Can you recommend any of these gear dealers?

Part of building the Music Thing Shop is finding 'partners' who'll actually ship the stuff out and take your money. I'd be very grateful for any feedback on buying from these companies:
• Sweetwater
• Musician's Friend
• Dolphin Music
• Thomann
• Zzounds
• Nova Musik
(And yes, I know that Analogue Haven is cool, and we're working on doing something together)

Have used both Dolphin and GAK and had no problems either buying or returning items.
I have used GAK and Thomann. Thomann had excellent response to emails and dealt with everything very well. GAK use Citilink who I find quite poor as a courier service.
Have used Musiciansfriend for a long time now. They have always promptly shipped the correct items and their prices are generally very good.
I've never had a problem with Musician's Friend.
Used Dolphin and Thomann. Thomann have always been great, and Dolphin are generally good, though the audiofire I bought from them last week arrived soaking wet - probably the sterling work of courier.
I've bought many things through sweetwater and never had any problems. the sales team even followed up with phone calls which was nice.
Sweetwater seems over-the-top with being nice to you. I've ordered from them twice, and each included a hand-written "Thank You" from my assigned customer service guy as well as a follow-up "Hope you are liking your XXX" note a few weeks later.

Not sure if it makes much difference to me, but they seem pretty nice for the Wal-Mart of online music shops (or would they be Target?)
I've bought from Sweetwater and Musician's Friend, and would use either of them again.

MF seems to have crazy low prices on certain items - as if they Wal-marted their distributors to get an exclusive lower price.

Customer service-wise: Sweetwater will call you if something you ordered is not in stock. MF will email you. MF's shipments are super quick, when the item ordered is in stock. Sweetwater puts candy in their shipments, and will follow up with personal phone calls and "agents" to get you to buy more stuff. MF leaves you alone, except for the occasional email with a 10 buck discount.

SW doesn't sell drums, just e-drums. MF is full service. Neither put their entire catalogs online. I have not had a problem with either.
Nova Musik is very good.. so is ZZounds
Nova Musik is, I believe, independantly owned, and operated out of a shop in Milwaukee, WI, USA. I've ordered a number of items from them, and have talked to the folks that work there on several occaions over the phone.

Beyond just having a great attitude about what they do, and being willing to exchange stuff, etc, they are also incredibly knowledgeable about the products they sell.

They've become the first place I go to when ordering things now, and have been completely reliable and great to work with for over two years.
SW has more high-end gear than some of the others. Also has higher prices, and a tendency to list things as 'in-stock' when they actually aren't.

MF & Zzounds are the guitar-centers of online music shops. They're fine, but don't have a lot of the higher-end, more interesting synths that your readers might demand.

Audiomidi is FANTASTIC. they ship very quickly, have an amazing selection, and a brilliant customer support system. I always order from them if I can. Surprised no one else has mentioned them in the comments yet.
NovaMusik is great, and independent too. I also recommend Humbucker Music, for guitar-y type stuff,
I second audioMidi, just got a great deal from them on Korg Legacy (along with a promotional free soft synth) and they responded to my question quickly and kindly.
Audiomidi is a great online store. Very helpful, prompt, good support, good prices. They have discounts for BMI members, which I take advantage of. Overall, my favorite music store ever, other than Nadines in LA in the late 80s.

Sweetwater is indeed WalMart-like, and I personally can do without agressive sales follow up calls, but they do know their business and have good prices.

Zzounds has been fast and cheap, and they have price-matched products from other web sites in the past for me.
I have used Dolphin and have never had a problem
Dont forget Robotspeak in San Francisco!!!
I've always found Thomann excellent. Prompt, personalised response in case of problems. Very generous uniform shipping fee (from micstand to PA).

Only snag is to be sure and ask for English (or other relevant language) manuals as otherwise chances are it'll be in German. has excellent prices and free shipping.

sweetwater is a bit overpriced and caters mostly to rich clientele who want high end gear.

