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View Full Version : Bad experience at Gruhn Guitars - nashville



Cornfield
07-25-2012, 09:19 AM
I'm in Nasville for a week. I did a couple open mics at the Bluebird Cafe and Douglas Corner. Everyone is town had been wonderful and friendly till I went into Gruhn Guitars this morning. I have been looking for used National Guitar (Resonator) and they are supposed to have a great inventory. I was the only customer in the store, 4 clerks. None of them even said "hello" much less "how may I help you". When I approached one and said that I understood that the better guitars were on the second floor, he looked at me and said "By reservation only, those are too expensive"

Now, I don't dress flashy, especially when it is 98 degrees in the shade. However, I could probably afford one of their $50,000 guitars.
I bought my Martin 0-28 at Elderly and will probably go back for my reso now.

Trinimon
07-25-2012, 09:46 AM
That sucks. I don't care for businesses that have no respect for their clients esp those that judge based on attire/presence etc. Spend your hard earned $$ elsewhere... they don't deserve your business.

itsme
07-25-2012, 09:54 AM
When I approached one and said that I understood that the better guitars were on the second floor, he looked at me and said "By reservation only, those are too expensive"
Not defending them, but I can't help but wonder if they aren't allowed to show the second floor? That maybe only the owner/a certain trusted person is allowed to even touch them and that's why it's by appointment only?

But with 4 clerks and you being the only customer at the time, it certainly was poor customer service. Maybe the first floor crew is the equivalent of minimum-wage Guitar Center types? :o

kevlarian
07-25-2012, 10:00 AM
When I go to a auto dealer, I make sure I dress as crappy as possible so they DO leave me alone. People do make assumptions based on appearance. It is unfortunate, but it is the truth.

Sucks they did that to you.

The Big Kahuna
07-25-2012, 11:14 AM
When I worked at Carlsboro about 30 years ago, I had a customer get shitty because I wouldn't let them push in front of the scruffy people I was serving. After the "scruffy" people left, I pointed out to the asshat that they were a little known group by the name of Simple Minds and they could probably buy them out several thousand times over.

Also got refused entry into a curry house in Sheffield. Shame for them really, the blokes with me were Cozy Powell and Mel Gaynor.

I learned a lot about not judging people by their appearance at an early age.
















Oh yeah. In case you were wondering, I was name dropping :cool:

chiefnoda
07-25-2012, 11:53 AM
Hi MrEWorm

If you have time (and even if don't), go visit Cotten Music near Vanderbilt Univ. One of the best guitar stores run by the most wonderful people. Say "Hi" to Kim and Darci if they are around.

Cheers
Chief

Chris Tarman
07-25-2012, 12:17 PM
When I was in high school in 1982, I had saved up to buy a new bass. I wanted a Rickenbacker, but was open to other options. We lived in Casper Wyoming, so that pretty much meant a six hour drive to Denver. My mom and I drove down on Friday night and spent the night. The next day we went shopping. I'd been told to check out a big old music store, Bobby's (it's not there anymore, unfortunately), but went by another big shop that was closer first.
I asked the clerk "How are "such and such" (I don't even remember the brand, but it was less expensive than a Ric) basses?"
He said "They're really nice". I asked if I could try one. He said "Not unless you're in the market".
I looked at my mom, then back at him, and said "Well, I have $750 in my pocket, but screw you.". We left and went to Bobby's. The salesman there asked what I was looking for, and I told him I wanted a Rickenbacker. He grabbed one off the wall and asked what amp I wanted to play through, and plugged me into a big Ampeg SVT. Then he visited with my mom while I played for about ten minutes.
Guess where I bought my new bass?

frets alot
07-25-2012, 12:30 PM
I bought my Martin 0-28 at Elderly and will probably go back for my reso now.

I can assure you that you will be treated with respect at Elderly. They would be very happy to help you out with a new resonator guitar. Have never had a bad experience there in 38 years of being a customer.

Gmoney
07-25-2012, 12:39 PM
Artisan Guitars in Franklin (southwest side of Nashville) is a GREAT place, they carry National, Kamaka, & Collings ukes & guitars.

http://artisanguitars.com/

Sounds like Gruhn is too used to the "starving artist" musician wandering in & treats all their customers like that.

JamieFromOntario
07-25-2012, 12:40 PM
That sucks.


Though, I think it would be exceptional if someone were to send a link to this thread to Gruhn Guitar's email...

