Ash's Largely Ill-Informed and Poorly Researched Guide to Melbourne Music Stores

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  The idea is to save money, right? Your first priority is getting what you want. But you also want it at the best possible price. Here's where you go - follow these steps:

1. Do you mind second hand gear? If so, move on to step two. If not: there's no shame in owning other people's stuff. So long as there aren't scratches all over the cd and the sleeve isn't water damaged and torn, why not plump for second hand? There are quite a few second hand places (check them out in the stores section) who can cut you a pretty good deal. Definitely go there first. As long as you're not asking for an original pressing vinyl promo copy of Pink Floyd's first ever single, expect to pay around the $12-$18 mark for your average second hand disc. Crappy stuff, of course, ranks lower. Rare gear sits up much higher.

2. Can you bear to be seen in K-Mart or Target (or for that matter, is there a chance the cd you want will be there)? If not, skip forward to step three. If so: what shame is there in picking up a brand new cd for around the $22-$24 mark? None at all. Expect to find only top 40 and other fairly popular stuff in their shelves, however, so unless you're positive what you're after will be represented in the racks, call ahead, or move onto the next step. The margins in these places must be astronomically low (think loss leaders, for all the retailing people), hence super cheap stuff. The trade-off is that they must have absolute chumps doing their ordering, cause only Sanity in Shepparton (no offence, guys) has a worse range than K-Mart and Target stores.

3. JB-Hifi. Most people start here, and with savings on every cd above and beyond almost all other stores, it's not hard to see why. Criminally small margins mean that stuff is cheap. The range is fairly respectable, so the call-ahead isn't always necessary. If they don't have the record you want, they'll most likely have something else you're interested in. Just don't get too distracted by the audio, car hifi, movies, electronic stuff... the list goes on (and it's all cheap!).

4. Your specialist store. If you don't have your record by now, expect to pay premium dollars for it. Unless you want to wait a week or so while JB-Hifi order your cd in, looks like you're off to the specialists. Be it metal, punk, australian indie, or britpop, there's a store that will cater for your needs above and beyond the above mentioned outlets. Once again, check out the stores section to find out which one's for you. It ain't always cheap, though - these places know they're the only ones who have what you want, so they know they can charge what they like. What other option do you have?

5. Under no circumstances should you buy your record from Sanity/HMV/CCMusic/etc. Well... maybe if they have what you want, JB-Hifi don't, and you can't be bothered waiting. But hey, what were you doing going into these stores anyway?! Why pay specialist prices for something you should be paying far less for!

6. Looking for that rarity? Can't find it at any of the reputable second hand dealers? Go online - check out where you'll find a mass of rare & long deleted second hand records. Be prepared to pay ridiculous prices, as it is an auction house, and bidding can become quite frenetic. However quite often it's the only way you're gonna get what you're looking for.

Got any more advice for the punters? Send it in!