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Guitar Center To Sell Acoustic Pianos

...won’t be stocked in Guitar Center stores: However, through an agreement with Suzuki, a 5'3" grand and a 48" vertical will be available through Guitar Center’s various online sites, including musiciansfriend.com, wwbw.com, music123.com, and musicarts.com. Customers who order a piano online will receive delivery, set-up, and tuning, anywhere in the continental U.S. Guitar Center will apparently have exclusive distribution rights for Suzuki Pianos, shielding it from direct price competition.

Michael Amkreutz, Guitar Center’s executive vice president of merchandising, marketing, and e-commerce, said, “When a customer orders a piano through our online channels, the ball is rolling immediately. In most cases, in a matter of days, their new piano is set up with white-glove service, tuned, and ready to play. It’s remarkably efficient and simple, and we’re proud to be the first online brands to make this type of program a reality.”

Guitar Center’s partnership with Suzuki represents the first time acoustic pianos have been aggressively marketed online. Because of the shipping difficulties inherent with a 500 lb. product, acoustic pianos have not lent themselves to e-commerce. GC is testing whether it can change that with its family of highly trafficked websites.

The addition of acoustic pianos to the Guitar Center product lineup also represents a major departure for the retailer. Guitar Center got its start in 1964 precisely because company founder Wayne Mitchell concluded that acoustic pianos and home organs couldn’t effectively be merchandised in the same location alongside guitars and amplifiers. Shortly after the Beatles made their U.S. debut, the Thomas Organ Company secured a license to build Vox branded guitars and amps for the U.S. Thomas management began pressuring its organ dealers to begin stocking the Vox product line. Most made a half-hearted effort and failed. Wayne Mitchell took a different tack. Rather than stocking Vox products in his chain of Organ Center Stores, he put them in a small store nearby on Hollywood Boulevard, and called the operation Guitar Center.

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