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Thread: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

  1. #26
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Here we are on the major mandolin forum reading a thread whose title is the names of the stores that welcome you to play and discussing the individual mandolins in each store for sale like a bunch of wine connoisseurs at a tasting. We have mandolin players from all over (and its a nitche group) giving testimonials here about their pilgrimage to these stores inspiring others to make that trip even if they themselves were not in the market. Like me for instance. Inspired by repeated posts like this one I think I spent 12 hours driving there and 2 days accommodations mostly to go to these stores to try mandolins.

    All because they let you play them. And yes, no one hoovers. I was not in the market. I went to play them. They knew it because I told them that when I walked in and they smiled and said enjoy. I bought hats, Tee-shirts, and came very close to buying a unique guitar that I had about as much reason to buy as an Eskimo needs to buy ice.

    Point is, you cant buy that kind of advertising at any price. Their merchandise becomes the destination event of their own consumer base. Expensive mandolins become an acquired desire that builds over years. We know where to get one. I'd say they are pretty smart and know what they are doing.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Registered User mee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    What good is playing an instrument you could never hope to afford? You just end up wishing you could and every instrument you can afford is always going to be lacking, so I just educate myself to the possible, and if I find one that speaks to me that I can buy, I'll know it.
    my dad always said "if you are going to wish, wish BIG"

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  5. #28
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    What good is playing an instrument you could never hope to afford? You just end up wishing you could and every instrument you can afford is always going to be lacking, so I just educate myself to the possible, and if I find one that speaks to me that I can buy, I'll know it.

    I pass on prewar Martins too, although I've played a few. But those old D 18s haunt me.
    I certainly understand that viewpoint and respect your (and others) decisions. However, my interest in never always instruments that I own. I have played quite a few instruments that I will never in my wildest dreams will ever own including a good handful of Loar F-5s and one of the few Stradivari violins in a major museum's collection. I have always been interested since I was young in musical instruments especially ones with strings. And I have always been interested in what makes them tick, why one sounds better than another. I admire anyone who can built fine instruments and when younger had a strong aspiration to do so. I can't imagine any luthier who would not want to play and examine a finely built instrument.

    So, it is as much curiosity, love of music and love of musical instruments that draws me to play them, even ones I cannot ever afford. And the best of the vintage shops are ones where the folks who work there have the same enthusiasm as the people who shop there even if they (the customers) are only there to kick tires.

    Many years ago, probably in the early 1980s, I was at Mandolin Brothers and I was trying out some mandolins and guitars when Stan walked told me that he wanted me to see something amazing. It was a Loar K-5 mandocello that they had there. I played it for a short time and we both marveled at the fact of how beautiful and also rare this thing was. I also remember that Stan was probably more excited than I was at this instrument. I had also been at MB when Stan asked me if I wanted to play a Loar F-5. And I was not a close friend of his or even a regular customer.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Feb-16-2019 at 4:15pm.
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  6. #29
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Well first, let me say I’m NOT trying to pick a fight. Truly. I know there are many who will disagree with this. But personally, I don’t think it’s quite right to go into a shop, take up store employee’s time, spend the day, playing everything in the store (putting unnecessary additional play wear on the entire inventory) when you are NOT in the market for a new instrument. What is the purpose here? Free entertainment? Self-education? If the OP had at the very minimum said that there was at least a chance, albeit ever so small, that he might have played SOMETHING that he couldn’t walk away from, that might make me feel a bit better about this process.

    This is just my opinion. YMMV. I couldn’t do it. I mean, I’d certainly go in and look, but I wouldn’t make employees take them down from the wall for me to play unless I had a serious interest. Phase don’t flame me! I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts I’m in the minority here.
    I agree completely with you. I frequent "mom-and pop" Music stores whenever I can, and I only play an instrument if I think there is a possibility I might purchase it. Now my MAS is under control with my current mandos, I would try a tenor guitar if I found one in a store, as I am interested in purchasing one (maybe) if the price and sound were right. I also spotted a parlor-size 12-string that I didn't have time to try, I have a 12-string but the parlor size (if the sound is right, the price was good) might prompt a purchase. But why play if you don't plan to (maybe) buy? I KNOW there is no way I can afford a high-end instrument!

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Only been to Cotten and Gruhn once many years ago. Had a great time at both places. My wife was looking to try to upgrade her fiddle. At Gruhn's we were taken upstairs and George spent an hour showing us different fiddles and gave some helpful suggestions. Had gone in there to try out Woody Paul's old Gibson fiddle, but left with a Hopf stamped model instead.