My local favorite is the Amp & Guitar Wellness Center run by former ramones-era CBGB soundman Jeff Bloch. Excellent for buying and fixing vintage tube amps and gear of all sorts.
Anynone ever bought anything from ? they seem to have a decent more electronic/studio stuff
here's a vote for audiomidi. I use my student discount with them and everything has always been fast and the customer service has always been personal and friendly. I've actually never bought from anyone else (except people on ebay).
Zzounds is good, though they do sometimes have a disconnect between their product info and recommendations. For example: I bought a Yamaha AN-200 synth from them, which they said did not include a power supply. I bought that as well only to find a power supply in the AN-200 box. But, they did refund the cost of the extra power supply I bought and they let me keep it.
Sweetwater's customer service guys are like stalkers - my rep. has called me about 12 times for no real reason. Their prices are actually pretty decent though.
I like Musician's Friend the least. I think they're overpriced, and I've bought stuff from them which was out of stock for months, to the point where I cancelled my order.
yes, I've bought from Turnkey and they were fine too...
You should contact they are pretty much the shit stateside. Im sure you already know that though
I've used GAK, they're pretty good, fast service.
Yep Dolphin and Gak have been good for me. Much better customer service than bigger shops like Turnkey and Digital Village.
Why use any of those other stores? They don't know crap about synths, other than Analogue Haven. Sure they have product, but they are way too mainstream if you ask me.

Another good place for gear would be
i work at turnkey. there are a load of products you can't get as easily (if at all) from other people (in the UK). access, moog, dave smith! I'm willing to bet they'd be interested in getting on board.
I've bought both from Sweetwater (which is great for everyday gear needs) and Nova Musik (which is great for getting the latest German gadget composed of vintage Soviet transformers and UFO parts)
I've used Zzounds, Sweetwater, MF, and AudioMidi.

AudioMidi was sending me free tshirts for a while for reasons I was never clear on.

Sweetwater had great post-sale followup. They got me good prices and had a very knowledgeable staff.

Musiciansfriend always had good prices and shipped promptly but for some reaosn I still feel a little dirty buying from them. I think it's their link with GuitarCenter.

Zzounds is usually my first choice, though, because they ship fast, they're easy to get a hold of for support, and match prices well.
For computer-based musicians, seems a great fit. I've always had great service, the people there know lots about what ther're selling, and the prices are good. Musician's Friend, while friendly and fast, doesn't quite have that specialization. Sweetwater also rocks, but is so big as to be a bit impersonal compared to audioMidi...
Love ZZounds - fast, good pricematch, good returns. Tried Sweetwater but was turned off by 5 calls from the sales guy (for 1 order!) and the following torrent of mail (quarterly catalog, plus smaller "updates" every couple weeks). Musiciansfriend and Geartree are fine, haven't bugged or wowed me.
I have bought plenty of stuff from Musicians Friend, and even more stuff from [disclaimer: my employer] who has a really easy-to-deal-with associates program.
Actually the best one for me is B&H ( in NY - I've purchased thousands of dollars worth of equipment from them and they've been always most helpful and quick with everything.
Big fan of Nova Musik as well. I recently got my machinedrum through them and I will go through them again the next time I purchase gear.
I've had nothing but good service from Dolphin. So far I've bought a couple of mics, a midi keyboard and a Pro Tools rig (the 002) from them. At the point when one of my sm57's developed a problem, not only did Dolphin replace it, but they sent it to Shure to be repaired, thus leaving me with 2 of them for the price of the original. Awesome service.
Musician's Friend did something that made me loudly vow never to deal with them again, but currently I forget what it was. (Probably for my own good.)

Sweetwater are pricey but very, very good. They even sent me a job application.
SW has been good with my studio and offering good customer service. They're not agressive at all with us with sales. We have a dedicated sales person. Maybe that helps.

MF, however is evil! They send our studio 10 copies of each Guitar Center, AMS and Musician's friend catalog (they own all 3) each month. I have written, called and emailed to get them to stop sending us catalogs as none of them get read.