RichM
07-25-2012, 12:56 PM
I'm going to take the other side of this. I wasn't there when MrEWorm visited Gruhn's, so I don't doubt the experience he had. However, having had many very good experiences at Gruhn's, I feel the other side of the story must be told.

One thing that bears saying is that Gruhn's high-end second floor inventory is available by appointment as a matter of policy. I don't think MrEWorm was denied access due to his appearance, but rather due to a policy that you may or may not agree with. Gruhn's sells to musicians all over Nashville and all over the world. I think they know that musicians usually don't come in suits and ties.

I appreciate the situation that Gruhn's is in. Given their location in the middle of perhaps the most touristy part of Nashville, they get an awful lot of looky-loos. While I wish all their high-end stuff was out (and for the record, stuff on the first floor goes up to about $20K, so we're not talking about junk here), I understand the business decision they've made to protect their investment. I have no doubt that if MrEWorm had made an appointment, they would have accomodated him.

The last thing I'll say about Gruhn's is that some of the staff are incredibly knowledgable about musical instruments, and some are minimum-wage earners. Not sure who was there the day you were there, but I have been treated very well by the more experienced staff, who love to chat about instruments and music in general. And I'm just as scruffy as anyone (and I *can't* afford a $50,000 guitar).

Elderly is wonderful, but even they aren't able to keep all of their inventory on the selling floor. You probably would have to make an appointment to play a $50,000 guitar there, too. Mandolin Brothers is probably the most welcoming high-end store I've been to--pretty much no rules, play what you want. But yeah, even they keep the top stuff under lock and key.

So I regret that MrEWorm had a bad experience; if the Gruhn's staff was not courteous to you, that's really not acceptable. But I would hate to see Gruhn's tarred with the "bad store " stick-- it's a wonderful store staffed by some of the most knowledgable musicians in the country.

olgoat52
07-25-2012, 12:57 PM
That kind of lines up with the stories I have heard over the years. Gruhn is just getting a little long in the tooth I guess. To bad.

23skidoo
07-25-2012, 01:47 PM
Artisan Guitars in Franklin (southwest side of Nashville) is a GREAT place, they carry National, Kamaka, & Collings ukes & guitars.

http://artisanguitars.com/

Sounds like Gruhn is too used to the "starving artist" musician wandering in & treats all their customers like that.

Gotta agree with gmoney here - Artisan Guitars is a great shop - and they carry Collings ukuleles.... when they don't sell before they even hit the floor..... incredibly nice people.....

Steedy
07-25-2012, 02:00 PM
Gruhn's is not an ordinary music store. Just walking in the door is daunting for someone who knows about George Gruhn and fretted instruments. I haven't been there in ages, but I get the impression they prefer to deal with a "top shelf" clientèle (i.e. recording artists, professional musicians, and well-heeled collectors). However, due to their location, they probably have a never-ending stream of clueless, gawky tourists wandering in, hoping to see some country music stars. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I imagine the sales staff doesn't have the time or inclination to humour them all, so they (the staff) might sometimes use the cold-shoulder to brush them off (the tourists) and get them back on the sidewalk in short order. But that's pure speculation on my part.

If I were interested in shopping at Gruhn's, I would definitely phone first, and make an appointment to come in and talk with someone there.

I'm sorry about the OP's bad experience. Believe me, it's not at all typical of the people and businesses in Nashville, TN.

Cornfield
07-25-2012, 05:31 PM
I appreciate everyones comments.

1) We were in the first floor showrooms for 10-15 minutes without a word from any of the store personnel
2) I went there with intention of purchasing a used resonator guitar
3) I tried to get a conversation going with a clerk by asking about the upstairs.

I understand that the people that work there might prefer to deal with local professional musicians.. In that case they should not mind a bad review from an out of town buyer such as myself. They don't seem to want out of town buyers.

The comments on Artisan Guitars and Cotton Music were helpful but I'm really looking for a used reso.

Before I made my original posting, I called the store and told the person who answered about the situation. He acted as though this was their normal business procedure.

I have sold New Porsches, Land Rovers, BMW, Audi's. I've also sold used Ferrari's and other supercars. Not everybody qualifies to drive the hot cars but there is a way to qualify a buyer. There is also a way to ask a client what they are looking for.

If Gruhn's is not interested in dealing with walk in clients, perhaps they should state this on their web site.

frets alot
07-26-2012, 04:00 AM
I can understand what you are saying. Good luck in your quest...I hope you find exactly what you are looking for. Like my dad always told me, "all things happen for a reason". I have a feeling you'll find that perfect guitar somewhere else. :)

Steedy
07-26-2012, 04:48 AM
If Gruhn's is not interested in dealing with walk in clients, perhaps they should state this on their web site.

