How to Sell a Guitar: The Complete Guide
You’ve played your guitar for years. In that time, you got a lot of good use out of it. Still, you’ve decided to move onto greener pastures. You’d love to sell your old guitar to fund the costs of a new one. Admittedly, you have no idea where to start. You want to get the best value for your money, so does that mean selling online or to your local guitar shop?
How do you sell a guitar? To sell your guitar, you want to do the following:
- Research the value of the guitar
- Get it in the best possible condition for selling (clean it up, polish it up, etc.)
- Find a place to sell it where you’ll get a good price
- Prepare your listing (if applicable) to appeal to buyers online
- Ship your guitar out using a special box and tight packing
In this detailed guide, I’ll expand on the above points, covering them all more thoroughly. Whether you decide to sell your guitar locally or send it out to the world via the Internet, you’ll learn everything you have to do. I’ll also tell you how to determine the value of your guitar and even how to pack it for shipping.
4 Tips for Selling a Guitar
Research the Value of Your Guitar
When you first bought your guitar, you likely dropped several hundred dollars on it, right? Maybe you spent even more. Like with anything you use for a few years, you won’t get that full price back when you go to sell it. If you’re lucky, it’ll be about half the value, but it does depend on the guitar’s condition.
I don’t recommend you wing it when it comes to determining your guitar’s value. You want to do your homework instead. If you don’t remember exactly what you paid for your guitar when you first bought it, then start there. Look it up on the manufacturer’s website.
Next, search for your guitar used online. I recommend sites like eBay and Reverb for this. How much money are people selling it for? You’ll want to sell yours for about the same price. The only exception would be if your guitar is in very good condition because you rarely used it. Then you can bump the price up.
When selling a guitar, it’s important to understand the resale value of guitars in general. Certain guitars hold their value better than others. Check out my post on Which Electric Guitar Brands Have the Best Resale Value.
Clean and Prepare Your Guitar to Be Sold
If you saw two of the same products and one was pristine and the other scuffed and dirty, which would you choose? It’s sort of a no-brainer. Unless you have a very rare guitar, then there are many others like it on the market. To get people to buy your guitar specifically, make sure it looks as good as possible. That means giving it a cleaning, removing dust, dirt, and any other blemishes. By the time you’re done, the guitar should look spiffy and fresh.
If you want to get the best price for your guitar, it’s important to make sure it’s properly cleaned before selling it. Check out my complete guide on how to clean a guitar.
Take Pictures in Natural Lighting
I will write more about the importance of photographing your guitar later, but for now, let’s talk about lighting. You could be a pro photographer, but if you shoot in poor lighting, you’ll get equally bad photos.
Besides light dimness, you have to be careful about the type of lighting you use. Fluorescents and other artificial lights can alter the color of the guitar, making it look yellower or some other color it’s not. That’s at best. At worst, your images will look totally washed out.
It’s much better to shoot in natural lighting, such as beneath a window. All the nuances and details of your guitar will shine right through, quite literally.
Answer Promptly to Inquiries and Messages
You got your first message about the guitar. Cool! However, it happened when you were at work, so you have to wait until later to get back to the person. Then you go home and get to cooking, cleaning, going to the gym, or just unwinding. Before you know it, the day has passed and you totally forgot to respond to the message.
By then, the person could have lost interest. That means you missed out on a potential sale. While you don’t have to be glued to your phone, you do want to respond to inquiries and messages promptly. Try to get back to people within an hour or two.
Where to Sell Guitars for Cash
Okay, so your guitar looks pretty darn good if you must say so yourself. You’re ready to offload it, but where do you start? You have two main options for selling your used guitars for cash. These are selling/trading it at a guitar store or selling it online.
Trading It at a Local Store
Trading in your guitar at a local guitar shop is probably the easiest way to sell your guitar for cash. You might have bought your instrument at a Guitar Center store. Now, things come full circle as you take the guitar back to resell it. They have a Trade-In Trade-Up program where Guitar Center buys guitars and other gear back from you. Sometimes you can even get savings on your trade credit, but it depends on the store and the promotions it’s running.
