Title says it all, I know all the tricks customers use that work, and I know the tricks customers don't know about.

Edit: Some general info about the employees you are working with.

Every sales guy at the company is commission based. Nor supplemented, but just commission. This can help and hurt you. They want to sell things, and will actively work with you to do so, but every discount literally takes money out of their pocket so they will try to minimize their discounting.

Standard sales guys can not discount for you . It takes a keyholder to do that, (Assistant Manager, Sales and Training Manager, General Manager).

Sales guys get hired in a 9% of profit, 2% of total sale commission rate. They get minimum wage as a base paycheck, which has to be paid back in their commission numbers to "fade". You either get minimum wage or your commission, whichever is higher.

The best person to work with in the store is the Assistant Manager. There is usually a few of them. They are the higher position in the store still on commission, and they can authorize their own discounts. They also have a significant portion of their say taken up with management related duties, so they are extra motivated to close the deal in front of them. My average discount rate as a AM was 15%.

Comments: 196 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

thewaybaseballgo14 karma

Is it worth it to dumpster dive at a Guitar Center? Is there a better day of the week to dumpster dive at Guitar Center?

gcmgr14 karma

Nothing cool goes in the dumpster. Maybe a few times a year the Ops manager will clear out some old cases that didn't leave with their used guitar and throw those away, but they're usually shitty. Any gear that gets broken gets either repaired, IR back to the vendor, or destroyed. I love destroy-at-store items, great way to vent some frustration.

swanronson6663 karma

what sort of items do you "destroy?" do you use... fire...?

gcmgr3 karma

Usually subwoofer poles from the KW181, nice weight behind it.

redditerate12 karma

How many employees got completely high at work?

I went into Guitar Center in Roseville MI once to get some cable - every employee was completely baked and totally unable to help me. They would forget what I asked them to look for!

gcmgr16 karma

More than I'd like. We mostly 'don't ask, don't tell' but if I see if affecting quality of work, then they get sent home. We do not drug test, for obvious reasons.

limonflora8 karma

Song that people testing guitars play that makes you want to pull your hair out?

gcmgr19 karma

Welcome Home - Coheed.

InfernalWedgie7 karma

My husband just got a job at GC and fuckin' loves it. His quota was $1200 last week, and he took in $7k in a day.


His band is going on tour next month and he hasn't made it through the first 90 days. What's his best angle for hanging onto his job?

gcmgr7 karma

That's a really low quota, but I think you are mixing up GP and GS. His goad would be measured in GP (gross profit) but I'm strongly suspicious his 7k say was total sales. A mid level employee will write 12k profit a month, a good one 20k plus.

Gain leave is your only option for actually keeping your job, but it's only availible after 90 days. Beyond that, its up to the GM. He is probably going to be annoyed that he trained someone and got less than 90 days out of them, so he may not get rehired.

[deleted]7 karma

Most famous customer?

gcmgr15 karma

In my store I can't say, because it would give my location away. But on the west coast I've looked up transactions for Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Billy Gibbons, and more. The store in Hollywood gets some cool people in.

Oprah_Nguyenfry6 karma

What is the most expensive purchase that you've seen someone make in your store and what was it for?

gcmgr7 karma

500k for a sound system at my store. We were primarily a pro audio store, so larger 10-50k deals were not uncommon. The largest deal I have seen at the company was 1.3 million.

Oprah_Nguyenfry4 karma

Was this by a private individual or a company/band/pro-musician?

gcmgr8 karma

1.3 million was an venue in another country, so company. The 500k was a Church, and the smaller 10-50k ones are 50/50.

flannel_dan14 karma

venue in another country

I choose to believe that it was a rig for a latin american dictator's wannabe rock star teenage son and that the entire country's population was then forced to come see him play and remark favorably on the performance.

gcmgr11 karma

Even though I know the answer, I'm going to now believe this to be true.

[deleted]6 karma


gcmgr6 karma

God no, that sounds terrible. Nothing like that while I've been with them.

jesq5 karma

Is there any way to get a discount on repairs?

gcmgr8 karma

Nope. Those are just overpriced across the board.

thetermy5 karma

My general strategy is to put Sam ash vs guitar center because they both offer lowest price guarantees. Actually, the Hollywood guitar center is right across the street from Sam ash. First, get a price online, make them match it, then being receipts back and forth.

