Guitar Center Trade In Program | Worth It? | 2022

Whether you are selling a car, lawn mower or guitar, you will always make more by selling it yourself privately. The idea of doing this scares some people, as interaction with “tire kickers” can be draining.

Normally, when you decide to sell something like a guitar, you want to move it quickly. Cash in hand today is always better than weeks later. Maybe even longer! Guitar Center to the rescue! But do you know what to expect for a price? And what will they buy?

Do you know what to expect if you want to trade in some gear?

When you’re looking to move it quick, you can always do so with certain stores. Don’t expect even close to full market value, but you will get into that new piece of gear faster or get cash in hand same day! A Guitar Center trade in can be helpful! Let’s check out how this works.

Can You trade In At Guitar Center?

Can You Trade In At Guitar Center?

Guitar Center offers a program called Trade In/Trade Up. When you bring in a piece of gear to trade in, you will make 10% more on it if you buy a new item.

Now there are some limitations and some brands that are excluded. But with a little negotiating, you may work yourself into a new gear and get a good deal at the same time. As a larger retailer of musical instruments and equipment, they are  happy to make an offer on a trade in.

When you are ready to go in to make a trade deal with them:

  • Head down to the nearest Guitar Center with your gear
  • Have them inspect it and provide an estimate
  • Negotiate the deal to be fair to both parties
  • Walk out with cheque or cash in hand

Not only will they make some money on your item when they resell it, but also on the gear you buy with the trade credit. It can be a great benefit for both parties.

Just make sure to be prepared to negotiate a bit when you go in. You will want to at least know what your item is worth beforehand.

But what exactly can you trade in?

What Will They Not Accept?

Guitar Center sells pretty much anything a musician could use. And if they don’t have it, they can get it! But will they accept what you have to trade in? Just because they sell it new doesn’t mean they want it used. There are just some things that are too difficult to sell if it has been used.

Some things they will not accept for trade in include:

  • Some mixing boards (large)
  • Upright basses
  • Used strings
  • Drum sticks
  • Drum heads
  • Guitar parts
  • Upright Basses
  • Tape Recorders
  • Cables

So while you can walk in without an appointment, just make sure you know that they will in fact accept what you have to offer.

How Much Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

While you may read online that Guitar Center pays you a certain amount or percentage, this is only partly true. The piece of gear you bring in, and its condition, plays a large role in what you are going to get as an offer.

If you bring in an item that is in rough shape, but they feel they can still sell it, the offer you get will probably be quite low. This is because they will not get a great resale amount on it either.

But as a general rule of thumb, if your item is in decent shape, and they feel they can sell it, you can probably expect to see between 40 – 60% of its current value. This is the used estimate and not a percentage of what it might cost brand new.

The best way to get more for an instrument that is in rough shape is to trade up. By planning to purchase a new piece of gear, you will make an additional 10% on the value they offer you for the trade in. This can be helpful if you do plan on buying something else. If you are just looking for straight cash and can spare the time, you might want to sell it on your own to make more.

Is it Worth Selling to Guitar Center?

There are a lot of factors that determine whether selling to Guitar Center may be worth it or not to you. There are many people who do and are fine with the deal, then there are people who refuse it and walk out.

It also depends on whether you are trading it for something else or are just looking for cash. These two scenarios look very different in terms of the value you receive when the deal is done.

How much do they differ? Let’s pretend your instrument is worth $500 to Guitar Center. In one case you want to trade it in and upgrade to an instrument worth $1000. In the other, you simply want cash.

OfferTrade Up DiscountProfit
$500Cash Sale – 0%$500
$50010%$550

So as you see, with a trade up deal for another instrument, you would end up walking out with more for your used gear. This would also mean that you have to make a purchase, however. While for a straight-up cash sale, you get what they offer for it with no extra incentives.

So when is it worth selling to Guitar Center? We will leave that for you to decide.

guitar center trade in

When is it Not Worth Selling to Guitar Center?

Sometimes it is not a good idea to trade in with Guitar Center. Sometimes there are items that are far too valuable and should be sold privately. Things like vintage gear that have a high market value should not be traded unless you are okay with taking a rather large loss. Guitar Center might give you a few points more for them, but it won’t be equal to what you can get on another platform.

With vintage gear, you are better consulting someone that can find you the right market. Yes, it will take longer, but you will make more. Websites like Reverb.com are also good places to find buyers. There is always vintage gear up for sale that sells at market value or near it.

Another reason not to trade in at G.C. is when you have the time to wait for an item to sell. Most guitars can fetch a few hundred dollars more if put on the right marketplace. And so if you are not in a hurry and don’t want a new piece of gear, wait it out. It is more cash in your pocket tomorrow instead of today.

How Do They Determine Trade in Value?

Guitar Center will generally offer 50 – 60% of fair market value for gear when you trade in or sell to them. But how do they determine the fair market value?

They have been in business for a long time. Over the course of that time, they have collected data and gained experience with used instruments and music gear. If it’s vintage, they normally have someone in the store that can help make fair wholesale market offers.

Guitar Center also uses eBay, Reverb and other online resources to determine what fair market value is on used gear.  But because prices change quickly, going online can also help with current values. It can help to see what is selling online and safely shipping from their store as well.

