Thursday, December 1, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Sound

We have been talking about the benefits of buying in-store vs. buying online. The previous article was on the topic of the experience, and how a local music shop offers you an experience that you can't get online. You can read it here if you've haven't already.

Today's conversation revolves around the topic of the sound.

Sound is subjective. That means what sounds great to one person, doesn't ring the bell for someone else. It's something that make us unique as people. Someone will love the sound of a Strat plugged into a lightly driven tube amp, while another will love and prefer the sound of a dropped tuned Ibanez RG with gobs of gain engaged. It would be a pretty bland existence if we all sounded the same right?

It's one thing to read or watch the plethora of highly compressed video clips of new gear reviews through your iPhone earbuds, your tiny laptop or smartphone speakers, or your desktop speakers. But it's a completely different thing to actually play and listen to that guitar, amp or pedal you've seen online in the real world. There is nothing like sitting in a room with a great Strat plugged into a tube amp where you can actually hear and review the guitar and its tone with YOUR own ears.

You can sit on a drum kit and play it listening to the differing tones of maple vs. birch shells. You can come in and hear the sizzle and the decay of the cymbals you're considering to buy. The same can be said in hearing and discerning the sonic differences and subtleties of a solid top mahogany acoustic guitar vs a solid top spruce model. There is no comparison in the sound of physical air being moved and a highly compressed video clip.

Not only do you get to hear it properly, but you get to feel it too. You can feel the body of the guitar resonating against your body. You get to feel the profile of the neck. You get to feel the actual frequency response of the amp and the sensation of the air being moved in the room. You experience the 'thwack' of that snare drum, the 'doof' of that kick drum or the sizzle of those hi-hats. You get to test that pedal you've been checking out, with your OWN guitar, in a place where you can turn it up and get a real playing and sonic experience of the gear you've been considering buying. 

No matter how good the video production might be in the review sites you watch, it's no substitute for YOU testing it out with YOUR hands and YOUR ears to discover its sound in the real world.

Your local music shop provides the benefit of hearing the real sound of the gear you've been checking out on-line. You'll be better informed and better equipped to part with your hard earned in order to translate the sound you hear in your head because you've heard what it really sounds like when YOU play it.

Until next time, keep on picking!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Price

Over the past few weeks we've been discussing the benefits of shopping in-store vs shopping online. The topics of discussion have centred around the benefits of the experience and the sound of shopping in store. Today we focus on the elephant in the room, the benefit of the price.

Yes it's true. You maybe be able that gear online cheaper than in a store. There, I said it. But here are some benefits from shopping in-store you may not have considered.

Local stores employ people. Real people. People who have families and bills to pay. Your local music store is more than likely a small business run by people just like you. Most stores were started by a people or a family with a passion for music. They weren't faced with the pressure of the international competition that now exists with the advent of the internet and the globalisation of numerous aspects of our society. The majority of local music stores are not mega conglomerates with offshore bank accounts to avoid paying tax. They form part of the small business backbone of our economy that employs the majority of people in our nation. Your local store helps keep jobs in Australia and your choice to spend your money there keeps the economy ticking over.

Shop front music stores have real overheads an e-store may not have. There is rent to pay for the shop front, electricity and utilities to pay for, and not to mention people who work in that shop who have families to feed, that need to get paid. The way those overheads are met is through the sale of products or the extra services they offer. It costs money to do all these tasks, and keep the doors for the person who needs those strings or sticks before the gig tonight - who has just called five minutes before closing time - pleading with us to stay open so they can perform and do their job. It happens more than you realise.

There are other factors that impact upon price. It costs a shop to have that gear you want in stock. It costs the business freight to transport it from a supplier's warehouse and have it delivered. It costs money to pay staff to unpack that equipment and display it on the showroom floor. It costs money to have friendly and helpful staff available to serve and assist in you to choose the right gear you need.

Without a physical shop you don't have the opportunity to come in and actually test drive the gear you're considering buying. You also get to draw from a staff members' product knowledge and real world experience that adds value and insight to assisting you in completing your purchase. That's a value that you can't really measure. But that knowledge, that experience, that expertise, is part of what you're paying for when you shop in-store and is difficult to quantify. The price is what makes this possible.

Furthermore you have peace of mind knowing the store is there for you to follow up service and support should it be required.

