Before I review Hogan Music, I have to get something off my chest early on; I don’t like Newbury. I spend a lot of time in Newbury and the more I’m here the more I dislike the place – except for a quirky pub called The Snooty Fox which is excellent for some live music (especially the Open Mic Nights). I’m desperately hoping my prejudices towards Newbury have no impact on my review of this musical retail outlet!
Hogan Music is situated in Craven Road and is very easy to find. It’s just a short distance from the Newbury train station in the town centre. Conveniently there’re a few car parking spaces on Craven Road too which is quite handy.
The shop itself appears fairly small. Walking into the store, an advert on the counter was advertising the skills of an in-house guitar repairer and technician (which is handy to know), along with a few flyers for acts appearing in the local music scene.
Opposite the counter is a glass display cabinet full of MXR pedals and various Cry-Baby wah’s including the Wylde Wah which looks quite interesting. The main part of the store displays a range of electric guitars, typically consisting of manufacturers offering models in the same price bracket; Vintage & Indie for example but with the odd Fender thrown into the mix. There were a couple of second hand guitars for sale that caught my eye; a Gibson Les Paul “1960 Reissue” Classic sporting a lovely burst finish and a nice looking natural ’79 Stratocaster. The Strat has been slightly modified, having a Seymour Duncan “stacked” humbucker in the bridge and a toggle switch mounted on the scratch plate that changes the polarity of the pickup. According to the shop assistant, it weighs a ton and is a real shoulder killer (it actually looks heavy too).
I couldn’t see many guitar amps and the acoustic guitar selection was very thin on the ground. It was nice to see a few guitar tuition DVD’s and music books for sale along with a nice spread of accessories and I had an “eyebrow raising” moment when I laid my eyes on a couple banjo’s and mandolins!
The shop was fairly interesting with a couple of guitars that took my eye. Interestingly, up close the Vintage and Indie guitars looked quite impressive especially the Vintage Les Paul and Indie 335 copies.
On entering the store the young assistant greeted me warmly and was fairly knowledgeable about the products for sale in the shop. I deliberately quizzed him a little about the tonal differences between the Standard, Classic and Wylde Cry Baby Wah’s and he delivered his answers with honesty and confidence. It was also nice that he offered me the opportunity to play the ’79 Strat.
What is misleading though is that the “online presence” of Hogan Music seems to have greater stock than the public facing store. I’m not sure why this is – it may be simply down to the fact they have items stored in a basement or additional unit elsewhere but I have to be honest in saying I felt slightly disheartened that what is seen online wasn’t necessary on display in the actual shop (from what I could see).
Overall though the assistant was very friendly and it was an interesting time browsing their stock – the ’79 Strat is an item I’d recommend to look at in more detail. I’d also like to know more about the in-store services of the guitar repairer and what prices they charge for setups etc.
I’ve been told that the store has a practice room with a few amps in that you can use to try out some of the guitars for sale, but this wasn’t too obvious when simply browsing around the shop.
In summary, I can imagine that Hogan Music caters well for the local music community and I’ll probably visit the store often to purchase the odd pack of strings & accessories when I’m on my (somewhat unfortunate!) Newbury travels.
Have you visited Hogan Music in Newbury? If so, please give your Mystery Shopper comments below.