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Thread: Music store etiquette?

  1. #1
    Registered User Hammerless's Avatar
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    Default Music store etiquette?

    Hello to all; Iím new to this forum as well as to playing mandolin (I played acoustic guitar 30+ years ago, but thatís another story). I have just started to learn mandolin, thanks to Mandolessons.com, with a crappy Tenada that I bought on a whim 40+ years ago. It ended up in the back of my various closets, partially due to itís cheep construction. Now Iím shopping for a better instrument and am particularly interested in the Kentucky KM-270 series. Before I pull the trigger on this mandolin I would like to go into a couple music stores and get a properly made instrument in my hands to try out. Would it be poor etiquette to bring a tuner with me into a store, pick up one of their instruments and start tuning it?
    Also, I might be in Boston in a couple weeks; what is a good, mandolin knowledgeable, music store in that area?
    Thank in advance for your help, Hammerless

  2. #2
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    The Music Emporium in Lexington is where you want to go when visiting Boston.
    Plan on several hours!
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerless View Post
    Would it be poor etiquette to bring a tuner with me into a store, pick up one of their instruments and start tuning it?
    I usually use a tuner app on my smartphone.
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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    I can't see that would be a problem as long as the tuner did not mar the finish and the tuner was obviously not merchandise. Good stores keep their instruments pretty close to in tune. The big box stores, though, you could spend more time tuning than playing. There was a small store I used to go to that had a big digital tuner mounted on the wall, on all the time. You could just walk up to it with a tryout instrument and tune up.

    But it is always best to ask first in any store. Some stores will prefer to have a staffer tune it up for you. Some stores even want a staffer to take the instrument down off the wall for you.

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Retired from 40 years of music retail, I can tell you no matter how many hours we spent keeping our display instruments tuned, weather and “newness’ made it impossible to keep them 100%, and we expected our better players to fine tune to their standard. We only got bothered when a complete novice tried to overtune, or the occasional Alternate Tuning Guy would come audition a guitar and leave it that way. We felt it was very important our instruments be “hands-on” and suffered the occasional broken string, and once in a while, an instrument dropped to the floor because it wasn’t returned to its hook properly.

    Cost of doing business.
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  9. #6

    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    If you are planning on visiting stores in Boston, please be aware that we have pretty strict public health restrictions (quarantining periods, masks, etc.) throughout New England so check on those before you make your decision, and the Emporium is by appointment only. It is not open to the general public. I'd contact them several days in advance. I have also not seen their mandolin stock this low in over a decade.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  10. #7
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Be aware that TME's stock as shown online includes just two mandolins for less than $3,000 and no oval holes. I have a KM-272, which is just a 270 in a different color, and it's a remarkably good mandolin but probably not the equal of a $3,250 Collings.

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    Registered User Hammerless's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Thanks for all your replies. My schedule will not be flexible enough to arrange an appointment at the Emporium but will certainly consider it for a future trip.

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    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    As mentioned above, if the instrument I am trying out is so far out of tune that I cant get it close by ear I will use the tuner app on my phone. Back before smart phones I used to ask employees to tune instruments for me, they'd usually be happy to help. I always figured it was there stuff, not mine... yet. It game me time to make small talk with the sales people which is something I like doing anyway.

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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    If youíre interested in playing Kentuckys, it turns out that Saga has 956 dealers in the US. https://www.sagamusic.com/dealer-locator/ So, depending on where you live, you may find a store within driving distance. The standard warning about the big chain music stores, though, is that the mandolins there often need a set-up.
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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Only if you play Stairway to heaven out of tune over and over and over....

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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    Only if you play Stairway to heaven out of tune over and over and over....
    On at least 8 different instruments each with a cost of at least 15 times your budget. Make sure you where an old concert t-shirt.
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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    No problem. Bring a tuner..... Proper etiquette would be to remove belt, ring, watch... or any other objects that may damage the instument.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Over the years I’ve found that just politely asking if it’s ok to take down an instrument and play it goes a long way, and usually that’s all that’s needed for a great shop experience (with the instrument and shop staff). Most places will provide you with a tuner if needed etc.
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  21. #15
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    ... just politely asking if it’s ok ... usually that’s all that’s needed for a great shop experience ...
    Side story, & plug for a great place:

    On my first visit to the Denver Folklore Center, 6-8 years ago, I asked if it I could try out the $4K XYZ mando that was in a closed (and probably locked) cabinet, somewhat hiding behind the $10K ABC mando. Their response: "Sure, go ahead; the cabinet's not locked." Yikes!