I was told when i called that even though I was asking to not have any more catalogs sent that they probably wouldn't stop.

They obviously do not care about the environment or thier customers.
Nova Musik are amazing. super knowledgable and go above and beyond. xx
ive never had a problem with musicians friend.
I can recommend Thomann.
for the lov e of all that is holy please don't go with anyone who uses citylink as a courier. they smash guitars and lose drum machines
Have ordered many a thing from Musician's Friend. They've always been great. Never had one problem.
Nova musik all the way...

Sweetwater is kinda cool too... great service and who can pass on the free candy?
I had a great experience with sweetwater. Not only did they have what I needed when no one else did, but they were also the only place I contacted which would ship outside the US.
I have been dealing with Sweetwater for about 3 years now, and haven't bought gear from anyone else since I started using them. As I live in one of the most isolated capital cities in the world (far, far over on the west side of .au) their prices are often 50% of local prices, and their service has been impeccable (I just received a handwritten postcard from my "sales engineer" last week). They are also one of the only US dealers who seem to be keen on dealing with international customers.
I ususally use Zzounds first, but I also use amazon alot, and that's musician's friend alot of times. I know of a few blogs that "amazon deal finders" for appliances and such. They use the affiliate link program to link to som of the biggest closeout deals of the day, and alot of times find stuff 75% off, etc. Very useful, and I hear they make decent bank off the referrals.

Maybe instead of tieing your horse to one wagon, you could instead favor the shops that have a "link" referrer programs, and scan their closeouts for bargains that get passed along to your readers. I don't know of anyone else doing it right now...

Just a thought, love the Blog and would like to see you get your bit for hosting it.
Zzounds is great. I hate to admit but i also never had a prob with Musicians fiend (friend). and though I never ordered from analog haven i have emailed the people there and gotten a fair and fast response.
far and beyond my wildest dreams for mail order is Nate at Atlas Pro Audio. and don;t forget mercenary audio. between those two i am in debt for at least a decade!
if you're just going to be proxying to one of the huge megastores, what's the point dude? there's plenty of superstore aggregation going on as it is. also if you have to ask ME how good musicians friend or zzounds or whatever is, you think i'm going to be buying from YOU?
i'm extremely happy with sweetwater, and have been purchasing almost exclusively with them for 7 years
yes yes audiomidi is the best. woo hoo
One name I'd look into is Rik's Music ( They don't carry every line the bigger places do, but what they do carry is ALWAYS substantially lower than anyone else. Their quote time is very fast and service is always excellent.

I am in no way associated with them... have just purchased from them for several years now. I always check with there first.
Sweetwater has served me well in terms of putting in an order for out of stock merch, and then calling and shipping promptly when it arrived.

The sales staff is knowledgeable, but will talk out of their ass if they don't know the answer. They sell bleeding edge items, but aren't necessarily up to speed on the caveats that come with selling such new merchandise. Not that anyone is, but I'd prefer "I don't know" to misinformation.

I pretty just say "Oh hey, yeah, I'm cool, later." when they bother me with a random phone call every couple months.
I've used Thomann twice and don't regret it.
Each time they were super reactive, fast shipping (as soon as the product was in stock), nice service and personalisation (they send SMS when the product is shipped) and low prices.
A good choice.
I've never had a problem with sweetwater. Novamusic is really great, and so is analog haven.
I'm only familiar with Musiciansfriend and Sweetwater and both are excellent companies, however, Sweetwater is much more personal, they will assign a single person to your order and you will receive the same sales representative everytime you order, emailing, even CALLING YOU to confirm parts of your order
thomann are great- i live in dublin ireland and have used them 3 times - i always recommend them to people-
i work for mf, but not in sales. we do ok most of the time. and no, i'm not trolling for them, i'm a long time thing is even my myspace friend! woohoo! i will say that e-mailing us typically takes a while, in my opinion we're understaffed there, but our customer service phone people are pretty good. you're all right about our selection not tending toward the obscure, but for the basics: cables and such and general gear i think we do pretty ok.
if anyone has any specific questions, let me know and i'll answer to th best of my (limited) ability.
Sweetwater used to have problems with their shipping department not packaging stuff properly. I had some serious problems with keyboards being damaged due to their sloppy packaging. They promised to fix it but I've only used them for small items since.
sweetwater ships fast. 2 weeks ago i ordered some studio monitors from them and they arrived in 3 days. The personalized salesman thing is also helpful. There was a problem with verifying my credit card and i was called literally within 2 hours of placing the online order.
SWEETWATER SWEETWATER SWEETWATER. amazing customer service. i've been using them for the last 5+ years.

