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Music stores

Ok, so it took us a year after moving to Fort Wayne to visit Sweetwater Sound, the most highly touted music store in town. When we finally got there, we felt like we were in a mall, not a music store. We almost missed the instrument shop entirely--from the big corridor where we entered, it looked like just a drum shop. Where are the guitars? we wondered. Walking past display windows full of trophies, we found a few digital pianos, indoor amusements, including game tables and two big putting greens, and the café. A small book-and-sheet-music shop was obvious, and the wall map showed where the big auditorium, huge warehouse, conference room, classrooms, and such were located. Turns out that the drum display was the entrance to the instrument area. One small room for acoustic guitars, another small room for electric. Maybe a half-dozen instruments each by several different makers--many mounted so high they could not be lifted down without a ladder. Apparently Sweetwater does most of its business by internet and phone, or you can have a salesperson get stuff from the warehouse for you to look at. That's all right, I guess...kind of a Home Depot for musicians--but it sure isn't the way I shop for instruments! I'd rather drive two hours north to Elderly Instruments, where they have DOZENS of guitars (AND dobros, dulcimers, banjos, mandolins, violins, ukeleles, harps, etc.--none of which were in evidence at Sweetwater) right where you can reach them, and you can try one after another to your heart's content. I guess there just aren't that many folkies around here--Sweetwater seems to cater to the mainstream rock-pop-jazz-blues crowd. I'm sure they do what they do very well--it's just not very pertinent to what WE do. I couldn't even buy single guitar strings to use on my dulcimers...had to go to Guitar Center for that!