Guitar Center will accept acoustic and electric guitars as well as basses. You can also get rid of your guitar amp cabs and heads. Do know you cannot trade in guitar parts on their own.
To trade or sell your guitar, you want to speak to a sales associate at a store near you. They will check over your guitar, considering its brand and condition. How many other guitars like yours Guitar Center stocks will also play a role in its value.
Once the associate tells you the guitar’s value, you can accept their offer or decline it. You get paid the same day you trade the guitar in.
Of course, Guitar Center is far from the only guitar store that does trade-ins. You can check other neighborhood shops and compare prices to get the best value. You typically will get paid less by trading your guitar to a shop compared to selling it online. If you need to sell your guitar for cash ASAP, then going to a shop is a viable option. Otherwise, just sell online.
Selling It Online
Ah, the great wide Internet. I’ll talk about places to sell your guitar online in the next section, but do know you have nearly countless options. Some are better than others, that’s for sure.
Also, not to point out the obvious, but if you need to sell your guitar for actual paper cash, then selling online is not the way to go. If you’re interested in receiving the most money possible for your guitar, then selling your guitar online is the best way to go.
If you do go the route of selling your guitar online, then you have to do quite a bit more work. You’ll have to clean up your guitar, photograph it appealingly, create a listing, write a description, and answer inquiries. Then, once someone buys, you need to get a box, pack the guitar, and ship it out.
For that effort, you can get closer to the used guitar’s actual value. I’d say it’s worth it, then.
If you’re going to be selling your guitar, it’s important to understand how much it’s worth. Depending on the brand and overall demand of the guitar, certain guitars retain their value better than others. To learn more, check out my post on Which Electric Guitar Brands Have the Best Resale Value.
How to Sell a Guitar Online
Perhaps you checked your local guitar shop and weren’t thrilled with the prices, so you decided to sell online. You may have even skipped all that and jumped straight online in the first place. Regardless, you’re here. Now that you’re ready to get started selling your guitar on the Internet, you’re going to need to know what to do. Let this section be your guide.
The Best Places to Sell a Guitar Online
Let’s begin with the website you’ll choose to list your guitar. While sure, you could rely on Craigslist, that site still doesn’t have the most wonderful reputation. It’s an option, but it’s not a site I would call the best.
Instead, I suggest you stick with these sites.
According to recent data from Statista, eBay has 182 million active users. That’s a pretty huge audience in which to sell to! eBay gets tons of traffic due to its massive popularity. Therefore, compared to other sites, you probably won’t be waiting around as long for an item to get sold.
There are some downsides, though. For one, if you’re selling a popular item, eBay can get saturated with listings. Then it’s likely a matter of whichever listing a shopper sees first. Otherwise, they’ll shop according to your eBay rating.
Your eBay rating is out of your hands, as it’s all dependent on the reviews users leave after they buy from you. If you’re a new seller or you had some negative reviews, people might avoid you.
Another issue is that eBay takes a significant cut of your profits in the form of their Final Value. This is nine percent of the cost of the item at its selling price. Oh, and shoppers tend to want deals on eBay, so you might not always get the full value of your guitar.
I touched on Reverb earlier in this article, but I wanted to bring it up again. Reverb lets you sell a slew of items, among them DJ equipment (including lights), synthesizers and keyboards, pro audio equipment, drums, pedals, amps, basses, and guitars. It’s a dedicated platform just for those who want music gear.
That’s both a good and bad thing. It’s true that those who use the platform will know what they want. They also generally know an instrument’s value. That said, the site doesn’t get nearly as much traffic as one like eBay does. This leads to fewer views on your listing. You could end up waiting much longer for your guitar to get sold than you’d prefer.
When you do finally sell your guitar, you’ll like that Reverb takes a smaller cut compared to eBay.
You can also try Amazon Used. As the name tells you, people can access the Amazon marketplace to sell all sorts of used items. While it’s as easily navigable as any other part of Amazon’s site, you can’t always sell on there. If Amazon doesn’t accept your guitar for any reason, it’s game over.
