How to Buy a Guitar (Safely) Online

How to Buy a Guitar (Safely) Online

Ideally you’ll be able to buy your guitar at a local music store. But that’s not always possible. For a variety of reasons, you may want to buy your guitar online. The good news is, there are a number of reputable online music stores that sell guitars. According to Music Trades, in 2009 hundreds of thousands of new guitars were purchased worldwide from online retailers.

Buying Your Dream Guitar Online

Follow these guidelines when buying your guitar online.

  • Buy from a reputable guitar retailer. A reputable retailer can be an online music store like Musician’s Friend, a national mortar-and-bricks chain store like Guitar Center, or a one-location mortar-and-bricks music store like Elderly Instruments in Lansing, Michigan. (See the section below, “Is this guitar seller reputable?” You can already by guitars at
  • Verify a minimum 30-day money-back guarantee. Most state laws require online retailers to offer a minimum, 30-day return policy. If the retailer’s site states a less-than 30-day return, I’d find another retailer.
  • Find the phone number. Most online retailers will have a phone number. If you’re making a major buy, give the number a call. Who are you talking to? Is it a call center? Or is it someone at the actual store location, or shipping location?
  • Pay with a credit card. If anything goes wrong and there’s a charges argument, you can possibly get the credit card charges reversed. Such disputes will be harder to resolve if the money has already been taken out of your account. (This should not be a factor if you follow the first tip.)
  • Save the packing materials. Carefully unpack your guitar and keep the box and shipping materials intact until you’re sure everything is OK and you won’t be sending the guitar back for in any case reason.
  • Factor in the price of a setup. When buying a guitar sight unseen, I’d factor in the cost of a guitar set-up. Perfectly good guitars that are unplayable can play like a dream after a set up. This typically includes minor adjustments to the neck, bridge, nut and frets. Setting up an acoustic guitar is more involved than setting up an electric guitar, so expect to pay more. Call a local shop and find out the cost of a new-guitar set up. (My local music store set up my electric guitar for $30 plus the price of the new strings.)

Buy Your Guitar From a Reputable Vendor If you’re buying your first guitar, you may not recognize some of the name-brand retailers. Here are some ways to determine an online seller’s reputation.

  • Is the site popular? Check the seller’s site at Alexa. Never heard of At Alexa, kind into the search box and hit go into. Click Get Details and you’ll see the site’s current traffic rank and, in some situations, customer reviews and when the site went online.
  • Who is this retailer, how long have they been online? It’s important to know who you’re buying from and how long they’ve been around. If an Alexa search didn’t provide how long the retailer has been online, go to Internic Whois and go into the domain name (e.g.,

observe: While a site with high traffic indicates a reputable retailer, the converse is not true. There are some excellent, small music stores that sell guitars online, but won’t show up as major online retailers. The more important number is the number of years online.

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