Miscellaneous Rumbles

Guitar Center Files Chapter 11


After years of struggling Guitar Center is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Seems they are going to try to stay in business but COVID sure hasn't helped their efforts. I personally have only entered one of their stores no more than a half dozen times to pick up a cable or such but I do hate to see another brick and mortar music shop fail.


Well I guess they were the place you love to hate, etc. but I got some good online deals there. Still the online effect, diminished interested in guitar in the 21st century (?) and of course C19 all had a hand in it I guess


Timing is weird, everything music is selling like old TV. If you can’t make it happen now then just go chapter 7.


razzer, I hate to see this happen. I guess they over expanded and then Covid happened which will hit them hard economically. After stores reopened after the shutdown back around March, it was hard to get in GC. Limited number of customers at one time. Also the new guitars were half gone from the wall because whatever they sold was not replenished because guitar makers were shutdown for all those months and when they started up they were at half staff. I went again a couple days ago but the guitars were restocked. But like in the other discussion I started the used gear is so little now which not sure why the Covid affected that.

A lot of people put down GC but I never have bad experiences there.

Tell me, does Chapter 11 mean the store chain may not close but they may have to close some stores to help manage debt? Maybe the main store in Hollywood would stay open then a few others?

GC really exploded in terms of expansion around 2000. In the 90s there were plenty in So Cal but across the country not like it is now. There was a kid, I forget what city, but he was on a guitar forum that I was on about 1997 and he heard of GC and wanted so badly to see the GC advertisement flyer they sent out every month or two so I sent him it in the mail. GC was not that big in other parts of the country. This is in the early internet commerce days so he might have seen a GC website but he didn't get to have the actual flyer. I am sure where he lives there is a GC now. I recall it was somewhat a big city but they had no GC yet. GC overexpanded now.


In SF there's a GC, and there's another 20 minutes south in San Mateo and another 20 minutes east in Emeryville and another 20 minutes east of that one.

Before they expanded so much, the SF store would have a great selection of really nice instruments. After the expansion it seemed to mostly be cheap to mid-line instruments with a few nice ones in a special room or waaaay up high.

At that point it didn't seem like there was much point in going in except to buy strings and such, and now I just get strings online, so there's really no reason to go into the store. Having mostly cheap/mid-line instruments was a move to capture a certain market, but no one wants to go in and drool over $500 Epiphones, which means no collateral sales to those people either ('I can't afford that gorgeous $5K guitar but I'll get this nice cord here...').

Sometimes marketing success isn't just a direct line between product and sales. The trick sometimes is to get people in the store to see something special and then they buy something else. If nothing in the store captures the imagination, then there's no reason to go in except necessity (strings, etc which are easier bought online) and if you do, the whole experience is uninspiring and there's no motive to repeat it.


Chapter 11 means you get to screw over your creditors which in turn gives you a huge advantage over your competitors. 2%10 net 30 turns into .10 on the dollar.


Wonder if that means the Associates will have more room to negotiate?


So wait - you mean the faceless monolithic would-be Hel-Mart of Music megastore that ground hundreds of local mom-n-pops to dust under its greedy oblivious heel has now itself been forced to turn on its own complicit suppliers by the next great wave in the ceaseless tides of commercial change?

If I was a poet, I'd cry justice.


As far as strings goes the only strings I buy online are Thomastik flatwounds or Pyramids otherwise GC is where I buy strings. It was great when the Pasadena (CA) store had really good used guitars and amps. You would go in and never know what to expect. I've purchased so many used guitars and amps there when I went in not knowing what to expect. I have even purchased an occasional new guitar and amp there.


Blame Bain. Without the debt repayment requirement GC probably wouldn't have been worse off than anyone else.

(I buy stuff from GC used and in emergency - new items). I prefer for support my local shops.


I was in GC in Richmond the other day, and it was grim. a very poor selection of amps, a huge expanse of wall with no product, and it seemed like the only companies shipping to them are FMIC (including Squier, Jackson, and some Electromatic/Streamliner Gretsches) and Epiphone. the Sam Ash across the way was well-stocked by comparison if mainstream...i could actually find guitars and amps i wanted to check out there.


Blame Bain. Without the debt repayment requirement GC probably wouldn't have been worse off than anyone else.

(I buy stuff from GC used and in emergency - new items). I prefer for support my local shops.

– Devil's Tool

I watched them do the same to Toys'R Us, virtually the identical practice. It wasn't online commerce that did them in, it was the colossal debt they were stuck with after 'restructuring'. It dragged them to the bottom.

These equity firms and venture capitalists clearly aren't in the musical instrument business, or toy business, ..or even retail for that matter. They're in the profit business. Long-established businesses are simply another asset in their portfolio to be squeezed. No deference to the nuances of their market, just the bottom line.

Like the demise of Borders and chain mall bookstores has left a vacuum for a return of the indie book seller, my hope is that this paves the way for a rebirth of more indie musical instrument stores.


profit and guaranteed yearly growth will be the death of us all. literally.

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