Why wouldn’t Amazon accept your guitar for resale? They only let users sell products already available on Amazon.com. While that’s a vast library, since Amazon isn’t a music site, it might not include every guitar under the sun. In some cases, you can get left in the cold.
Creating an Online Listing
Okay, so you’ve selected a site to list your used guitar for sale. Now you have to actually list it. Making an online listing isn’t difficult, but you do want to take your time. The better your listing, the more attention it will attract.
Make sure you include the following in your listing.
Pictures from All Angles
Few things are more frustrating than when you come across a product you’re interested in only to see it has maybe two pictures max. Worse yet, they’re all straight-ahead images.
Given that you’re selling an expensive item like a guitar, you want to make sure you have a slew of pictures to share in your listing. Don’t take these all from the same angle, either. Get behind the guitar, at its sides, and capture all those areas. Take a few close-up shots as well.
A Full Description of the Guitar
Make the life of a shopper easier by telling them as much about your guitar as possible. This includes the manufacturer, the year it was produced, its specifications, the finish color, and its main features. You can take this information from the manufacturer website if you need to, but make sure it’s there.
An Honest Mention of Its Flaws
Honesty is the best policy. If you’re using a site like eBay and you plan on becoming a regular seller there, you better be upfront about defects and flaw with the guitar. Otherwise, the person who buys it will definitely leave you a scathing review.
It’s okay that your guitar isn’t perfect. No one’s expecting it to be. It’s used, after all, and so it’s going to have some dings and scratches. You may have even accidentally damaged the frets years ago. Everything still works, but the guitar has some character.
Mention this in your listing. You might also photograph the damages and wear so potential buyers can see it’s not that bad.
A Mention of Any Extras Included
Some sellers decide to sweeten the deal by tossing in some extras with their guitar. If you do the same, then make sure you describe these. For instance, extras may include guitar upgrades, a tremolo arm, strings, tools, and even the original guitar case.
Packing a Guitar for Shipping
Someone bought your guitar! Woohoo! It’s a great day, and you can’t wait to have your money sent to you.
It’s now your responsibility to ship the guitar to the buyer. You want to do this pretty much as soon as you receive payment. If you can’t get to it immediately, then ship within a day or two of purchase. Any longer and the buyer is going to ask where their shipping notification is.
You may have shipped out items before, but never anything as large as a guitar. How do you go about packing a guitar for shipping? You’ll want to follow some specific steps, which I’ll now outline for you.
If you’re going selling a guitar and are interested in learning more about shipping your guitar, be sure to check out my complete guide on how to ship a guitar.
Use the Guitar Case
If you have a guitar case for your instrument, then put it in there. This will protect the guitar in case it gets jostled around in shipping. Sadly, that does happen.
If you by chance don’t have the original guitar case, then use any case that fits. If you can’t find one, then okay. Just make sure you pack up the guitar extra securely.
Loosen the Strings
By loosening up the strings of the guitar, you remove any fretboard tension. When you’re finished with that, take a cloth and put it beneath the strings. Keep moving the cloth up until it covers the fretboard. This way, if the strings move while in transit, the frets don’t end up damaged.
Cover the Guitar in Bubble Wrap
Next, you want to get your hands on some bubble wrap. Start by layering bubble wrap around the head of the guitar. Then cover the neck. Use at least two bubble wrap layers. This will provide ample cushioning so the parts won’t break or get damaged during their shipping journey.
Pack the Box as Tight as Possible
Put your guitar in the box. You will have to buy a special box just for shipping your guitar. These boxes from ULINE come in a range of sizes for shipping acoustic guitars, basses, and electric guitars.
If necessary, use packing materials so the guitar is in the box as tightly as possible. You don’t want it to move around once you drop it off at the post office. If the guitar can wiggle even a little, add more packing materials.
With all this information, you’re now ready to sell your first guitar. While doing so is a bit bittersweet, you’ll soon set your emotions aside when you get paid for the instrument. Make sure you take the time to choose a website that’s right for your guitar. Be honest and informative in your online listing, take lots of great pictures from many angles, and answer messages as they come in. Good luck and happy selling!