Now, not all gear will be online, which can complicate a valuation. But they are normally able to get very close, even if they have to average the equipment against the cost of new.

Just remember, it is always best to know what your gear is worth before you go in for an estimate. So do your own homework as well!

This way there are less surprises.

Does Guitar Center Have a Gear Calculator?

While this is a pretty common question, it is not something that Guitar Center has created a resource for. But we have created a table to help give you an idea on what you might get. This is based on their 50% offer at market value. We have also included what the payout would be if you were to trade for another instrument and earn the extra 10%.

Market valueCash saleStraight trade (+10%)
$400$200$240
$800$400$480
$1000$500$600
$1200$600$720
$1600$800$960
$2000$1000$1200

Does They Buy Used Gear For Cash?

If you are looking to get rid of gear for cash, then you’re in luck! Guitar Center will normally buy gear and pay cash if they are interested in the piece and feel they can resell it.

The only downside is that you may only get 40 – 50% of what it’s worth if you’re just looking for cash. And that’s on the used price, not new.

But this can be very handy if you’re not concerned and just need an ultra-fast sale. They will even pay up to $1000 cash. If it’s over that, then you can expect a cheque or Guitar Center prepaid Visa.

But it’s a same day payment if you’re not looking to replace it with another piece of gear or do some sort of trade.

Just keep in mind that they will only pay in cash up to that amount. If it is worth more, they will offer you credits for in store purchases. So make sure to understand this before going in, especially if your gear is worth several thousand dollars. Because if you just need the cash, it would be better to sell it privately.

How Can I Find Out How Much My Gear is Worth?

There are many ways to find out how much your guitar or other musical equipment is worth. You can start by searching the internet for similar or exact models that are for sale.

This will help you to determine what others feel they are worth and also see what condition those instruments are in.

Start with well known online websites like:

  • Forums
  • Reverb.com
  • Ebay
  • Facebook Groups/Marketplace

This will help you to get a good start comparing prices and condition gear is in being sold. You may also want to take the item to a few different music shops around you to get an average of what they feel it is worth as well.

It is easier than ever to get an idea of what you can expect.

Be Reasonable With Your Expectation

While the guitar or gear might mean a lot to you, this will not change its fair market value. So when you go into the store to trade it in, make sure you know what it is worth. They may offer you less, but stick to your guns and go in knowing what to expect. If you have your ducks in a row, they may see that and give you a few more points. But don’t expect more for it because of sentimental reasons.

On the other hand, don’t let them low ball you, either. Even though you are going in to trade it away for lower than a private sale will fetch, make sure to get all that you can for it. It is still a marketplace, and they are in business to earn money. Again, by going in well researched and ready to do negotiate, you may do much better.

Can you trade in at Guitar Center?

What Condition Does My Gear Need To Be In?

If the instrument is in very bad shape to the point where even you are concerned, you may want to rethink your strategy.

Guitar Center does have their limits and will not accept instruments that are falling apart or missing pieces. They do need to try and resell this item, so ask yourself, would you buy it in the current condition?

According to Guitar Center, the gear must be 100% functional and have all its parts to be considered. If it has been highly modified, this might also be an issue.

If in doubt, you can always bring it to them and see what they suggest.

They do have technicians who can make small adjustments if needed, and the instrument is something that can move quickly for them.

But when it comes to normal wear, cracks, dents and other cosmetic damage, this normally is not as issue as used gear does have its road wear.

How To Prepare Your Gear for an Estimate

In order to get an estimate on your gear at Guitar Center, you need to bring in your item. They will not give you an estimate over the phone or via email, it must be brought into a location.

So you’re ready to do that but want to make sure your item is up to snuff? What should you do to prepare your gear?

Well let’s pretend it’s a guitar, here are a few easy things you can do to get it ready!

  1. Clean it. Dirt and grime will only make it look worn out and worth less.
  2. Check for missing parts. Replace anything that is not there anymore.
  3. Tighten all jacks, knobs and screws etc.
  4. Change your strings. Especially if they are rusty.

How Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

When you are simply looking to part with your gear and no trade in is required, Guitar Center will pay up to $1000 in cash. This is the maximum amount, however, and some stores will not have this kind of money on hand.

Anything over a thousand and they will normally pay with a cheque or Guitar Center Visa prepaid card. There is also the option of in store credit which will go onto their rewards card.

They will do this the same day if a deal can be made. Walk in with the instrument and walk out with your money. If you’re looking for a trade, you will be offered a credit or a small purchase for new equipment.

What Does Guitar Center do with My Trade In?

The purpose to offer a program like this one is to first get a customer to buy new by making it convenient to trade in used. Then, by lowering what they will pay for the gear, they can then clean it up and sell in on their network. At both angles, they are making money. But this is good, they are a business, after all.

Once the trade in has arrived, they will clean it up and assess the market value. If a set-up or repair is required, that is all taken care of. Sometimes it costs them a bit of money to get it ready to sell.

They have a large network that spans a good portion of the world. If another store doesn’t sell it, there is a chance it could go online. So one way or another they will sell it for a small profit. But this isn’t their main focus. New instruments will make them more money in most cases. And so they would rather you buy something, then just come in looking for cash on a trade.

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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!