    Yes, I can feel guilt about going to shops when I'm not planning to buy. Or to just try out something so expensive I'll never be able to own it. Still, it's nice to see what can be had if the resources were available. Plus, it helps to educate my ear and my hands as to what something really good is like.
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  8. #31

    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    And,one never knows who one might see/hear in these stringed-instrument hallowed halls. In Gruhn's one day
    I got to listen to Norman Blake try out a few guitars. I said hello;but didn't bug him(I was trying to be polite) THEN,my brother,who is not at all interested in instruments,nor did he know who Norman Blake is,was standing outside smoking a cigarette and Norman B. goes outside and
    stands there talking with him...

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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    I have been in a store and was asked if I wanted to play the F5 Loar they had. I knew they didn't let everyone play it as it was on consignment. I also knew there was no way in h+++ that I could afford it, but I jumped at the once in a lifetime, for me, chance to play a Loar F5. You may find an instrument that will haunt you forever playing things you can't afford, or you may find the one you have is just as good sounding or better and a couple hundred thousand $$$$ cheaper.

    There will be many instruments I may play that someone else owns or in a store that will never be mine, but listening to the sound and possibly finding a sound you love may help in your search for a more affordable instrument when you hear it. Or make you love the one you have.

    Remember "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with"
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  10. #33
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Sometimes playing an expensive instrument that you are unlikely to buy turns out to be a reassuring thing.

    I've played many very expensive instruments that, to my ear, didn't sound as pleasing as my less expensive instrument.
    I went home feeling pretty good.
    Phil

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    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    When I travel i try to visit places that resonate with my personal interests; art galleries, photo exhibits, music and record stores. If i visit Nashville, Carters, Gruhns & Cotten Music will be at the top of my list, just to check out. Who knows when or where an instrument purchase will happen.

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    If you want to have an educated opinion, you need to play a lot of instruments!

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    If the world suddenly changes and you really shouldn't play instruments in a music store,
    there will suddenly be a large sign saying: "Don't play the instruments!"
    (Trust me.)
    Phil

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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    I have had the pleasure of visiting Gruhns and Carters on several occasions. I've even bought a couple of guitars at Gruhns. Nice people at both stores. Looking forward to going again. I've never played a Loar, but I have played several prewar Martins.

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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    If you want to have an educated opinion, you need to play a lot of instruments!
    THIS^^
    I tend to feel a bit self-conscious about asking another person if I can play their instrument, so even when I'm around really nice mandolins, I don't often get the chance to play one. Not so in a store like this. This is the one opportunity I have to try out a lot of high end instruments and see what I might be missing. One of these days it will get me scheming how to save 15k to spend on a grail instrument. This is what these seller's count on, giving people a little taste so that they'll be inspired to eventually buy in.
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    If you want to have an educated opinion, you need to play a lot of instruments!
    Very true Shaun! How would one know if they don't try all they can? And for the majority of us to play a grail mandolin/instrument the only way is to visit a shop that has multiple examples, even if one doesn't buy then the seed will be planted. I never thought I'd be able to get a high end anything but playing some in the past at different shops got me going to strive for what I want and a whole lot of trading up to get what I have now.

  19. #40
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    When my older daughter was about 8 she took piano lessons at a prestigious music school. One day her teacher told hr that Steinway invited all the students to come visit their showroom and they were invited to play pieces in a recital. So she played her simple tune on a beautiful 9 foot grand piano. Afterwards, we were all invited to walk around the showroom and try any piano we would like. She found a nice one she liked for $55,000. Of course, I bought it for her. Just kidding...

    OTOH the Steinway folks knew that getting their brand in the forefront of young musician's minds is a good marketing ploy. And it was a fun and educational experience for my kid and me. I guess we could have opted to not play or touch any piano but I can't see why.
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  20. #41

    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Same with tennis shoes (basketball, running, etc.).........we want to wear what the pros wear!

  21. #42

    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    When my older daughter was about 8 she took piano lessons at a prestigious music school. One day her teacher told hr that Steinway invited all the students to come visit their showroom and they were invited to play pieces in a recital. So she played her simple tune on a beautiful 9 foot grand piano. Afterwards, we were all invited to walk around the showroom and try any piano we would like. She found a nice one she liked for $55,000. Of course, I bought it for her. Just kidding...

    OTOH the Steinway folks knew that getting their brand in the forefront of young musician's minds is a good marketing ploy. And it was a fun and educational experience for my kid and me. I guess we could have opted to not play or touch any piano but I can't see why.
    Steinway knows that there are many of these kids whose parents can and do buy their little dears a $50,000 piano. Plus it is just another prestige item to go with the Porsche in the driveway. My wife was executive director of a youth symphony and she would hire soloists. There was usually a Steinway at the venue, but they would need practice facilities. Out of a hundred high school age students, there were a dozen families with full size Steinways clambering to host the soloist.
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  22. #43

    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    It's a Bösendorfer for me once I make my millions.

