Editor’s Note: This superb article is a guest post written by Matt Dunn.
When it comes to searching out guitar or gear advice online, there are dozens of blogs, videos, and websites fighting for your views, money, and data. While sifting through the sheer volume of information may be a tall order, there is more help and diversity of options available today than ever before. In this article I’ll run down all the options for buying gear online and how to plan ahead and pick out parts for rig upgrades or guitar modifications that will get you where you want to be.
Buying Gear Intelligently
When buying online, the options are endless, creating lots of competition for you, the buyer, to choose from. Reverb has one of the best tools available, free of charge, on the internet in their price guide webpage.
With price guides for almost everything available, and over 5,000 for just electric guitars, you can get a bevy of information from this page. First off, you can track the average sale price of the model in question over the course of 12 months, finding the best time to buy (or sell) depending on demand, supply, or seasonal spending trends.
Furthermore, you can see how to competitively list your gear you’re selling or make a competitive offer to a seller whether it is on Reverb, eBay, or other options.
Using eBay’s auction system, you can easily score a great deal on gear that may be sold for much more via traditional retail, especially if demand for the item isn’t high. In the vast world of eBay, it is always possible to find the posts that slipped through the cracks and never got extensively bid on.
Especially, when armed with the Reverb price guide, it is easy to know how high or low to go in your bidding. However, buying online often comes with additional shipping and handling costs, especially from smaller sellers or stores.
More and more musicians are turning to online-only musical warehouses such as American Musical Supply or Musician’s Friend that offer a wide selection of gear with free shipping, and interest-free payment plans.
These options may be continuing to suppress smaller, local guitar shops and brick and mortar stores but are very appealing to budget-constrained players. Some of these sites require you to sign up for their credit card to make these interest-free purchases, but some like American Musical Supply, only require you create a simple online account with them.
As their continued dominance of the marketplace grows, I would highly recommend checking out these sites to find a payment plan for any piece of gear. But be warned, certain payment plans stretched out over 12 months or more (for expensive gear, especially) require credit checks while cheaper and/or shorter-term plans do not.
Amazon on the other hand has come a long way itself over the past few years when it comes to buying instruments. When you think about buying a guitar, Amazon probably doesn’t jump to the top of your list of places to look, but maybe it should.
Amazon has a really unique role as the internet’s version of a department store, and just like many of our guitar heroes who got their first instruments from a Montgomery-Ward or Sears catalog, this could be the place where your journey with the guitar begins.
Amazon has one of the widest ranges on the internet of affordable guitars, beginner packages, and all the accessories you need. In recent years, Amazon has really upped the number of high-quality instruments available as well, as some guitar focused stores have even opened up shop on the site including the direct sale of Fender gear right from their factory.
Furthermore, both prime and basic accounts have seen huge improvements in shipping from free 2-day shipping on prime, to free shipping 3-4 day shipping on certain items for the basic account. For what it’s worth, many of the guitar options also have free shipping for those interested.
Lastly, Amazon has added several features to compete with many of the aforementioned sites. Payment plans are now available to help finance large gear purchases, which are made even easier if you have the Amazon prime credit card.
Scrolling down on the page will show great comparison options for similar models of the guitar both above and below it in price range. Also, with accident protection plans available as insurance for damage to the guitar, they have really rounded out their market place as a strong competitor.
Upgrading/Modifying Your Gear
Before buying or selling anything, it’s important to outline what your goal is. Is it just to make money? Just to add a new piece of gear? Or are you trying to complement or modify a piece of gear you currently own? There are several great tools on the internet for planning your rig or seeing what parts fit where.
Two of them can be found on Guitarchalk.com and are called the “pedalboard planner” and “guitar configurator”. The pedalboard planner helps you figure out how many of different sized pedals can fit on the various commercially available pedalboards made by companies like Pedaltrain. Considering buying a new pedal board? First check out what you can fit on there.
The “guitar configurator” is a personal favorite of man as I’m an avid “partscaster” fan and builder. The premise of the tool is that you choose a common, cheaper guitar model, say a Squier Strat or Epiphone LP, and it gives you a list of bridge and pickup options or configurations that will fit in that guitar, hopefully preventing you from spending valuable money on pickups only to realize you need to carve out more space.
It can also serve as a great source of inspiration for your building or modification and focus your shopping onto pickups or parts that you know will fit. Sites like this will be essential to helping narrow down your Amazon searches while making sure you are getting exactly what you want when it comes time to upgrade that beginner or cheaper instrument.
If all else fails to impress you, don’t forget the assortment of gear reviews available to you here at theguitarjunky.com. With fits for every budget and style, take a look through the best guitars in your price range and let us help you pick out that piece of dream gear. At the end of the day, the choices are up to you, but I hope you found this a helpful review that brings multiple websites and options all together in one place to help you find your own tone.