Many of you know that for the last three years I have been a Sales Engineer at Sweetwater Sound. However, last Thursday was my final day at Sweetwater. (My wife and I have moved back down to Tennessee. I left the company on great terms. I’m actually pursuing a cool new opportunity…more on that to come in future posts.)

It has been a great three years. Sweetwater is a stellar company, and I feel that it is only appropriate that I post my thoughts on Sweetwater right here on Home Studio Corner.

My opinion of Sweetwater is obviously a biased one. However, being on the inside for three years has given me a very good look at the makeup of this company. If I didn’t like the company, I certainly wouldn’t post a review of it.

What makes Sweetwater different?

Anybody can sell music equipment, right? What makes Sweetwater any different from Musicians’ Friend or Zzounds? Aren’t they all just big box stores?

The folks at Sweetwater talk a lot about the “Sweetwater Difference.” Now it’s a bit of a cheesy phrase, but it makes a point — Sweetwater is different.

Don’t take my word for it. If you’ve never talked to a guy at Sweetwater, call ‘em up and ask to speak to any sales engineer, then ask him why you should buy from Sweetwater. (The number is 1-800-222-4700. It is permanently ingrained in my brain.)

So, what’s different?

Every company on the planet will tell you that they are extremely “customer-focused.” Very few do more than just say that. Sweetwater has put some amazing systems in place, all with the goal of taking care of customers.

Personal Sales Engineer

This is probably the biggest difference. Have you ever bought a car from a salesman, and you kinda wished you bought more cars, because he was so pleasant to work with? Do you ever go to a restaurant and request a specific waiter, because he has taken such good care of you in the past?

That’s kinda what it’s like to shop at Sweetwater. If you place an order online, you’ll get a call from an actual person. Not only that, you’ll work one-on-one with that person, making all of your future orders with the same person.

Your sales engineer isn’t some random dude working in a call center. All Sweetwater Sales Engineers go through three months of intense training before they can even start selling gear. It feels kinda like an accelerated masters program in audio.

Most people don’t really get why this is so cool, until something happens. FedEx damages your package. Your microphone dies, and you need one for a session tomorrow. In situations like these, you tend to freak out a little bit, because you just know it’s going to take hours and hours of your time to get these things handled, because the big corporate online retailer isn’t going to be much help.

This was probably one of my most favorite parts about working at Sweetwater. When something bad or unusual happened, I just took care of it for the customer. The customer made one phone call, told me what had happened, and I handled it from there. Sweetwater has these amazing systems in place that allow them to handle just about anything.

On top of having someone there day in and day out to handle any problems you may have with your order, it’s really nice to buy from the same guy every time. I had lots of customers who put together their entire studio one order at a time, and I was able to help them pick out all the right pieces.

On top of that, I was familiar with their setup and their goals. I would regularly talk customers out of buying something they didn’t really need, or would show them a less expensive option. I was interested in helping them put together a complete system, not just making a quick sale.

Tech Support

Okay. You hear the words “tech support,” and you immediately assume that you’re going to be talking to someone in India who barely speaks English, right?

Well, that’s not the case with Sweetwater. They have a dedicated tech support staff on site. These guys are phenomenal. They handle any and all technical issues you may have with your order.

Why is this important? I can think of no other dealer that offers free tech support. Normally that’s the job of the manufacturer. Sweetwater, however, takes it upon themselves to handle every aspect of the customer’s buying experience. That means spending a ton of money to hire in a group of really sharp guys to deal with tech support issues.

Sure, manufacturers offer tech support, but sometimes you’ll call Company A and tell them that you can’t get their software to work with Company B’s audio interface. They’ll tell you it’s Company B’s fault and to call them. You call Company B, and they say it’s Company A’s fault.

Not to dog on manufactures’ tech support (some of them are REALLY good), but the folks at Sweetwater don’t have to defend their specific products. They support the entire system. Having issues getting your M-Audio interface and Novation controller working with Logic on a Mac? If you buy it all from Sweetwater, you just make one phone call to their tech support guys, and you’ll be up and running in no time.


Free shipping is pretty much the norm for most online dealers. Sweetwater goes a step further. Most places make you order a certain dollar-amount before you qualify for free shipping. Sweetwater will sell you a single set of strings and ship them for free.

It’s a small thing, but it’s pretty cool!


I’m sure you’ve seen Sweetwater’s website, but have you really checked out all they have on there? If you get nothing else from this article, at least do yourself a favor and check out Sweetwater.com.

