Why I Hate Buying and Selling Guitar Gear Online

OK, so this post might be a bit of a rant, so I’ll apologize in advance. I live in a city of more than 500 000 people in Canada…and the local market for used gear sucks. If you’re trying to buy a guitar you will find a hundred listings for Fender squier Stratocaster, or Gibson Epiphone Les Paul…people always think you will fall for the Fender or Gibson part for some reason. “Wow, a Fender strat for $100!!!” is what nobody has ever thought.


If you are trying to buy guitars online here is what you will find every single time you look:


  1. FENDER squier affinity strat for $280. At the time I’m writing this a new affinity strat is $279. the seller will either specify all of the ‘upgrades’ they have done to make it better, usually it’s ‘upgraded’ by adding EMG active pickups. Or they will mention how they bought it 2 weeks ago and they are selling for $280 because buying it new will be $280 PLUS TAX. Of course if they actually bought it 2 weeks ago they could just return it, but I guess people must fall for this…actually I know nobody falls for this because you will see the same affinity strat reposted every 2 or 3 days in decreasing increments of $10, but the price is always firm.
  2. Gibson Epiphone Les Paul Standard for $550-$600, new it sells for $650 at this time. Again, many times with active EMG’s or locking tuners as upgrades. Always, always, always in ‘mint’ condition and usually in a ‘rare’ colour like honeyburst or the coveted ebony.
  3. A bunch of Ibanez Geo series guitars being sold by kids who are asking for as much or more than you could buy the guitar new.
  4. An unusually disproportionate number of custom shop Fender and Gibson’s that are always ‘rare’, in ‘rare’ colours and selling for between $2000 and $6000. And yes, I have seen sellers that are selling custom shop or American strats or teles and coincidentally the same person is also selling a brand new MIM Fender neck.


Selling stuff is actually more frustrating. If you’re buying you can spot this stuff if you know a little bit or do a bit of research. In Canada we have one major music store chain, and they are pretty expensive. I have bought from Guitar Center and had stuff shipped from the States and even though there are lots of complaints about GC I think it is alright. The prices are better and they send coupons and have sales constantly. The chain here does not have sales, or coupons or anything like that. Their policy for trading stuff in is that they will give you 2/3 of what they can sell it for as credit. You can negotiate a bit, but it’s not great. Since the rule seems to be used guitars sell for 50%-60% of new you can basically trade in a $300 guitar for probably $100. Maybe you can do better if it’s towards a new guitar, but it’s still not great. So you try to sell it online, you’ll get 150 views and no bites. Or you’ll get somebody offering to trade you 2 ‘project’ guitars for your year old guitar you are asking 60% of the new price for.


All of this is frustrating, but my favourite thing of all and this has happened to me multiple times is this: I’ll post a guitar that is $400 new for $250. I’ll get someone offer me $180, they always specify cash and they’ll buy it today because apparently other people take cheques and put it on layaway, but only if I deliver it to Toronto. So I can sell it for 2/3 of my asking price and also have the honour of delivering it over an hour each way. Great deal. And this happens all the time.


I’ve also had the people that agree on a price and then disappear. Or agree on a price and then try to get a lower price at the door. I sold a guitar that was $650 new and asked $350. The guy contacted me and offered $300, I said no the price was firm at $350, if he wasn’t interested no problem. He showed up and liked the guitar and said “So you’ll take $300?” I said no, flat out. He asked for a gig bag…I said no. He asked for a guitar stand…I said no. He asked for a strap…I said no. He asked for my practice amp…I said it’s ok if you aren’t interested. He pulled out $300 from his pocket and a $50 bill from his other pocket.


Anyway, I’m sorry for the rant. I’m sure all of you have had the same experience. Maybe you can provide some insight into why people can’t just be honest and fair and not try to take advantage of each other. If I see a fair price for something I want that is in good condition I’ll pay the asking price, or offer what I think is fair during the first contact. I won’t offer significantly less than they are asking because if they are way overpriced I won’t contact them. And I don’t change the price when I meet them. If it’s not in the condition they said it was I’ll just not buy it. I have had people buy stuff who are like that and it’s a pleasure…actually most people that get to the point of coming to see what I am selling are like that. But the other people are frustrating. I think there are people that jump on a posting as soon as it goes up and try to get it crazy cheap, so it’s usually easy to weed them out. Still frustrating though.


Anyway, as always thanks for reading and let me know if you’ve had different and hopefully better experiences when buying and selling online.