Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

  1. #1
    Registered User Tom Hart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Sylvania, OH
    Posts
    61

    Default Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Heading to Nashville in September. I've visited Carter's in the past, how would everyone compare/contrast these two excellent stores?
    2011 Old Wave
    1958 Gibson F-12
    Morgan Monroe MDM 1
    2001 Paul Smith (father-in-law)
    Antoniotsai double neck
    Bruce Wei wall hanger

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    The atmosphere at Gruhn's is very different from Carter's.
    More spacious, more relaxed.

    You might also pay a visit to Cotten Music. A much smaller store. Cotten is not normally open on Saturdays unless you call in advance.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    maryland
    Posts
    1,386

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Gruhnís has George, the leading authority on vintage instruments...of all time.

    Bob

  4. The following members say thank you to re simmers for this post:


  5. #4

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    I was at both stores in June and while Carter's was a bit more chaotic they had a much more interesting selection to me. They have a high-end room and then the rest of the floor. If you're serious about making a purchase don't be intimidated by their marked prices. They are probably about 20-30% over what you they would take. There are probably some pieces that they're more firm on but a friend purchased a mandolin that was marked at 3600 for 2400 if that says anything about what they're asking. When I was there I played a Hutto that I liked very much and might have considered more seriously if I knew how they were about their pricing. It was $9500 and too rich for me but if I thought I could have gotten it for around $6k then we might have had a deal. If you really want something that's not a brand new instrument then low-ball them. They won't want you to leave and they're work with you. They had an Altman for 11,500 that was sublime. It sounded like a mandolin that was part truffle. Powerful, articulate, light, and earthy at the same time. I loved the sound but immediately thought it was more mandolin than I would ever be able to use. Carter's has little amp rooms where you can go close a door and play something with a little less background noise.

    I found the environment at Gruhn's to be a little too spare. They have a ton of guitars and a lot of space but the mandolins are only about 15% of their hanging space. I played a few of their mandolins but no one came up to me and had any interest in directing me to what they had. It was up to me to rifle through what they had hanging up. I didn't like it and I left after I played a couple pieces that I saw on the internet that I knew I wanted to hear. I just didn't have the patience to handle everything they had.

    I had driven from Los Angeles to shop for a mandolin in cites all along the way. Carter's probably had the most diverse selection of all the stores I visited. Unless Gruhn's has a whole other selection of mandolins that I didn't see, I considered it a waste of time. It's mainly a guitar store.

  6. The following members say thank you to BillytheB for this post:


  7. #5
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    2,423
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Yes Gruhn's has, I know had a room above the ground floor at his old place the "inner sanctum" where all the Loars and high end stuff is at. His new place I haven't been to but its probably the same. You just have to ask to speak with George. I was there at his old place 8 years or so ago and I agree the help wasn't too accommodating toward making a sale even when I asked if they had this and that, they looked it up on their computer and said no, they could obviously see they were serious instruments and yet they didn't point me toward anything!
    Never been to Carters, but would like to make the pilgrimage one day to both, and Elderly Instruments I also would like to see some day.

  8. #6
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,129
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Well …. Gruhn's in the "new" building is worth a visit. Especially if you visit the second floor. Customers are brought asked for specific instruments to try out. No wandering around in my experience. The first floor is for wandering and worth seeing. The staff is efficient and knowledgeable. And George is a walking encyclopedia of information. Carter's is more laid back …. Walter Carter worked with George Gruhn for years before opening his own store. You can wander among all the instruments. A few are locked up and require a request to play. I was allowed to play the Loar era Gibson F5's even after I assured him I could not afford to buy one. Thank you Walter. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable. Cotton's I have yet to visit. The two stores are both located on 8th street within a couple of miles of one another. Right next door to Carter's is Arnold's one of the best eateries in Nashville. Carter's does have more mandolins on hand usually ….. enjoy your trip. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  9. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to UsuallyPickin For This Useful Post:


  10. #7
    Registered User chasray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Ky
    Posts
    498

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Yes, go to both stores. I have yet to visit Cotten's but want to. Cotten's usually carry Collings and a Kimble or two.

  11. #8
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Gruhn's has close to 60 mandolins in stock today. The more valuable ones are kept on the second floor. If you want to see any of those, all you have to do is ask.

    Gruhn's staff is always helpful, but they often leave folks alone unless they ask for help.

    I'm going up there today to look at a guitar for one of my students. We will also pay a visit to Cotten's.

    If you like Greek food, Athens Family Restaurant, a mile or so up 8th Ave., has been consistently good.

