Crazy Tales From Working in a Guitar Store


Hello everyone, welcome back this is the series where I talk about myself and my life in music, and today I’m gonna tell you some crazy tales from when I worked at a guitar store. I started up as a salesman in my local music store when I was in grade 11 or so and worked there on and off for about four years. I gotta say the place is extremely well run and it’s about as good of a retail job as one can get, but you work anywhere long enough and you’re gonna see some weird stuff. The first story I’m gonna call “Les Paul Blasphemy”. There was a kid and his dad who would come in fairly often, I’m guessing he was a couple years younger than I was, 15 or 16 when I first got to know him. I also assumed he was an only child and his dad was quite well-off, because anything the kid wanted the dad would buy. Among the crazier spending sprees these two had was one day they came in and bought a Les Paul, an amp, and a reverb pedal. Why? because the kid was trying to recreate the first note from Metallica’s “Sanitarium” and apparently whatever he bought was the equipment that Kirk Hammett used. Roughly 5,000 dollars or so were spent on literally one note. anyway, let’s get to the real blasphemy here. Our store got in one of those signature Jimmy Page Les Paul’s. One of those that retail for about $12,000. So the dad comes in and decides it would be nice to buy that as a gift for his son. An act of generosity that had many of the employees quite jealous. Well the next day the father-son duo come back in with the new Les Paul and start inquiring about getting a bunch of mods done on it. They wanted to rip out the pickups, put in EMGs, and replace all the hardware. And if I remember correctly there may have been talk about doing a paint job. Listen, I’m all for making a guitar your own, but with certain instruments you probably want to keep them as is if you want to retain any value. We talked them out of it, but it’s crazy to me that this was even an option My next story is one the employees talked about for years “The Tale of Ol’ No Pants”. It was the middle of the week early in my shift and this fellow strolls in wearing nothing but overalls, carrying a large piece of drug paraphernalia. He went into the acoustic guitar section, sat down, settled in, and started rocking out. Some time during this jam session has overall straps shifted, because when he stood up, his entire outfit fell to the ground revealing a hairy rotund naked body to the entire store. It was fairly shocking to everyone who witnessed it. And you know, the naked body is fine We’ve all got one, but you’ve got to be prepared to see such things. I was not and that image is embedded in my memory for the rest of eternity. I’m gonna shift gears for the next story and I’m gonna tell you a fairly wholesome tale I will call “The Motorcycle Guitarist’s Lucky Day.” A fellow came up to the guitar counter carrying an Art & Lutherie acoustic that was about as beat up as a guitar could get. He told me that he’d been on a motorcycle journey from Winnipeg down to South America over the last however many years. All throughout he had this acoustic guitar strapped to his back playing music for people in the two continents. Unfortunately due to drastic climate changes and exposure to pretty severe elements, the guitar was in a rather rough shape. He brought it in to get it fixed up before his next grand journey. However, any major repairs weren’t worth it since the instrument wasn’t overly valuable and the poor guy didn’t have the money to buy a new one. Here’s the crazy part. On that very day an Art & Lutherie rep. happened to be in the store And he also happened to overhear the conversation. He told the guy that he would send him a brand new guitar free of charge. That right there is some quality customer service way to go Art & Lutherie. Even though you no longer exist. Moving on is a story I’m gonna title “Backroom Discoveries”. I assume that most large stores have “That Room”, a room that gets turned into a general dumping ground. For us this was the guitar case room and it went all the guitar cases for the guitars on display, as well as anything else that wasn’t garbage but didn’t really have its own place. It was packed full of clutter dating back to when the store first moved to that location. Well one particularly slow day in the middle of summer I was quite bored and if you’ve ever worked retail, you know that the worst thing you can be is bored. the hours drag on and on in the most painful of fashions. So I took it upon myself to clean out the guitar case room for something to do. It was a multi-day affair, but I got to say I organized that mess like a champion. I found the typical stuff like piles and piles of tram bars and various other things that were supposed to go in the cases when the guitars were sold But I also found some interesting things, like for example brand banners that used to hang around the store. I asked the manager what I should do with them and he told me to throw them out. Not being one to waste, I took them for myself and they’re now hanging up in my parents basement. The best thing I found though was a guitar buried under a pile of junk. Whenever we bought a used guitar off someone we had to keep it off the floor for a couple of weeks while the police ran the serial number. I’m guessing this was the case here. It was put in the back something was placed in front of it and then it was forgotten about for years It was a 1988 black American Stratocaster with EMGs and a Floyd Rose mod. I ran the serial number in our system. It said it was inventory, so I asked the manager what the deal was, he told me to put it on the floor for 350 bucks. This wasn’t going to happen, because at that price I was buying myself. This is it right here. The second best deal I’ve ever gotten. Which brings me to my next story “The Best Deal I Ever Got”. I’ve told this tale before here so my apologies to anyone who’s heard it, but one day a fellow came in wheeling a 30th anniversary Marshall head and cabinet and he insisted that he wanted to get three hundred and sixty-five dollars for it. Why that amount? I don’t know probably some sketchy debt or something. Not my business to ask. We offered him $350 for the cabinet so the store could still make some profit on it. The head, however, wasn’t working and it was store policy that we never bought broken gear. The guy really, really wanted that extra $15 though. So I told him I’d give him 15 bucks out of my own pocket and buy it for myself. He was happy He was happy. So was I. Worst-case scenario if I couldn’t fix it, it could be a decoration. I took it home to get it looked at by my personal amp teck, also known as my dad, who is a wizard with all things electronic. He swapped out some capacitor worth 5 cents and it worked perfectly. I ended up selling it for $1000 which I used to buy a laptop which eventually died a tragic death. So I guess after all that I’m down 15 dollars. My last story I’m gonna call “The Worst Guitar Lick.” Now working the music store you hear a lot of bad guitar licks. That’s part of it, no big deal. But, there is one guitar lick that stands out as the worst one I’ve ever experienced. A customer was jamming out with an entry-level Ibanez guitar getting pretty into it. A little too into it. At one point he was wailing away pretending he was a rock star. He stuck out his tongue and he licked the neck Gene Simmons style. I witnessed the whole thing. I was shocked by this behavior. I mean how many grubby hands had been all over the instrument. Totally disgusting but also just, Why? So I went up to him and said “Excuse me, sir. You can’t put your mouth on a guitar unless you buy it.”. He denied ever performing the act, but trust me. I know what I saw that day. And after he left I got some Lysol wipes and gave that six string a serious wipe down. It was one of those moments that had me thinking “These are the people we share this planet with.”. Terrifying. Anyways, those are my tales from the guitar store. The only thing I really miss about working there is the employee discount, and also the people I worked with. There were some great characters there, including one fellow who had regularly asked me to watch over his section while he went to the post office. I was amazed at how much mail he had to deal with until one day until someone told me that that was his code for taking a number two. Guys, thank you so much for watching. If you’re new here hit that subscribe button. Stay tuned for more content like this And if you want to get your fix right now you can hit that link right up there. And don’t forget to swing by ShopSamuraiGuitarist.com to check out my merch line. An extra big thank you to everyone who supports my channel through Patreon. I’m Samurai guitarist, and I will see you again soon.