Gamlin’s Music Centre Cardiff – A recommendation…

I’ve written nice things about some of my favourite places in the past, Spillers Records, Fresh Baguette (many, many tweets), hidden gems in the music world, cult movies…but I’ve never written anything about the reason I have been shopping in Gamlin’s Music Centre in Cardiff for 15+ years and counting. So, here we go…

My Dad plays guitar and has been since he was 15, (he just had his 65th birthday, Happy Birthday Dad!) and he has been a Gamlin’s regular for dam near all of that 50 years, so I was already familiar with the shop when the big day came for me to buy my first guitar for my 16th birthday.

I walked through to the back of the shop, where the electric guitars are, and was introduced to the staff by my Dad, a budget was discussed (higher than I was expecting thanks to generous uncles, aunts, cousins and nan, who were all happy to see me taking after my Dad), I was left with a man called Em (short for Emile) and my Dad wandered off to have a look round and have catch up with everyone. After an hour or so, I had my heart set on an Epiphone SG g400 (I’ve still got it, although it doesn’t have many of its original parts left). Dad returned, had a quick play, told me it wasn’t bad, money was exchanged and that was the beginning of a long relationship/friendship…

I’ve subsequently bought 2 electric guitars, 3 basses, 1 acoustic, 4 amps, half a dozen new pick ups, 10+ pedals, countless new parts, hours of repairs and more packs of strings, leads and plectrums that I want to think about. They aren’t the only music shop in Cardiff, and I’m no stranger to the rest of the country, so they must be doing something right, and I know what it is.

When you go into any shop, it is fairly common practice for the employee’s to try and sell you the most expensive item you can afford, what isn’t as common is the practice of a shop employee listening to what you want, why you want it, what you are going to be using it for and then selling you the item you need EVEN if it isn’t the most expensive item in the shop. I am certain you, fair reader, have experience the hard sell every time you have tried to get a new mobile phone.

The best example to illustrate this is the purchase of my trusty acoustic guitar….


It was a Saturday afternoon, I wandered into the shop to speak to my friend Matt (excellent knowledge of guitars and can seemingly repair anything I can break, which is…well, everything I’ve ever bought from them), the conversation went something like this:

“Matt, I want an acoustic, pick up, I’m playing a gig soon and my (other acoustic guitar) doesn’t have one. Something around the £250 mark. What have you got?”

“I saw something a few weeks ago, but I’m still waiting for it to come in, but when it does, you’ll buy it!”

“I’ll buy it?”

“Totally! Go away, I’ll text you when it comes in.”

“Seriously? I can’t even try something?”

“No! Go away, and come back when I tell you to.”

And he literally ushered me out of the shop. I doubt that sort of thing would happen to someone who wasn’t a regular, but the man knows my taste and he was certain. 2 weeks later I got a text, “Come in on Saturday. Matt”

As you can imagine, I was there on Saturday to find out quite why I had been ushered out of the shop!

“Right Matthew, lets see what you have got!”

“Sit there.”

Off he went looking at a few guitars, picked out 3 and put them in front of me,

“Right, play them and I’ll go get the one you are going to buy…”

I didn’t even have a chance to respond!

After 15 minutes of playing the 3 presented to me initially, 1 priced at £225, 1 at £300 and 1 at £350, Matt returned with a mystery box, which was going to be the guitar I was apparently going to buy…(you know I’ bought it, I’ve posted a photo of it already!)

He left me to play the 3 he had offered me for half hour more, with a smug grin on his face.

“Why the smile mate?”

“I know you are going to like the (£350 guitar) but I know you are going to like this one (taps the mystery box) more!”

He put me out of my misery and opened the mystery box. I’ll admit, this acoustic looked (and still does) exactly how I like my guitars, black, with hint of retro style (guitar nerds; black tuning pegs and a white inlay around the body).

“OK, you’ve got me, it looks great, but how does it sound?”

He didn’t say anything, he just handed it to me, I started playing and despite being a £100 cheaper than 2 of the other guitars he had suggested, this one spoke to me. It just felt right. The sound was exactly to my taste. I’m not suggesting there was anything wrong with the other guitars, but they just didn’t have the sound I like.

“I’m sold. What’s the damage?”


“Cash OK?.”

It’s a strange story, but one anyone who identifies so much of themselves in their important purchases can relate to, I’m sure.

So, my point is simple, if you ever need an instrument that you can buy from Gamlin’s Music Centre, go there, tell them I sent you, or better still, tell me when you are going in and I can come with and try not to buy more guitars.

15. November 2013 by Michael Partridge
Categories: Changed my life, Music, Personal | Leave a comment

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