BEST MUSIC STORE (CHAIN) - 2006
Guitar Center should have changed its name long ago. Granted, the leviathan offers a plethora of Fenders, Gibsons, and numerous other brand-name axes, all festooning a room half the size of Rhode Island and often heavily discounted. But delve deeper into the maze and you'll find equally imposing selections of drums, live sound gear, recording equipment, electronic instruments, and effects. The keyboard and synth room is particularly well-stocked, with everything available for trying out. It isn't always the simplest procedure: Sometimes, you have to find a staffer to plug your weapon of choice into an amp, and, on busy days, you might have to wait for the wanker ahead of you to finish before taking your turn. But there's always something to engage your interest in the interim—like, say, a Korg Kaoss pad, a digital effects processor that you actually play. The doodad goes for around $200—more than $100 below list price. And, if neither the Roseville outlet nor its Edina counterpart has what you're looking for, getting it from one of the chain's 150-plus other stores is a cinch.