Buying in your local store keeps the door open. It keeps jobs in Australia and puts food on the table for people just like you who work in those stores.

I've outlined only three benefits for choosing to shop in-store vs shopping online: the experience, the sound and the price. These three factors combine to provide you with the best service we can offer at The Music Spot.

Feel free to add any further benefits you can think of in the comments below. I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Buying In-Store vs Online: The Experience

How do you buy your gear? Where do you buy your gear? In-store or online? 

I'm sure not too many of us would buy a car straight off the 'net without going to check it out and take it for a test drive. I know I can read reviews and download the specs and features of that new Toyota I want. I can even do a virtual tour of the interior of that car. But until I actually sit in it and feel the seats, drive it, play with the knobs and switches, I don't really know if it's the 'right' car for me. I suggest the same approach can be applied when considering your next gear purchase. 

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing some thoughts on shopping in-store vs. online and the benefits of choosing your local music store. The topics we'll cover include: the Experience, the Sound, and the Price. Today we're talking about benefit of the experience.

Walking into a music shop is a cool experience. Great music, cool gear, the vibe, and some friendly banter and a laugh with knowledgeable staff who have real world gigging and performance experience with the products they supply all enhance the benefit of going into your local music store. Whenever I travel I'm always on the lookout for the local music shop. I'm interested in seeing what they have in stock and the opportunity to see something I've only read about or seen on-line. This is also true for when I have a day off or have a Saturday free to do a music shop crawl.

One of our regulars, Michael,
with his new Taylor 214,
posing with Dave.
Music stores provide that opportunity to actually see, touch and play and the new gear you've been reading about online or have seen on Youtube. You know that the gear is available because its right in front of you, that you can take it home today without the waiting period of postage or needing to rearrange your normal working hours waiting for a courier to arrive. Shopping in-store provides instant gratification. That gear itch can be scratched straight away.

We also get the gigging muso who has just broken a string on their guitar and needs strings ASAP for that night's gig, rocking in five minutes before closing. We've even stayed open beyond our closing time to avert an impending disaster for gigging musos facing similar problems. An open shop is there and provides immediate stress relief. You can't get that urgent, immediate service online.

Answers to questions you may have can be settled right on the spot without needing to deal with the 'keyboard warriors' that frequent the review pages or the Youtube comment fields. You can choose to browse away your day following link after link, or page after page, but that doesn't replace an interaction in a shop with a real person with real working knowledge of the product in question. My experience of working in a store is that of being a problem solver in assisting a customer find solutions. It's much easier doing this in person than over the phone, let alone online. I've also learnt a lot about gear and playing from being a customer as well. These are rewarding experiences for both sides of the counter.

Furthermore, good music store staff are there to resource and equip YOU based on your needs or desires. They can offer suggestions and new ideas that can stimulate and unlock something fresh in your creative journey. That type of personal interaction can't be replicated on-line.

The experience of shopping in-store offers real benefits to you as a customer. The personal interaction, the opportunity to actually play the gear, and the instant gratification that new gear provide are just some of the advantages of choosing in-store vs. online. These factors influence my choice to purchase from a local music shop.

I'd love to hear about your great in-store experiences that have inspired your musical journey. Leave a comment below.

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Product Spotlight: Fender Bassbreaker 18/30

Fender's latest release in their distinguished amp line up is the Bassbreaker series. Covered in grey tweed and housing two 12 inch 70 watt vintage Celestion "V" speakers, the Bassbreaker 18/30 tube combo borrows the tone stacks from two of Fenders most coveted circuits - the Blackface Deluxe Reverb and the Brownface Deluxe. Power is provided by a pair of 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and four EL84 power tubes that add a mid-rangey chime and harmonic complexity to the classic Fender amp tones of the late 1950's and mid 1960's.

The 18/30 model refers to this amp being a combination of two classic Fender circuits housed in a common chassis. In the 30 watt mode, the Bassbreaker is afforded with lots of clean head room that delivers the classic Fender clean, bell-like tone we all know and love. This side of the amp is reminiscent of a mid 60's Blackface Deluxe Reverb that is enhanced with a chimey mid-range complexity courtesy of the British flavoured EL84 power tubes and vintage sounding V-70 speakers.

Activating the 18 watt drive channel with the supplied footswitch, the Bassbreaker's crunchy musical breakup ushers in the glorious grind of an early 60's Brownface Deluxe producing that rhythm sound associated with Keith Richards. Increasing the gain results in more tube saturation and sustain for lead. Tone for days!

