How do you guarantee when buying a guitar online that you won’t lose your money and that it will arrive safely?
Surely you want to feel reassured when you click “pay” that your guitar will be delivered in the same condition as if you went to a store to buy it yourself. What recourse is there if things go wrong?
Buying a guitar online is safe if you stick to best practices and safety protocols. Guitars are widely available online through reputable vendors who take the necessary steps to ensure that buyers receive their purchase safely. In addition to general online stores, specialized stores like Fender, Gibson, Jackson, and Sweetwater all provide such online services.
Read on to learn what steps should be followed to pay for and receive your guitar in good condition, and what action should be taken should something go wrong.
Online or Offline?
Walking into a store and selecting the guitar you want to purchase offers you the opportunity to experience its look and feel, hear the sound, strap it over your shoulder, and have a chance to ask the right questions.
Then, it’s a quick and safe payment with cash or card, and the guitar is loaded safely in the car. Furthermore, when you get home, you can play it straight away.
However, when guitar buyers are unable to get to guitar stores or are prevented by circumstances restricting movement and social interfacing, the ability to purchase in-store is limited.
Moreover, the safety aspect of buying a guitar online remains a concern to buyers. Does it need to be? Let’s find out and see what steps can be taken to keep your online guitar purchase safe.
The first consideration is to determine what is the safest way to pay for a guitar online.
We recommend two options. The first is using a credit or debit card, which is generally accepted as a safe way to buy online. Forget sending money, doing bank transfers, or checks, as these aren’t options that ensure payment safety.
The second is by secure means such as PayPal, Venmo, and The Square Cash App. These platforms offer buyers and sellers security procedures such as PayPal’s two-step verification process to guarantee the safe digital transfer of money.
With PayPal, you can store your debit card information with them instead of handing it out to various websites every time you make a purchase.
Rewards and Purchase Protection
Be aware that when using a credit card, financial or personal details may be exposed to others, while PayPal claims to take pride in protecting users against this danger (source).
When you use either, look for added benefits offered. There are usually rewards available when using a credit card, and PayPal offers purchase protection to its users.
The gist of it is that buyers are protected if your guitar doesn’t arrive safely or is not as was originally described. Buyers lodge a query with the Resolution Center and, if all is well, you get your money back plus courier charges.
Many guitar shops like to brag about the “lowest price” or “best deal,” or they tell you they will “beat any other price.” Does this sound familiar? Still, what happens if you do find a cheaper guitar a few days after you have paid for yours online?
Well, you could be protected. It’s called price protection, and it is a mechanism whereby the seller will offer you a refund of the difference if you can prove it.
It is offered as an incentive by some online stores but doesn’t apply to second-hand purchases, including sites like eBay.
But lookout for a couple of conditions that may be hidden in the small print.
Online shippers could include the cost of shipping in the matched price, so, say you have paid $100 for shipping, and the price difference is $80, then it may not be worth your time.
Also, make sure that you are up to date with your information. Amazon, who offered price protection for ages, recently, and very quietly, withdrew this benefit.
It’s certainly a benefit to look out for. It’s in place with other reputable guitar shops like Guitar Center, who offer to refund you 100% of the difference if you find the identical item advertised by an authorized dealer at a price lower than what you paid.
Is Shipping a Guitar Safe from Damage?
If packed properly, your online guitar purchase should reach you unharmed and in perfect condition.
Reputable shippers like Amazon and Sweetwater don’t want their time taken up in attending to returns and customer complaints, which is why they use secure packing procedures and materials to ensure your guitar gets to you safely.
Prior to wrapping, strings are loosened to take the pressure of the guitar’s neck, and all attachments removed and packed individually. Bubble wrap is an effective wrapping material to envelop the guitar before putting it back into the case or box.
If the guitar is in a case, they will pad the case in such a way that it’s tightly jammed, and those shipped without a case will be in a padded bag or tightfitting custom guitar shipping box.
Shipping Second-Hand Online
If the shipping responsibility is that of the second-hand private seller, you can’t be assured that the seller will pack the guitar in a secure manner.
It’s best to ask the seller how the guitar will be packed before you make an offer, and if you are not satisfied, don’t pursue the sale, as the guitar could end up being damaged in transit.
What happens if the courier damages your guitar? Taking insurance on your guitar may be a safeguard and is advisable. Just remember that the value you declare to the courier doesn’t mean that it is insured.
It’s likely that in the event of the courier company damaging your guitar, you could only get the courier fee back, not the amount the guitar is worth.
Check what the maximum value the courier offers is, as some have a ceiling. Your guitar may be worth more than the amount they are prepared to cover.
Customer Purchase Protection
More often than not, when you buy a second-hand guitar online, there is no protection, as you are dependant on the seller’s honesty. They ship, and you must take what comes.
However, the good news is that there are online platforms that are well-established and offer an added feature for buyers to be protected if their purchase goes wrong.
One good example of a progressive online platform offering customer purchase protection is eBay.
If you are using their Global Shipping Program, and your guitar is delivered in a damaged state, the buyer can request either the eBay Money Back Guarantee or alternately the PayPal Purchase Protection program by submitting a return request (source).
Given that there is a big trade of second-hand guitars generally, this innovation will really assist would-be buyers when they receive damaged goods.
It is a great way to give buyers of second-hand guitars more security to buy online, as it’s a good safety net.
Satisfaction Money-Back Guarantees
Many Top online guitar stores also offer a money-back guarantee as a matter of course, a feature designed to ensure complete customer satisfaction.
A good example is Sweetwater. If you are not satisfied with any new product, for any reason, you may return it and be refunded the purchase price or get a store credit (source).
Alternatively, you may change it for another product within a fair amount of time from the shipping date, which is usually a month.
It’s well worth making sure that the online store you buy from offers this benefit.
Added Benefits of Online Buying
Buying online presents the opportunity to choose from a huge range of guitars for playing styles, sizes, and preferences.
Many sites have virtual salesmen in the form of chatbots that can provide instant answers to most, if not all, of the buyer’s questions.
Prospective buyers normally have a good idea of what sort of guitar they want to buy. They have a budget and may have already seen a guitar they like in-store, having done the look and feel already.
One benefit of buying online is access to reviews. Before making a purchase, you should scour the net to read as many reviews as you can.
If you are unsure or haven’t had the opportunity to play it yourself, pay attention to reviews and what others are saying about it. It will also give you a good idea of how the guitar plays and its quality.
Makes sure you read some of our articles and review like “Are Wide-Neck Guitars Easier to Play?” that will also give you useful information to help you make a decision.
Time can be saved by studying the different seller’s websites, deciding on new versus second hand, looking for the special offers and online extras in the form of giveaways like cords, straps, discounts, free shipping, and finance.
There’s little doubt that being able to see and handle a guitar in-person when purchasing is an advantage over buying online. You can experience the feel, the sound, inspect the quality, and have the ability to ask questions then and there.
Still, these days, online guitar transactions are common, with sellers capable of concluding the sale to the buyer’s complete satisfaction. Secure packaging and efficient courier services provide both safe and realistic delivery lead times.
Secure payment methods to buy a guitar online with checks and balances in the form of payment protection, money-back guarantees, and insurance give the buyer added security. With such concerns out of the way, you can feel safe with your online guitar purchase.