Used Guitar Buying Sources
Garage sales, pawn shops and flea markets are a fun way to shop for used guitars. But they’re often not particularly productive. If you’re guitar flipping for profit, time is money just like in any other business.
Online shopping sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, (some regions may have other sites that are lucrative also), let you quickly search, sort and filter results so you can view many used guitar ads in a matter of minutes.
Compare that to driving to a half dozen garage sales and getting to see only one, sad, rusty guitar. Not that you can’t make money from sad, rusty guitars – you can. But just one guitar to show for an afternoon or morning of shopping? Not a great use of your time.
Both Facebook and Marketplace are good used guitar sources that have search, location and sort features that help you narrow your lists to guitars you’re most likely to be interested in buying.
I have links setup on my browsers toolbar that bring up my filtered lists with just a single click.
When I need to buy guitars, I try to check once each hour. The really great deals go to the buyer with the fastest mouse-click!
Pawn shops can be a special case. You should get to know the pawn dealers in your area. Some will be “guitar-wise” and others, not so much.
You might want to offer your services to inspect guitars before they buy on the condition that they let you buy the ones that need more work than they want to handle.
I rarely bother with pawn shops though. As much fun as they can be, I just don’t have the time because I’m kept busy with guitar buyers and players bringing guitars for setups and repairs.
Reverb & eBay
Buying guitars non-locally, means there will be a shipping expense involved. Depending on size, weight and distance, my average shipping fees have been between $35 and $90.
Obviously, you have to be buying guitars that cost enough to allow a large enough markup to “bury” the shipping expense.
And then there is the “minor” issue that not all guitars are in the condition you might expect from their ad. The hassle of trying to return and get refunded compounds the overhead involved in non-local guitar buying.
Since I only recommend non-local buying for very experienced guitar flippers, I will not go further into these sources here.
Stupid Deal, Returns, etc.
On rare occasions, you might find a deal at big stores such as Guitar Center. Since they generally hire low-wage people, they’re not always on top of their game. You can sometimes buy guitars there with an easy $100 or more markup.
Their online shops are a lot tougher. Even scratch & dent items, returns, etc. are generally priced too high to make it worthwhile.
However, those Stupid Deal of the Day deals can pay off! I’ve purchased guitars $150 below the normal $500 price (which was already low), and sold as new with a professional setup for a quick $150 profit. Since setups on brand-new guitars are usually quick and easy, it’s worth keeping an eye on them.
The Monoprice Indio guitars are a great deal for the money but it’s hard to get much better than 15% off, not leaving a lot of room for profit. Still, quick & easy setups and $30 or so profit on quick turnarounds might be worthwhile if you’re just starting out and need to build experience and clientele.
Let’s take this combo deal (pic on left) for instance. $129 for all + free shipping –
You might resell the guitar for $119 as brand-new with professional setup. Sell the gig bag separately for $15, amp for $39. Maybe $5 for the strap and you’ve got $50 profit.
Now, if you’re “souping up” the guitar – adding extra pickup positions, treble bleed, tone control for bridge pickup, roller guides, etc. – you might get $139 for the guitar, for just twenty minutes of extra work.
Negotiating Guitar Buys
Here comes the fun part! 🙂 There are times I happily pay the seller’s asking price, but mostly I have to offer less. Usually much less. If a guitar seller thinks you’re “low-balling”, they can get “snippy”! I’ll explain how I “gently” offer a much lower price in a way that most sellers are receptive to.