Sure, there’s a lot of information on buying equipment, but they have pages upon pages of really good, free content — like their PC Optimization Guide or the Pro Tools Resource Center. They even have a comprehensive audio glossary!

You can never spend a penny at Sweetwater and still get a TON of value out of their website. (I don’t know about you, but if a company invests this much in providing me with free content, I’m much more likely to buy from them out of gratitude.)


A good review needs to be balanced, so I’ve prepared a few cons for Sweetwater to go along with the overwhelming number of pros.

  • They’re not local. If you need something today, and you don’t live near Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sweetwater won’t be able to help you. If you need it tomorrow, they’ll be able to take care of you. However, they are limited by the fact that they need to ship the items to you.
  • If you don’t like interacting with people, you may not like working with Sweetwater. Everything at Sweetwater is centered around having a relationship with customers. That means you’ll get a courtesy phone call with your order. It also means your sales engineer will call you a few weeks later to make sure you’re happy with everything. To me, that’s really cool. Some people don’t think so.
  • If you don’t value service, advice, and support, you may not like working with Sweetwater. While their prices are very similar to everyone else in the industry, you can always find a stupid deal somewhere else. I guarantee you that a Guitar Center employee will match or beat any price you get from Sweetwater. That’s because all they can offer is price. You won’t get the same level of advice, service, free tech support, or professionalism from any other retailer. They’ll slash their prices because they have nothing else to offer you. If that’s appealing to you, great! If you’d rather buy from a company who cares about you and will take amazingly good care of you, buy from Sweetwater. You may pay a few extra bucks here and there, but I will gladly pay more for good service. After all, every time you spend money with a company, you’re casting a vote for that company. You’re saying that you approve of the way they do business. If a company has shown me respect, courtesy, and great service, I’ll buy from them even if they are a bit more expensive. It’s my way of showing support for their efforts.

In Closing

I could go on and on about plenty of other cool things at Sweetwater, but I’ll just mention them in a few bullet points:

  • LEED Certified – Did you know that the new Sweetwater campus is completely green?
  • Privately-Owned – Sweetwater is owned by president and founder Chuck Surack. There’s one location in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They’re not some huge corporation with hundreds of locations. They rock the music industry…all from one warehouse.
  • Award-Winning – Sweetwater wins all sorts of awards not only for sales, service, and support, but also for its involvement within the community of Fort Wayne. Chuck is a very generous man, and the Fort Wayne Community has benefited greatly from him and Sweetwater

I’m obviously quite fond of Sweetwater. And no, they haven’t paid me to post this review. I simply think it is fitting that I spread the word as I move on to something else.

If you’ve never given them a shot in the past, call them up next time you need something. I promise you’ll be impressed.

Thanks Chuck and the rest of the folks at Sweetwater for three great years.

  • Stacey Ackerman

    I found this article by accident after searching the internet to see if there was a way to switch to a different Sweetwater sales engineer. I’m really not happy with mine.

    He emailed me once to ask how I liked my guitar, and I told him about one minor and one not-so-minor issue. No response. Many months later, I emailed him to ask a question about a new guitar purchase. A week later, no response.

    I still plan to buy from Sweetwater, and my overall experience has been good, but roses have thorns.

    • Ugh, I’m sorry, Stacey. Call my buddy Luke Herian and tell him you’d like to switch Sales Engineers. Luke’s at 800-222-4700 x1236.

  • Laurdess Valentino

    I can also attest to some of what you say as being true. The rest is pure kiss @$$. I have been talking to one sales person since I started ordering there. He does call, I have blocked his phone number now because of how MUCH he calls. Some people have to watch their minutes on cell phones so I can understand why people hate some random dude calling at 7pm asking how you like your new guitar. If you want to know how people REALLY feel about the “Sweetwater difference”? Google it. It differs drastically from this “review”. Lets say something goes wrong with your 5k Roland v drums. Drum heads are not covered in the warranty. Neither are the cymbals. And there is not always free shipping. Not on this particular item. So what is covered? The hardware that never breaks. I also had NO idea that I could tell one sales person that Kraft music is saying they will give the same kit for 500$ less, plus free shipping, and a free hi hat stand. What does this really mean? Rolands already ridiculous priced drums are marked up even higher by the stores by at least 700$ because I am getting a 215$ “Free” hi hat stand. Back to the warranty. You get something broken and have to send it back (your cost but not your fault) AND you have to pay for Sweetwater to send it back to you. Lets say you got something and it worked for a month. Sweetwater has the right to deny it due to “wear and tear”. Of course this 2 yr warranty is free. Its worthless. 90% of the gear comes with a warranty anyway. So Sweetwater puts the fear in your head that even though you are buying it brand new its going to break. That is not piece of mind. That’s proof they are selling over priced crap. Possibly returns which have been fixed and “factory” re-boxed since it is a one stop shop warehouse. I called and asked someone else questions about the drum set I wanted and he knew 100 times more than the guy I am assigned. You can’t change sales people there its frowned upon. So if you get a dim whit – you are out of luck and fed sales lines and pure crap information. They also bash the competition and when people do that to make themselves look better it means they are not above the rest. You failed to mention the one cool thing SW does. Sends candy THAT is awesome.