    Generally I avoid playing the extremely expensive instruments at stores for fear of accidentally dropping them and being financially ruined but I'll play just about everything else. I live a few blocks from Houston's main Guitar Center and as you can imagine all sorts of interesting used instruments show up there. I think my favorite so far was a used semi-hollow fretless Rick Turner Renaissance bass, I think it was around $1600. It's definitely a great way to learn about instruments and what you might be interested in in the future. I also played a bajo sexto there and realized it wasn't for me.

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    Registered User ellisppi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    for a slightly different perspective, I MOST CERTAINLY want you to try out anything from my shop
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Seter View Post
    It's a Bösendorfer for me once I make my millions.
    I usually wouldn't go to a piano store just to look and play, as I have a very nice Young Chang grand. But, there is a store in Denver that carries Bosendorfers, and I stop there whenever I'm in town. The last time, the only Bosendorfer Imperial was down in the shop being prepped for shipment. The wonderful sales lady took me down and said, "Play it all you want". Of course, they have many other new and used instruments. It is nice to be able to compare them. Mason & Hamlins are usually my favorites.

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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Having been in high dollar sales, (fine jewelry, musical instrument) the reason people go into stores is, in many ways, the simple opportunity to immerse themselves in beautifully made pieces. To learn about how they come to be such expensive things. How many times did I encourage a customer to play something they might not affford “at the time”? Many! If they don’t see the difference, feel the best piece they may ever play, how will they be inspired to reach for the stars.
    Today, the customer may not have the pocket depth for a big purchase but, from the selling side of the counter, they might another time. It’s simple selling, let the client drive the Rolls and be happy when they go home with a Bentley, Rolls? Maybe next time.
    Sales staff get paid to take care of customers, it’s called “selling”.
    I understand the feeling of taking up someone’s time and appreciate that but, that’s not how selling works. I’ve spent hours and hours working with customers on a fairly small diamond sale one year and a few anniversaries, birthdays, special occasions later, they are back to get something truly amazing. It all takes real patience and an ability to have e client happy to hand over a large sum of money. That’s what we get paid for.
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    I went to Gryphon with my cousin when we were visiting San Francisco and was able to play anything I wanted and found that a lot of the stuff available, while stunning, didn't suit, and that even stuff with wonderful sound didn't fit my hand well. I wouldn't have known that without trying ... and when I went to Acoustic Music out here in Guilford, I had no intention of buying, I was just curious how a Pava sounded (there was one advertised on their website at the time) and figured playing one or two fine mandolins wouldn't take up much sales time. I couldn't afford what they had in stock although it was nice to compare. And then the dude asked if I wanted to play something interesting and he unlocked a cabinet and pulled out a 1923 snakehead with serious wear and a repaired crack and it was everything I wanted in a mandolin. And somehow I made it work financially. If I hadn't been trying out what was around, he wouldn't have brought out the snake and i'd be without the instrument I've been playing almost exclusively for the past five years or so. I figure -- you never know.
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  29. #48
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
    for a slightly different perspective, I MOST CERTAINLY want you to try out anything from my shop
    Thanks, Tom - just so happens I'm going to be in Austin in a few weeks and would love to check out the shop and some mandolins. Do you have regular "visitors hours" or is it a drop-in anytime situation?

  30. #49
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Steinway knows that there are many of these kids whose parents can and do buy their little dears a $50,000 piano. Plus it is just another prestige item to go with the Porsche in the driveway. My wife was executive director of a youth symphony and she would hire soloists. There was usually a Steinway at the venue, but they would need practice facilities. Out of a hundred high school age students, there were a dozen families with full size Steinways clambering to host the soloist.
    I don't think that was the full intent of Steinway to sell to indulgent parents of little kids. You are talking about the very small percentage of people who are buying them for prestige and frankly the kids at that age would not know the difference. I think they were looking toward appealing to the few young people who might eventually become professionals and who would really need to have such an instrument. Besides, it was also a trip for the prestige of the music school.
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  31. #50

    Default Re: Carters and Gruhns...visit yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by ellisppi View Post
    for a slightly different perspective, I MOST CERTAINLY want you to try out anything from my shop

    Next time in Austin I will stop by. Currently have a Pava Pro that is my main mando
    - although I have a couple that I paid more for.

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