How do I sell a guitar?
February 28, 2005 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I have a pretty fancypants guitar that I'm trying to sell. Should I try to sell it on eBay, or go to a local guitar store?

I've had an ad posted on Craigslist for a few days, with no takers. How would I ship the guitar (in it's hardshell case) to a remote buyer? How would I even go about estimating the shipping cost? Should I use one of those eBay outsourcers? Would it just be better to take it to a guitar store and sell it?
posted by cmonkey to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a 1987 Ford Escort I'll trade for it. Runs good.
posted by nearlife at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2005

Unfortunately, you're not likely to get full value for your guitar if you sell it to a guitar store, unless you sell it through consignment. eBay may be your best bet. To estimate shipping charges, check to see what other eBay sellers are charging for shipping similar guitars. Then add a few bucks to pad for packing costs. Also, you may try taking the guitar to a UPS, FedEx, or Mailboxes, Etc.,to see what packing and shipping may cost you.
posted by mds35 at 2:25 PM on February 28, 2005

in my experience, a shop will give you the LOWEST price they can for any musical instrument you bring them -- and probably a price far under what a normal buyer for your guitar would be willing to pay.

i believe ebay to be great seller's market for particular items (the more scarce the item, the better luck you'll have with ebay -- although i guess that's a simple description of how supply and demand works, and not any great discovery of my own) -- if your guitar is as fancypants as you imply, then you'll definitely get a better price on ebay than you'll ever get from a guitar store.

shipping is simple: buyer pays shipping (+ handling, 'cause you're gonna have to pay a little bit to package the guitar nicely, although since you have a hard shell case it shouldn't be terrible) -- most shipping web sites have calculators where you can estimate the cost if you've got a rough idea of the box size and weight. my guess is that it'll be around $50-75 in the states.

packing-wise, i bought a guitar online (from and they just threw it in a big box with a bunch of packing peanuts, however, as it was in a hard case, it arrived safely, even though the box was falling apart by the time it reached me.

if you don't already have an ebay id with a bunch of feedback, it may be worth going through an ebay outsourcer -- i wouldn't think about purchasing something over $10 from someone with no feedback unless A) It was a really great deal or B) something I really really really HAD TO HAVE. Basically I'd be a lot less likely to bid on your auction. I think the cut that a outsourcer would take would be worth it in this case. Oh yeah: you will need photos, so if you don't have a digital camera or can't borrow one that'd be another reason to go through an outsourcer (but somehow i see that as entirely unlikely).

read through some ebay stuff to look into how not to get ripped off, how to write a good listing, that sort of thing. ebay actually works pretty well, and IMHO, if you want something *sold* rather than "well, if i got this for it i'd sell it", ebay is the place to go over craigslist.

good luck..
posted by fishfucker at 2:34 PM on February 28, 2005

I think Auction Drop may be just right for you. Never used it but saw the sign on the door of my local UPS store and checked it out online. They specialize in selling high dollar items on ebay. Basically, you take the item to the UPS Store, hand it to them and they do the rest.
posted by juggler at 2:37 PM on February 28, 2005

I agree wth mds35 (it's like trading in your car, a store is only looking to make a profit on a quick resale of your item). Shipping is going to be the most troublesome issue, after getting paid, and proper prep is going to help make sure the guitar arrives in one piece. This site has some hints, as does the book Guitar Player Repair Guide (which has a lot of other valuable info, too). I wouldn't trust a general shipper to handle the packing of the guitar.
posted by tommasz at 2:42 PM on February 28, 2005

A friend of mine sold an old Fender Broadcaster on eBay. He was hoping for $300, wishing for $400. He got $850 (and, with that, a Telecaster he really wanted. I digress.)

In realms like guitars, eBay seems to be *the* right answer. Of course, the problem comes if your guitar really isn't worth much, but I can't help you there -- I know how to make them louder, but I save valuations for the pros.
posted by eriko at 2:43 PM on February 28, 2005

A friend of mine ebays guitars occasionally, and he says the trick to getting good money for them is to let people on guitar forums know about the auction. If you don't have the time to spam your auction all over the internet, however, then I'd sell it locally.
posted by Jairus at 2:48 PM on February 28, 2005

I have a pretty fancypants guitar too (discussed here) that I got appraised a few months ago. I got some pretty decent estimates, but several of the people I spoke with thought it would be likely to fetch at least 30% more on ebay. If you do decide to go that route, Jairus's suggestion about giving a heads-up in relevant guitar forums sounds like good advice.
posted by scody at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2005

A guitar store will typically give you somewhere around %60 of their sale price, and %70 for consignment, I think.

