Guitar Center Trade In Program: Preparation Guide

Trading in your used musical equipment at Guitar Center is a hassle-free way to upgrade or make some extra cash. The retailer offers a competitive deal, giving you as much as 60% of your gear’s current market value.

The process is simple: bring your gear to any Guitar Center location, where a trained associate will assess its functionality and overall condition. While minor cosmetic issues won’t disqualify your gear, they might affect the final offer.

Once you agree to the offer, your options are cash or a trade towards another piece of gear. If you choose cash, there is a good chance that you can walk out that same day with up to $1000!

No appointments are necessary; just show up during store hours. And if you’re unsure whether your gear is eligible for trade-in, Guitar Center’s website has a comprehensive list to guide you.

This Killer Rig article will further break down the trade-in program, offering insights and tips to help you get the most value out of your used gear.

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.

There are some limitations and some brands that are excluded. This is according to their policy. 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 store with your gear.
  • Have them inspect it and provide an estimate.
  • Negotiate the deal to be fair to both parties.
  • Walk out with check 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.

They accept guitars, amplifiers, basses, PA systems, audio interfaces, and more. But it must be in good enough shape for resale. If you bring in guitar amplifiers that don’t work or pedals that are broken, you may not get much if anything at all.

Can You trade In At Guitar Center?

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 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 guitar strings.
  • Drum sticks.
  • Drum heads.
  • Guitar parts.
  • Upright Basses.
  • Tape Recorders.
  • Cables.
  • Some Consumer electronics.

You can walk in without an appointment if you like. Just make sure you know that they will in fact accept what you have to offer.

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. On the other, you simply want cash.

OfferTrade Up DiscountProfit
$500Cash Sale – No Discount$500

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. 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 to you to decide.

When Is It Not Worth Selling To Guitar Center?

Sometimes it’s 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 off consulting someone that can find you the right market. Yes, it will take longer, but you will make more. Websites like 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’s more cash in your pocket tomorrow instead of today.

How Much Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

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

An item that you bring in might be in rough shape. Maybe you feel they can still sell it. But the offer you get might be quite low. This is because they will not get a great resale amount on it either.

But as a general rule of thumb, you can probably expect to see between 40 – 60% of its current value. As long as the item is in good shape. 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.

Do They Pay With 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 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 check 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’s 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 need the cash, it would be better to sell it privately.

guitar center trade in

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. Especially with used instruments and musical gear. If it’s vintage, they have someone in the store that can help make fair wholesale market offers.

Guitar Center also uses other online resources to determine fair market value. 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’s 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 fewer surprises.

Does Guitar Center Have a Gear Calculator?

This is a pretty common question. Yet it’s not something that Guitar Center has created a resource for. But we have created a table to help give you an idea of 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%)

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

There are many ways to find out how much your electric 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
  • 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. Just to get an average of what they feel it’s worth as well. It’s easier than ever to get an idea of what you can expect.

Learn more about Guitar Center’s price match guarantee here!

Be Reasonable With Your Expectation

While the acoustic 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’s 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.

But, don’t let them lowball 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’s still a marketplace, and they are in business to earn money. Again, by going in well-researched and ready to 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, you may want to rethink your strategy. Guitar Center does have its limits. They 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 its 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. Especially if the instrument is something that can move quickly for them.

But when it comes to normal wear, cracks, dents, and other cosmetic damage, this is not an issue. 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 to 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, screws, etc.
  4. Change your strings. Especially if they are rusty.

How Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

When you are 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. But some stores will not have this kind of money on hand.

Anything over a thousand and they will normally pay with a check 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 it 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. Instead of just looking for a trade-in.

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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!