One of the questions I most often get asked as a dealer is “what is the best price on this guitar?” The answer is complicated. Buying a guitar is not unlike buying a car, and obviously you can get different prices or deals from different dealers on the same make and model. But try not to get fooled by the person who offers the cheapest price.
A good dealer will be more than happy to offer a healthy discount on any guitar whether it’s in stock or needs to be ordered. Of course if you’re willing to wait for a guitar to be built, that does give an incentive for the dealer to cut you a little better deal, as availability right now for most builders is very slim and all the major manufacturers are backordered up to a year and a half.
This means that when a guitar is in stock the dealer knows it will be at least another year before he can replace it. (This alone demands he make a little more profit.) This doesn’t mean a dealer is taking advantage of the customer, it is simply the economics of supply and demand and running a business.
Also, it’s a common misperception that big box stores can give you a better price because of the volume they do. These companies are corporations that have pricing guidelines that are written in stone and the sales rep can only do so much for you. Compare this to a “mom and pop” store who have a vested interest (if they’re smart) in forming a lasting relationship with you that will go on for years to come.
It’s also important to realize that if we don’t support the mom and pop stores, these big box stores will put them all out of business and will leave us no choice except to pay whatever they dictate. Not only that, but these big box stores will try to push the big name brands on you that they sell the most of when in fact there may be a smaller name builder who can offer you more guitar for less money.
When you deal with a small business owner, they not only know the products better but they also have the guitars in their hands every single day and will give you a much better description and evaluation of a specific axe. This one-on-one attention and expertise really does add value and I would personally rather pay a little more for that than to give my money to a big corporate retailer. I hope you’ll celebrate Small Business Saturday every day of the week.