It happens. Sometimes our playing styles and tastes change over time. Maybe a new instrument catches your eye. For whatever reason, you have too much gear and not enough cash. How do you turn your problem into a win-win for yourself and another lucky musician? We can help.
There’s one question we get asked more than almost any other:
“Do you buy guitars?”
The answer is a very careful “sometimes.” We update our current ‘hit list’ at https://bellonesmusic.com/sell-your-gear. Check regularly to see if your instrument fits the bill, and use the form to submit more info. If you are interested in sourcing an instrument, contact us to have the instrument added and we may be able to help find a seller. More commonly, we recommend some other options.
Similar to buying a used guitar, selling one can be intimidating if you don’t know what to look for. How do you show someone that a guitar is mechanically sound? Have you kept the guitar in good condition? You don’t want to sell a fellow musician a lemon, but maybe you’re not even aware of the issue.
Shameless plug up front:
We take used guitars on trade
We talk a lot about how a guitar can last a lifetime, and we’re happy to put money on it. If you find a guitar you love in the shop, bring your old one in and we’ll appraise it. We deduct the value of your trade from your bill, and you celebrate a new guitar day. Just like trading in a car, you only pay taxes on the post-trade value, which saves you even more. That being said, we do mark down trade in value so that our resale of your old instrument generates a little bit of extra profit for the shop.
We also (in what we’re fairly sure is an industry first) have recently started accepting online trade-ins. Learn more or submit your instrument at https://bellonesmusic.com/trade-ins. The question then is whether you want quick and easy, or the highest sale price. Neither is a wrong answer; with a little patience, selling your own gear can be fairly painless.
“How much do I charge?”
This is a sticky one. Guitars do have an objective value based on a variety of factors: when it was made, what the original price was, how many were made, whether the model or colour found widespread popularity, and whether the manufacturing held up well.
Typically if a guitar is in good condition and plays well, it should sell for 60-70% of its new value. Guitars are also worth whatever someone is willing to pay. Search for your instrument on sites like Kijiji.ca and Reverb.com to see what other people might be asking for similar guitars. Is a quarter of a million dollars unreasonable for a late ’50s burst Les Paul? Maybe, then, yes. Otherwise, if you love your guitar, hold out for what it’s worth and don’t be discouraged with low-ball offers.
What condition is my guitar in?
An easier question with a long-winded answer, so we have another article about just that subject. The main things you’re looking for are cosmetic damage and playability. As guitars age, what qualifies as “damage” gets more diffused. A 40-year old instrument probably will have some patina, as well as a scratch or two. If your buyer is expecting a fairly new instrument, however, a chip in the finish might put them off.
Less negotiable is the playing condition of the guitar. If the strings are too close or too far from the fretboard, it could be a simple matter of adjustment or represent irreparable damage to the instrument. Look down the neck towards the headstock; if the neck looks bent, bowed or twisted, you should have it checked over by a technician before sale. Then check the hardware and electronics; turn the tuning machines, plug the guitar in if it’s electric, and test the knobs and switches to make sure there’s no noise or dropouts. If the strings are old and corroded, consider replacing them to maximize your chances of passing the buyer’s ‘play test’.
“Fine, fine, where do I sell it?”
Boom, another plug: we’ll sell your instrument on consignment in our shop. You bring us the instrument, we appraise and test it, then use our in-store and online traffic to draw attention to your sale. Once your instrument sells we give you the proceeds, less our fee. At this time we only take consignments on acoustic or electric guitars worth over CAD 1000 (new sale value). We charge a 20% consignment fee, or 15% if your guitar sells for over CAD 3000. Read more here.
If you want to do the legwork yourself, your best bet is on Kijiji.ca or Reverb.com. Take and upload several photos of the instrument, case, and accessories under decent lighting – and be sure to highlight any damage. Honesty is always the best policy! For Londoners, the London Gear Exchange Facebook group can also be useful.
Your buyer is going to want information about the guitar. Manufacturer, model, colour, and year of manufacture are critical. If you can provide extra information about the history of the instrument, or specific features, it can help ease any worries your buyer may have. Most players are going to want to play an instrument before purchase. Try to arrange a neutral meeting location, and maybe bring a small battery powered amplifier so that your buyer can check the electronics, if applicable. Only accept cash (or PayPal via Kijiji IF you are comfortable with technology). The vast majority of musicians are just like you – they want a painless deal where everyone walks away happy. However, any time large amounts of cash are involved, you should take precautions.
That about covers it. If you’ve fallen out of love with one of your instruments and you’ve taken the time to consider whether you’re ready to sell it, now you’ve got plenty of options to turn that guitar into cash, or into a new guitar (from Bellone’s, obviously)!