I had the chance to hear this amp live at the recent Fender Roadshow in Brisbane and in my opinion, the Bassbreaker 18/30 was the best sounding amp in the current lineup. Beautiful chimey cleans, meaty rhythms, and singing fat lead tones were produced by this new addition to the Fender amplifier family that is extremely pedal friendly.

I'm sure that you too will be suitably impressed with the new Fender Bassbreaker 18/30 combo. It's a versatile, beautifully voiced tube amp drawing from Fender's rich heritage of classic tone and served with a British-flavoured twist.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Product Spotlight: Fender Bass Amps

The live music scene of the 1940's in Southern California was burgeoning. Musicians were turning their instruments up to higher volumes as bands developed their signature sounds. As these levels rose, traditional acoustic bass instruments were being drowned out by their electric counterparts. Seizing on this opportunity to supply the working musician with the best tools possible, Leo Fender started working on a whole new range of musical equipment and in 1951, a brand new instrument entered the world; the Fender Precision Electric Bass Guitar.

Along with his new 'P' bass, Fender developed amps specifically for these new instruments, which in turn formed the sonic platform of modern music in all its styles and genres.  Here at The Music Spot we are proud to showcase our range of Fender Bass Guitar Amps in this week's Product Spotlight.

The Super Bassman 300 is a two channel all tube bass head with matching cabinet. 2 x 12AX7 pre amp tubes along with a 12AX7, a 12AT7 and six 6550 tubes in the power amp section pump out 300 watts of thick, natural, balanced tone perfect for live performance, or any studio application. 

The Vintage channel delivers the full, warm, classic bass sound Fender amps are renown for while the Overdrive channel delivers an aggressive and modern voiced tone stack. An optional foot switch allows effortless switching between the two channels.

The Super Bassman 300 is not only capable of pumping out stadium level volume. Turning the on board Speaker Output switch to Mute bypasses the speakers to provide a tube driven XLR output for recording at home straight from the preamp section. Brilliant!

Combined with the Bassman 610 1600 watt speaker cabinet, you have a fully professional bass rig and an all tube driven recording amp in one.

The Rumble series of bass amps have been re-engineered from the ground making them louder and lighter than ever. 

The Rumble 500 V3 Combo produces 500 watts of power channeled through a 10" Eminence speaker and a high end tweeter that can be turned on or off. It is also possible to connect an external cabinet if required. Channel switching is also included providing the ability to switch from Vintage to Overdrive mode. A four band eq means you can tune the amp to any room or stage. An XLR line out connects you to a stagebox too meaning you don't need a separate DI. As with all the Rumble models there is a headphone output and an AUX line in for playing along with your media player. Perfect for practice!

The Rumble 40 V3 and Rumble 25 V3 are the little brothers to the 500 delivering 40 watts and 25 watts respectively. Both feature an overdrive channel, headphone socket and AUX input. The 40 shares the same control panel of the 500 as well as its XLR line out. The Rumble 40 is a great choice for places of worship, school concert bands, and music rooms.

The Rumble 25 has a simple three band eq with contour control and is best suited for a practice room. Connecting headphones to any of the Rumble amps bypasses the speaker for silent practice.

Their light weight, great sound, well thought out control panel and attractive look make any Rumble Series Amp a perfect choice for your performance requirements.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Product Spotlight: Marshall Amplification

Jimi Hendrix. Ritchie Blackmore. Eric Clapton, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani. Joe Bonamassa. Slash.

One name unites all these players and that name is Marshall Amplifiers, an iconic brand that sums up the sound of rock and roll. Founded in July 1962, drummer Jim Marshall opened his first music shop in Hanwell, London. After some development and a series of prototypes, Marshall and his team released 'Number One,' their first amp, in September of the same year. Twenty three orders were taken on the first day it was displayed in his shop window!

'Number One' spawned the development of a series of amps such as the JTM45, the Bluesbreaker made famous by Eric Clapton, the Super 100 - first 100 watt stack, the 1959 Super Lead heads - aka the 'Plexi's' of the late 1960's, through to the JCM 800 and 900 series, the highly collectible Silver Jubilees, the DSL's, their latest CODE modelling amps and the Vintage Reissue hand-wired JMP series.