Agreed. It's unfortunate when customers are treated rudely, and any business will ultimately suffer for it.

Cornfield
07-27-2012, 12:34 PM
HeI went back today and bought a used Reso-Rocket. They will ship I home for me next week.

thistle3585
07-27-2012, 03:35 PM
I was at Gruhn's a couple months ago and had a similar experience. I felt kind of ill at ease at first, because they have a small desk that a guy sits behind in the main room and the guy seemed to be busy on the computer. So, I took some initiative and grabbed a mandolin off the wall and all of a sudden the guy at the desk says, "That's a 1924 Gibson F4" and started rattling off a bunch of info on it. Then he says that there is another one down the wall that he thinks is in much better condition and gives me the lowdown on it. As people came in and took instruments off the wall, he'd give them the rundown on them never leaving the desk. At that point I was very impressed. I grabbed an old reso uke off the wall and gave it to my 12 year old and the guy didn't bat an eye while my son played Paint it Black. He even pulled down an older vintage tenor for my wife to play. He said he'd let us play anything we wanted to play. I didn't ask about the second floor, knowing their was a couple Loar mandolins up there, but it wouldn't surprise me about their policy.

I did call a couple weeks before I went and inquired about bringing in one of my own instruments and one other to possibly trade in. They were very polite and said to call the day before I came to make sure that there would be someone to talk with that could give a fair appraisal. I did not end up doing it because my schedule didn't allow for me to lug instruments around prior to going there.

Sorry you had a bad experience and hope it was a fluke.

Steedy
07-28-2012, 06:23 AM
HeI went back today and bought a used Reso-Rocket. They will ship I home for me next week.

How was your second visit to Gruhn's? Glad you got the instrument you were looking for.

bearbike137
07-28-2012, 07:33 PM
Elderly is wonderful, but they keep a fraction of their inventory on site. You probably would have to make an appointment to play a $50,000 guitar there, too.

This is news to me. I have shopped Elderly multiple times and all their inventory was on site. Am I missing something here..?

pootsie
07-28-2012, 08:09 PM
HeI went back today and bought a used Reso-Rocket. They will ship I home for me next week.

I had to go look this up because I did not know what a Reso-Rocket is.

Having found out, I feel confident that you are now happy enough to forget the initial bad experience! Those things are GORGEOUS in all ways. Tell us more about this happy end to the story, please

frets alot
07-29-2012, 01:19 AM
This is news to me. I have shopped Elderly multiple times and all their inventory was on site. Am I missing something here..?

No, you aren't missing anything. I KNOW Elderly's and everything that is in stock is right on site. I've been going there since 1974 and know exactly how they work and operate. I know many of the people who work there. Also, you don't have to make an appointment to play any of their guitars. They may have their "special", extremely expensive, one-of-a-kind guitars in a locked cabinet, but if you asked, they'd get it out for you to play. They might stand there with you, though.

Cornfield
07-29-2012, 11:14 AM
I had to go look this up because I did not know what a Reso-Rocket is.

Having found out, I feel confident that you are now happy enough to forget the initial bad experience! Those things are GORGEOUS in all ways. Tell us more about this happy end to the story, please

We went back and I asked a different salesperson for help. He said I could take down and play anything I wanted (signs all over the store say only sales people can take them down).
I asked for a tech to look at it, he agreed the strings were the wrong ones, changed them out and tested the pickup. It is being shipped to my home so I won't get it till Wed or Thursday.
A better shopping experience than the first time.

RichM
07-29-2012, 03:40 PM
This is news to me. I have shopped Elderly multiple times and all their inventory was on site. Am I missing something here..?

This was a poor choice of language on my part, I meant only that that Elderly, like many stores, does not have all of their inventory on the selling floor and somtimes items need to be brought out on request. This was in no way meant to be an indictment of Elderly, which is one of my favorite stores ever, but an observation that many stores that deal in high-end merchandise maintain some reasonable level of inventory control.

liseamuller
01-29-2013, 01:07 PM
I know this is an old thread...but wanted to share my experience:

Went to Nashville last week for first time. From Chicago. Took 13 year old daughter for a Christmas present to see her favorite, Ed Sheeran, at Ryman.

