an interesting read about Guitar Center.....

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
Curious if there's any current/former St. Louisans on here my age (35) or older.....

When I started played drums around 1991, we had TONS of music instrument store choices locally within 30 minutes of each other. Dale's Music, McMurray Music, Fred Pierce Studio Drums, St. Charles Guitar Exchange, Fazio's Frets & Friends, Mozingo Music, Drum Headquarters, probably a few more I'm missing. I remember hopping in the minivan when we turned 16 with my bandmates and driving to the stores looking at all the instruments we'd one day be able to afford "when we got rich and famous."

I took some time off and started playing again in 2000. A giant superstore Mars Music moved in. I'll admit, at the time it was awesome. Tons of stuff in every department....huge cymbal room, percussion room. An actual stage INSIDE the store (it was a former Best Buy store). Guitar Center moved in DIRECTLY across the street and shut them down.

Took another long layoff and started playing again. Damn near everything is gone. Dale's is still there but fairly small. Fred Pierce is still there but VERY tiny. 2 Guitar Centers within a 30 minute drive are the main choices although there may be a few small music stores that deal mostly with lesson/students rather than focusing on retail.

It's great to be able to be a walk-in customer even if the only choice is GC, but I fear all that may be left is ordering from the Internet.....while I sit on my drum throne.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
when i was a kid, growing up in santa barbara, we had a cool shop called mike's drum academy
I was at Mike's maybe 1-2 years ago, and I noticed his stock going down in the front store. He still had drums in the buildings in the back, but not a lot of the vintage stuff he was known for. But I remember Mike's in its heyday, cool shop.

Drum Circuit is still around afaik, and tghe only other actual drum shops in the rest of So Cal are Pro, and Chad Sexton's, about 15 mnutes from each other. Nothing in San Diego, or inland empire or Palm Springs... it's sad.

Bentley's is a fabulous, BIG shop, but it's way off the beaten path in Fresno.

But if GC should go, for anyone not living in L.A. or near a Sam Ash, there's nothing left to do but order online. It's gonna take some time before new indie shops can get up & running and pick up the slack. I'm sorta lucky because I live 10 minutes from a Sam Ash and about 40 minutes from Pro if I need something same day, But most people are going to be left high & dry if they relied on their local GC. There's not even a Sam Ash or drum shops (that I know of) anywhere near San Diego, it'll be hit the hardest of all.

Bermuda
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Found the article about Fender and GC's financial ties

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/20/why-fender-pulled-its-ipo/

The key points:
Fender continued to borrow money, most notably for its $117 million acquisition of competitor Kaman Music.

Fender's debt problem consists not only of what it owes but what it is owed. The company is currently owed $11 million by its biggest customer, musical instruments retailer Guitar Center. Fender's fortunes are intrinsically linked to Guitar Center. The retailer accounts for nearly a sixth of Fender's annual sales, and Fender CEO Larry Thomas had previously held the same position at Guitar Center. Thomas was responsible for taking Guitar Center public and then selling it to Bain Capital in 2007. Until the sale, Guitar Center was also partially owned by Weston Presidio.

Guitar Center has been losing money every year since, making it a nightmare investment for Bain Capital. Moody's rated it a lowly Caa2 (defined as "poor standing and subject to very high credit risk") in November 2010. In its report, the ratings firm stated that "the company's capital structure is unsustainable over the medium term at current levels of operating performance, and hence the probability of a default has increased."
If GC suddenly goes belly up, Fender is in deep trouble, which affects Gibraltar Hardware
Gretsch Drums, LP, Toca and others.

In addition, KMS (Kaman Music Service) that is owned by Fender, is the largest distributor of heads, sticks and strings to mom and pop shops across the country.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
"NEW YORK | Wed Jun 27, 2007 12:03pm EDT (Reuters) - Guitar Center Inc. GTRC.O said on Wednesday it agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC for about $1.9 billion plus assumed debt." (from Reuters site)

In actuality it was $2.2B. $1.56 of which was debt foisted onto GC for the purchase. For the first 9 months of 2012 the cost of maintaining this debt (reported interest expense) was $123,756M.

Guitar Center ended the 3rd quarter with $9.9 million in cash, compared with $106.0 million at the start of the year. If the interest expenses were $123M how much of the rest went to Bain is anybody's guess. The Cayman Island Holding company that CG is under, Bain Capital Fund IX LP, doesn't report income from the various properties it holds.
 

samdrum

Senior Member
Curious if there's any current/former St. Louisans on here my age (35) or older.....

