I was in my local Guitar Center this afternoon seeing what I could get for one of the guitars I’m just not playing any longer. As soon as I walked in, I was painfully greeted with some dude playing a Gretsch Country Gentleman absolutely cranked through a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe Blues Deville 4 X 10 combo. He was playing clean, for cryin’ out loud! He just didn’t need to be that loud. It was so loud that I had to practically yell to the sales guy in front of me who was THREE FEET AWAY!
This is a story we all know well. The shitty show-offs crank the amps, while the real players get the level to where they can evaluate the tone, then just… play… being respectful and considerate of the other people in the store. For instance, while that dude was hammering away on his cowboy chords on the Fender, this Japanese dude quietly took one of the new Ibanez guitars with the neon colors, plugged into a Line 6 Spider, then started RIPPING out Jazz lines – all at a volume where only he could hear.
A lot of people complain about the high schoolers that come in and do that. But the dude today was in his 30’s. It’s like, “DUDE! What do you have to prove?” And worse, he had this air about him that made him seem like he was God’s gift to guitardom! When he tried to play lead lines, he flailed all over the place! Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against people of any experience level trying out gear. But I do have a problem when it’s done without consideration for other people.
Circling back to the title of this article, I’ve only witnessed this in big-box retail stores. It’s almost as if it’s a policy to let people crank it up that loud. That would never happen at a place like Guitar Showcase in San Jose, or Gelb Music in Redwood City. The sales folks there would tell the perpetrator to chill; nicely, but they’d be pretty emphatic. Or in the case of Gelb, they’ll put you in the back room. For instance, I needed to test my Gretsch at gig levels through a Fishman SA220 SoloAmp, so they set me up in back so I wouldn’t disturb anyone. That’s just good customer service.
I think the big-box boys do their customers a disservice by not controlling people’s volume levels, or if they have to be loud to test out an amp, at least limit the time they can be above 100 dB. Oh well, that’s why my Guitar Center experiences are short and sweet, in and out. Kind of tough to put up with wankers.