Hello everyone, the idea for this article came to me thinking about how many times I entered a music store with the desire to try something, or because fascinated by the window or because I wanted to try a particular instrument or other, suffering from … GAS! That Gear Acquisition Syndrome that for musicians seems to be part of their own DNA.

I guess how many times this has happened to you too …

I would like to make a couple of purely personal considerations, on two aspects that I consider fundamental:

  1. the availability of material from a shop, to entice you both to try as much material as possible, and to make you want to buy something …
  2. the availability of the salesman or of those who follow you, his enthusiasm, etc., to make you try as many things as possible and in the end make you get that fregola that will eventually lead to the purchase of what you are feeling.

Ok that said, which may seem trivial, let’s consider the typical Italian situation.

Before continuing, however, I would like to emphasize that what I am about to write is the pure fruit of my personal considerations, and that I am well aware of the difficulties that an entrepreneur has (because this is a shopkeeper, a person who risks his own capital). keep a shop.

The shop and the importance of the showcase

Generally, when I walk into a store I don’t find the assortment that I would expect. Maybe there are also shops full of material, with shop windows that look spectacular from the outside, but then reveal themselves inside… not up to par. I fully agree that with the current crisis, stocking up (and therefore for a shop to buy the products in person – pay for them! – and then stock them in the warehouse until they have been sold) is a big problem. Therefore it is normal that many retailers prefer to turn to lower-end products, because statistically they are easier to sell.

However, it often happens that I enter a store, even a large one, ask about a product and then be told that it is not available at the moment, but only on order. Eh thanks, but if I order it then I have to buy it. If I already knew I liked it then I’m not coming to you to order it, if I want it new just surf the net and you can find anything, alternatively on http://mercatinomusicale.com you can find practically everything both used and new, and if it’s not there just be patient and it will arrive. 

On top of that, I can buy an effect new, maybe a guitar amp, but a guitar or any other instrument NO, it must be tried first, they are made of wood and each one will eventually sound different from the other. But do you think I buy a pig in a poke (I admit I did it a couple of times, but they were used, they cost little and they were branded, so badly I resold them without problems and without losing money)?

At least the classics …

I agree that a shop can’t have everything, but maybe some of the things that are more traditional (like a Shure SM58 microphone) or more current (like a Helix HX Stomp) could be ordered on demand if in addition to showcasing (thus raising the level of the shop), they would probably be sold soon. You also want to put the positive figure that the shopkeeper would do to say to the customer: “Look, I don’t have it at the moment, but I can order it so you can try it without obligation, it’s an object that goes away easily”. Of course, if you order me a pedal or a super-exotic boutique guitar or amplifier that only 0.0001% of the world population knows, well then I understand the shopkeeper if he elegantly accompanies you to the door … ????

Having said that, perhaps some of the cornerstones of music (for a guitarist I would say Fender, Gibson, Marshall, PRS, Martin, Taylor, etc.) it would be good to have them available … I do understand, however, that keeping a couple of Les Pauls, two SGs, one 335, a pair of PRS Custom 24s or a 24 and a 22, etc… requires a very substantial investment. Of course it is true that if you want to keep a shop running, you have to take a risk… Otherwise it’s like having a newspaper and not having time to write articles about it. If you do not have the possibility / intention to invest ok, you can do everything the same, but maybe you will have a lower level showcase, which can attract less customers …

The shopkeeper…

But let’s get to the point that perhaps affects most of all: the shopkeeper’s ability to pass on his passion, but also his willingness to let you try what he has firsthand.

I would like to make a comparison between two paradoxical situations that have happened to me, one at the antipodes of the other.

Italian experience …

The first is that of an Italian shopkeeper, whose name I do not remember, who I asked to deprive a guitar he had hung. He takes it, I try it and it’s ok, nothing exciting, but not bad. Then I get curious about another one who always has in store. We are talking about medium / low range instruments, under 7/800 euros. 

Here he replies: “Yes, but do you want to buy it? No, because if you just want to try it then no, then I have to clean it before putting it away to remove the fingerprints. “. I say, are we kidding? I find it needless to say that I have not passed … Now, what do I know if I would have liked that guitar or not? Ok, maybe as a shopkeeper you see a person who does not have great financial resources, but it does not mean that he does not buy in the future. 

We all know GAS: let’s say that instrument hit me for any reason. I could have bought it on the fly. Or maybe not sleep in it at night, save a little and then come back and buy it. Instead nothing, we will never know, because then he closed for bankruptcy and I don’t even remember what guitar it was …

Canadian experience …

The second is that of a shop in Ottawa, Canada, “Lauzon Music” (https://lauzonmusic.com), which I have already had occasion to mention in another article (http://musicanzait.trasferimentiaruba.it/2020/03/23/retro-sonic-eight-0-eight-overdrive/). As I wrote there, I go in unassuming and find an extremely kind salesman who welcomes me and asks me what I want. I say that in reality I am not willing to shop. I’m just a passing tourist (my accent confirms this). 

Instead of sending me to that country or completely disinterested in me (which is typical in Italy), he tells me that if I want to try something there are no problems. Then I start talking, I see an original TS9 and, having never tried it, I ask him if maybe it can be done. The enthusiastic one tells me that there are no problems, on the contrary, and recommends me not to stop at TS, but to also try other pedals, in his opinion much better, including the Retro-Sonic eight-0-eight Overdrive, which does not I know the least. All enthusiastic he tells me: “Try this and then let me know”. Ok, ????

The material made available to me by Lauzon Music, in Ottawa …

No, oh well, I don’t believe it! But as if that weren’t enough, he asks me which guitar I usually use and I report that I have a Gibson SG Supreme, with a maple top, and in response then he also takes me the one that for him is the closest SG he has in the shop and all happy he leaves it to me. Ergo, I find myself locked in the rehearsal room of the shop all alone with that goodness you see in the opening photo and in the one on the right, with the clerk on the other side of the shop all happy to be able to let me try their stuff in full trust without the worry of having to sell me something. Typical Italian situation… Sure.


It goes without saying that the first shop has failed, while the second is still a pleasure.

Indeed, when I returned from my (work) trip to Canada, I bought myself a Retro-Sonic eight-0-eight Overdrive like the one I tried from Lauzon Music on ebay, so much was the heat that I had left. Yes, I didn’t buy it directly from them, so they apparently didn’t make any money from me.

But the availability, the fact of feeling at home, that situation, are part of a memory that will NEVER go away. If I lived in Ottawa I would definitely come back, and it would probably become a fixed point for me. If that same availability and openness that they have shown with a foreigner like me also demonstrate it to all the other people, well, I’m sure they will be full of customers.

Published on musicanza.it on: 05/04/2020.