PDA

View Full Version : Etiquite in shops.



P-co
03-21-2010, 04:34 AM
Every music store I go into and pick up a uke they are always massively out of tune. People always talk of trying out instruments for a while before buying but I feel a bit intrusive tuning each one before a quick strum. Particularly if they are straight out of their wrapping and I am realistically only window shopping. Am I a bit of a goose or does anyone else feel this way?

sukie
03-21-2010, 04:44 AM
If they aren't tuned, though, it's kind of hard to get a read on them. Tune away. Most -- not all -- music shops are so inexperienced when it comes to ukuleles.

Kanaka916
03-21-2010, 05:19 AM
When I was shopping (in Hawai'i) I carried a tuner with me as a just in case. But most of the shops I visited, the ukes were pretty much in tune. I once asked a sales person at a local store for a tuner and he pulled one out, tuned the Pono and started playing. He thanked me for tuning it.

pdxuke
03-21-2010, 05:20 AM
I always ask before I tune, and I always have a chromatic clip on tuner with me so I can make quick work of it.

Window shopping is part of business. I do have a personal code, however. I try very much to support my local shops as much as I can. Therefore, if I go play and try out instruments for an hour on Saturday, I at least buy a set of strings. And I try very hard to buy an instrument from a local shop after a while. I usually pay more to support my local business, but not always. When I bought my flea, I paid $159, far less than I've seen them online. And vintage instruments are great buys at local shops. That's where I found my Gibson Uke 1.

MTGuru
03-21-2010, 05:31 AM
No, you're not a goose, or even a kangaroo. :-)

When I visit an instrument shop, I carry a clip-on tuner and tune each instrument before trying. There's no way to properly evaluate an instrument if it's not at proper pitch. I'd carry a tuning fork, but often the shops are noisy enough to make tuning difficult. The clip-on is small enough to keep in my pocket.

Frankly, I don't care what the shop might think; it's my purchase. But honestly, I've never had anyone complain. Just the opposite, in fact. You're doing a service that the shop may not have time to do themselves, and they often appreciate it. And you're signaling to the sales people that you care about the instrument. If anything, you'll be taken more seriously.

I worked for some years as the main acoustic guitar salesman at a major shop in New York. And there was no way our duties allowed us to check and retune hundreds of instruments at the end of a busy day. But we did keep an A440 tuning bar on the counter for anyone who wanted to tune before trying. Nowadays, I've noticed that my local Guitar Center has a wall-sized chromatic tuner built into the wall for customers in the acoustic room.

On the flip side ... I recently bought a new uke from Buffalo Brothers here in San Diego. When I walked in, there were around 60 new ukuleles on the wall, from $50 to $3000 - and every single one was exactly in tune! This signaled to me that they are serious. Impressive.

Now if we could just convince music shops to throw a fresh set of strings on their demo instruments every now and then. I can't count the number of times I've walked away from a display instrument because the strings are cr*p. Not such a problem for ukes, but steel string instruments ... Does anyone want to donate to the MTGuru string fund, so I can carry a crate of new strings when I visit the shops? :cool:

haole
03-21-2010, 06:17 AM
Frankly, I don't care what the shop might think; it's my purchase. But honestly, I've never had anyone complain. Just the opposite, in fact. You're doing a service that the shop may not have time to do themselves, and they often appreciate it. And you're signaling to the sales people that you care about the instrument. If anything, you'll be taken more seriously.



Agreed. Take your time and tune it before you play! Any music store that expects someone to buy an instrument without playing it first doesn't get my business, so if they're not going to tune it, they better let you! Even places that say "NO HANDLING INSTRUMENTS! PLEASE ASK FOR ASSISTANCE!" are a huge turn-off. I can understand if they don't want some kid off the street playing the prewar Martins or something, but when a salesperson gives you attitude for picking up a run-of-the-mill instrument, that's bad business for me. If they want your business, they should expect you to spend a little time with the instrument!

hoosierhiver
03-21-2010, 06:23 AM
I think there is nothing wrong with tuning the instruments. Be sure to remove coats or any clothing that might have zippers or metal parts that could scratch the insturment before picking it up.

Sambient
03-21-2010, 06:24 AM
The carrying a tuner thing is a good idea. Lately I feel like I should be carrying a phillips head screwdriver and a set of strings too.
I can't believe the crap strings a local place has on the Martins.

