Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - March 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Check Out Norman's Guitars "Guitar of the Day" / Mark Agnesi

 Norman's is a vintage guitar/instrument store in California that has been around for as long as I can remember.  His store caters to high end collectors and artists - lots of them - and is as they say "the real deal".  

 Why I'm suggesting a student watch these videos is for a couple of reasons:

 1 - you get to see and hear about rare guitars that have acquired value through providence, and in some cases fame.  From a "learn what is what about guitars" this is a good resource.
 It's one thing to see endless listings of vintage-y gear, an old guitar hanging on a wall with a big price tag.  It's another when they come with some history presented alongside.

2 - the store manager that does the videos, Mark Agnesi, is a great salesman in the "old school music store" sense.  As a salesman he is a double threat.  He knows the history of guitars in great detail, but most importantly he's got the patois down for the description of the individual guitars he shows you.  He knows the salient points, and he is good at telling you in a manner that conveys the gravitas of the instrument.

 His other threat is important, something of an art that I think was once relatively common in the larger pre-Guitar Center Apocalypse era.  That is, he knows how to demonstrate an instrument!

 What I mean by that is that in the videos he plugs into a vintage tube amp, and doesn't proceed to shred Pantera licks in front of you on a Gibson L5. He plays what the particular instrument is good at, and perhaps something in a historical context - and he's a good player. 

 Having worked in a lot of music stores, I can say I know for a fact that Guitar Center's main reason for being on the precipice is for not respecting and hiring Experienced People.  It used to be you only worked at a music store because you knew what you were talking about; that was necessary for SELLING gear!
 That turned into hiring whoever, people that didn't really know what they were talking about but would work for minimum wage.  In turn, almost all information given out at music stores became fraught with both misinformation, and contrarian opinion that wasn't relevant to the customer.  I know this because I witnessed it time and again in stores I worked at, and other stores during this "interim" era as Guitar Center extended their tendrils.

 At this point I can say you probably shouldn't ask for advice from a GC employee, if they even bother to communicate with you.  I have friends and know people that work at the Odd Guitar Center that know what they're talking about. but it's not like the (... are you stepping on my lawn...?) Old Days.  Yes, I miss that era when I started out, and yes - it was better.  It was actual capitalism based on knowledge and skill.  What a concept.

 There was a time in the late 80's/early 90's where one could say guitars almost sold themselves - but that is no longer the case.  The music retail industry has been taken over by accountants and people with marketing degrees, and employees with scant real knowledge, and is - surprise - in a down turn.  I would suggest that this may also be what has happened in the auto industry, and the consumer electronics field.  Sure, people buy a lot of junk from Best Buy, but people used to spend more on nicer things.  Now it's expected that people get rid of their $450 IPhone to buy the $1,000 IPhone, mindlessly. 

 I suggest spending that on music gear instead of a phone - but with Guitar Center employees sitting on stools staring at their IPhone instead of playing a guitar or helping you, that's probably not going to happen.  Sheeple gotta sheep I suppose?

 So check out Norman's Guitar of the Day, you will probably learn something and get GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) in the process: