BEST MUSIC STORE (CORPORATE BEHEMOTH) - 2002
The best part about these big suburban stores is that you can play around with the equipment. Sure, the clerks will bristle if you take a stab at Eddie Van Halen's guitar-geek masterpiece, "Eruption." But who cares? It's not like you'll run into your next-door neighbor or potential prom date at this place--go nuts. The giant floor is packed with deals galore on regular stuff like amps, mics, and guitars. Guitar Center also has a great selection of the latest home-recording software. (If staffers can't find what you want locally, they can chase it down in one of the other 100 locations around the country.) What really makes us go back again and again, though, is the Roland "V" Series electronic drum kits (the "V" is for "virtual."). A top-of-the-line model will run you $5,000, but that seems a small price to pay for the chance to play along with the best drum tones ever recorded: from a sample off a Meters record, to a replica of a Gene Krupa bang-a-thon, to one of those maudlin fills in a Phil Collins power ballad. Just grab a pair of sticks, put on the headphones, dial up a patch, and whale away.