  12. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  13. #9
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    375
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    Yes Gruhn's has, I know had a room above the ground floor at his old place the "inner sanctum" where all the Loars and high end stuff is at. His new place I haven't been to but its probably the same. You just have to ask to speak with George. I was there at his old place 8 years or so ago and I agree the help wasn't too accommodating toward making a sale even when I asked if they had this and that, they looked it up on their computer and said no, they could obviously see they were serious instruments and yet they didn't point me toward anything!
    Never been to Carters, but would like to make the pilgrimage one day to both, and Elderly Instruments I also would like to see some day.
    The new Gruhn's does indeed have the upstairs room. I went to pick up my Martin from some extensive repair work, and ended up spending over an hour with George. We played several high-end mandolins (including a re-necked Loar) even though I had no $$ ability or intent to buy one. I say "we" because he also picked several tunes so I could really listen to the differences.

    He also introduced me to his snakes, 19 of which are kept in his office adjacent to the instruments.

    What I've learned about visiting both stores is that you just need to be forthcoming about what you want. I'm glad my wife (girlfriend at the time) convinced me to ask to talk to George. I would have chickened out and missed out on one of the best experiences I've ever had.

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Drew Streip For This Useful Post:


  15. #10
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Charleston SC
    Posts
    2,382

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    I went to both about a year ago. I liked Carter's better. But you really should go to both. Either one is worth the trip and to have both there is not to be passed up. I didnt know Gruhns even had a second floor. They saw me playing mandos but no one said anything to me the whole time. But if I had known the good stuff was on a hidden second floor, I would have been too shy to ask to go there as I wasnt going to buy a top tier mando and I wouldnt mislead anyone. I went there to play some top tiers just so I'd know what they were about, but I wasnt going to put anyone out over it. The mandolins on the first floor at Gruhns were a smallish row compared to Carter's. I played everything they had at Carters except the half dozen that were in the locked up cab. Spent hours. Loved it!

    Also I got to play at the Bluebird Cafe open mic. Great night !
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

  16. The following members say thank you to Astro for this post:


  17. #11
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Chesterfield, VA
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Going to both should be a part of any trip to Nashville.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

    Eastman MD615SB
    Martin D35
    Gibson SG

  18. The following members say thank you to Mando Mort for this post:


  19. #12

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    You only get one chance to make a first impression. A secret handshake shouldn't be a requirement to get someone to talk to you. My sister and I both remarked about how lame the atmosphere at Gruhn's was from a customer perspective. No one greeted us, the store wasn't busy. If someone is going to charge top dollar for their instruments it shouldn't be my job to figure out how the store works. I don't see myself going back any time soon, especially to buy a mandolin but I'm forewarned. Was Mark Agnesi a Gruhn's guy before being picked up by Gibson?

  20. The following members say thank you to BillytheB for this post:


  21. #13

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    No, he worked at Norm's in LA.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  22. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Br1ck For This Useful Post:


  23. #14

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Walter Carter runs the best vintage shop in the country. You'll find him hanging out on the floor casually laughing and telling stories with customers who don't even know who he is; he cultivates customers for a lifetime. Even if you can't afford it today, he is happy to plant the seed and let you play everything. They have incredible inventory accessible to anyone.

    Gruhn's is cold, arrogant & demeaning; no need to ever visit there again!
    There used to be a bench outside near the old shop.
    Carved into one of the slats read,"Goin' inside? Get ready for a screwin' from Grewin'!"

  24. The following members say thank you to grandcanyonminstrel for this post:


  25. #15

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Go to both. Both are great stores. Instruments are instruments -- it doesn't matter who is selling them. I say check out the Nashville pawn shops and Craigslist, too. Lotsa instruments in Nashville and there have been for decades....

    For years Gruhn has joked that he has trained his "competition." He said that long before Carter's opened, in reference to other former employees who went into business for themselves.

    I have met George Gruhn many times at guitar shows and in just a few minutes you can quickly get an idea of the knowledge he possesses. He call tell more about an instrument in a glance, than most people can spending hours with a stack of books or searching online. In fact, he wrote the books! He is a world class authority and it goes way beyond guitars, mandolins and banjos. He is unique. He might strike some people as rude or arrogant, but I have always viewed him as sort of an absent-minded professor, possibly the awkwardness people are seeing is to cover some shyness. He has a true love of stringed instruments, IMHO.

  26. #16
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Los Angeles CA
    Posts
    1,377

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    I worked with Christy and Walter only when they were with Gruhn. Believe they had a very loyal following then as well as now at Carterland. I can't vouch for George but the other two are first class folks.

  27. #17
    Registered User Kevin K's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Tennessee
    Posts
    1,214

    Default Re: Gruhn's and/ Carter's?

    Visit both and Cotten's too, take the time and enjoy!
    "Can I have a little more talent in the monitors please?"

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •