Buying A Guitar Online: Best Choices in 2023

With all the many merchants selling guitars online these days, it’s very convenient to buy. It isn’t even necessary to leave your home. Simply enter your credit card details, and in sometimes less than a day, it’s on your doorstep.

But even with the trust level of consumers increasing every year, some people are still a bit nervous to buy. Guitars are a somewhat delicate item also, surely shipping one could damage it?

There are many questions to ask before buying a guitar online. There is also the decision of going new or used.

Should You Buy a Guitar Online?

In theory, buying a guitar online is the best idea ever created, the convenience is brilliant! Plus, there are far more options and better stock than most music stores carry.

But like most things in life, there are pitfalls. Now, that isn’t to say your experience will be poor. A majority of people who buy online have great experiences! But it’s best to keep the proper perspective and do some due diligence before you buy. Here are a few things to consider if you’re planning to buy a guitar online.

Use Trustworthy Merchants

There are plenty of trustworthy platforms to purchase from online. Some are more trustworthy than others, depending on if you are buying a guitar online that is new or used. But even platforms that sell used guitars are designed to protect the buyer.

In a lot of cases, some relics or older classics can only be bought as used. So depending on what you are looking for, you may need to visit a used guitar platform. Reverb is a website that deals with both new and used gear.

They are trusted by millions of players to both buy and sell gear. They have created their platform to make sure both parties are satisfied. Well before any money changes hands. And because you can buy and sell from anywhere in the world, the selection of guitars is so much better!

There are plenty more platforms online that do similar things for their customers. We will touch on more later in the article.

Be Aware of the Risks

There are also platforms that are a bit riskier. Classifieds in some cases offer delivery of used gear that may not always be what it seems. We have all heard of scam artists online who fool people into shady deals.

Classifieds are not always a bad idea, however, as they can sometimes land great deals! Not everyone sells on platforms like Reverb.com and will in a lot of cases hit the classifieds.

And so when dealing with any online classified ads, make sure to do a good deal of due diligence. Ask a lot of questions, and if anything seems odd, move on.

Shipping Fees and Policies

Another thing to keep in mind is that the guitar will need to be shipped. There are a lot of retailers who sell instruments and offer free shipping. There are also plenty of dealers that will not. If you are buying guitars online, the seller might require the freight to be covered.

They do not offer this with the purchase price. And so it’s important to remember this when shopping online.

If you are looking for something that is harder to find, this will probably not be a big deal. Most vintage guitars are pricey, so the shipping charges are no big deal. Shipping costs are just part of the process of acquiring one. But if you are a new player, you may want to look at retailers that offer this built into the final price.

Want to know how much electric guitars cost? Click Here!

Larger Selections

When shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, you are limited to what you will find. Normally they will only stock so much because there is overhead to deal with. And so if you are searching for something specific, it might be harder to find near you.

Shopping online is not the same, as you can pretty much find anything you want. The selection is substantially better as even manufacturers put their offerings online. And so as long as you can be delivered to depending on where you live, you can buy exactly what you want.

Guitars for sale online

Best Places To Buy Guitars Online

Today, there are countless places to buy musical instruments online. Some are better than others, but in almost all cases you will have a good experience. Depending on where you live, your choices might be lighter. But almost everyone can be reached by a delivery service.

We are going to look at a few of our top choices for guitar purchases. Companies that strive to make sure their customers have the best experience. And so if you’re buying a guitar online, you may want to look into one of these companies.

Amazon

Amazon is pretty much a household name these days. Most people in the world have a credit card saved with them. Their customer service is top-notch, and they strive to make sure the experience is a good one. Even at the expense of the seller.

As a buyer, they will make sure you are satisfied to the best of their ability! Not only that, but Amazon now has a location in most parts of the world. So the possibility of getting a great guitar is almost endless.

Because Amazon does such a great job, we like to suggest instruments from them. And so If you are looking to buy a guitar, be sure to check out more of our pages for helpful insight. We have done the heavy lifting, so you can grab a great instrument much faster!

Sweetwater

Sweetwater is located in the USA and is another great option for a guitar purchase. They are one of the largest online musical instrument retailers in the US. They are another company that strives for customer satisfaction. Sweetwater has a rating on Sitejabber of 4.5 (at the time of this writing). And over 900 people have chimed in!