When I was younger I went back and forth like 4 times and saved tons of money, but pissed off the reps.

Is there a way to get the same rediculous discounting without going through the hassle?

gcmgr8 karma

If they have a store across the street, then just ask them to fast forward to the end and save you the trouble. They know what's up, they don't want to waste the time either.

thetermy2 karma

I tried this, one of them actually called me out: "well, if you really want it to it that way, be my guest, but that sounds like a lot of work".

The other time it actually worked.

P.S. Will they discount 15% after they already matched an online price?

Also, will showing them my past history of ordering shit help at all

gcmgr4 karma

Yeah sounds kind of like you got a shithead employee. I would have just said 'ok' and walked up to another employee. Nothing like pitting them against each other.

thetermy1 karma

OK, and Will they discount 15% after they already matched an online price?

Also, why did u quit?

gcmgr2 karma

Not likely, but it depends on the product and the price. If its down to almost cost already (happens more than you think) then you won't get additional discounts.

DrunkNFunky5 karma

what are the terms and conditions for negotiating

gcmgr21 karma

Anything goes? That's how most customers treat it. Every sales person you talk to is paid 100% commission. It's technically fade against draw, but that's for legal reasons. Anyone not fading their hourly rate will be removed from the company in a few months time. That's why everyone you talk to in the store seems so hungry. They are. You need to use this to your advantage.

Our industry is not a very high margin one for most items other than accessories, and still not all accessories make money. Strings, for example, make about a quarter each. Guitar cases? About 60% margin.

If you find something you want, and can afford to buy it right now, tell the sales guy your intention to buy for the right price. Don't make an offer just yet. He will give you a few "fight backs", price protection policy, asking if you have seen it cheaper, etc. Ignore this. Wait for him to be done and politely ask for him to get a better price from the STM (sales manager). The STM won't want to talk directly to you, so sometimes asking to speak with him can help you get a better price.

Once you get the initial offer, depending on the price of the item, ask for about 15% more discount. They won't be able to do this, but it will get them to drop the price further. If the price isn't something you're ok with, walk away. The sales person you are talking to does not have the authority to walk a deal, and will actively try to keep you in the store while he gets a manager to lower the price. This will only work once, the second time they will let you walk.

There are a lot a small things to consider too. Tickets with a high IPT (items per transaction) will get better discounts. Single items already on sale? Not likely.

fumancu15 karma

When OP says anything goes, he means it. I bought my most recent guitar from GC and I made sure to haggle my guitar down and got a few things for free/discounted.

Basically I spent half a day playing and feeling out what guitar I'd like, and this gentleman (store manager) felt he'd like to be my salesman. Collectively he stayed with me for 50% of that time. It was enjoyable and we talked music, guitars, etc., but he had banked on me buying this guitar and spent so much time helping me that he effectively cut himself off from other deals and therefore needed me to walk out with that guitar in hand to make his day worthwhile.

Get to the register and he rings it up, with a gigbag. I ask him to grab me a case and he rings that up instead of the gigbag. At this point I inform him I'm not paying for the case, he offers to discount it 15%, I offer my rebuttal that I'll just walk from the deal spending a nice day playing beautiful guitars. He continues to discount until I walk away with the case for free. Then I let him know I need some nice strings. I don't know who's touched my new guitar and how old the strings are. He agrees and throws me a pair of elixers also. Rinse repeat with the capo and I got it for a small discount. He throws in some picks for the heck of it, and I'm happy with the deal.

After I pay, I apologize profusely for being so difficult; he says "It's okay man, I'd do the same thing. You know what you're doing, so here's my card. Anytime you need anything just look for me and you won't have to fight to get stuff cheap."

So maybe I just got lucky, but regardless I have been back to the same gentleman and he has maintained his offer of cheaper prices when he see me.

gcmgr8 karma

I'm glad to had a good experience.