When I started played drums around 1991, we had TONS of music instrument store choices locally within 30 minutes of each other. Dale's Music, McMurray Music, Fred Pierce Studio Drums, St. Charles Guitar Exchange, Fazio's Frets & Friends, Mozingo Music, Drum Headquarters, probably a few more I'm missing. I remember hopping in the minivan when we turned 16 with my bandmates and driving to the stores looking at all the instruments we'd one day be able to afford "when we got rich and famous."

I took some time off and started playing again in 2000. A giant superstore Mars Music moved in. I'll admit, at the time it was awesome. Tons of stuff in every department....huge cymbal room, percussion room. An actual stage INSIDE the store (it was a former Best Buy store). Guitar Center moved in DIRECTLY across the street and shut them down.

Took another long layoff and started playing again. Damn near everything is gone. Dale's is still there but fairly small. Fred Pierce is still there but VERY tiny. 2 Guitar Centers within a 30 minute drive are the main choices although there may be a few small music stores that deal mostly with lesson/students rather than focusing on retail.

It's great to be able to be a walk-in customer even if the only choice is GC, but I fear all that may be left is ordering from the Internet.....while I sit on my drum throne.
Fellow St. Louisan here!!! Of all of the places you mention the ONLY real drum shop anymore is Fred Pierce. I used to frequent Drum Headquarters all of the time (a 15 minute drive) even though I have a GC two miles away. Drum Headquarters is no longer in business as of last summer. Now I go to Fred Pierce every now and then (about a 35 min. drive) but his selection never seems to change. High-end cymbals don't sell well in that area of town so the inventory doesn't get replaced very often. Sad really. Like others have said, most kids and parents hit the GC stores for everything and really don't know about or seek out the small mom & pop places. The internet basically killed these stores with ease of ordering and giant selection.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
How many people buy what kinds of things over the internet? I bought my Safaris from Greenbrier because there were both no local dealers and it was a pretty low cost wager on the kit.

I did buy one Dream Bliss ride from VintageCymbals but again, it was cheap and there were recordings I could get some idea from. I could never conceive of buying a Zildjian cymbal without playing and hearing it first. I would want to be pretty familiar with the sound of a snare drum (e.g. a Supraphonic or Acrolite) to buy one without hearing it and deciding it was something for me. And before I put down big bucks on a good kit, I similarly would want to hear it and decide if there was something substantially better about it to warrant changing from what I have, or that it was worth the cost.

I see folks on guitar forums buying a selling over the net all the time. Most of these folks are more interested in the flame of the maple top than how it sounds or plays. And they are subsequently constantly flipping for new ones.

Just curious as to how much of the internet market is sticks and heads, and how much is big ticket items.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I think I've been pretty fortunate. When I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, I had AL&M and Alpha Music, and I know Alpha is still in business. There was a MARS there too, but I stayed away unless the locals didn't have what I was looking for that day (I can only take so much condescension from a guy who thinks he's a rockstar because his employee I.D. looks like a backstage pass).

Now I'm in Denver, and we still have Drum City/Guitarland and Rupp's Drums with 3 GCs peppering the area. Same deal as MARS, I will use GC as a last resort. Tim Kae at Drum City at least acknowledges that I am a human being, and was very gracious about some problems I had paying off a kit. It's also a good "water cooler" environment for drummer socializing since there are few interruptions from phones and Tre Cool wannabes "testing" the equipment.

I also notice a good internet presence from both my local shops that give a potential customer a pretty good read on what's in stock and how much it's going to cost. DC/GL purportedly does quite a bit of their business shipping out internet-based sales.

I say the more the merrier, even though I prefer my local shops. Unlike GC, they are specialists who know the stuff they sell and many of the same people have been there for years. GC fills a need that a small shop can't by way of sheer volume, but all of that has a breaking point, and these days it's a slower economy. As someone else pointed out, model railroading has had to weather some storms and the passing of a few legendary brands into the hands of larger conglomerates. Not that they went away, but the rules changed on what you could get and for how much. BTW plastic models are tied to oil prices, so the cost of model railroading has shot upwards in all of this, and a weak economy further marginalizes these kinds of extracurriculars, as limited funds need to cover the basics above all else.