Walked by Gruhn and told Emily we should go in. I had heard of it but not being a musician myself, didn't know much about it. I opened front door and we stood there for a moment...there's almost an aura of: "I don't know if I am supposed to be in here!!!" I took a deep breath and said: "come on...let's look around."

Little background: Emily loves singing and playing guitar. She is NOT a Taylor Swift/Justin Bieber type music fan. She much prefers a variety like Foy Vance/ Ed Sheeran (of course)/ Olly Murs/ Barbara Streisand/ Patti Lupone/ Van Morrison etc. She plays guitar every chance that she gets and owns a 300.00 Seagull.

As others have said, there were four people working and there was one customer in the store who was being helped by one of the sales staff. No one said anything to us, so we just walked to the back room. We immediately saw the signs that said to ask the staff for help with the guitars, but it didn't really look like anyone cared so when Emily asked if she could take one down and try it, I said sure.

To make a long story short...Emily tried every acoustic guitar in there that she could reach. She played guitars that were from $500.00 to $5,000.00 and she had an amazing time. "This is the best day of my life." Her favorite was a black Taylor 214-CE...at $975.00, over our budget but perhaps a thought for next Christmas.

Now I know that this story may add evidence to the "real" musicians contention that Gruhn is touristy, but if one visit to a guitar store can fuel any individuals passion for learning and performing...I don't care if they are amateur or professional...they should be there.

In the end, we left with a $4.95 cloth to take home home to polish her Seagull. While paying for it, I thanked the older man at the counter (perhaps George) for allowing Emily to play the guitars and for allowing us to feel like it was OK to be there. The hour and a half spent in that store meant the world to us. Next time, maybe I'll see if we can get a reservation for the second floor!!! lol

Plainsong
01-29-2013, 01:58 PM
That's awesome. I remember when a trip to a music store was a trip to Wonderful Town. I'm glad that she got to play stuff she'd otherwise not easily get a chance to get her hands on. Kudos to them for leaving her alone and letting her play, and she has great taste. :)


I know this is an old thread...but wanted to share my experience:

Went to Nashville last week for first time. From Chicago. Took 13 year old daughter for a Christmas present to see her favorite, Ed Sheeran, at Ryman.

Walked by Gruhn and told Emily we should go in. I had heard of it but not being a musician myself, didn't know much about it. I opened front door and we stood there for a moment...there's almost an aura of: "I don't know if I am supposed to be in here!!!" I took a deep breath and said: "come on...let's look around."

Little background: Emily loves singing and playing guitar. She is NOT a Taylor Swift/Justin Bieber type music fan. She much prefers a variety like Foy Vance/ Ed Sheeran (of course)/ Olly Murs/ Barbara Streisand/ Patti Lupone/ Van Morrison etc. She plays guitar every chance that she gets and owns a 300.00 Seagull.

As others have said, there were four people working and there was one customer in the store who was being helped by one of the sales staff. No one said anything to us, so we just walked to the back room. We immediately saw the signs that said to ask the staff for help with the guitars, but it didn't really look like anyone cared so when Emily asked if she could take one down and try it, I said sure.

To make a long story short...Emily tried every acoustic guitar in there that she could reach. She played guitars that were from $500.00 to $5,000.00 and she had an amazing time. "This is the best day of my life." Her favorite was a black Taylor 214-CE...at $975.00, over our budget but perhaps a thought for next Christmas.

Now I know that this story may add evidence to the "real" musicians contention that Gruhn is touristy, but if one visit to a guitar store can fuel any individuals passion for learning and performing...I don't care if they are amateur or professional...they should be there.

In the end, we left with a $4.95 cloth to take home home to polish her Seagull. While paying for it, I thanked the older man at the counter (perhaps George) for allowing Emily to play the guitars and for allowing us to feel like it was OK to be there. The hour and a half spent in that store meant the world to us. Next time, maybe I'll see if we can get a reservation for the second floor!!! lol

pdxuke
01-29-2013, 05:54 PM
That's awesome. I remember when a trip to a music store was a trip to Wonderful Town. I'm glad that she got to play stuff she'd otherwise not easily get a chance to get her hands on. Kudos to them for leaving her alone and letting her play, and she has great taste. :)

Agreed. Magic Time for Emily. She'll never forget it, and I'll bet that if she can, someday she'll go back and buy a guitar there and be reminded of her day with her parent!

dkpianoman21
02-21-2013, 09:38 AM
That really is too bad. I once took a buddy to a guitar store to help him with his first guitar, and after I tried about 5 guitars so my friend could hear them, the sales guy came over and said to us "if you're just going to play everything in the store you might as well go to Long and McQuade" so we left and went there, and
I helped him pick out a great guitar that would have cost him more at the first store.

