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15 January 2004
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Korea Life Blog - Musicians Market in Jongro

If you play an instrument, this place is for you. Specifically if you play the guitar/bass, but other instruments are included such as the piano and drums. Also, PA systems and a world of recording equipment can be found here. I play the guitar and was lured by a website to one of the shops. If you look online in Korea for guitars, there are many websites for the shops here.

It's in Jongro and it's the Technomart of the musicians' world. Four floors of musical gear and, of course, a movie theater. As you can see, if you read Korean, the name of the place is Nak-won Akki Sang-ga. There's the Heo-ri-oo-du guk-jang (Hollywood Theater) on top.

Here's a shot of the second floor. The place is huge. It's a musician's heaven. The day we went it was a little slow, near closing time on a Sunday. If I even stopped for a second, the shop owners will start pitching a sale. That's the norm in Korea but it never fails to annoy me.

I didn't get any good shots of the little guitar shops because of the reason above. However, I got this one out in the main walkway. You can get a taste of what the place is like. They all have practice amps, electric and acoustic guitars, accessories, effects peddles, etc.

I came prepared to buy a specific guitar. A Weston, like the one I have back in NY. I played that guitar for almost 10 years and never once had a problem with it. I love it. My mother refused to let me bring it to Korea for sentimental reasons (her mother, my beloved grandmother who has since died, bought it for me). Anyway, the brand, based in the US, was more popular overseas and eventually bought out by a Japanese company. Sadly, they pretty much stopped selling them in the states. So I was surprised to see a model similar to mine on the Korean site. Also, the price: 145,000 won, about $120, threw me into a fit of excitement.

Well, I should have figured. The guitar was an imitation Weston. A fake. The guy even told me it was and the guitar had a made in Korea sticker on it. The quality was awful. One chord would sound in tune, another way off - caused by a crooked neck. Unfortunately many people just starting off probably wouldn't notice. The shops must get a lot of suckers who buy online as well.

I don't want to put out the wrong idea. Some of the Korean brand guitars are really good, especially the semi-acoustics, and the prices are great. However, I'd stay away from the imitation name brands. You can tell by the prices which ones are real. I checked out a few Fender strats and the difference is easy to detect...price and quality wise.

I ended up going home without a guitar. I should have known 145,000 won was too good to be true. I did see some decent Peavey models for around 200,000, but I've decided to save up a little more until I can buy the accessories I want as well, such as an effects processor or sound card for the computer.