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Old 01-20-2013, 11:15 AM   #1
Dan8484
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A few basic questions about trying/buying guitars from a music shop

I've played guitar for years but I've always been a bit intimidated by music shops, but the time has come where I'd like a new acoustic guitar. This will most probably seem like a stupid question to most people on here, but if I buy a guitar from a music shop is the set-up likely to be better than if I bought one online? I'm leaning towards getting a Yamaha FG700MS after having a go on one the other day, although I'll probably try a few other makes/models out. I know there are a few in stock, so my other question is would it be standard practise to try all the guitars of this make they have in stock and see if there are any subtle differences before I make my purchase? Is it best to buy a guitar that hasn't been out on the shop floor, given it won't have had any knocks/peoples sweaty hands all over it or is the display model likely to have been picked out as being the best of the bunch? Thanks for any replies
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:56 PM   #2
patticake
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no, the set-up is going to be the factory set-up most of the time. after all, some people - bluegrass players, for example - prefer higher action, some (like me) prefer lower action. you may be able to get the store to set it up, but i haven't been happy with store set-ups.

i prefer to buy a guitar from the floor because i can actually try that exact guitar. being made of wood, there's some variance between each individual instruments. if you find one with dings and scratches, you may be able to get a few bucks off, but you may not. to me, the bottom line isn't whether the guitar is pristine but how it sounds. i played over 20 blueridge parlors in several stores over a period of months, and then one day by accident i found "the one" - it sounded supreme, and i didn't even notice if it was mint or not.

have fun searching
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Old 01-20-2013, 01:19 PM   #3
GaryBillington
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A lot depends on the shop. Larger super-store type guitar shops will just leave whatever setup the factory did, but often smaller family run shops will take the time to set it up properly because they realise a well set up guitar is more likely to sell than one that isn't.

Sadly the amount of shops that do this seem to be rapidly declining (completely gone from my local area).

Trying before you buy is always the best idea though.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:43 PM   #4
patticake
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in all my years of buying guitars in southern california, i've never been in a shop, smaller, very small, average or large, that sets up all or even most of their guitars - and none that set up their under-$500 guitars. can't speak for other parts of the world, though.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:53 PM   #5
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Hey Dan... a music store can be a good place to sit down and spend a few minutes playing a certain model of guitar... if the environment is quiet and they have something you are considering. However, the price is almost always tremendously high compared to ordering it online, and I almost never purchase at a music shop. For example, a local shop let me play a nice Recording King, which was $400 there, but later I found I could get it for $180 online (and shipping was free). Wow.

As to the set up, the few times I did buy locally (usually a used guitar) the so-called "luthier" was an imbecile and the set up was complete trash... so unless you can afford to take the guitar to a genuine expert, I'd say forget about music shop set ups. The way I look at it, if you intend to play guitar for the long-term, you are much better off to learn how to do your own set ups and routine maintainance, and buy the few tools required... such as a set of dial calipers, precision straight edge, feeler gauges, hex wrenches, etc. I strongly prefer getting things done right, and with consistency, in the privacy of my own home.

All the best,

Jean
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:11 PM   #6
patticake
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huh - my local guitar stores are mostly competitive with online stores, and i prefer to buy locally when possible. some local stores price match, others throw in extras. actually one of our local stores here beats all online prices for taylors and martins, although they mostly do business online, but they do have a store section for those of us who prefer to come in and try.

btw, i haven't been pleased usually with in-store luthiers, but while my husband does most of our work, it's always a good idea to find a skilled luthier just in case. and not everyone has the time, patience or interest in doing their own setup work. one of our local stores does have a good luthier, and he only charges $35 for a setup, so it all depends on what you're comfortable with.

while most of the guys who do guitar work in most gc's aren't the best and their setups aren't even true setups a lot of the time, one of our local gc's has a highly recommended, honest and very skilled luthier in store, so you never know.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:28 AM   #7
GaryBillington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patticake
in all my years of buying guitars in southern california, i've never been in a shop, smaller, very small, average or large, that sets up all or even most of their guitars - and none that set up their under-$500 guitars. can't speak for other parts of the world, though.

It is becoming increasingly rare - but then so are guitar shops. 10-15 years ago there were about a dozen guitar shops within a few miles of where I live (south-west UK), and about half of them went to the effort of setting a guitar up properly. Now there's only 2 shops left within easy travelling distance and they only sell budget guitars with the factory setup.

Fortunately I have family in other parts of the country that I visit regularly and there are still some good shops near them.
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