If you really want top dollar for it, I would use all the local listings, Loot, local paper, craigslist, guitar store walls, and wait.

If you sell it on eBay, show that you know what you're talking about. address every basic guitar issue, and have damn fine pictures. You can also sell locally with eBay, by saying that people have to pick it up. Invite people who are local to come and check it out, I've taken a bus to look at an instrument I was considering purchasing. But again, an extremely thorough description of the instrument, really good pictures with high-res links, and an obvious understanding of guitars will increase buyers confidence.

The only instrument I've received in the mail had some additional soft foam in the hard case, the case was wrapped in bubble wrap, and the box was packed full of plastic bags filled with peanuts. I think on the top and bottom, the peanut bags were actually taped to the guitar case.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 3:03 PM on February 28, 2005

When I buy a fancy-pants instrument, I've got to see it in person. I wonder if craigslist might be the way to go: you'd avoid shipping...

Incidentally, the one instrument I had sent to me was in its case, surrounded by styrofoam, wrapped in peanuts, and packed in a wooden crate. But it was coming from India, so for domestic mail that's gonna be overkill.
posted by Specklet at 3:20 PM on February 28, 2005

Er, I mean, stick with craigslist... or maybe just what Jack Karaoke said. Um.
posted by Specklet at 3:46 PM on February 28, 2005

i'm in the got to see/hold it to buy it camp for guitars.

maybe ya'll don't have good local guitar shops, but when i think of selling something (like consignment, they sell, they get a cut, but i get no money til it sells) i'd always go local shop. note: this does not mean guitar center. if it's a good shop they know you're guitared and that you buy and sell shit and they want you to come back, they should be fair.

huh. anyway. yeah. guitars. my acoustic friend is a '74 D28 (lefty).
posted by folktrash at 4:59 PM on February 28, 2005

Guitar Center will give you 1/2 the amount that they can turn around and sell it for.

If you sell it to someone not-local, be sure and pack it VERY well. Even with good packing and a hardshell case, a guitar can get some bumps and bruises (self-link; pictures of a guitar I sold to a friend in Canada, after it got there) during shipment. Luckily in my case, the shippers managed to take a *chunk* out of the hardcase, but the guitar itself was fine after a setup job.
posted by mrbill at 5:22 PM on February 28, 2005

They make boxes the right size for guitar cases - I have a few lying around. (Shoot me an email, it's not unlikely that I'll want to buy your guitar.)

If you're selling on ebay, picture quality (and number) is key. You can sell a crap guitar for $1000 if you take good pictures of it. Contrariwise, if you know what you're looking at, you can steal a poorly-photographed jewel of a guitar for half what it's worth.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:46 PM on February 28, 2005

I've bought 2 guitars off of Ebay over the years. Both of them were very fair deals.

If you are selling on EBAY, collectors generally look there. They know what they are looking for, and will pay what they think the guitar is worth. Use the usual EBAY etiquette when selling, including being able to answer anyone's question (could be the difference between a sale and a non-sale).

If you do post it on EBAY, be sure to include more than one photo. Show not only the body, but close-ups of the pick-ups and the neck too. Do a good job with the description, and try to think of anything you would ask if buying it.

Finally, as for the shipping, don't worry too much about the price. Just make sure it's packed *very* good. Offer an old hardshell plastic case if you have one. And as for the packaging, try a guitar store. There are tons of guitar shaped-boxes out there.

If you guitar is as fancypants as you suggest, the buyer will understand the shipping costs. Just make sure you don't skimp on the shipping. Get it professionally packed if you have to.

That's about all I know about buying guitars on EBAY.

Oh, I bought two really vintage Hagstrom's that I am absolutely in love with.
posted by punkrockrat at 6:07 PM on February 28, 2005

I sold two of my vintage guitars on ebay a year and a half ago (one Silvertone, one Eko). They were both pretty much collector's items, and both went to collectors. One was even a local buyer, who saved me the angst of shipping. For the other, I asked someone at a local guitar store for one of the boxes they get their guitars in, wrapped the guitar VERY carefully, put the guitar in the box and filled the empty space with packing peanuts. It made the trip across Canada in perfect condition. And now the buyer has the guitar cleaned up and listed on his site for $500 US more that he bought it from me for. So, yeah, go ebay if you can.
posted by hamfisted at 7:20 PM on February 28, 2005

Not to majorly derail, but has anyone got any tips for selling a classical guitar in England..not many seem to sell well on Ebay
posted by lunkfish at 4:17 AM on March 1, 2005

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