Poor customer service is a deal breaker for me. The good news is, with so many music stores available, you can usually find another one close by.

Rbrocksd
12-03-2015, 07:47 PM
I'm a new member. I'd like to report my experience with George Gruhn whom I've never met before. I went to his shop introduced myself and my wife, he was in the middle of making a deal on two 10k guitars. He asked me if I'd wait for a moment and I did. Five minutes later he came to me and apologized for not being able to talk and invited me to stay with him as he finished the deal. He took me and my wife upstairs we stood by as he played the guitars and made a deal for one. Afterwards he introduced us to all his employees, showed us his collections of reptiles and guitars. It was a wonderful first meeting with a man I'd never met before and I might ad a very busy man. If someone has had a bad experience with this man I'd suggest he should look in the mirror, maybe the problem wasn't with Mr. Gruhn. Sincerely Robert Brock retired SDFD

pbagley
12-04-2015, 03:20 AM
Old thread, interesting read. I visited Gruhn's a couple of years ago, and had a somewhat similar experience.

It was mid-December in Nashville, and we were tourists on our first visit. We were mostly interested in tourist kinds of things. The Ryman, Grand Old Oprie, a swing past the Blue Bird (as seen on the TV show Nashville), and a few of the local venues. I've been interested in vintage guitars since I returned to music in the early '90s and learned that the guitars I bought and sold in my youth were actually valuable. Who knew. Of course that interest in vintage guitars had led to the purchase of the Gruhn and Carter book.

My wife, son, and I entered the store as tourists. The sales people looked a little bored. I was wide eyed looking at all the guitars. The staff were busy doing other things so there was no interaction until I cornered one and asked questions about a couple of round neck reso's I'd seen on the web site. Both were in the $800-1000. The sales person I talked to said they both had truss rod issues, so both were good for slide only. No early Christmas present for me - these were not the decent round neck reso I was looking for. I ended up buying a coffee mug, hat, and a new copy of the Gruhn and Carter book.

In my opinion the people working at Gruhn's acted a lot like sales people in a tourist town at the end of the season. Tired of tourists. Polite enough, but not friendly. I've had similar treatment at a local vintage guitar shop (Willies) so the behavior was somewhat expected I guess. I would not call it a bad experience, more of an indifferent experience. Next time I get to Nashville I'll visit again, and it may be completely different. Different day, different attitude. I've seen this at Willies - some days the staff are very friendly and others they are indifferent. Good days and bad... Most times when I visit these guitar stores I have money in my pocket and I am shopping for something. Oddly enough I've spent more at the two local stores that treat me well every time I visit.

Croaky Keith
12-04-2015, 04:50 AM
Most times when I visit these guitar stores I have money in my pocket and I am shopping for something. Oddly enough I've spent more at the two local stores that treat me well every time I visit.
No surprise there, if the staff are friendly you are going to go back again.

Brian1
12-04-2015, 06:50 AM
In defense of the rude salesman... I think someone looking to spend 50k on a guitar probably would know that they needed an appointment and that someone in the store looking for a ukulele probably was not in the market for a $50k guitar the same day. But a polite sales person would have said "The second floor isn't open to the public but if you would like to make an appointment for a private showing you can call ?Steve? and set something up.

If it was me, even though I have not intention of spending that kind of money I'd have asked how I go about making an appointment.

Neil43
08-23-2016, 12:34 PM
I cannot speak for an in-store experience but I have purchased several guitars from Gruhn's and always been treated very well. My last experience was FANTASTIC...!

I had purchased a guitar from the Ltl. Jimmy Dicken's Estate Sale, handled by Gruhn's. I had a question about a letter written by Mr. Dickens, in reference to him being given the guitar by Brad Paisley for his Birthday. The situation was not handled by a Gruhn's employee but by Mr. Gruhn, himself.

He called me and advised that he was going to go to the Grand Ole Opry, where Brad Paisley was appearing that night and see if he could get him to authenticate the letter. Mr. Gruhn went to the Opry. Called me from there and advised that Mr. Paisley was in the process of writing a letter of authenticity and he, (Mr. Gruhn), was taking pictures as Brad wrote it. He then forwarded me the letter by mail and the pictures by phone. TALK ABOUT PERSONAL SERVICE.....NONE BETTER...!!!