There are hundreds of players who trust them. This is because of the great service they get from Sweetwater. And most of the sales engineers are well-educated about the products. They also have a 480,000-square-foot warehouse. Plus an inventory that has something for everyone.

Find out if Sweetwater is Legit, click here!

Guitar Center

Guitar Center has the biggest chain of stores in the USA! They have been around for a long time and most players know the name. If you have been playing for a while, you have more than likely been in a store.

Guitar Center serves many players monthly with online sales. Hundreds of players buy gear online and have pleasant experiences. They offer a great return policy and a trade-in program. They have become a well-known and safe place to buy instruments.

Want to learn more about Guitar Center’s trade in program? Click here!

Musician’s Friend

Musician’s Friend is another online retailer that you will come across. They are trustworthy and have the same reputation as Guitar Center. This is because they are owned by them. Musician’s Friend was bought by G.C. and is used exclusively as an online platform.

You wouldn’t know it, as they maintain an independent look and experience.

And because they are owned by the same corporation, they also share the same inventory. There will be numerous items available. This gives you a great chance of getting what you are looking for.

Buying a Guitar online

Zzounds

Zzounds is another online only retailer that will be displayed in a lot of gear searches. They are a lot smaller than some other merchants, but will normally have stock when the others do not. Their store is a bit hard to navigate, but with a bit of time you can normally find what you need.

Because they are a bit smaller, this means their inventory is as well.

But they are good to deal with and have a number of purchase incentives that keep their customers coming back. You can rest assured, dealing with Zzounds is safe, and their inventory is quality.

Sam Ash

Sam Ash has been in business for a long time! They not only sell online but have a number of physical locations in the US. They are a high trust level among players who use them and experience great support when needed. Their inventory is quite broad as they keep quite a bit of stock both new and used.

Their sales engineers are very knowledgeable and easy to deal with. This provides a great experience. Don’t overlook this online retailer as their prices are quite good. They are efficient with shipping as well. You can trust this online merchant.

Thomann

Thomann is another secure website that is safe and offers great customer support. They are a family business that has grown into a mega online retailer. They serve over ten million customers annually.

In most cases, if you live on the other side of the pond, you will use them or have done so already. They do serve customers from all over the world, but are better known in the EU.

You will be well pleased when dealing with Thomann. They have great customer service and a large selection of guitars.

Buying Used Guitars Online

When buying a used guitar, most people think of classifieds almost immediately. And while the only way to get anything used was to use classified at one time, this has changed.

We still believe that purchasing from classified is still a great way to get gear. But only if you’re looking locally. If you are buying a guitar online used, chances are you will be looking at something farther away. In this case, you will need to be protected. Especially if they are higher-priced guitars. Let’s look at a few questions you need to ask when buying used.

Ask The Right Questions When Buying Used

In all cases, when buying online, you are under the assumption that you are getting a new guitar. And in most cases, you do get what you expect, a new instrument. If there are issues, it’s easily resolved with good customer support.

But when buying a guitar online used from a classified or another player, it’s good to ask many questions. You want to make sure that the deal is safe and that there are no hidden elements.

Begin with some simple questions like:

  • Are you the only owner of the guitar?
  • Has it ever been damaged or repaired?
  • Has it ever been upgraded?
  • Is it completely stock?
  • Is it worn and if so how badly?
  • Is the owner a chain smoker? (the smell may never come out)
  • Are the frets in good shape?

And the list can go on. It’s also best to get some good pictures to help you understand the condition of the guitar. If it’s only strings that need to be changed, that’s easy. But if the neck is warped when it arrives, that could be a problem!

Buying Guitars Online

Best Places to Buy Used Guitars

Here are a few places to consider when buying a used guitar online.

Guitar Center

Guitar Center sells both new and used gear. They have a wide range of instruments from different time periods. So if you need something specific, they just might have what you’re looking for.

Guitar Center still honors its customer service policies when buying used.

There are many players who sell them great gear. So if you’re looking for a used instrument, you will want to see what they have in stock.

Reverb

As we mentioned earlier in the article, Reverb is also a great place to buy guitars. Not only do they sell used, but new ones as well.

They have set their website up to be somewhat of a classified system with some added protection built in. When you purchase a guitar from them, you are buying from a 3rd party. This can be great when purchasing both new and used.

We however like to use them for used guitars primarily and keep new purchases to Amazon.