    • All you gotta do is ask the sales guy not to call. Super simple solution to a simple problem.
      As far as the warranty stuff, you realize most warranty decisions are made my manufacturers, right? That means retailers like Sweetwater don’t make warranty policies. That said, they do have their own warranty, which is cool since retailers don’t have to do that, especially for free.
      All in all, they’re not for everybody. I’m so glad we’re free to shop (or not shop) anywhere we want.

      • Laurdess Valentino

        I checked my email this morning and do not even remember writing this. I broke my ribs yesterday and spent the whole day at the hospital in la-la land because of pain meds. HA. I had to re- read the entire page to know what the heck you were talking about. SO- in my defense I am s sorry if I came across bitc#y. I really am.
        I think Sweetwater has good intentions. Asking the sales person not to call is easy. BUT it might hurt their feelings. I know its company policy for them to have to call. Its much easier hitting “block” on my dial pad. I do buy stuff from them. It’s easy, they price match and so far (except with the Roland) Everything is sent free. One thing I want to mention is how sad that Roland experience was for me. I live 46 miles from the closest Drum retailer. (Sam Ash) and they knew NOTHING about the kit itself. I drove 2 hours to try it out and it wasn’t hooked up. I called and asked if they had one there I could try out. The answer was “yup” which is true. It was there… Not hooked up. That was the driving force to Sweetwater for me. My sales man was or is a drummer. So he wasn’t clueless. Comparatively speaking I think they do have a better knowledge base than MANY of their competitors. This was a great review btw. I seriously have no idea why I said it was kiss @$$

        • Broken ribs!!! That sounds awful. Feel better soon!

          • Laurdess Valentino

            Thank you

  • JCL

    I have to agree with what someone else said about the lack of excessive knowledge Sweetwater prides themselves on. Now I’m aware it might just have been that specific sales representative and it might not be the same with other sales reps.

    Around 2 years ago I bought an Eleven Rack and after reading the manual I still couldn’t figure out a small detail concerning a special case of routing. I thought to myself: I know what to do, I’ll talk to the sales rep. And make use of that great tech support and extensive knowledge they kept mentioning over and over on the website and in the emails. So I did. I explained my issue as clearly as possible, but the guy just proved to be absolutely useless when it came to routing an Eleven Rack. I mean come on! How hard could it be for someone who could supposedly set up an entire recording studio to understand how to properly use an Eleven Rack?? I replied telling him that his method was actually not the way to do it at all as it would create a very undesirable effect. And then I was baffled by his response. Something about him being in the scouts and wanting to help as best as he could because that’s what scouts do. I still can’t believe it as I’m writing it now. I still have no comment for such an unprofessional reply. After that I became very doubtful of the knowledge of these sales representatives, at least when it came to specifics, and not the ready-to-go replies they have like the info they give on activating licenses on the iLok etc etc which is very helpful stuff if you’re new to a product but that doesn’t mean the sales rep is knowledgeable.

    I still buy most of my stuff at Sweetwater but you can bet your house it’s not for the help I think I might get if I happen to need it and the Internet doesn’t prove helpful enough. I just haven’t had any problems with the products I’ve bought so no reason to change dealers.
    But do I swear by Sweetwater? Absolutely not. Why should I? They haven’t given me any reason to. Just like I don’t swear by any other dealer. I’ve had a couple problems here and there when it came to a transaction not taking place properly and they fixed it just like tech support from other companies would. Nothing special there. Just because they say thanks several times doesn’t mean it’s “Super Awesome Tech Support like No Other You’ve Seen On This Planet!!!”. I find it a bit overwhelming but it doesn’t reflect the quality of the work that’s being put. The work is just normal. If you like a good ego inflation then you’ll certainly enjoy their treatment, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the actual support is sublime or anything.

