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MYSTERY SHOPPER: Wolverhampton

MYSTERY SHOPPER: Wolverhampton

It’s no secret that The Midlands has been a hotbed of musical activity for many decades, so surely it must be crawling with quality MI stores? Our man headed for the Black Country to see whether he could find a decent entry-level acoustic in ‘Wolvo’…

Nathan Rose As soon as I entered this establishment, I noticed that the only staff member present was giving a piano lesson in another room, but instead of waiting an age to be seen, he came straight over to serve me before I even had a chance to have a look around.
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Having explained what I was after, he pointed me straight to a collection of suitable instruments, including models from Vintage, Freshman and Yamaha. He then ran through a few deals that he was currently running, the best being a free high-quality hardcase when purchasing one of the nice solid-bodied Tanglewoods. It may be a fairly small shop, but it does contain a pretty good selection of guitars, digital pianos and particularly keyboards, which fill the space well. The importance of friendly service cannot be overstated and that’s exactly what I got here from my assistant – who was also very helpful – so there’s another reason why I would have been happy to buy something from Nathan Rose.Rating: 4/5A friendly store with staff who know how to sell effectively, but its size means it can’t offer as much choice as I was hoping. One Way MusicBefore I went inside, I was instantly attracted to the excellent shop window – the exact kind that pulls passers by inside. Window decoration is a bit of a dying art in MI retail, but it’s good to know that One Way is keeping it alive.      There was a good buzz about this store from the moment I set foot inside and it’s clearly a popular shop with plenty of repeat customers due to the number of punters coming in and out, joking with the staff and chatting about gear.I was only browsing the acoustic room for a minute before I was approached by an informative assistant who didn’t just tell me what I could get me for my money, but also explained what each model offered, down to the last detail.My budget could have got me one of two lower-end Fenders, but the gorgeous Washburns were what caught my eye here. But best of all is its lifetime warranty on all guitars over £150. Being able to take your instrument back for repairs free of charge after buying from this shop is excellent.Rating: 5/5A lively shop where you’re sure to get good advice and a great deal of choice. The lifetime warranty is also brilliant.Big Deal MusicAlthough it appeared a delivery had just come in, the first thing I noticed here was how well filled this place was, with guitars hanging from floor to ceiling and amps filling the space from the wall out towards the centre of the shop floor.Electrics were clearly Big Deal’s speciality, but there was still a good range of acoustics for me to choose from, both new and second hand. There may not have been much in the way of new acoustics, but the quality of the second hands coupled with the fact I had come in during a sale meant there were some excellent deals on offer here.A couple of used Adam Blacks and an Eko Ranger were perhaps the most tempting of the lot and you wouldn’t have guessed they weren’t new without having a magnifying glass to hand.Despite the recent delivery and the fact he was on his own, the salesman was happy to chat to me for a good while and didn’t show any signs of wanting me to hurry up. A great range of brands was present here as well.Rating: 4/5Decent service, loads to pick from and a pleasant atmosphere, but it was a shame there weren’t more new models on the shelves.DJ HeavenClearly there were no acoustic guitars to be found here, so instead I thought I’d enquire about the shop’s microphone selection. Another store with a very good window display, there were a few mics that caught my eye right away and this gave me high hopes for what I’d find inside. As expected, I found a cosy little shop with plenty of flashy lights and something on offer in every category of the DJ sector.However, I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t more DJ controllers and other types of high tech gear on display and the general atmosphere was not as ‘lively’ as I would have hoped from a store of this kind. There were also a few shelves with lighting products simply placed on them still in their boxes, when it would have been nice to see them presented more creatively. There were a few more PA speakers than I was expecting though, including the new Titan range from Wharfedale Pro, which had only just arrived on the UK market prior to my visit.Rating: 3/5Does a bit of everything DJ related like you’d imagine it would, but it could do with a bit more TLC and some areas feel a bit understocked.CONCLUSION    The healthy condition of the general MI shops here shows that the locals don’t feel they have to hop on the train to nearby Birmingham to buy instruments. Nathan Rose is the friendliest store here, One Way is the most complete – and ultimately the best overall – and Big Deal is probably the most presentable. They all have their strengths and it’s great to see three shops within such a close proximity of one another all getting along pretty comfortably, as you don’t see that too often.DJ Heaven gives locals somewhere to go for their ‘techie’ needs and there was nothing wrong with the service, but it just feels a little bit neglected in some areas.

Tags: wolverhampton music shops , nathan rose music , one way music , big deal music , dj heaven

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