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Hard to believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted, but I’ve been busy. Busy getting to know my new friend. My guitar arrived, and since Epiphone was founded by a Greek gentleman and was originally run by a Greek family, I decided to give my gorgeous guitar a Greek name to honor his heritage. Yes, I name cars, and I name guitars.

I chose Philo, which is Greek for good friend. So, he’s “Phil” for short, and he is beautiful. I am enjoying my good friend way more than I did playing a cheap guitar at ten years of age. Phil is easier to play even more so than my starter electric guitar, Sky. Sky is lighter, but it’s harder to make Sky sing. Everything about Phil is solid, slick and easy. No, playing is not some sort of magic, but it is so worthwhile.

I’m taking a combination of online lessons and DVD lessons. I’m reading music again. I’m working on the first three strings. It’s so challenging, but it’s also so rewarding when I can make Phil sing the same notes I hear on the DVD or video I’m following. It’s a blast.

I love my Epiphone Les Paul. I practice him every day. I also give my little Fender amp high marks. I’ve already bought a portable DVD player so I can do my lessons anywhere and a music stand to make it easier on my neck. My experience with Epiphone has been a good one so far. Buying a more expensive instrument was definitely the way to go. I might have quit playing if I’d stuck with the starter guitar. I picked Sky up the other night, and it was like driving a Yugo after driving a Rolls Royce. There’s just no comparison even for a beginner like me.

My Guitar Center experience wasn’t as good, unfortunately. I showed up to pick up my major purchase (I spent a decent amount of money – he wasn’t a starter model). I was so excited, and I wanted them to be excited for me. There was no one around when I went in. The store is poorly set up. It’s not brightly lit, and there’s all sorts of side rooms for people to play guitars, and there was a lot of that going on, both in the rooms and out on the floor. No one acknowledged me as I stood waiting at the front desk. A kid finally showed up, and he went and got my two boxes (guitar and amp) and basically looked at my ID, had me sign and turned away. I had heard they might unbox and set the guitar up for me (as it turned out that wasn’t necessary, but it did take me a bit to figure things out on my own). I asked the clerk about a case, and he said (I’m not joking here), “Oh, I don’t know anything about the guitars.” I was so annoyed by that point that I wanted to ask him why the fuck he was working in a guitar store then. He referred me to someone on the other side of the store, and he picked my boxes up and dumped them over there.

I then waited for the guy on the other side of the store, and when he waited on me he said, “What is it? an acoustic?” like I wouldn’t know how to play an electric? That kind-of annoyed me, too, and it clearly said on the box what it was. When I told him it was an Epiphone Les Paul, he pointed to a hardshell case and said, “Oh, you have to have that one. It’s made for the Les Paul.” So I shelled out another $129 and my son and I carried my boxes out. Imagine my surprise when after unboxing everything, I discovered there was no amp cable. I’d also forgotten to buy a strap, and when I attempted to put the guitar in its case, the case didn’t fit. The label on the case said “SG”. An Epiphone SG is a different model than an Epiphone Les Paul – different shape altogether.  So much for “made for the Les Paul”.

I was back at Guitar Center the next day at lunchtime, and again no one was around when I went in, and no one acknowledged my presence. All it would have taken was someone saying, “I’ll be with you in a moment, ma’am.” No, no customer service skills there whatsoever. Must be nice to be so shitty at your job and still get paid, even if it is minimum wage. When I was finally waited on, I told him the case didn’t fit. No apologies. No questions as to whether they could sell me one that did fit. They just processed the refund, and I ordered a cheaper, better case off of Amazon. Seriously, do the managers at Guitar Center not teach their employees about handling customers? I wanted some excitement (on my behalf), some attention, some acknowledgement, and they missed out big time. I was so jazzed I would have bought all kinds of accessories for my guitar. I am a novice. An experienced sales person would have made a nice commission off of me, but no, I got indifference, rudeness and stupidity.

I will consider myself fortunate that the guitar itself is a solid winner, even if the store who sold him to me isn’t so great. I would buy my Epiphone again in a heartbeat. I love my guitar. I am hooked.