  • 5Flavors

    Buy your stuff from Sweetwater.

    After “upgrading” my husband’s music computer to a Dell with W10 his studio stopped working. I am a retired IT person and pretty good but I could not fix the problem. The recording box company support was impossible to get through to and after listening to a gumbo recipe 12 times and a week of serial emails we were left with an expensive paperweight. Sweetwater support tried but they could not fix it either. BUT what they did do is escalate the problem to the manufacturer who finally put the right person on the case and he dialed in and fixed our system in about 20 minutes. Had my husband not purchased everything from Sweetwater we’d still be in technology purgatory vs. recording music. It’s not worth the few dollars you might save buying somewhere else, this stuff is too complex and fragile.

    Kudos to Paul on the Sweetwater support staff

  • James T. McGuiness

    “…If I didn’t like the company, I certainly wouldn’t post a review of it…” Do you not see a problem with that? I always notice that Sweetwater only posts good reviews of merchandise, is that a cultural there there? All reviews should be posted, even the one star ones unless they are full of expletives. It raises a flag. Only give the good news as if nothing ever is unsatisfactory? Well, as a custormer I can say that it’s not all sweetness and light. My very first purchase was a mess and it wasn’t the last. I wanted the top-quality, top priced rosewood PRS SE acoustic and they sent me one with a noticably warped top, one that had a worker’s finger prints visible UNDER the finish right on the top as well and vice teeth marks on the neck. This was by all means a factory reject. And about the warp, I was told that “that’s they way they all are because of PRS bracing system”. What? If that is true, PRS doesn’t have a product ready for market that jives with its brand rep. I sent it back and asked for a Taylor 210ce. It took weeks and then came with a defective power supply that stayed engaged even when cables were unplugged. Not a good start at all. If it weren’t for the credit line they gave me I wouldn’t have returned, but having that kinda credit pulls one into more business. I’ve had issues on about half of my purchases–wrong size cases for models that don’t come with a case (twice). Mistakes are one thing but lies are another. I got all issues straightened out amicably but I’m 60 and value my time. A guitar purchase on line should be handled to avoid being a bitter sweet poposition.

    • Garner Ricardo Buckley III

      i saw couple products with 1 star reviews..so I can’t say your reliable..

      • James T. McGuiness

        How do you know I wasn’t instrumental in changing that, My criticism has been up for quite some time. I have ny own experience with them where I had to return guitars that should not have passed their “55 point” inspection, and in my research of at least a hundred products I never saw anything but the positive reviews. I compared those products to the reviews on Musicians Friend and anyone with a brain could see that MF didn’t touch the reviews while SW seemed to have a tendency to just give the good reviews. So you saw one product with a one star and had to reach out and be a dip–throwing my baby out with the bathwater. I don’t monitor everything SW does and staff changes. You are a malicious troll.

  • Jim Gross

    I’ve been dealing with Sweetwater for the past ten years or so and I have to disagree on a few points. The sales engineers are friendly, even though they all sound alike (thanks to the audio system connected to the phones) but the knowledgeable aspect that Chuck Surack prides himself on was never there for me. My first sales tech (would you like names?) sold me a pair of studio monitors that were “misrepresented” in the catalog (I’ve saved it all these years if anyone wants proof) that I questioned him on (after doing my own research) and he told me at least one deliberate lie. Doug Strahm ended up involved in that one and I was assigned a new sales tech. Fast forward a couple of years and I informed my sales tech that I wanted to purchase new pickups for one of my guitars (2012 Gibson SG). I asked him to talk to a Sweetwater guitar specialist for a recommendation. Ended up being sold a set of pickups that were not compatible with the newer SG (Gibson’s new printed circuit board). I was referred to Sweetwater Tech Support who didn’t know anything about the SG or the pickups purchased. I still have that email, by the way. If you’re not placing $10,000+ orders with Sweetwater, you just don’t matter.

  • DaBuddhaHotBox

    I’ve recently had a horrible time with them.. All I’ve seen about them are good things about them….. I didn’t expect this. Anyways on black friday they were running a deal on a EC 256, a guitar they normally sell for 400. Like I said it was a black friday sale. The guitar wasn’t supposed to be a demo model, it wasn’t supposed to be used, b stock, or anything like that. It was supposed to be a new guitar at an awesome deal.

