Should I Buy A Guitar Online
Should I buy a guitar online is a commonly asked question among guitarists who are rightly wary about using this method. There is often mistrust or uncertainty about buying a guitar online.
Why would you buy a guitar online? Well with more and more music shops closing down or not stocking a large variety of guitars buying a guitar online is fast becoming the best method and in some cases the only option.
Some people believe price is a driver for buying online, which can be true, however I’d like to debunk this as if you’re open to negotiation you’d be surprised at what price you can achieve.
The in store mark up on most musical instruments that are full price usually averages between 30% and 40% making plenty of room to move.
Having said that if you’d rather just pay without the negotiation hassle and online is cheaper then go for it as on face value, online prices as usually cheaper.
To answer ‘Should I buy a guitar online’ I’ve listed some tips that I use when using this method.
I’d like to mention that this article does not take into consideration different attributes that make up the quality of a guitar; it only discusses steps one should take for safely buying a guitar online
Buying Online Negative Perceptions
Before we start I’ll list some perceptions that are seen as negatives to buying a guitar online:
- You’re unable to check the guitar for defects before the purchase
- You have no idea on the quality of craftsmanship
- You can’t feel what its like in your hands
- No opportunity to play it or hear it before buying
- There is no physical store you can refer to
- You can’t try multiple guitars in one sitting
- Hassles with returns and warranty
All these perceptions are plausible however shouldn’t be seen as a showstopper on deciding whether or not if you should buy a guitar online as they can all be mitigated against providing you take the right steps.
I have bought many guitars online and am yet to be burnt so here’s my checklist on what to do when taking this approach. These steps aim to minimize risk, disappointment and to give you piece of mind.
Should I Buy A Guitar Online Checklist
- Know what type of guitar you want: Do you want an electric, nylon (classical) or steel (acoustic) string? An easy way to answer this question is to think about the style you want to play and see which type of guitars your favorite musicians use. If still in doubt book a music lesson and get consultation from a guitar teacher. You may also go to a store and ask the sales person a few questions if that’s an option and who knows, they may have what you’re looking for.
- Vendor Reputation: does the vendor have a good reputation? If you type their business name and reviews in Google what comes up? Preferably always buy from a trusted source.
- Return policy and Warranty: What’s the return policy? Is it something you’re comfortable with? How long is the warranty? Only buy guitars with return policies and warranty or be comfortable taking the risk of purchasing guitars that don’t have these things.
- Physical guitar components: These general tips will help with choosing the right guitar they are often listed in the guitar specs and many consumers don’t know what they mean
- Make sure you know the size of the guitar you want
- 4/4 adults
- 3/4 children
- 1/2 and 1/4 small children
- Neck width: The smaller the neck width the easier it will be able to play for beginners
- Body Shape: guitars with a cut out will make reaching the higher notes easier. There are arguments around sound quality with cut out vs non cut out but I think the difference is minimal
- Low action: this means the strings will be closer to the neck making it easier to play
- Pick ups or Mics: If the guitar is amplified find out what pick up or mics the guitar is using, check their reviews and also where possible try to make sure you hear the guitar in its natural state and when connected to amplification
- Make sure you know the size of the guitar you want
- Guitar Reviews: Does the guitar you want to buy have positive or negative reviews or perhaps no reviews at all? Only buy guitars which have a majority of positive reviews unless you’re absolutely sure you want it, i.e. you may have played the guitar once in a store or at a friends place or it may just be a recommendation from a trusted source.
- Sound Quality: Does the guitar sound good when you watch the online video demonstrations? It’s important to point out the quality of sound in videos will be impacted by many factors from the quality of the strings used, the area the person is playing in (outdoor, indoor, small room etc.), effects they may be using (reverb, delay etc.), amplification and so forth, so my advice is to listen/watch as many videos as possible of the guitar being played. If you enjoy the sound in all examples then this may be the one for you.
- Risk Tolerance: What’s your risk tolerance? Is the guitar expensive? If yes, you’ll be more than likely to follow all these steps. Is it cheap? If yes you’ll be more than likely to forgo some of this advice and take greater risks and if you get burnt then it’s your own fault but you’ll be okay with it.
Therefore, the short answer to whether or not you should buy a guitar online is yes, providing all risk mitigation and analysis has been done.
Taking the steps mentioned when buying a guitar online will minimize the risks however buying from a store wherever possible should always be the first option, as it will save time in the long run and provide other conveniences.
In my hometown of Sydney buying from a store is getting to be more and more of a challenge with guitar stores closing down and most now only stocking beginner guitars or a small range hence making online shopping the best option to get a wider variety of guitars.
The key thing when buying a guitar online is to not overthink it too much. As long as you’ve followed the checklist you should feel safe and happy with your purchase and worst case scenario you’ll just return the guitar if disappointed.
As guitarists you’ll own loads of guitars in your lifetime as they each have a unique feel and sound, one will never be enough so even if you think you’ve found your dream guitar another dream will be just around the corner therefore don’t treat the purchase as a once in a life time opportunity.
I hope this article has helped and if you have any comments or additions please feel free to leave them in the comments area below.