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Thread: Music Store Etiquette

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Music Store Etiquette

    A search of previous threads didn't answer my questions, so here goes.

    When trying out instruments at a music store, what is good etiquette?

    I can't play much from memory, so would want to bring some sheet music with me. Would I need to take a music stand?

    I've read quite a bit about tuning in this situation, so am good there. What else do I need to know?

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Remove any clothing likely to mark tye back of an instrument (e.g. zippers)

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    It might be easier for you to simply memorize something short that you like that will let you play on all the strings. Or make something up. It will be easier than carrying music and stands to the store. It will also let you focus on listening more rather than having to read the music. You can simply play the strings, fretted and open and listen, doing this on different mandolins will let you hear the sound and you will be able to feel the neck shape for comfort. A simple scale from the low G to the high E would cover all the strings, or just play several notes on each string up to the 5t or 7th fret. Enjoy the search.
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Now days due to covid many stores and especially high-end stores, visits are made by appointment only. In this case and if appointment made I expect you could bring whatever within reason you wanted. I would consider how much you were wanting to spend, quality of instruments the store stocked, ability to ascertain playability, desired tone etc. Most online stores have a return policy so the most you're out is paying the return shipping cost if instrument is not what you were after or you could just simply ask for advise according to price point and go from there....and being that's you're pretty new to music calling a place like the mandolin store etc and talking to an experienced player and telling them your details they could tell you more than you'd know yourself by visiting a store, jmo
    Last edited by CBFrench; Feb-25-2021 at 9:13am.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    If you do visit a store, ask if they have someone there who can demonstrate instruments you're interested in. One that sounds pretty good when you're playing it might sound outstanding or nothing special when you listen to it. Ask them to keep playing as you walk down the other end of the store or as far as you can - the sound of some instruments carries better than others.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Some good ideas here, no need to reiterate. But as pops1 said, a scale helps, whichever one you're familiar with. And you can "play it like you mean it," even a scale. I would usually go with the G scale, as it covers a good range and is easy to play. Don't forget a little tremolo, too.

    Having a few chords that you know how they should sound is a good idea. My go to's are the basic G and D - 0023 and 2002. There's also my favorite funky chord, Em7 4253. If that doesn't sound meaty, something's wrong. For intonation, I use my patented Groovy Space D Chord© (patent pending) 11-0-0-10. If that doesn't sound dreamy, something's wrong.

    I also like maxr's suggestion of asking a clerk to play it while you listen, from near and far. Mandolins sound different from playing to listening positions. In a way, it's more important to know how it will sound to a listener than to you playing it, although you will almost always be hearing the latter.
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    You could bring your current mandolin so that you can A/B it against the store models. Oh, and don't forget to bring your favorite pick(s).

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    I always bring a snark and a pick, when it’s a planned outing. I like to just ask the clerk what their preference is for taking things off the wall. Before buying a stringed instrument I like to test every fret/position for dead spots/buzz/etc. Probably very annoying, but not as much as finding it after you bought it. Inspect every seam for signs of separation.
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    You could bring your current mandolin so that you can A/B it against the store models. Oh, and don't forget to bring your favorite pick(s).
    In my mind this would be the height of “dog and pony show” but, I see your idea Lucas. I’d be a little irritated if I was the seller, know what your own instrument sounds like and plays like, is it REALLY that hard to know your own equipment? How would you feel if the roles were reversed?
    My question is a little different, what are you playing now and, what are you looking for?
    This is a rather complicated scenario to say the least. Taking a tuner and picks makes sense.
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    My suggestion is the best lol...I have a feeling that poster is a beginner at music period and lacks the knowledge of all the intricacies of upgrading instruments other than if it's easier to play and sounds better than what she/he has. OP knows what they are willing to spend on an upgrade that's why a knowledgeable person in instrument sales can much better address that issue and can hit the nail on the head more than likely...."oh I love the way this one sounds and plays how much is it?...12K, will that be cash or credit?

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by CBFrench View Post
    My suggestion is the best lol...I have a feeling that poster is a beginner at music period and lacks the knowledge of all the intricacies of upgrading instruments other than if it's easier to play and sounds better than what she/he has. OP knows what they are willing to spend on an upgrade that's why a knowledgeable person in instrument sales can much better address that issue and can hit the nail on the head more than likely...."oh I love the way this one sounds and plays how much is it?...12K, will that be cash or credit?
    You may be joking but, 40 years ago, a friend of mine, who didn’t drive, asked me to go with him to pick up a shop-soiled Polymoog synth. he was thinking of buying. He agreed to buy it and the shop manager invited us into the back office to sort out the details; presumably thinking that he’d need some form of credit. “How eould you like to pay for this sir?” he asked. My friend put his hand in his pocket, threw £2500.00 on the table and said “Cash”. The manager immediately stood up and went to lock the door.

    I’d certainly recommend taking your existing instrument with you (unless it’s embarrassingly bad). I’ve been entranced by instruments several times only to find out, upon getting them home, that they sound almost identical to one I already have.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Play some arpeggios up the entire fret board. C major is pretty straight forward, play all combinations of C, E, G you can find.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    If you're trying guitar, don't play the intro to Stairway. If a bass, don't play Money.

    That's it!

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Free Bird!