    I was stoked, spent 250 and waiting for it to get here. It arrived in cold weather. I let it sit for 6 hours before opening the box. At first I was pretty stoked about the guitar. After inspecting the guitar my heart sank however. The first thing I noticed was a bunch of light scratches, what looked like a bunch of pick rash.. it was all over the front of the body. The head of the guitar had a bunch of light scratches as well. The guitar looked like it had been a floor model. This on its own I could of gotten over, it was a sweet looking guitar still with the cherry flame burst finish. However when I inspected the fret board of the guitar my heart sank even more… much more. I noticed some gaps around some of the pearl inlays on the guitar. I also noticed a small ding on the fret board, I think it was on the 13th fret.

    I honestly wasn’t sure if the gaps around the inlays would become a problem… or if they would of always been fine… I don’t know that much about guitars. I was very worried however that if I kept the guitar they would get worse. With this is mind I packaged it up and contacted them to send it back. Turns out that was there last guitar of that model…. They have more of the lemon top model… the same 256 flameburst… just a different color. However I am told this is a different model and I can’t get a exchange because they no longer carry the color I got it in. I’m pretty sure they sold me a floor model however and they don’t want to make up the difference. So now my only option is to get in store credit, which by the way gets the shipping costs taken out of it sense I’m sending it back. So now.. if they don’t take packaging costs I’m left with 230 dollars of credit. Now if I want to get a guitar in the same class I get to save up 200 dollars…. I feel like I’ve been scammed. I’ll come back here and post if this turns out any different, but as of now I would stay away from these guys.

    • Sorry you had a bad experience! Sounds like they did everything they could to make it right…

  • Neal Gaylor

    I haven’t had any problems with Sweetwater, yet. Knock on wood. lol. I’ve purchased from American Music Supply (no probs), Musician’s Friend (no probs), and a few others. I can’t stand Guitar Center as their sales associates are snippy smarta$$es who could care less about anything but their commission. My sales enginneer, Jon Guillespie. has helped me many times. I sent an amp back and it arrived damaged. He sent me pics of the damage and I informed him that the amp wasn’t like that when I shipped it.That was that and they gave me a full refund! I will buy from Sweetwater from now on. No more snippy smarta$$es for me.

  • Bob

    Many musicians find themselves making a choice when they are looking to buy a new guitar. They can go to their local guitar store and pay a price for a specific model or they can go to Guitar Center and buy that same model for hundreds of dollars less. That is because Guitar Center buys in bulk from the manufacture while your local shop is buying one guitar at a time. It’s sad but it is realty. For those people that still decide to go with the local guy to support him at the cost of paying more for that same guitar, they get my respect. Most people however are looking to get the best deal they can.

    In addition to Guitar Center, there is also a company called Sweetwater that has built a very successful business out of offering gear at competitive prices but more important than the dollar value, 5 star customer service. I have purchased gear from both companies and the following is my persona opinion.

    Both stores will sell you a guitar for the same price. Both stores will ship that guitar to your house for free. This is where the road splits. Both companies claim to offer the best warranties on the planet but only one of those two stores will charge you for it. You want a 2 year warranty on your new purchase of a $1,000 guitar, Guitar Center is going to charge you 90 bucks for it. Sweetwater offers you that same ” best warranty on the planet ” for free. I have found that every single time over the last 30 years of buying gear, Guitar Center’s sales people, whether on the phone or in the store, will always try to up sell you the next best thing. Example, I was looking at a guitar recently and I asked someone at Guitar Center what their opinion was. I was told ” ya it’s nice but if you were willing to spend a couple hundred dollars more, you will be getting a much better guitar ” I had a phone conversion with a Sweetwater Sales guy the very next day and when I asked him the same question and mentioned the same two model numbers, I was told that the upgrade wasn’t worth the price increase. How many places do you know that go out of their way to give you a honest answer than in the end, keeps the extra money in your pocket and not the companies?

    I would also like to add that if you have questions about gear, you can sit on the phone with a Sweetwater sales rep. for an hour to discuss options and then hang up without ever feeling that you were being pressured to purchase something. That to me is worth it’s weight in gold. The best part is that before you hang up, your sales rep. will say, I’m glad I could help you. It’s just a different way of doing business from most companies.

    In the end, with Sweetwater, you get a rock bottom price, no taxes added on, free shipping, free tech support, a free two year warranty and a knowledgeable sales staff that is really looking out for your best interest. Is there really any question which way to go??