    That was an hour before I met the legendary Harry Tuft, founder of the Center, who was sure that he knew me from somewhere. Even if he was wrong, and I'm omitting lots of details here, that was among the better two hours of my musical life! (Was it maybe because I mentioned up front that he really didn't need to get the Loar out of the bank vault?)

    BTW: Everything was in tune!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Dec-29-2020 at 1:15pm.
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  23. #16

    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    Only if you play Stairway to heaven out of tune over and over and over....
    That got me to messing around with Stairway on my mandolin. You know it does not sound too bad.

  24. #17

    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Music store etiquette is pretty simple. Count the signs and respect what they say, which is usually “Please ask one of our staff to take this instrument down” on the more valuable ones...or all instruments. Mandolins on walls almost always need tuning in my experience so that is expected; I’ve certainly never been chastised for doing so since it will leave the instrument more ready to impress someone.

    My experience buying a good mando in the pandemic year, at a really good store, was that I bought it online the day before, conditional on my approval once I had it in my hands. When I got to the store they brought it out to the sidewalk for me. This was in June. I sat on the edge of a concrete planter with it for awhile, wasn’t happy with the setup (slight buzz) so they kept taking it back in, while I waited on my planter, then it would reappear, I tried it again, sent it back again, they changed the E string and tweaked the bridge height a bit, eventually it was satisfactory. Certainly the oddest way i’ve ever done a $3600 purchase.

    But it sure is a drag when you can’t just hang out inside and try half a dozen different great mandos...
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    If there is no signage ask. And always, always, always...............take off your coat.

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  27. #19
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    And always, always, always...............take off your coat.
    Yes!!! Take off anything with buttons and zippers. The little scratches that you may leave might hinder someone else's decision to purchase.

  28. #20
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    I've always tried to make a point of purchasing something from the store, especially if I'm really evaluating apiece of gear (applies to mandolins, guitars, basses, amps, etc.) and not just window-shopping/noodling.

    A set or two of strings, a t-shirt, some picks, just something to let the store know I appreciate the opportunity to spend some hands-on time with a rig.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  29. #21
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    I've always tried to make a point of purchasing something from the store, especially if I'm really evaluating apiece of gear (applies to mandolins, guitars, basses, amps, etc.) and not just window-shopping/noodling.

    A set or two of strings, a t-shirt, some picks, just something to let the store know I appreciate the opportunity to spend some hands-on time with a rig.
    I do the same, especially at small, brick and mortar, Mom and Pop stores.

  30. #22
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zach Wilson View Post
    Yes!!! Take off anything with buttons and zippers. The little scratches that you may leave might hinder someone else's decision to purchase.
    Including shirts and jeans? Never seen that one before in a music store. It could get you thrown out of most of them real quick.

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  32. #23
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    Including shirts and jeans? Never seen that one before in a music store. It could get you thrown out of most of them real quick.
    Yes Louise, I think everyone should be nude in the music store. Haha!

    No, of course not!

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  34. #24
    Registered User Hammerless's Avatar
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    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    With COVID in the air, and being immune suppressed, it will be awhile before I wonder into a music store. Once I can scrape up the $ for the KM-272 I'll probably give TMS a call and place my order without getting my hands on one.
    Thanks for all the advise, particularly "Take off anything with buttons and zippers".

  35. #25

    Default Re: Music store etiquette?

    If you walk into a music store here in Lyon, France itís best to act passively angry, distracted and very polite.
    Just keep, Ďtheyíve done something wrongí in mind.

    Oh, and when you pick up the instrument (any instrument, firmly and politely) just show that you have a solid rhythm and hum or sing something to yourself while you play, and make it very slow and very simple, but solid, thatís it. (You donít care about the instrument youíre just trying to bring back some old tragic haunting memory.)

    Then after 30 seconds or so, you look up and pretend that youíve just discovered that they exist (at an emotional level) and voila! they are super friendly, and you can be normal again.
    Now you can ask them anything about what they think of the instrument, life, J-PS etc.

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