Uke Republic
03-21-2010, 06:40 AM
Nothing wrong with tuning an instrument if it has fallen out. I do my best to have each instrument displayed in tune but sometimes changes in environment may send strings out. So I'm never offended when it needs to be retuned. Even keep a few tuners out for such occasions. As Hoosierhiver pointed out, please mind those buttons,zippers, belts or anything that may scratch an instrument.

MTGuru
03-21-2010, 07:08 AM
As Hoosierhiver pointed out, please mind those buttons,zippers, belts or anything that may scratch an instrument.
Yes, for sure. Someone needs to invent a big fuzzy vest or apron that can be handed to customers to tie on before testing instruments. ;)

grammy
03-21-2010, 08:32 AM
imo a decent music shop has all the instruments tuned all the time, perhaps a minor adjustment at most is all that should ever be needed. Shops without instruments in tune are shabby imo

fahrner
03-21-2010, 08:50 AM
Yes, you are being a bit of a goose. So was I when I decided I wanted to play (guitar) a few years ago.
Here's what I learned.
You are king/queen (depending on gender). You are the perspective customer. Even if looking at low end instruments there is a high potential for future upgrades.
Most people that work in music stores are musicians and they would rather be playing than doing other store chores like cleaning ,dusting, or changing strings.
The way I learned this is when I first started playing guitar a few years ago, of course, I couldn't. So I started asking the sales person to play it for me. they did this gladly. Most will do it without being asked.
What I also learned is that the best way to hear an instrument is by being in front of the guitar so this was a bonus. They would quickly tune it and typically play the daylights out of it.
Then comes the real hard part. They will eventually hand it over for you to play. Yikes! Believe me, they have no expectation. All you have to do is attempt a few simple chords to get a feel for the instrument; how it fits you.
If you have trouble getting a sales persons attention, another trick is to pick up the most expensive instrument you can reach. And then you say "can we hear how this one or that one sounds"? If that doesn't work, you may be in the wrong place.

SweetWaterBlue
03-21-2010, 09:26 AM
I consider tuning part of playing. How else would you get it back in tune after you leave the shop? I would never buy an instrument that I had not tried to tune first, because I like to know how the tuners feel and how well they work. If all the strings are tuned, I might purposely untune one and see how hard it is to get it back. In the shops in Atlanta, with the exception of UkeRepublic, finding all the instruments way out of is definitely the norm. I had to practically fight one salesman to convince him that all ukes are not tuned like baritones, so perhaps its good they don't spend their time tuning them.

pdxuke
03-21-2010, 09:29 AM
I think there is nothing wrong with tuning the instruments. Be sure to remove coats or any clothing that might have zippers or metal parts that could scratch the insturment before picking it up.

Absolutely. I always dress for uke trying so that I won't damage the instruments.

spots
03-21-2010, 09:53 AM
No reason to feel odd about tuning an instrument, etc.

When I'm serious about trying instruments out I bring a tuner and sheet music. Sometimes I even bring my old instrument along. Pull up a stool, arrange the instruments, and play.

If I'm just browsing and don't have a tuner I'll tune the instrument to itself the best that I can. The nice thing is that there is usually an electric keyboard available to get a starting note.

fivetide
03-21-2010, 09:58 AM
I usually take a file and adjust the actions while I'm there too.

Not really. I'm too shy to play in public :)

Nuprin
03-21-2010, 02:07 PM
imo a decent music shop has all the instruments tuned all the time, perhaps a minor adjustment at most is all that should ever be needed. Shops without instruments in tune are shabby imo

I resent this. I work in a music shop that sells a few brands of ukulele (nothing fancy...Fender, Oscar Schmidt, and Ibanez). I always do a quality check and tune them up when they arrive in the store. The problem (as anyone who has changed strings on a ukulele will know) is that nylon strings stretch...a lot. As I also manage the drum department, I often don't have time (or just forget) to keep checking on them. I generally check the tuning every couples days or so but, in the meantime, the new ukuleles have gone horribly out of tune due to the stretching strings. On top of that, we have more than 100 acoustic guitars ranging from Taylors and Guilds to beginner level (and quite a few more electric). Some customers will come in and detune them (for open tunings) or the dry winters here in Vermont take a toll. As a shop that deals with all types of instruments, it's unrealistic to expect all instruments to always be in tune. As for the topic at hand, I have no problems with customers tuning the guitars (or ukuleles) if they find they are out of tune.

molokinirum
03-22-2010, 07:34 AM
When I was shopping .... I carried a tuner with me as a just in case....