  • Seth Kelly

    Absolutely love Sweetwater! For a while, I would buy from Musicians Friend. The prices were about the same, but the customer service just wasn’t there. Geoff Allen has been my rep and he has been incredibly helpful. I don’t mind paying a little extra here and there for quality service. Not to mention the follow ups. Thanks, Sweetwater!

  • DavidJ

    Sweetwater has a good reputation so I’m a little befuddled
    here. First, they charge my credit card $300 when they do not actually
    have product to send – not a pre-order authorization; which I did give, but an
    actual charge that I had to pay with real money. Then they erase my order
    history from my Sweetwater account but fail to credit my card and it is now 10
    days past the time they said they would do so. In summary, a full month
    later I have no product and no money to buy it from vendors who have it in
    stock at the same price. Great job Sweetwater. You have now
    almost guaranteed that I will go out of my way not to use you. Retail is
    brutal and online retailers still need to understand that customers are
    priority one. Tell me again what distinguishes you from the other
    available online retailers.

    • Sorry for your issues, David. But I don’t work there anymore, so I can’t help you.

  • I priced gear for a home studio online at Sweetwater for about $47,000. if I order it all at once, will they offer me some kind of discount?

  • AudioDH

    Austin Moss is a superior salesman with great knowledge. I giver him 10 stars!

    Dave Holland


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  • Charles

    I have purchased from Sweetwater and I thought it kind of cool, at first, having a dedicated “sales engineer.” Then, when I discovered that they weren’t willing to move at all on the retail price, I decided to take my business elsewhere. Why do I need someone to tell me how happy I will be with the gear I purchased? I have already done a massive amount of research before I ever make a purchase. In ten years I have used support after the sale one time. Not a big draw for me. I really don’t think there is that much of a difference between having someone that can’t really do anything to get you a better deal and just purchasing anonymously. Advice and professionalism are totally overrated here. I don’t need anyone to stroke my ego. I just need a good deal. Look at it from the consumers viewpoint, if I buy something from Sweetwater and then I see it elsewhere for a hundred bucks less, I think the product isn’t really worth what I paid for it. I got ripped off. Regardless of how professional they were when they did it, they still ripped me off.

    • Thanks for the comment, Charles. Sweetwater isn’t for everyone. For some people, the extra “added value” stuff isn’t worth it. For others, it’s immensely valuable and worth paying more money to have.

      That’s the beauty of decision, right? You can chose who you want to do business with.

      • Charles

        I didn’t even comment on the car salesman bit. Really? Is buying from Sweetwater like some kind of prestigious badge? Kind of like buying a BMW? People want to spend another thirty, forty or fity grand just because they loved the car salesman? Are you kidding? I just don’t understand why people want to pay more for this pretense of care. What is that? I’m paying extra for a kiss and an “I love you?” How are you going to have a real human relationship with a salesman? It’s not real. How are you going to buy a relationship? C’mon. “Can’t buy me love”, right? I’m a realist and I’m a musician. I’m not a rich man. Most musicians aren’t. When is it enough? How is this not more American Excess? “I loved the salesman so much that I sold my house and bought sixteen Les Paul Customs.” How is that keeping it real?

        • Like I said, Charles, Sweetwater isn’t for everyone. I had a lot of great relationships with my customers. They liked the idea of a one-stop shop to buy stuff, ask questions, get tech support, get advice, etc. They liked the fact that I’d call them when their order was backordered, or that I’d overnight a replacement to them if something got damaged in shipping.

          You can’t assume everyone feels the same way you do. If everyone felt the way you did about Sweetwater (which is totally legit), they wouldn’t be in business 30 years later, y’know?

          Of course nobody needs tech support for a guitar purchase. But the guy who spent $60,000 with me for his home studio? Yeah, he liked the idea of having someone ELSE design the system for him and make sure everything would work nicely together. It’s just a different buying experience, and it’s certainly not for everyone.

          • Charles

            Absolutely agree. If I was spending sixty grand, I imagine I would have gotten the kind of service and support you are talking about. But I’m just the little fish. My tiny numbers on the sales ticket are way too small to warrant any real consideration.
            BTW – I have read what others say and am well aware I am of a minority opinion here. However, I am aware that I am in the world. I do actually examine my life and what is going on around me. I have actually given this “Sweetwater Experience” deep consideration. In the end, I’m just not drinking the Kool-Ade.

            • 🙂 There’s definitely a bit of a Kool-Aid factor. Thanks for the honest comments!