We call the freebies "small concessions". While it rocks for the customer to get a free case because it costs 80 dollars, we only lose 30 dollars of it. Everyone leaves happy.

hestonkent10 karma

I feel stupid. Ive been shopping at guitar center for over 7 years, and have bought 2 guitars from that chain and have never once bothered even negotiate the price. Granted, one was a 250 dollar Ibanez GIO bass, but still.

gcmgr9 karma

Don't, it's not something everyone knows. Honestly while I'm here to help get better deals since I'm no longer with the company, discounts really do damage our business. We operate on a 6% profit margin chainwide, and that goes directly to Bain to pay back our loans.

DrunkNFunky2 karma

thanks for the detailed info. This helps out a lot

gcmgr2 karma

It's important not to try and haggle unless you are ready to buy. If you get a price and then say you're not ready, you'll probably still get that piece at the price you worked out, but you won't be able to haggle as well later because they will remember you not buying. For the sales guys it's all about time management.

Brian1755 karma

I've been looking at used Ludwig Acrolite and Supraphonic snares on the website. I've seen a couple at good prices, but once you tack on $21 for shipping there not that good. Any way to get them to ship free?

gcmgr4 karma

Used is tricky. Buying in used gear sucks and takes a lot of time, so for incentive they paid the person who buys in the gear half of the comission. Because of this, used gear is typically fixed price for 90 days. Getting 20 dollars of shipping thrown in is not unreasonable, just call your local store (or go in), tell him your want to order the snare of your choice but would like it to be shipped free (do not expect additional discounts) and if he says no, hang up and call a different store. Don't try to call the number on the website, they have no control over store level inventory and you will sit on hold for a good bit while your operator calls the store for info.

drundge5 karma

Let's say I want a pretty dang decent guitar. Gibson Les Paul Studio Deluxe (new model), for example. What is a pretty fair bottom line deal? Seems like pricetags are around $1400. What is the best method to negotiate down?

gcmgr8 karma

A lot depends on your relationship with your sales guy. Those are normally discounted for good customers at around 1150-1200. I would ask for 1200 out the door (assuming your state has sales tax)

sh1tbl1zzard5 karma

i got approved for a guitar center credit card and have had my eyes on a peavey 6505+ head for quite some time. however, i was told i am only able to get 6 month financing on the head, while certain other items qualify for 12 or even 18 month. is there a way to manipulate the system to get a longer financing period on the peavey head?

gcmgr5 karma

Yes, every month has a different financing promo going on. You could wait until its an all items promo, but Boss and Roland are always on 12 month promo. Just add a Boss TU-3 and the entire ticket will be 12 month financing.

It is possible that you can talk the manager into adding a cheap boss/roland power supply and getting your promo that way, but it's been kinda shut down because it costs so much money, so it's unlikely.

Derocc4004 karma

Why should I go through Guitar center vs Sweetwater?

We had a gc rep speak to our class and he wouldn't give a straight answer to this.

gcmgr10 karma

How would you expect him to give a straight answer? We don't say negative things about competition, so all he can give you is benefits of his company. You wouldn't listen to him slam sweetwater anyways because you would assume he is biased.

To answer your question, it really depends. Sweetwater has some of the most knowledgeable staff I have ever encountered. But it's all mail order, and honestly not any cheaper. Margins are similar between the companies. Sweetwater and GC Pro would be a better comparison, and with that GC Pro wins in my opinion. Someone from Sweetwater will not be coming our to your bar/club/church and designing a new sound system in person.

Wbeegees4 karma

Any advice for purchasing DJ equipment, or is that not your area of expertise?

gcmgr2 karma

Nothing specific. Spend the correct money the first time. I see way to many mixtrack pros returned because they're broken.

arsenicblimp3 karma

Looking to sell a drum kit. What would you advise I do to get the best deal?

gcmgr8 karma

Sell it on craigslist. We will give you 50% of what it sells for on ebay, craigslist, and our website.

SleepingGiant653 karma

I'm going in for a second interview with my local GC store; I'm a well rounded musician so I'm able to work in any department really. Which department would you recommend?

halo00to144 karma

As a former employee of GC, I can tell you each store has a "core" market, meaning, one store does better Pro-Audio, another is better at Guitars, etc.

