Over the years, I’ve spent a small fortune on gear: amps, pedals, mics, cables… plus sometimes you see a rig you just have to have, right?
All that experience buying taught me how to hold on to my money while I satisfy my need to find new sounds to make with my guitar. There are plenty of ways die hard gearheads can buy smarter and save big. Here are five of them.
I know – duh. But finding the right used gear can be a chore. A solid strategy is key.
Back in the day, eBay was the golden goose of resale. While it’s not the deal factory it once was, you can still get great deals. I found a beautiful vintage Les Paul for about half of what it would normally go for (I got it for $2,500 but I’ve seen the same quality model listed for around $5,000) just this year. It arrived on time and looked just like the pictures.
I almost always have a great experience with eBay because I only buy from sellers with high ratings. If someone has never sold something, or they have too few ratings or the customer satisfaction rate is low, the item just isn’t worth the risk.
You can get musical instruments and gear up to 50-60% off if you shop around eBay for a deal. If you find a deal like that, grab it right away! If you have no cash at the moment, get safe online payday loans, then grab the deal! In other words, do whatever it takes.
Note: I do realize that getting a payday loan is not typical advice you hear when reading about saving money on buying guitars and gear. However, if you find a great deal on a guitar or gear that you have been dreaming of for like forever and the deal is expiring in a few days, you might consider getting a short-term payday loan to grab the guitar/gear you always wanted. In any case, if you do consider applying for any financial loan, please read this. It will help you understand what to expect.
Browsing online is super convenient, but I like to buy locally so I can take a look at what I’m buying in the real world before I pay for it. Services like Craigslist and Facebook Groups let me shop online and buy locally. It’s so much easier than wandering through dusty second-hand shops or getting up early to go to garage sales.
Craigslist is your old school, no frills online bulletin board for local classified ads. Search for deals within driving distance and negotiate in person. But beware of scams! Always meet in a well-populated area and pay in cash. Ignore messages from anyone who wants any of your personal information. As a rule, I don’t even give people my last name, and I’ve never had a problem.
Facebook Groups are quickly replacing Craigslist when it comes to local stuff for sale online. There seem to be fewer scammers on Facebook, for one thing. Just enter the name of your city into Google along with the phrase “Facebook Group” and you should be able to find at least one group. Most mid-sized and larger cities have multiple specialized groups. I’m a member of several groups in my area including one for used instruments, one for used gear, and one for used mixing software. Just be ready to find a bunch of stuff you never knew you wanted!
Buy Refurbished, Re-Built, or Scratch-n-Dent
No, that’s not just another way of saying “buy used.” A guitar that’s been refurbished has been restored to its original mint condition – or about as close to it as is possible. The best refurbish jobs are done at the original factory. If you have your heart set on a specific model or type of guitar, take a look at the manufacturer web site. They might offer refurbished instruments at a discount.
Rebuilds and Scratch-n-Dent are better for people who are more concerned with an instrument’s performance than with how it looks. If you don’t care about wear-and-tear like chipped wood or scratched paint – that is, if you don’t need your guitar to be pretty – you can find plenty of great, high quality items.
If someone’s selling something, it’s usually because they don’t want it anymore. Use this to your advantage and haggle on the price.
My Ibanez Tim Henson Signature electric guitar is worth about $2,000 straight from the factory. I paid $1,750 for mine brand new because it had two cosmetic issues: paint scraped off near the bridge and around the jack – the exact places that normally get scratched up after a few weeks of playing anyway.
In other words, I saved $250 on a sweet guitar because I noticed a couple of minor flaws that had no impact on the instrument’s playability whatsoever. All I had to do was politely point out the flaws to the shop owner and offer a price that was on the low-end of what I was willing to pay but not so low as to offend the owner (for reference, I started at $1,675).
Get the Word Out
Just ask people you know have ties to the music industry if they’re aware of any used gear for sale. Even if you’re shy and struggle to communicate face-to-face, there are a ton of ways you can let people know you’re looking.
Remember Craigslist? You can totally post your own want ads telling people you pay cash for quality used gear. You can also post wanted-to-buy notices in local Facebook Groups. In fact, post to multiple social media platforms. The more people you tell, the more likely you are to connect to someone looking to unload the exact Schecter Omen Extreme-6 electric guitar you’ve been searching for.