  • Gary mccallister

    Great people,, love this place and can’t wait to get my creation station450

  • John Galici

    After hearing you say that you had worked at Sweetwater in one of your podcasts, I decided to call them and ask for advice on DAW Software.
    I made my first call today (before I read this post) and can say my experience was exactly as you described above. The Sales Engineer was extremely knowledgable and pointed me to a trial version of the DAW. I will definitely be ordering the majority of my audio equipment through Sweetwater.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment, John! I really respect everything they do over there. Solid company built around helping people.

  • Good info on Sweetwater, I’ve been dealing with Jeffrey Green since the 1990’s and I have nothing but good things to say about them. They have outfitted our entire studio and it is extensive. They are the BEST!

  • Ryan C Smith

    Hey joe, just wanted you to know that I agree whole heartedly with your assesment of Sweetwater. My sales engeneer (Jeffry Green) has been the best. Every thing in my studio is from there. I was in the Air Force for five years and have been around the world an never found anyone more responsive to request than Jeff is. I think I even called once from Saudi Arabia when i was on TDY, I know i e-mailed him from Italy once. That is the great thing about Sweetwater, you ALWAYS get a Fast response. And when you call them, the sales engineer is going to know what they are talking about. The training they get is world class. They are straight up Pros! Just bought the Izotope software(alloy and ozone4) from them. I emailed Jeff a question with what i was looking for and why, and he knew just what was right for me and my talent level, because we have developed a professional relationship. I don’t hang out with my sales engineer but when it comes to my studio needs the guy knows me. try that with Guitar Center. I live north of Fort Wayne and have been to the new location many times. That place is Amazing. It’s cool you mentioned LEED. I’m a builder by trade and will be graduating with a degree in Building Construction Management this fall. If i died and went to heaven I would wake up in the lobby of Sweewater! great place with even better People!

  • CBJ

    Who does Sweetwater pay off to get all these great reviews? My experience has been the polar opposite. They talk you into buying something expensive, saying that it is fully guaranteed and they’ll make it work, etc. Then it turns out to be some cheap China crap that sat in a warehouse for years, with a manual in Chinese, and software that is cobbled together and will not install. I went around in the trying-to-get-a-hold-of-the-right-person game for a month before I gave up and send it back before the deadline of returns, and then I was charged a huge restocking fee, despite their up-front promise.

    • Hi CBJ. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. I know those situations are really painful.

      I will tell you that Sweetwater had nothing to do with me writing that review. They didn’t pay me. I did it because I really loved working for the company, and I continue to shop there.

      I had a handful of situations like that when I was a salesman there. I would sell a customer something, something that I had sold to others and had worked really well. Things were supposed to work, but for some reason they didn’t. The customer is upset, obviously, that the item didn’t work well. He wants to return it. That’s fine. That’s why we have a return policy. However, the customers sends it back with a bent up manual and fingerprints/scratches on the unit. He also writes on the manual and box. Part of the agreement with ANY company is that if you choose to return an item, it needs to be in brand-new condition. If it’s not, most places won’t accept it. Others will issue a restocking fee. Some places will issue a restocking fee automatically, regardless of the item’s condition.

      Imagine you sold me something. I used it, scratched it, decided I didn’t want it, and sent it back. You can’t sell it as new again if I scratched it. You have to discount it. I scratched it, so I need to pay for devaluing the item. If I don’t pay that fee, you personally lose money. I wouldn’t want that.

      Hopefully you can see it from their perspective, too. However, if they were truly in the wrong (and that DOES happen; Sweetwater employs imperfect humans), then I would call and ask to speak to a manager, or perhaps the owner, Chuck, himself.

      At the end of the day, though, you may just not want to deal with them again. I understand that. I respect that. I hope you’ll still hang around HSC, though. Thanks for joining the conversation.

      • CBJ

        I wrote the serial #, day I bought it on and the Sweetwater Phone in pencil is what passed for a manual on the page it asked me to write it, in pencil. This manual is printable from the website. That cost me 30 bucks. The keyboard I send back in all the original bags and boxed virtually untouched. The CME tech person admitted that the software on these keyboards was defective and that the company was doing nothing to remedy the situation, and the the retailers cannot sell these keyboards. Then I waited to the last day for Sweetwater to help me in some way to put pressure on CME to get me some current software, but the relationship with Austin Moss got very snippy all of the sudden. I am more than furious, I was conned.