Music equipment retail is subject to this same prioritization, and with the prices on the essentials going up, incomes staying the same or perhaps shrinking and now the pressures of a few things in Washington (mandatory healthcare insurance and a jump in the Social Security tax rate), dumping a bunch of cash at any musical instrument shop is going to get more difficult.

Were talking about a niche inside of a niche here. Not easy business.
 

Muckster

Platinum Member
The local Guitar Center in my area has a decent drum section staffed with some great people. I really can't complain. Plenty of used and new gear to choose from. There are of course some brands of gear they don't stock so some might be unhappy.

It's funny, because with all the "corporate" hate going around it was the local Mom and Pop music stores ripping everyone off around here. And they really had a hateful attitude and would only carry cheap lines of products. The Mom and Pops have since gone into the church and sound system business but their attitudes have remained. I have to drive at least two hours to get to a dedicated drum shop (Memphis Drum shop.)
 

B-squared

Silver Member
Bermuda, I guess you were right. The politics here aren't that prevalent and this is an interesting read - particularly here:

Now I'm in Denver, and we still have Drum City/Guitarland and Rupp's Drums with 3 GCs peppering the area. Same deal as MARS, I will use GC as a last resort. Tim Kae at Drum City at least acknowledges that I am a human being, and was very gracious about some problems I had paying off a kit. It's also a good "water cooler" environment for drummer socializing since there are few interruptions from phones and Tre Cool wannabes "testing" the equipment.
I have been going to Drum City/Guitarland since Tim's dad Ronny was there. My parents bought me my first drum set there ( a long time ago - I'm 52) and every major drum purchase I make, I make there. My brother is a drummer, and every major drum purchase he makes, he makes there, too. As a matter of fact, I have been keeping Tim up to speed on my 71 Supra restoration I have posted on another thread. I'm going down to see him later this week. I've plugged them a number of times here (as have others). A lot of touring drummers stop in there when they're in Denver. It's my "go to" drum shop and it has been for as long as I have lived here.
 

RockNGrohl

Senior Member
This story just seems lose/lose all the way around. it's just like the Wal-mart way of doing business with GC. It stinks! It sucks so much!!

GC have killed the mom and pops. Some survived and held off GC, but theses are the famous legendary stores that have been in business for decades and have a reputation. Most of the good small ones that survived had to change and adapt, but lost their big brands and now sell smaller brand beginner stuff. While GC sells name brand beginner stuff like Epiphone and Gibson at half the cost. And parents use GC as a source for instruments for their young beginner, not the mom and pops. Plus I've seen a trend where guitar players and gear nuts like my bro tell about the glut of Squiers and such for next to nothing in pawn shops and CL. He says that market is saturated with discarded beginner guitars. Is every kid that buys a Squier from GC just giving up and pawning them? Is this something a good mom and pop could have prevented with lessons and encouragement and care for the customer? Don't we want kids to stick with it and not see the instrument as a disposable toy, like your old video game machine and razor scooter you have rusting in the garage? The mom and pops aren't coming back, whose is going to fill the void?

Plus is it really true that THE name brand icon, Fender, might go under because they have too much stake in GC? How did that happen? I can't ever seeing day where the Stratocaster or P-Bass is not still a much loved icon that everybody still wants to play. To have them be brought down by bad business is so weird to me. "We make the most famous electric guitars of all time and everyone still wants them, but we're broke,,"

And what about internet sales? I'll buy sticks and heads online but never drums. How do we stop the trend of "trying in store/ buying online for cheap" that's killing the industry?
Drumming and music is never going to stop, but the experience of seeing something right in front of you seems to be gone now with online EVERYTHING. I know kids who tell me arrogantly that if their iPhone can't do it with an app it isn't worth doing.. WTF? Playing a real instrument you bought yourself at mom and pop that you lovingly chose after saving up for a long time is SO with it!!
To some people an E-book is not areal book, and an MP3 is not a record or CD. Will this happen with guitars and drums?
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
Fellow St. Louisan here!!! Of all of the places you mention the ONLY real drum shop anymore is Fred Pierce. I used to frequent Drum Headquarters all of the time (a 15 minute drive) even though I have a GC two miles away. Drum Headquarters is no longer in business as of last summer. Now I go to Fred Pierce every now and then (about a 35 min. drive) but his selection never seems to change. High-end cymbals don't sell well in that area of town so the inventory doesn't get replaced very often. Sad really. Like others have said, most kids and parents hit the GC stores for everything and really don't know about or seek out the small mom & pop places. The internet basically killed these stores with ease of ordering and giant selection.
Yeah, the only downside of Fred Pierce is that they have a limited selection and it's in a somewhat shady section of town off Midland. I admit that it's been many years since I've been there.

