Everything is Awesome: Guitar Center Gets New Owners


McDonaldGuitar Center Changes its Pitch? 


Guitar Center Strums a New Tune? 


A-CHORD-ing to KEY Guitar Center STAFF, These New Owners Won’t MAJORly Screw Anything Else Up. 

I got nuthin’.

[Insert Lame Music Related Pun Here]

Remember how we said that Ares was poised to buy Guitar Center from Bain Capital a couple of weeks ago? Well, the entire transaction went off with about as much consequence as a fart in the wind.


So that happened.

Ares owns Guitar Center now.

ummm…. yeah.


Of course, I’m sure that the boys over at Guitar Center were more than happy to know that when someone came in to repo their company it really didn’t make much of a ripple.

Through the debt-for-equity-swap, Bain does get to keep a seat at the big boys table for now. And, GC CEO Mike Pratt seems to be as enthusiastic as a guy can be after the company that he was just put in charged of has been repossessed   debt-for-equity-swapped.


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Ares Management has built a legacy of success through their unique acquisition of blue chip brands across multiple retail sectors,” Mike Pratt, Guitar Center chief executive officer, told Bloomberg News in an email. “Their retail experience will be invaluable to us as we build out new customer offerings in services, rentals and repairs- LA Times


According to The Music Trades online, the deal worked like so:

1- GC issued $615,000,000 in five-year bonds with a 6.75% coupon, and $325,000,000 in ten-year bonds with a 9.875% coupon.

2- GC used the $940,000,000 in proceeds to pay off the debt that Ares held that carried interest rates between 11% and 12%.

3- Ares forgave an additional $435,000,000 in bonds with a 14% coupon for 60% ownership of GC.

4- Make Monies!


Effectively, GC paid off a loan with another loan and still had to turn over the reigns to Ares.

Of course in the financial world, this is about as pretty as it gets. GC successfully went from owing 1.6 billion at 11%-14% to owing about 1.1 billion at 6.75%-9.875% in less than a few days. Now the question is, how is Ares going to make back the half of a billion dollars or so that they just bought GC for?

It’s also worth noting that Bain bought all of GC for 2.1 billion in 2007 and Ares just bought 60% of it for less than $500 million. That’s gotta sting a bit.

Also, old Larry bear at Fender just decided to retire. Sure, the dude is 64 years old and has been in the industry for over 40 years. But it is a bit suspicious that he takes THIS WEEK to announce his retirement.

So far, everybody at GC is saying that they’re going to keep growing and growing and growing and growing until GC stores are as ubiquitous as McDonalds or Starbucks. Keeping true to the old adage: You can never have too much of a thing.


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About the Author: Marc published his first novel Becoming in 2010. It’s a kick-ass book with monsters and dreams and stuff, and you should buy it. Since then, he’s written thousands of articles for TheToneKing.com, many of which have been picked up for circulation by manufacturers and other news outlets. His next book, Drugs and Pancakes, should be available early 2014 if his alcoholic editor can find time to work on it in-between destroying his liver and screaming about punctuation. He graduated from Roosevelt University with honors, which means that he’s not as dumb as he looks. He’s been playing guitar for over 25 years, which is almost twice as long as most of his students have been alive.

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  1. Dewey says:

    and I see it’s a wait and see game. LOL

  2. mike says:

    Local Suburban Guitar Center usually has many more employees milling around than customers in the store !
    Store has been opened less than 2 years and already went through 3 managers,
    They are in a high-rent neighborhood, and I dont see a ton of sales, rent on the property has got to be $1000-2000 per day! I dont get it.

  3. mone says:

    GC has been going downhill with some of the people thay have in sales. They only listen to half of what you say and talk over you when you try to explain what you’re looking for. They kept looking for a nut in a plastic box full of them when I told them I wanted a Graph tech Tusq XL. They told me they didn’t sell them and kept looking in the box. I’m sticking with my Mom and Pop local Fender dealer.

  4. Tony says:

    I would have no problem if GC went away. It would be better if the industry was in the hands of independent stores. I would rather go to a small shop, at least those people care about the gear they sell, and the customer who busy it.

  5. Dan Benkert says:

    At this point I think any type of new owners or management has to be an improvement. GC was very disappointing over the last several years. TK himself bought a fake Chinese Kramer from GC that shows you the competence of the people working at the stores.
    I would love to manage a store for them I have knowledge of guitars and gear of 30 years strong. I pray that GC is more careful of whom they hire. I have never seen more incompetent people working at the one main store hear in PA. Some of the salesman have no clue what they are talking about at all when it comes to guitars none what so ever i have tested them playing dumb several times then had to completely embarrass some of these guys letting them know they had no clue what they are talking about.
    Guitar Center you are only as strong as your weakest link.
    Dan Benkert.

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