Nova musik is great. I've bought many things from them.. seems to be just several guys answering the phones who actually use and are familiar with the stuff they sell!
I have used Musician's Friend and Sweetwater. While Musician's Friend is awesome as far as inventory and prices, I have occasionally received a dud that I had to send back. With their 45 day returns policy, it works ok, but you have to consider shipping. Nevertheless, I would still use Musician's Friend for general gear purchases.

Sweetwater is incredible with customer service and follow-up. I was truly impressed by their seeming interest in me as a customer, and they provide a striking contrast to the generally hands-off approach of Musician's Friend.

Nova Musik is an independent retailer, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are located just a couple of blocks from where I work, and while their store isn't open for retail sales (they are internet specific), they are nice guys and have opened their doors to me when I've needed one thing or another. I definitely recommend them, especially since Musician's Friend & Sweetwater already have plenty of business.
It's not on your list, but I've had very good luck with Their prices are usually very good, they often have free shipping, and they really do ship stuff out the same day.
I've had less than stellar experiences with Musicians Friends... they're all right MOST of the time, but when they screw up it's a royal pain. Sweetwater, on the other hand has been nothing but easy dealings.
Why not front for a number of decent boutique stores. Analogue Haven is an obvious one. Infant Noise which sells MFB products in the US could probably use a little more visibility. I'm sure there are a number of other small sellers of niche and high quality gear.
Started ordering from Sweetwater in 1992, appreciate their excellent catalogs...though I don't order much of anything from them now, I always check their website. Have used zzounds & Samedaymusic extensively (they are the same company, by the way...Samedaymusic rounds off their prices to the nearest dollar but offers a 60 day return). Within the last couple of years I have been increasingly dealt with because their shipping is faster (I'm on the West Coast of the US) and I like their gear reviews (more real-world than the Sweetwater stuff). The founder of Audiomidi is Russ Jones, who sold me Cubase version 1 for the PC many years ago! I have also had excellent service (and truly fantastic prices) with in Colorado, and 8th Street Music in Philly.

Michael O'Comain
Nova Musik is amazing. When they found out how much shipping would be for an item to Canada, they offered to go halves on it with me - I've never seen something like that from a pro shop's ebay auction. Communication was amazing.
Personal shopping at GAK - very good and helful staff.
Online shopping at Thomann - very good communication and delivery service.
I've used Musician's Friend, Sweetwater and ZZounds. MF and ZZounds multiple times. All have excellent service. EXtremely happy with each.