My store was better at Pro-Audio since we were so much closer to the music scene and studios around town. Took a lot of push to get corporate to supply the store with what we needed. The Pro-Audio team when I was there consisted of four people and we each were top in the store for Gross Sales and Gross Profit.

gcmgr3 karma

This is absolutely true.

mghs3 karma

If I wanted to get a job at a GC, how much musical knowhow should I have?

gcmgr3 karma

We can teach gear knowledge, so they will be looking for sales experience. We like former sales jobs, wait staff, and other music stores mostly. I had lots of previous management experience so I got sifted to the top pretty quickly.

mghs2 karma

In other words, no chance of just hiring someone off the street who's never had a job before.

gcmgr6 karma

Unlikely to get hired for sales, definitely. Try to get hired in operations. They have sort of low pay and its boring work, but after 6-8 months you can transfer into sales if they like you.

Ig792 karma

A couple questions is you have time -

1) Tell me about the techs you have in the store (doing guitar setups and what not). Are these guys actual GC employees or independent contractors?

2) Why can't you carry larger selection of bass guitar stuff. Every GC I've been in, it's like an afterthought.

gcmgr7 karma

There's two types of tech at GC. Third party techs work for themselves and are working in our store for 80% of the amount billed. They can be either really good, or terrible. GC Tech is our new program, which is an actual GC employee that has been trained to do setups and simple work. Again, great or terrible. It depends on the specific store.

Bass stuff, we used to have an awesome selection, but no one buys it. Like, nobody. It accounts for less than 3% of our total sales. So GC stopped investing as much.

TimVicious1 karma

I've been looking into a Taylor Acoustic a good while and I noticed they never get discounted with 15% promos or anything. Any advice on getting the best price?

gcmgr6 karma

Go to your local store, ask for an AM, tell him you want your Taylor with the coupon. If they say no, politely ask again, stressing that you're ready to buy now. If they still say no, walk away. Most likely they will come grab you and do the deal.

I mentioned it earlier, but only do this is you are ready to buy. No need to show your hand before that.

TheRedViolin1 karma

There is a Martin acoustic that is made specifically for GC. The price is 1999 but I noticed online they had a used one for 1500 in another state. What constitutes used? Can I buy a guitar, return it and then re-buy it for the big discount?

gcmgr1 karma

Used means it was owned by a customer and sold back to the store. You wouldn't be able to return a used one for a new one, no.

TheRedViolin1 karma

No, I meant can I buy one new, return it, then come back and buy it again at the used price.

gcmgr1 karma

Oh, no that won't work either. They will hang it back on the wall as new. If it gets beat up to badly to sell as new then they will with IR it back to the vendor or mark is as Scratch and Dent, but they will charge you a large return handling fee that will negate getting a discount later.

TheRedViolin1 karma

I dont get it. This guitar was only released 3 months ago. Does that mean the one I found used is damaged? Also, Thanks for the AMA

gcmgr4 karma

It can only be sold as 'used' if we bought it from a customer. So apparently a customer bought it, didn't like it, found out after the return period, then sold it to the store.

arnie_apesacrappin1 karma

How are GC employees so uneducated about guitars? Three examples:

First example. I go in holding a semi-hollow body shaped exactly like a Gibson 355.

  • Me: "Do you have any cases that fit a 355?"
  • Employee: "What?"
  • Me: "An ES-355."
  • Employee: "What?"
  • Me: "A Gibson ES-355."
  • Employee: "What?"
  • Me: "Like the one that BB King plays."
  • Employee: "Oh. No."

Example two:

  • Me: "Where are your speaker cables? I just got a second cabinet for my Marshall head and I need another speaker cable."
  • Employee: "Go over to keyboards."
  • /shuffles over to keyboard section
  • Me: "Where are your speaker cables? I just got a second cabinet for my Marshall head and I need another speaker cable."
  • Employee: "We don't have any. You can just use a patch cable. They're the same thing."

I really love blowing output transformers in my amp heads, so I listened to him...