That is what I do too. Even if I just go to a shop to see what they have, I always bring a tuner!

grammy
03-22-2010, 07:57 AM
well, here is what you do, get a job in a decent music shop...failing that... when you string up the instrument stretch the string as you do it. Then tune it tune sharp at least a tone and leave it overnight like that before you put it on display or put new stuff out in the evenings, next day tune it normally and it will stick in 95% of the time. Also, with respec,t you work in a music shop it is not like you are mad busy all the time. In fact working in a music shop is mostly cocking about waiting for punters, tuning up in the morning should be part of your job. it was part of mine when i worked in a music shop, a decent one.

Mim
03-22-2010, 08:16 AM
The ones at guitar center are always hopelessly out of tune. The guitar guy does not seem to know much about 'em. So tune away! It has to be in tune to know if you want it!

If I am too busy, I do not mind if someone tunes a uke they are looking at in my shop. The only thing that has bugged me thus far is my "customers can play" ukes had a teenager that first started strumming them with a plastic spoon. When I asked him not to, he started using the pop tab off a soda. Sigh. I do not know if that would hurt it or not... but as you know I a quite a uke baby-er... so it bugged me!

Nuprin
03-22-2010, 01:16 PM
well, here is what you do, get a job in a decent music shop...failing that... when you string up the instrument stretch the string as you do it. Then tune it tune sharp at least a tone and leave it overnight like that before you put it on display or put new stuff out in the evenings, next day tune it normally and it will stick in 95% of the time. Also, with respec,t you work in a music shop it is not like you are mad busy all the time. In fact working in a music shop is mostly cocking about waiting for punters, tuning up in the morning should be part of your job. it was part of mine when i worked in a music shop, a decent one.

Wow. I tried to justify my position as to why some ukes in the shop I work at are not always in tune. Pretty harsh attack from you. When I pull the ukes out, I tune them up, stretch the strings, tune them again, stretch the strings, tune them again, stretch the strings one more time, then tune them up. Out of the 7 ukes we currently have in store, this morning 2 were out of tune...both came in on Friday. In my area of Vermont there are not many places to buy ukes and, as they are becoming more popular, not putting them out for sale (even for a night) could potentially lose a sale. As far as "waiting for punters", we regularly do about $15,000 in sales a day (which, for a mom & pop shop is pretty respectable, especially as a lot of those sales are smaller items like strings, drumsticks, tuners, etc.) so we are busy. I manage the drum department as well so everyday I'm doing orders to fulfill stock for the store as well as constantly replenishing stock from our upstairs warehouse. On average there are about 5 of us working with over 300 stringed instruments in the store...not everything is going to be in tune all the time.

Big_e
03-22-2010, 04:23 PM
When I asked him not to, he started using the pop tab off a soda. Sigh. I do not know if that would hurt it or not... but as you know I a quite a uke baby-er... so it bugged me!

Yikes! I would have preferred the plastic spoon! Some soda pop tabs have sharp or unfinished edges which could scratch the nylon strings and pretty much wreck them as far as tuning is concerned. I've seen people play charangos (related to the uke) with the handle of a plastic spoon for more volume.
Ernest

Mim
03-22-2010, 05:46 PM
Yikes! I would have preferred the plastic spoon! Some soda pop tabs have sharp or unfinished edges which could scratch the nylon strings and pretty much wreck them as far as tuning is concerned. I've seen people play charangos (related to the uke) with the handle of a plastic spoon for more volume.
Ernest

I fussed at him in a very light-hearted way! Something to the effect of "Dude! That is not your uke! A can tab... SERIOUSLY?! No way! Ya gotta respect my uke!" Said in the tone of voice you would use with a buddy. I am cool-like-that ;)!

pdxuke
03-22-2010, 07:03 PM
I fussed at him in a very light-hearted way! Something to the effect of "Dude! That is not your uke! A can tab... SERIOUSLY?! No way! Ya gotta respect my uke!" Said in the tone of voice you would use with a buddy. I am cool-like-that ;)!

Hey Mim:
It's probably ignorance since most guitars are picked. Maybe a light hearted informative sign, illustrated, showing how to strum with the index finger?

Robster
03-22-2010, 07:04 PM
I think it's totally fine to tune an ukulele if you're trying it out.

It's like taking a car out for a test drive; they don't tell you that you can't adjust the seat before you drive with the thing. They let you get comfortable before you test it out.

At the music store I go to all the time/teach lessons at, they always ask me to re-tune all the ukuleles if they're out of tune.