Ebay

While eBay is known for buying both new and used, if you look hard enough you may find some great deals. Because of how the platform is set up, buyers are normally protected depending on how they pay. But one of the issues with using this platform is the number of fakes that are circulating.

Most buyers have no idea that this is the case and lose a lot of money when purchasing expensive items.

So if you do plan on using eBay, make sure to do your due diligence and know exactly what to look for. There are some incredible deals found here, and some people like the thrill of the bid. It’s trustworthy, but you need to be knowledgeable about some items.

What To Expect Upon Delivery

One of the things that buyers seem to be surprised about when the guitar arrives is the set-up condition. It’s very possible that it won’t need one when it gets to you, this is true. But it’s very possible that it will.

Guitars are sensitive to temperature and humidity levels. So much so that the frets can be much sharper if the neck begins to dry out, for example. This then requires redressing and probably a set-up.

So you may want to budget for a set-up when the guitar finally arrives. This isn’t the fault of the seller or the manufacturer, but just a natural issue of the environment. Wood responds to the environment and, as a result, will eventually need a set-up.

You may want to keep this in mind, a good guitar tech can do it for a small fee. Then you are sure to enjoy your instrument for the rest of the season. Depending on where you live, of course. Guitar set-ups are a part of the hobby, they all need one in time.

Inspect the Condition

Perform a thorough inspection of the guitar after it arrives. Just to make sure the description was accurate and that it matches any pictures you were sent. This is especially important if you bought a used guitar. Here is what to look for:

  1. Overall Condition: make sure there are no cracks or imperfections on the guitar body or parts.
  2. Tuning keys: inspect and operate the machine heads to make sure they work as they should.
  3. Guitar nut: check for cracks or damage or worn slots.
  4. Guitar neck: check for warping or other issues.
  5. Bridge: make sure there are no issues with the saddles.

Buying In-Store VS Online

ere are benefits to both buying online and in-store. We have done both and have received great guitars either way. But each method does have pros and cons that one should consider when trying to find the right guitar.

There are many people who say that it’s a bad idea to buy a guitar online because you don’t know what you are getting. Truth is, this can be said about anything anyone buys online. Yet, many people do it every day successfully because they are careful about how they do it.

The biggest benefit to buying a guitar in-store is that you have a chance to try it. You can also inspect it thoroughly before you take out your wallet. This is huge for many players.

But one issue with going to a store is that they have a smaller selection. Carrying too much inventory ties up their money. Sometimes the only way to get the newest guitars from any manufacturer is to shop online. Then most instruments are available to you.

And if you shop with the right merchant, any issue you might have will be resolved without question.

Conclusion

So to wrap it up, yes, buying a guitar online is well worth it and can provide you with a great instrument. But just like all sales and deals, you must do your due diligence first. Make sure you know exactly what you are purchasing and should expect.

If that is all in place, the odds of having a great experience are better than in-person deals. But it all comes down to protecting our hard-earned money with some good old research. I hope you enjoy your new acoustic or electric guitar!

FAQs

What’s the best way to buy a guitar?

If possible, a physical store can be a great way to buy a guitar. Music stores will allow you to try out an instrument to make sure it’s the right type for you. The only issue is that you may not find the guitar you are looking for, as some stores have a small inventory.

Buying online is also a good option. You just have to make sure your purchase is covered should anything happen along the way. Or you do not like the guitar. Many merchants will exchange an instrument if it’s not the right fit. This makes online shopping a powerful option.

Is it safe to have a guitar delivered?

Yes, having a guitar delivered is safe. When you buy online, select a retailer that will provide support if something goes wrong. Sweetwater or Amazon’s customer service will make sure that you are looked after. Especially if your guitar gets damaged in shipping.

There are many online stores that will do this, just make sure before you buy.

Should You Buy Guitars Without Trying Them First?

Trying anything first before buying is always preferred. There is no doubt. This is the method by which we can rest assured that we are getting what we expect and nothing less. And so whenever possible, I would always suggest that you try it first before you buy. Trouble is, this is not always the case.

We have bought and received plenty of guitars and gear over the years that were bought online. Yes, it’s true, sometimes we have gear arrive that has been damaged. Whether during shipping (which is normally the case) or damaged during manufacture.

But in almost all cases, these issues were resolved by the seller or the shipping company. But what if the acoustic guitar itself is just no good? There are ways to find out for sure before you buy!

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!