I took a long time off from playing. Back in 2001, I upgraded all my cymbals and bought them all at Drum HQ St. Peters location. Great guys to deal with. I regrettably took time off and upon returning to drums last year, I was shocked to see Drum HQ went under.

Living in St. Charles off highway 70, Guitar Center Bridgeton is really my only choice and I've sunk thousands into that store in 2012, buying a new drumset/accessories and building a PA for my band. I feel so dirty.
 

samdrum

Senior Member
Don't feel bad, you have no other choice. I am a Ludwig guy and the GC's around here don't carry Ludwig drums at all. I also like Paiste. Fred Pierce carries NO Paiste cymbals.
Drum Headquarters was my go-to shop. Nice selection new/used on cymbals. I bought my Ludwig Classic Maple set off of the showroom floor from them at a pretty nice price. Nice guys that were in business a long time. I was there on a Saturday and had my eye on picking up a nice used Zildjian K Custom Ride. Went back the next week on a Thursday and the doors were closed with a sign saying they were no longer in business.
It seriously sucks for musicians when all we are going to have are GC's if we want to actually walk in to a place and see, touch, demo something before buying.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
I dont want to read all the post so if this has been said siorry but:
Have you ever noticed that for used gear GC and Musiciands friend have a lot of the same exact adds? is that a case of buy from me or go someplace else and buy from me?
 

HGinCT

Junior Member
I dont want to read all the post so if this has been said siorry but:
Have you ever noticed that for used gear GC and Musiciands friend have a lot of the same exact adds? is that a case of buy from me or go someplace else and buy from me?
Musician's Friend and Guitar Center are owned by the same investors so they share stock and don't want to compete with each other.

Where I live, the music store is already dead. The nearest store is right around the corner but they literally carry no product. It's meant as a place for kids to get lessons outside of school but the people who work there are so unlikable and don't care about you as a customer. My sisters do school band and went there to get their instruments repaired only to find out that the guy reparing the clarinet didn't actually do anything.

That shop probably won't last another year (they actually downsized last year so the end is nigh). In East CT, all the leaves is a Guitar Center in Danbury. There is one drum shop in CT that could compete with Guitar Center, but I'm not prepared to drive two hours across the state.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
HGinCT, your closer to new your, anything out there for gear? it would be a long drive to new haven to sam ash from there. Bobdadrummer lives on that end of the state PM him to see where he shops.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
....It's funny, because with all the "corporate" hate going around it was the local Mom and Pop music stores ripping everyone off around here...

A local mom and pop store ripped me off when I bought my first kit, was young, and not knowledgeable about drums.
It left me a bit bitter about those types of stores, even though I know it's probably not the typical experience.
A sole proprietorship deal - one owner with no employees, who felt it was his store, so he could do whatever he could get away with.
GC seems like straight shooters in comparison.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
Geez, maybe there's just a glut of musicians around here ... Even as I was buying guitar and bass-related gear and fessing up that I was just a drummer, I felt like I was advised well. And when I'm shopping for drum gear and actually know what the hell I'm looking at, I find enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff (even though they're different every time I visit). I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Yeah, it's still true that the mom and pops have taken a hit, but around here, American Music and Donn Bennett still seem to be doing well.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
There is one drum shop in CT that could compete with Guitar Center, but I'm not prepared to drive two hours across the state.
There's been a few times that I've taken short plane rides to check out drums and cymbals. Two hour drives are nothing if you're interested in a piece of equipment.

Dennis
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Musician's Friend and Guitar Center are owned by the same investors so they share stock and don't want to compete with each other.

Where I live, the music store is already dead. The nearest store is right around the corner but they literally carry no product. It's meant as a place for kids to get lessons outside of school but the people who work there are so unlikable and don't care about you as a customer. My sisters do school band and went there to get their instruments repaired only to find out that the guy reparing the clarinet didn't actually do anything.

That shop probably won't last another year (they actually downsized last year so the end is nigh). In East CT, all the leaves is a Guitar Center in Danbury. There is one drum shop in CT that could compete with Guitar Center, but I'm not prepared to drive two hours across the state.
The best and only dedicated drum shop in Connecticut is http://www.dynamicpercussion.com/
 
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