In other cases that have been well-documented here, they have been cold, hard to connect with, money-grabbing, inexperienced and unknowledgeable, and generally unhelpful. And anywhere in between. Still, most of us wouldn't trade a relationship with a good dealer for anything in the world.
That's why it's more than disturbing about the news of Fender planning to sell direct via its website (as reported by Music and Sound Retailer - thanks for the heads-up Rob Carty). Fender announced the fact at a recent dealer meeting at it's factory in Corona, CA, and I'm sure it went over like a lead balloon with that group.
Actually Fender dipped its toe in the water last year when it offered custom-designed guitars from its Custom Shop via its website. Other manufacturers like Taylor have a similar program, but at least the final transaction is done through a dealer.
We all buy music gear online because sometimes it's just faster and easier. Some types of audio gear and music accessories typically don't require trying the item before you buy it, so there's little risk of getting something unexpected. That said, I can't imagine someone buying a guitar online (except for a vintage instrument, and even then....).
As music pros out there know, line up a dozen identical instruments and one or two will just have some magic that the others don't have. That's one thing a dealer can provide that's a crucial factor for the serious musician.
I suppose it's the wave of the future for all manufacturers to go direct in some form, but if that happens, they shouldn't lament the fact that the local dealer is becoming a dying breed, and the ones that are left show no brand loyalty. Who can blame them?
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