The Acoustic Chronicles: Thanks, Drum Dude!

I don’t want to go breaking stereotypes about drummers, or music store employees, and especially not music store employees that work in the drum department. Today’s story, I assure you, will not.

Now that I’m shopping for a really fancy-ass guitar, I know where to go in each store: the acoustic room. Most if not all guitar stores have a little room where they keep the expensive stuff and some sort of door so you can hear yourself play these delicate wooden pieces of art while muffling the din of 14-year-olds laying waste to Metallica on Epiphone Flying Vs played through Triple Rectifiers (with the mids scooped, of course! OMG IT’S HARDCROE). Among the Guilds and Tacomas I found a very attractive guitar by a company I didn’t recognize, Avalon. So, after being allowed to play a ton of guitars uninterrupted for about 45 minutes, I came out of the little booth and a kid in an Independent t-shirt asked if I needed any help.

“Yeah, I’ve just been playing a bunch of guitars in the acoustic room there, and I was surprised by that jumbo, I think it’s made of cedar and mahogany. I’d never heard of the brand, though; what you can tell me about Avalon?”

The deer-in-headlights look hits our young squire. “Well…um, I know that if the guitar’s in that room…it’s one of the best ones.”

I did my best not to react like the guitar snob I am. “Yeah, I realize that, but I’m specifically wondering if you know anything about the company.”

“Let me go ask Matt; I work in the drum department. But he’s downstairs and he knows all about those guitars.” He was genuinely trying to be helpful and I do appreciate that. I don’t expect the drum guy to know about high-end acoustics. I thanked him and said there was no rush.

He came back upstairs and said Matt was busy. I suspect Matt was selling reeds to one of the student band kids I’d seen downstairs. Now, I used to work retail; I hate people who think the customer is always right or that they should be able to monopolize a salesperson’s time, but we’re not talking finding someone a book or CD here. People who come into guitar stores and start asking specific questions about the most expensive gear are doing so because they need that info to make a buying decision. So, again, no dis on the drum dude who knew who to ask for help, but Matt? Get your ass upstairs. I’ve got questions that only you can answer, and one of those is “What is your commission on a $2000 guitar?”

Drum dude, however, has no customers and is still eager to please. “Let me look it up for you online and see what I can find out.” Cool. I thanked him. After a few more minutes, Drummer says “All the website says…is that, like, they’re the best guitars made in the entire world.” “Yeah,” I responded, “I think I’ve heard that somewhere before. I think it was every guitar manufacturer.” We both laughed about it. But ultimately, I walked out knowing little more than my hands and ears had told me on my own.

On an unrelated note, I am not opposed to getting a synthetic guitar, but I don’t like the sound of Ovation. I have inquired directly about Emerald Guitars but since they’re made in Ireland, I don’t hold much hope that I’ll be able to play one, and I’d have to play one to know. Rainsong is a little closer to home so I could probably put hands on one to see how it sounds and feels.

I think this whole process is gonna take awhile.

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