Example three:

  • Me: "Is there a reason why that Les Paul is tagged as a 1980 when it is a 1981?"
  • Employee: "Gibson serial numbers are sometimes wrong. It's a 1980 for sure."

I have several others.

gcmgr3 karma

Nothing specific, really. We definitely have some uneducated employees. We also have some employees that just don't case enough to give you the right answer. I will say that they continue to employ and hire these people because they typically will outsell most people in the store, somehow.

PurplePeaker1 karma

Is there a product a buyer can reasonably ask to be "thrown in"? Like maybe a case if the case isn't part of the deal?

gcmgr5 karma

Yup. Guitars $500 and over usually can get free cases, guitars 200 and over usually can get free strings/picks, etc.

Keep in mind you probably won't get a free case and a coupon, or additional discount on top of that. They rarely have the margin to give a 15% coupon and then add free things.

nuthinbutathrowaway0 karma

I heard "real" musicians don't shop there is this true

gcmgr7 karma

Not really. We definitely have a loud spoken group of people who hate us. They even have hate websites like http://guitarcentersucks.net/ about it. The reality is while not everyone buys from us (show rooming isn't exclusive to Best Buy), most everyone still comes into the store. Also defining a 'real' musician is a little strange. Major recording artists shop with us, sure. So do the local acoustic songwriter on the local taco tour. Both real musicians, but very different economic scales.

ktbird74 karma

My brother is an assistant manager at a Guitar Center as well and he regularly sees the Jonas Brothers at his particular store.

OmniaII5 karma

I'm sorry for your loss...

ktbird713 karma

On the contrary, one of the brothers is apparently really cool in real life. He once came in the store, saw a middle to lower class kid playing around on a guitar he obviously could not afford, and just went over and bought it for him.

gcmgr6 karma

That's really cool of him.

everythingisopposite0 karma

Where is the best place to take guitar lessons in SF?

gcmgr2 karma

No idea. We do have some lesson studios in the newer stores, but I wouldn't trust them.

forgetfulgoldfish1 karma

Why wouldn't you?

gcmgr13 karma

Music educators need to be hired on their teaching ability, not their playing ability. I haven't seen that focus in the hiring practices.

[deleted]-1 karma


gcmgr3 karma

Quit about 3 days ago, so not sure why you think that.

[deleted]-1 karma


[deleted]1 karma


gcmgr2 karma

Quit as in quit working, not outright quit. I gave a little over a months notice. I've never seen GMs get canned after giving notice personally, just associates.

[deleted]3 karma


gcmgr2 karma

I've seen that same slide, and it seems demeaning. I left of my own accord. Can't say why, obviously.

No plans yet, but it will probably be something in management.

[deleted]-1 karma


gcmgr1 karma

That's splitting hairs, really. Makes it harder to explain. You get paid minumum wage, and your commission. You do not start to earn said commission until you pay back your hourly wage. Because of that, if you fade, then you make exactly what your commission would have been minus taxes.

[deleted]1 karma


[deleted]4 karma


[deleted]1 karma


gcmgr3 karma

You said 08 in another comment. Which is it?

gcmgr2 karma

I'm not, but I can't say what I actually am.

[deleted]-1 karma


gcmgr2 karma

I said used to be AM, like most. GM, actually.

nato19020-2 karma

how do I get a guitar for cheap?

gcmgr2 karma

You would need to be more specific on what type of guitar you'd like. Every price point has a different tactic.

hestonkent2 karma

USA made Jackson Soloist.

gcmgr2 karma

Those are going to be rare to find in a store, but can be ordered. It's a little harder to get discounts when they order through their warehouse, but jackson guitar make decent money. I would ask for 2k and settle for 2200 or 2250. The key is politeness. The sales guy you are talking to can't make the decision on discounting, but he can definitely make or break your case to the managers. If he doesn't like you, he will not fight for your deal. We mostly listen to the sales guys when it comes to discounting. It's our discretion, but they have a better feel for the customer and what it will take, so we lean on their judgement.

gunslinger_006-19 karma

LOL Fucking Guitar Center....

I played for 10 years and I'm proud to say I never spent a dollar in that shit hole.

Support your local music store, fuck guitar center.