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    You could bring your current mandolin so that you can A/B it against the store models. Oh, and don't forget to bring your favorite pick(s).
    Someone else has suggested this to me and I think it's a great idea.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    In my mind this would be the height of “dog and pony show” but, I see your idea Lucas. I’d be a little irritated if I was the seller, know what your own instrument sounds like and plays like, is it REALLY that hard to know your own equipment? How would you feel if the roles were reversed?
    My question is a little different, what are you playing now and, what are you looking for?
    This is a rather complicated scenario to say the least. Taking a tuner and picks makes sense.
    A novice like me sees tremendous value in Lucas' suggestion; a more advanced player with exposure to different instruments, maybe not so much.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    What kind of music do you play and what is your current mandolin?

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    What kind of music do you play and what is your current mandolin?
    My current instrument is an Alvarez A-100. It has served me well for almost 6 years. What kind of music i play is harder to answer. My teacher is a professional violinist, and has me play a lot of studies, as well as pieces with shift and rhythm challenges. I've made a jam notebook with classic country and old time (I think) pieces and am working on 3 finger chords to be able to participate in a friendly jam setting. There's a possibility of a mandolin orchestra starting in my area, which i would love.

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    When considering a specific upgrade, I'd checked in at the front counter so that they'd know I brought an instrument into the store. I'd have a harder time "setting up shop" with a music stand, especially when there are so many snippets / scales / chords that can be played just off the top of my head. Remember that your purpose is to evaluate sound and feel, not present a performance.

    OTOH, a page of music just sitting on a bench beside you, or on your lap as with much "bedroom woodshedding", is far less intrusive on their flow of business while accomplishing most of your intended goal.

    Do note that many shops, including the Guitar Centers that I'm familiar with, have one or more small & quiet "audition rooms", even if they just look like an extension of the showroom, that are ideal for making whatever sounds you want, while annoying or embarassing nobody. Just be sure to avoid Friday night & Saturday afternoon when the wannabe shredders descend en masse!
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  33. #20
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Someone else has suggested this to me and I think it's a great idea.
    its an excellent idea. even your own instrument may sound very different in a different environment. being able to have it along gives you something of a standard to compare with. all of us are searching for a certain tone/sound at times and having a known familiar instrument with you gives you that standard for compare within that environment. most shops will not have an issue if you simply tell them you want to use what you are familiar with and are looking to upgrade/or get a different tone. likewise, if you play something in a shop, fall for it, buy it, take it home and then it sounds different, you can have buyers remorse. it happens more than you think.
    sounds like you are doing your homework and have an excellent awareness regarding positive steps forward.

    i've always taken my own guitar, mandolin, banjo with me when trying out a new instrument, never had any issue with any shop/owner. in fact, every shop has always offered a quiet space for the time, such as the best place in the shop or an unused teaching room.

    good luck, keep us posted on the outcome, lots of excellent choices out there these days in every pricepoint
    d

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Ok call me Capt. Obvious but as mentioned above have a tuner (yours or theirs) available and use it! Any box store I have been to never has their instruments tuned properly. A good acoustic store should have no problem letting you tune an instrument you are considering buying. I went to a reputable store to try out some mandolins about 20 years ago and found a brand I had been considering only to find I couldn't get it to tune properly. Turns out the tuners worked in reverse. Installed wrong, backwards, I don't know but never considered that brand and lessened my opinion of that store.
    Carefully tune it, play it like you would normally, set it down play another, take your time. If it needs big time retuneing may be more involved with that instrument.
    Tuners are a mechanical thing. If they don't work properly you'll be forever frustrated.
    And don't be afraid to say sorry nothing worked out. Just going and sampling doesn't obligate you to buy something. Most good shops might ask for some contact info in case something new comes in. Happened to me once!
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Don’t scratch it and then ask for a shopworn discount!
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  38. #23
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Keep it simple. Scales, arpeggios, some notes way up the fingerboard to see how the tone is the high range. Play a few chords. You will want to check the intonation—if the open strings are in tune, does the fifth on one string match the open string above? How are the octaves? (This could be a bridge placement thing.) Do the chords sound sweet and resonant? I know you are thinking seriously about neck size and shape. Try a couple of chords and intervals you have been uncomfortable reaching. Are they better or worse? Don't fall into the trap of choosing the mandolin that's most similar to what you already have. If someone at the store has a few minutes, ask them to play a few notes and see how your top choices sound from the other side of the soundbox.

    There's a well-known phenomenon in violin shops that I would assume also happens in a room full of mandolins; when you play one, the others set up a sympathetic vibration so the whole room contributes to the sound. It can make an instrument you're trying sound fuller and richer than it actually is. As a couple of people said above, see if they have a practice room you can use that is away from everything else.

    If you are feeling overwhelmed, go out for a cup of coffee and come back, or go look out the front window for a couple minutes. If you decide not to buy an instrument from a particular store it's a nice gesture to at least buy a pack or two of strings, a T-shirt, or a new metronome or tuner. I have always found people in music stores to be lovely and helpful, not the stereotype of a high-pressure sleazy salesperson. Have fun!

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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    +1 for Louise. Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers once told me that he hired a high school kid to come in every afternoon and tune all the instruments so the whole room would resonate when you tried something out. Good idea to go to a less live space.

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  42. #25
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    Default Re: Music Store Etiquette

    Quote Originally Posted by mclaugh View Post
    ... so the whole room would resonate when you tried something out.
    Absoluely! Stan had a central room with maybe 180 mandolins hanging. One chop chord easily summoned a choir of heavenly voices!

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    ... nice gesture to at least buy a pack or two of strings, a T-shirt, or a new metronome...
    So glad I did. The more time passes, the more my "Mandolin Brothers" guitar strap generates conversations with strangers.
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