Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reflection on A's New Guitar

As I mentioned previously, we decided to go with the Samick guitar for A (can you see the difference?). Granted, it’s less expensive and made overseas (not in China, as the company is quick to point out). I really wrestled with this one. While I'm all for cheap, several factors beyond money pointed me to the Samick.

First off, A really liked it and kind of focused on that one. She played a few different ones, even the Seagull, which EE was promoting. He let her use it at her lesson, and it was a good size, but she mentioned the Samick as the one she liked.

Second was the issue of durability. I realize a guitar is a piece of art, and practical issues aren’t at the forefront, but maybe they are when you’re ten years old. R and I are constantly picking up A’s guitar off the floor, and it takes a bit of a beating. She’s just a kid and doesn’t have the appreciation that she’ll develop with time. All guitars sound good, and all sound better than what she is playing. With this in mind, a laminated top was desirable.

Third was the fact that I couldn’t get a really resounding endorsement for my initial plan, which was to go quality and buy the Seagull. I spoke with several trusted and objective guitarists, and I figured that being musicians and all, they would without question endorse the better quality guitar. This was not the case. In fact, it was almost as if they questioned my desire to get her a better quality guitar. They all unanimously said that we should get her the one she liked and thought sounded the best, which didn’t help, because she liked every one she played and thought they all sounded good.

I think the clincher was talking to resident music guru DC, who actually as a favor went and played the Seagull. He thought it was nice, but didn’t shower it with praise, and even brought up some of the drawbacks, while he did think that the Samick was a great deal for the money. He even bought one for his niece and had good things to say about it. Plus, he agreed with me that Blue Mountain is more of the working man’s guitar store, and that he liked and trusted the guys there. I do, too.

So it was decided, and as a bit of validation, A was thrilled. She really liked the guitar and was happy about it. One interesting note that really threw me off and kind of disappointed me was that the guy at Blue Mountain tried to get me to buy a nicer, more expensive guitar. This is the same guy who recommended the Samick in the first place, and now he’s trying to get me to upgrade. I was a little incensed, but figured he’s just doing his job. Besides, at that point, it had been decided, and I wasn’t going to budge.

Plus, it dawned on me that the Samick is a great kid’s guitar. All good guitarists at some point have two guitars, one they love to play, and one that they can use in a pinch or travel with and don’t mind if it gets a little beat up. A can grow with this Samick, and down the line if and when she wants to upgrade, she’ll be more practiced and capable of making that choice for herself. Something like that should be more of a personal decision, anyway.

One final note: I had to face the guys at Hanover Strings. I wasn’t buying their guitar, and now had to see them every week. No big deal, right? Well, surprisingly, the nice and helpful guy there was a little snippy about my decision. I can understand that he didn’t make the sale, but I figured we could all rise above it. A’s teacher, EE, promotes Hanover Strings because it’s his home base, but he’s not as invested in selling their products, I think. He just teaches there and even hinted that it wasn’t so critical what choice we made, just that we got A a better guitar. The guy working there, however, was clearly disappointed.

I was somewhat apologetic, I felt bad, and was hoping he’d be more congenial about the whole affair, but I got the impression he was being a little snippy. He even had an air about him when he said, “My first guitar was a Samick, and I grew out of it real quickly.”

Hmm, not quite the response I was expecting or hoping for. I guess I won’t be buying a guitar at Hanover Strings anytime soon.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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