Buying A Guitar Online: Best Places To Shop

There’s something truly magical about holding a guitar in your hands, feeling its weight, running your fingers over the strings, and hearing that first note echo through the room. However, the times are changing, and the way we buy guitars is too.

With the rapid growth of e-commerce, an increasing number of people are turning to the internet to buy their guitars. You might be asking, “Why buy a guitar online?”

In this Killer Rig article, we’re going to look into the world of online guitar shopping. We’ll explore the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of it. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, the legitimacy of online guitar stores, and the importance of getting a feel for your instrument.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: When shopping for a guitar online, approach it as you would in a physical store. Whether you’re wondering about its sound quality, how it feels to hold, or need a detailed view of the headstock, don’t hesitate to ask the seller. Most sellers are eager to provide extra information or additional pictures to make you more comfortable with your purchase.
  2. Negotiate: If you stumble upon a guitar you love but find the price steep, consider negotiating. Many sellers are open to discussing a mutually agreeable price.
  3. Consider purchasing used gear: Opting for a used guitar can be a cost-effective choice. Numerous trustworthy online platforms offer used instruments. Just make sure to scrutinize the seller’s description and seek clarification on any points of concern.
  4. Check the return policy: Before finalizing your purchase, be clear on the seller’s return policy. Should the guitar not meet your expectations upon arrival, you’ll want the option to either return it for a refund or exchange it.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Guitar Online

Embarking on the journey of buying a guitar online? Hold your horses! It’s not as straightforward as buying a book or a pair of shoes. Let’s tune in to the melody of online guitar shopping and explore its advantages and disadvantages.

The Good: Benefits of Online Guitar Shopping

Picture this scenario: you’re sitting comfortably on your couch, sipping a cup of coffee, browsing through an extensive catalog of guitars that stretches as far as the eye can see. Sounds great, right? That’s the beauty of online guitar shopping.

You have access to a vast range of brands, models, and prices at your fingertips. No travel, no pressure from salespeople, and the ability to compare and contrast at your own pace.

This is particularly beneficial if you live in a remote area without a local music shop, or if you’re looking for a rare vintage model.

Moreover, online retailers often provide better deals and discounts due to lower overheads than brick-and-mortar stores. It’s a world of convenience and variety that opens up when you decide to buy a guitar online.

The Bad and The Ugly: Challenges of Online Shopping

However, every coin has two sides, and the realm of online guitar shopping is no different.

The most significant downside? You can’t physically try out the instrument before purchasing. That means you can’t hold it, strum it, or hear its tone in person. You’re left relying on images, descriptions, and hopefully, audio or video samples to guide your decision-making.

Then, there’s the ugly part, the potential for scams! The online world, vast as it is, can sometimes harbor unscrupulous sellers. Being aware and conducting due diligence can help you avoid falling victim to these situations.

Additionally, guitars are delicate instruments, and shipping them involves a risk of damage, even when precautions are taken. And, if you’re not happy with your purchase, returning it can be more complicated than walking back into a physical store.

Is Buying a Guitar Online for You?

Online guitar shopping can indeed feel like a mixed bag. It offers fantastic advantages, but also presents unique challenges. Understanding these aspects can help you navigate the digital marketplace with greater confidence.

But don’t give up hope yet, the rest of this article will help you to understand if buying online is right for you!

Credit Card for online purchasing.

The Legitimacy of Online Guitar Shopping

Now that we’ve weighed the pros and cons, let’s focus on an essential question many have: Is online guitar shopping legitimate?

Is Online Guitar Shopping Legit?

Yes, online guitar shopping is, for the most part, legitimate. Many renowned retailers have established a strong online presence, offering a wide range of products at competitive prices. They uphold the same standards of customer service and product quality as their physical counterparts.

However, like any other marketplace, the world of online guitar shopping isn’t immune to fraudulent activities. It’s vital to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable retailer to avoid any pitfalls.

Is It Safe to Buy a Guitar Online?

Safety in online shopping primarily depends on the retailer’s reliability and the precautions you take as a buyer. Trustworthy online retailers ensure secure payment methods, offer clear return and warranty policies, and take measures to safely pack and ship the instruments.

Doing your research, reading reviews, and checking the retailer’s credentials can significantly enhance your shopping safety. Also, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true because they often are.

Do People Really Buy Guitars Online?

Absolutely! As the digital marketplace expands, more people are buying guitars online. The convenience, vast selection, and potential for finding better deals are driving factors behind this trend.

Remember, while online guitar shopping has its challenges, a careful and informed approach can lead to a successful purchase. It’s about balancing the convenience and variety of online shopping with due diligence to ensure you’re getting a quality instrument from a reputable source.

Top Places to Buy Guitars Online

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what to look for in an online retailer, let’s dive into some of the top places to buy guitars. We’ll cover both new and used guitars to provide options for every budget and preference.

Guitars for sale online.

Popular Online Music Stores

Here are some popular online music stores that are well-regarded in the guitar community.


Sweetwater is located in the USA and is a great option for a guitar purchase. Known for their excellent customer service and comprehensive selection, Sweetwater is one of the top online music retailers.

They offer a range of guitars from beginner models to high-end, professional-grade instruments.

There are hundreds of players who trust them, including me! This is because of the great service we 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.

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’ve played the guitar for a while, you have more than likely been in a store.

Guitar Center serves many players monthly with a large amount of online sales. Hundreds of players buy gear from them 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.

Musician’s Friend

This online retailer offers a wide variety of guitars and other musical instruments. They also have a generous return policy, which can be reassuring when buying a guitar online.

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 inventory. There will be numerous items available. This gives you a great chance of getting what you are looking for.


Zzounds is another online only retailer that will be displayed in a lot of 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 and selection 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.