    • Pat Murphy

      I can comment on that…I bought a mixer that turned out to be junk…The first one just stoppd working. Sent it back to Sweetwater for a replacement. No problem…Second one was junk too. Sweetwater refunded me the FULL price and paid for return shipping. I ended up with the Mackie 1640 with Firewire…Couldn’t be happier.

      Sweetwater ROCKS…Alan Carter Rocks too!

  • Robby Resnick

    Thanks Joe for the vote of confidence on us. It was great working with you. And I agree, we’re not for everyone. Your blog is a lot of fun and I learned quite a bit from knowing you here and online. I hope the studio gig works well for you. I’ll be here when you need me for the studio.

  • Great post! I’ve been dealing with SWtr since 1999 and Jeff Green has been my sales guy ever since. Always gets me good prices and is totally honest with me – I probably will put his kids through college – Good luck in Nashville and I’m glad to have run across your blog!


    • Thanks Darryl! Jeff is an awesome guy…and one heck of a basketball player.

  • Big O

    Sorry to see you go. Andrew Stryffeler called me today. I answered in my typical “Hey Joe Gilder, what’s going on brother?” and Andrew just kept repeating “yes, sir, I’ve heard that all day, my name is Andrew”. At that point I was like “is Joe on crack?” why does he keep referring to himself as Andrew. Then he broke the news to me 🙁 . I wish you the greatest in Life my dear friend, keep us posted on your many adventures.

    Omar in Texas.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Omar. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon. Come see me in Nashville!

  • Hey Joe,

    This all sounds good, yet with the “1,2,3” payment option from http://americanmusical.com and their strong (super strong I should say) makes it always hard to switch to other stores. It seems like a lot of people don’t know them and they are pretty huge. They have always gone a step further by sending replacements if I have not gotten them on time. These guys are awesome! Anyhow, some people don’t really care about the payments in parts and that is completely fine too. I can’t say that they are the best, but they are for me! 😉

    • To be fair, Sweetwater does offer a 3-payment option. Call your sales engineer and ask him/her about it.


    I’m going to miss buying from you at Sweetwater. But I will continue to do business there as often as needed. Keep me posted on the latest brother.

  • Lia Abrams

    I agree. As soon as you left thursday I got a call from a matthew i think talking to me about how you left and how hes my new sales engineer he told me he was going to email me his info but I think he forgot 🙁 uh oh lol. Anyways your were very helpful as my sales engineer my mother would have been lost without you

  • Aaron

    Joe, congrats on the new oppourtunity, my new sales rep called me to let me know you had left Sweetwater yesterday. Thanks for helping me spend my money over the last couple of years!!
    Good luck in Nashville!

  • Loved the article. I’ve been a GC customer for many years. I like the hands on and immediacy of it if you can get the same guy each time. However, I am considering switching to Sweetwater. I have used Sweetwater in the past and have had good experience. Thanks for the advice. – Dan

  • I usually buy from Ebay, but seeing as I’m having so many problems getting a faulty NanoPad warrantied from the seller, I may go back to buying from companies I can trust to deal with the matter, even if I don’t get a “stupid” price.

    You’re moving back to Nashville? No wonder you’ve been MIA lol. I think my brother is living in Nashville right now. If the travelling version the musical Wicked is there right now, then he’s in your home town.

  • Mike

    Great article I’ve purchased many many items from Sweetwater over the years, and never had a problem…Great Company!
    Also, Welcome to Tennessee… I moved To Nashville From Boston
    in 96′ Really nice state to live in. Best of Luck!!


  • Joe

    Hey Joe, great article. I used to work at Guitar Center for 8 years. I understand the frustration people have with Guitar Center. I still buy from them, but I’m fortunate enough to know how their systems work and how to get the information and prices that I need. But I’m one of the very few.

    Thanks, I’ve never considered buying from Sweetwater, but if the time comes, I just might now.

    Just one note about not being a local dealer. Remember buying from local dealers helps your local economy. I know saving money is important in times like these, but if buying a stand or an item here and there from a local dealer can make a difference, you probably should. It can even help the big box stores like Guitar Center. WIth higher sales they can afford to hire better employees when their numbers are up. (If you do find a good employee at any merchant, go back to them. They appreciate that and they can help you save more in the long run.) Otherwise you’ll continue to see a high turnover and more unexperienced employees.

    Joe L.

  • Your last “con” is funny. You just needed to have an even three, so you made one up. “If you don’t like chocolate cake and backrubs, then SweetCompany is not for you.”

    • I figured that it needed to be like a good, 3-point sermon. 🙂