I'm trying to buy a guitar at the moment. Not a difficult thing to do, you'd have thought - given the ubiquitous nature of the rock and roll industry. And in one sense it isn't.
I want to buy a Simon & Patrick Flame Maple electro-accoustic - lovely tone, hard-wearing and excellent electronics (so everyone tells me). I duly pitched at the guitar dealer nearest to me who had half a dozen in stock. The prices were not too eye-watering and the tone was sublime, the action a little high (though the dealer said he'll sort that out for me free of charge) and the electrics - ie when it was plugged in to an amp - were indeed excellent.
So I could have bought it. But I felt I ought to shop around, so I went off to Tin Pan Alley just off London's Charing Cross Road to trawl the guitar shops and see what was on offer. Well, you'd never guess there was a recession on. Despite being the only customer in most of the shops, no one offered to sell me a guitar. When I did speak to a member of staff, I was told that either they did not stock S&P guitars but the ones they did stock were better or that I could play anything I wanted. no one offered to assess what my guitar needs were or to set instruments up for me to try out.
Not surprisingly, I left empty-handed.
So, I went back on line. I've already trawled a number of websites checking out S&P - reviews mainly (universally positive except for one guy who lived in Arizona and found his S&P fell apart in the dry heat). But this time I looked for offers, deals, even prices and was surprised at the number of sites that don't post prices but invite you to enquire by email - what's that about?!
I finally found a Belgian site with a good range of S&P guitars only to find that the one my local retailer had in stock was available at over £200 more than he was selling it for - and I'd have to entrust it to the vaguaries of a courier.
So, looks like I'll be driving down the road and buying locally after all. What do I learn from this?