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 Europe.

Best Places to Buy Used Guitars Online

If you’re open to buying a used guitar, there are additional online platforms to consider:

  1. Reverb: Reverb is an online marketplace for musicians and is one of the best places to find used guitars. The platform connects buyers and sellers from around the world, offering everything from affordable used guitars to rare vintage finds.
  2. eBay: As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay has a wide selection of used guitars. However, due to the nature of the platform, it’s particularly important to research sellers and check their reviews before making a purchase.

Remember, when buying a guitar, especially a used one, it’s important to investigate! Look closely at product photos, read descriptions carefully, and don’t hesitate to ask the seller questions. Your perfect guitar is out there, and with a bit of patience and research, you’ll find it.

Before You Buy: Getting a Feel For The Guitar

We’ve established that online shopping offers a unique set of advantages. But there’s one aspect of the traditional in-store experience that many musicians find hard to replicate online.

And that is getting a feel for the guitar. Let’s explore why this is crucial and how you can navigate this concern while shopping online.

Importance of Feeling the Guitar

As every musician knows, a guitar is more than just an instrument, it’s an extension of oneself. It’s about how the guitar feels in your hands, how it responds to your touch, and how it resonates with your style.

In a physical store, you can pick up a guitar, feel its weight, examine its craftsmanship, and play it to understand its sound. This hands-on interaction is instrumental in determining whether the guitar is a good fit for you.

Navigating the ‘Feel’ Factor Online

The challenge with online shopping is that this tactile experience is absent. So, how can we try to bridge this gap?

One way is through comprehensive product descriptions and high-quality images from multiple angles. Reputable online stores often provide detailed information about a guitar’s build, materials, dimensions, and weight.

They may also include high-resolution images and videos that allow you to see the instrument from various perspectives.

Customer reviews can be another invaluable resource. Other buyers may share insights about the guitar’s feel, playability, and sound that can inform your decision.

Are You Qualified to Make Adjustments?

When you buy a guitar online, it may require some adjustments once it arrives. String action, intonation, and truss rod tension are among the aspects that might need tweaking.

If you’re comfortable making these adjustments, great! If not, you might consider taking your new guitar to a local music shop for a professional setup. This additional step can ensure that your online purchase plays and sounds its best.

Picking the Right Guitar For You

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a guitar online. The next step is choosing the right one for you. This process can feel overwhelming given the vast array of options available, but don’t worry. We’re here to help you navigate this.

Brand Names For Beginners

For beginners, starting with a well-known brand can be a good decision. Brands like Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, and Ibanez, among others, have been in the guitar-making business for decades and have built a solid reputation for quality and reliability.

These brands offer a range of models suitable for beginners, often at reasonable prices. Their guitars are known for good playability, sound, and build quality, making them a safe bet for your first online purchase.

How to Choose the Right Online Store?

Once you’ve got an idea of the brand and model you’re interested in, the next step is to decide where to buy from. When choosing an online store, consider the following:

  • Reputation: Look for stores that have been doing business for a while and have good customer feedback.
  • Product Range: Opt for stores that offer a wide variety of brands and models. This allows for better comparison and choice.
  • Policies: Check out the store’s shipping, return, and warranty policies. Make sure they’re customer-friendly and transparent.
  • Customer Service: A store with responsive and helpful customer service can make your online shopping experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Remember, buying a guitar online is about more than just the instrument itself. It’s also about choosing a retailer that provides a secure, user-friendly shopping experience and stands behind the products they sell.

Financial Aspects of Buying Guitars Online

Finding the right guitar and online store is just part of the journey. The financial aspect of buying an instrument online also requires careful consideration, particularly regarding payment plans and interest rates.

Beware of High Interest Rates on Free Payment Plans

Some online retailers offer payment plans that allow you to spread the cost of your new guitar over several months or even years. While this can make expensive guitars more accessible, it’s crucial to read the fine print.

Some of these “free” payment plans may come with high interest rates, dramatically increasing the total cost of your guitar over time. Always make sure you understand the terms and conditions of any payment plan before you commit.

Budgeting for Your Purchase

When setting a budget for your guitar, remember to account for additional costs such as shipping, taxes, and potential setup or adjustment fees. Depending on your location and where you’re buying from, these can add a significant amount to your total expenditure.

Protecting Your Investment

Once you’ve made your purchase, consider how you’ll protect your investment. This could include insurance (especially for high-end guitars), regular maintenance, and investing in a good-quality case to protect your instrument during storage and transport.

Buying a guitar online can be a significant investment, but with careful budgeting and a good understanding of the potential additional costs, it’s an investment that can pay off in years of musical enjoyment. Remember, a well-chosen, well-cared-for guitar can last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are guitars packed for shipping?

Reputable online retailers take great care to pack guitars securely for shipping. This often involves loosening the strings, wrapping the instrument in bubble wrap or foam, securing it in a hard case or sturdy cardboard box, and filling any extra space with packing material to prevent movement during transit.

Can I return a guitar if I don’t like it?

Most online retailers offer a return policy, but the specifics can vary. Always check the return policy before making a purchase, and understand the conditions and timeframe for returns. Be aware that you may be responsible for return shipping costs.

What if the guitar arrives damaged?

If your guitar arrives damaged, contact the retailer immediately. They should provide instructions for returning the damaged item and arrange for a replacement or refund. It’s helpful to take photos of the damage as soon as you notice it, as these may be needed for a claim.

Can I trust customer reviews?

Customer reviews can be a valuable source of information, but it’s important to read them critically. Look for patterns in the reviews rather than focusing on individual positive or negative experiences. If many customers mention the same issue, it’s likely a genuine concern.

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Author: 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!