x. (which may be musician's friend in another guise) is someone else you should check out. great prices & reasonable service.
ZZOUNDS is great! It's not what happens when things go right, it's how good they handle return when things go wrong. ZZOUNDS handled the return on an order that was damaged in shiping with great customer service and a quick turn around. They are also solid when it comes to price-matching.
Thomann is absolutely amazing. Best prices in Europe, great service, huge selection and still a very fair and ethical family-run company. If you ever are in northern Bavaria (yeah right ;) ) be sure to visit their store and depot.. they take up the better part of the village they're in.
Sweetwater and Zzounds both get a huge thumbs up here. Zzounds for prices/dependability/instant shipping/no problems. Sweetwater for the same and an added bonus of personal customer service -- never received any agressive sales calls mentioned above but I haven't bought the kind of stuff that would make salespeoples eyes light up with dollar signs. Both 10 out of 10 for me so far.
I'll put in another vote for I've bought a fair amount of stuff from them, and they've always had _really_ good prices (almost surprisingl good, considering they're a small store), and everything has arrived when it was supposed to.
I seriously LOVE Novamusik. Best dealings I've had, ever. They're competitively priced, the staff that have answered the phone are very nice to deal with and know their S*!t...unlike the experience of going to GuitarCenter, super-fast delivery (I live in Minneapolis so maybe it just gets here quicker, but still..the next day for regular postage is pretty amazing). Haven't been there in person yet, but the friends I know that have rave about it. Here's some comments that came up on the local Techno chat forum thingy when someone asked where to buy synths . Seems the consensous here is for Novamusik
Dolphin messed me around with several of my emails being "lost"(see ignored) although it may have been an honest mistake.
Thomann is serious. Great prices.
I live 4 blocks away from Nova Musik here in Milwaukee and I work with another music shop here called trounce records, we do alot of business with these guys. Whenever they get a customer looking for turntables and records and samples they direct them to us and whenever we get someone looking for synths and software we direct them to Novamusik.

Independantly owned, smart staff, always in stock with a great selection of gear no to mention custom made gear only made for the store and only sold at the store. They are good people, give them a shot!
I live 4 blocks away from Nova Musik here in Milwaukee and I work with another music shop here called trounce records, we do alot of business with these guys. Whenever they get a customer looking for turntables and records and samples they direct them to us and whenever we get someone looking for synths and software we direct them to Novamusik.

Independantly owned, smart staff, always in stock with a great selection of gear no to mention custom made gear only made for the store and only sold at the store. They are good people, give them a shot!
I can be the brazilian manager for the MT store, so you can have Casa dos Cones' products on your store!
Brent from here just saying it's very interesting to hear the comments both good and bad. I could read this stuff for days. Back to lurking.
Have had good experiences with AudioMIDI and Nova Music.
Sweetwater has a good website (though I don't like their phone or print sales efforts) and good service. Zzounds has the best all-aroud shopping experience if you already know what you want (probably the ideal supplier for the present application). Musician's Friend is the Antichrist. The others I haven't tried. -Carl
I bought some stuff from this outfit in Brooklyn and LA called Turntable Lab, and they had the same or better pricing than the big guys like Musician's Friend, and the service was good. I now get this weekly newsletter of gear, LPs and CDs. I'm not a DJ, but this newsletter enables me to keep up on this hip topic that I would otherwise be too geeky to be into. So you might want to check them out as well.
Have used Dolphin often, no problems at all.

One shop to steer well clear of is Boomerang Music. I once had to change my mind about a purchase - within five minutes of making it - and the guy at the other end just said "But I just packed it. Thanks a lot, pal", and put the phone down on me. Never, ever experienced such rudeness. Well, Boomerang, what goes around comes around...
both GAK and Dolphin Music fantastic for prompt and reliable delivery
Anyone tried Palyback Europe?

or Musik Produktiv?

Both are sometimes cheaper than Thomann it seams.
Used Dolphin loads and always had great service. Sure, the odd thing has gone wrong but they ALWAYS sort it out efficiently.

Can't say the same for those pesky Germans though, as the price adverstised is never the price you pay after the (credit card) exchange rate calculation. Surely this is illeagal?
I've ordered quite often at Thoman - always fast, reliable an no fuzz.
Great dealer, good prices & service.
I've ordered many items without incident from Musician's Friend and zZounds and have been happy with the service. But Sweetwater takes the cake -- they include CANDY with the order and call afterwards to make sure you're happy with the product. Go with them.

Andy Sullivan
I had to send Dolphin Music a Cease and Desist because of copyright infringment (on this:

Pretty sketchy of them--makes you wonder what else they're up to.

Also, Robotspeak based in San Francisco is pretty awesome. They even have circuit bent toys / instruments for sale.
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