Five Top Tips How To Safely Buy Guitars Online

2013 PRS P22 Tremolo Makena Blue - I Really Like Guitars

Buy Guitars Online

O ver the last 5 years I have bought and sold over 100 guitars for my private collection. Most of these transactions have been done over the internet. From my experience I can say that it is fairly safe to buy guitars online. All but one of my orders were fulfilled as advertised and I was always happy with my purchases. There was one case where the guitar did not arrive at all. This was however resolved when Paypal refunded the money after the waiting period applicable to their buyer protection policy.

You can have the same positive experience if you follow some basic rules before ordering a guitar online.

Below are my top five tips that helped me safely buy guitars online.


Tip One:  Research Prices

No matter whether you are buying a new or a used instrument, always compare the prices from all available sources. If you are in the market for a used guitar then knowing the best price that you can get the new instrument will give you an idea whether you get a good deal or not. It can also help you when negotiating the price with the seller.

First look up the guitar you want to buy on eBay. Order the listings by postage and price and add the listings that you are interested in to your watch list for easy reference later. If Ebay has a local service for your country then I suggest that you also browse the US Ebay store as not all the international listings make it into the local directory.

Oftentimes when doing this I ended up buying from a different source than the one I originally intended to buy from.

Next, check the major online shops like Musicians Friend and Sweetwater in the US and Thoman in Europe. You obviously want to consider the exchange rate and the shipping costs. There was a time around 2013 when I could get a better price having the guitar sent from Europe than ordering the guitar locally or in the US.

I almost always also check out the online classifieds like Gumtree and Craig’s List. And to round it all off I normally just do a Google search for the item with the keyword ‘Price’.

Oftentimes when doing this I ended up buying from a different source than the one I originally intended to buy from.


Tip Two: Research the Seller

If you are planing to buy from one of the major online retailers then you are pretty safe. For most online stores it is highly important to keep up a good reputation and their customer service normally stacks up. You can use Google to search for information about almost anything by simply adding the word ‘review’ after your search item.

I recommend caution if the seller does not have any feedback.

If you are buying from eBay, it is a must to check the sellers feedback and see what other people thought of the person or shop you are planning to give your money to. If there are negative reviews then check if the seller has made an effort to fix things. Do the same for neutral reviews. Make sure that you are comfortable with the overall impression of the shop/person not only as a seller but also as a buyer where applicable.

If the seller does not have any feedback then I recommend caution. If you are still interested in the offering of that seller then you can consider making contact and trying to gauge the situation further but do not send money until you are absolutely sure that the offer is genuine.


Tip Three: Make Contact

This step is very helpful when considering buying via eBay be it from a private seller or from a shop with an eBay online presence. Making contact allows you to build rapport with the seller. It can help you decided whether the seller is genuine and cares about his goods and having you as the customer. Ask questions about the product, discuss the price and maybe even payment options.

Safely Buy Guitars Online - 2014 Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus Heritage Cherry Sunburst Perimeter

Here is a little story about how I bought my Les Paul Standard Plus. On my way home from work I went to a local shop to have a look at guitars. I asked to play a Les Paul Standard Plus 2013 and quite liked it. They said that it was on special at about $3500 but I could not commit and wanted to sleep on it. When I got home I searched on eBay and found a listing for a Les Paul Standard Plus 2014 model with $3000 ‘Buy it now’ price. It also had a ‘Make an offer’ button. Rather than playing games I decided to simply contact the buyer and ask him what his best price was. I got a reply within 30 minutes. He said that he would accept an offer for $2800. Turned out that the seller had bought a Les Paul Traditional and a Les Paul Standard Plus in the US because he could not decide which one he wanted. Once back in Australia he decided to let the Standard Plus go. Five days after the post-man delivered a brand spanking new, vanilla scented, 2014 Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus to my door.


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Tip Four: Ask For Additional Pictures

It can happen that the pictures you see advertised are not necessarily depicting what you may receive. It does not mean that the product is defective or in any other way inferior. It just means that the colour you love may not be the colour you receive. It is a good idea to ask the seller to quickly take some more pictures using his smart phone to make sure that you still like the guitar under in normal everyday light conditions.  The pictures in the upper line are from the advertisement. The pictures in the lower line are what the guitars really look like.



Tip Five: Discuss Shipping Options

Make sure that the seller has original packaging or equal to guarantee that the guitar arrives safely at your place. If they are able to package the guitar properly then there is no need for concern as there is not much difference between the factory sending the guitar to the shop and the shop sending it to you.

It is definitely worthwhile discussing the shipping options when importing from another country. The sellers are often quite experienced and can suggest to you the best option with regards to shipping speed and reduction of customs charges.


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PS: What was your best ever online guitar shopping experience? – I’d love it if you share it in the comments below!

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3 Responses

  1. Fabio says:

    Great tips Beat . Thanks for sharing . From personal experience I have been a little tentative in buying a guitar online. Your tips are very useful. I like the tips on getting extra photos and also the one on shipping.