the Fender Mustang I since it was one of the first amplifiers I ever bought and is widely available. Bringing your own amplifier or pedals is also an option although you would do well to check with your local guitar store regarding relevant policies.

3.Do Not Spend Too Much Time Testing One Guitar

You are in a music shop with what must be hundreds of different guitars and amplifiers. The last thing anyone wants to do when buying something is to realize a week or so after that that they could have gotten something better for the money they spent, so as much as possible compare as many guitars as possible.

Compare guitars within your budget that are similar to what you’re looking for, at the same time take a look at guitars way out of your price range that might not be what you’re looking for as in doing so you will learn to recognize what high quality instruments feel and sound like, thus helping you understand whether or not you should save up more money before coming back or if what you intend to get is a steal as it sounds very similar to a high-end guitar (though in some cases the high-end guitar might just be totally not worth it, test more guitars and you’ll find out).

Test as many guitars as possible and take your time learning about each one because buying a musical tool is something you tend to want to get right the first time around, and knowledge is power.

I started this article with the intent on helping to shed light on what should be done when testing guitars so people buying guitars can do so with less frustration and difficulty. Learning an instrument is difficult enough, so it is important that people buy the right one for the. Furthermore, I wanted to help inform salespeople at music shops who might not be musicians on why we do the things we do and why it is necessary to in short, help them help us. I hope this was a pleasant read, have a great day you guys!

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