Given this rich legacy and history, we are proud to showcase the latest development in Marshall's rich history of amplification: the JVM410H.

Marshall's JVM410H amplifier is the culmination of 54 years of research and development by the team at Marshall amps. British built, the JVM410H has the familiar look and feel of the landmark heads that define the sound of classic rock and roll, hard rock, and every genre of metal you can think of.

A 100 watt all tube head, the JVM410H comprises four independent channels: Clean, Crunch, OD1, OD2 each with their own set of eq controls and studio quality reverb. If that wasn't enough to tailor the tone to your liking, each channel has a selector switch offering three more variations to each channel's circuit, giving you a total twelve modes to shape and sculpt the sounds you hear in your head.

The JVM410 also has an effects loop that can be controlled by the six button foot switch. The foot switch makes channel switching a breeze. It can be programmed to store and recall your presets for each channel and control the reverb too. The engineers at Marshall have designed the foot switch to work with a regular guitar lead so no special cable is required.

No head is complete without a cabinet and the 1960BV straight speaker cabinet is the perfect companion. Comprising 4 x 12' Celestions, the G12 Vintage 30's provide a warm, focused mid range response and smooth top end. There is still plenty of chunk without excessive bass boom.  Furthermore, this 280 watt cabinet can be run in mono or split into stereo mode. Its rated at 16/4 ohms running in mono or 8 ohms in stereo mode.

As well as having the ability to connect to virtually any cabinet, the JVM410 has a balanced direct out with speaker emulation. This makes it perfect for connecting directly into your audio interface for silent recording sessions at home that capture the glorious full roar of a 100 watt Marshall without complaints from the neighbours or more importantly, your significant other.

The JVM410 lives up to its name as a Vintage Modern classic. A feature rich, tone laden amp, this is the Marshall you need. Covering every base from the vintage JTM/Plexi era through to the classic JCM800's and into the high octane modern metal and high gain era and beyond, the JVM410 defines Marshall to a tee.


Iconic. Innovative. Tone. Versatile. And loud.

Very loud.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

It's Our 23rd Birthday Sale!

It's our birthday!! Twenty three years and still going strong as Logan City's best music shop we invite to party on with us. THANK YOU so much to all our loyal customers who continue to choose and support our business. To celebrate we have some amazing birthday specials going throughout the month of June. Here is a small selection to choose from our extensive list of birthday specials. There's plenty more in store too.

In Acoustic guitar land we have a Maton ER90C (see right) Dreadnought cutaway with the AP5 Pro pickup, Indian Rosewood back and sides, AA grade spruce top and Maton hardcase. We are also offering a Taylor 214 Sunburst Deluxe model too. It's great guitar with an upgraded Expression preamp system and a Taylor hardcase.

In Electric guitar land you can pickup an Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature Premium model for a steal. If you prefer something a bit more unique the Cort Sunset with a chambered body and TV Jones pickups is a bargain. We have some great deals going on Schecter guitars too!

Looking for a new electric guitar amp? Make sure you check out the DV Mark Galileo 15 watt tube head or the Little 40 L6 all tube head. Paired with the C112 cabinet you will have a killer boutique all tube rig.

Maybe you're looking something with more power. Well, how does the Blackstar Gus G Blackfire 200 watt 4 channel tube head with a free Blackfire 4x12 cabinet sound?

If combos are more your thing a Fender Ramparte Pawn Shop 1x12 9 watt all tube amp might be what you've been looking for.

We have a killer deal going on the awesome Tama Superstar Hyper-drive kit. This gig ready six piece kit is just waiting for you to add your cymbals and rock out with. It's very hard to beat if you're looking for a new ride.

Bass players, we haven't forgotten you. Fender's Modern Player Dimension Bass with its Triplebucker pickup covers every bass tone possible while the Vintage style Mustang short scale is great for guitarists transitioning into bass guitar world.

We have an amazing deal going on a pair of passive Mackie MAC300Z PA speakers, perfect for foldback wedges, or even FOH. These are seriously good bins going out at a crazy price.
If you're looking for a powered desk we have a Peavey XR1212 600 watt 12 channel board with digital effects. It's perfect for a house of worship, rehearsal space or small band.

Big band and school orchestra players have not been left out with some great prices on Yamaha Woodwind and Brass instruments too.

Come on down and join in the celebrations. Twenty three years and still rocking.

Thanks for making it happen!