How To Buy A Guitar Online

Buying Guitars online is a major boon available to us in this day and age, however, there are a few things we need to keep in mind before splurging on our new baby.

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Remember the days when buying a guitar was a whole week's (or month's) process? When we would go to all our local music stores and try out countless guitars, hoping to find the one that fits perfectly and snugly between our fretting hand, and allows our picking hand to smoothly transition between strings? The whole process would take hours everyday if you knew what you were looking for beforehand, but it would be relatively simple if you did not plan ahead (sometimes this would lead to regret long after the return policy has died down). Well, online shopping has made it no different. It still takes weeks before you should decide on what to spend on, and with newer online music stores coming up every now and then, the process should take even longer! But that's not necessarily a bad thing, as my article would suggest to you as you read on. Before I begin, I'd like to say that I am in no way affiliated to any online music shop, and that I simply am a musician, just like you, who'd like to tell you, and especially beginning players, how online stores can be the difference between that awesome Jackson or a mediocre one.

Buying Online Vs. Buying At Your Local Store

- Online stores do not have to actually keep a physical shop, with salesmen, electricity bills and rent, and this significantly brings their cost down, a portion of which they transfer over to us. This allows us to choose even more exclusive guitars with better hardware and electronics. At times the savings can reach even more than $500! - Have you seen the range available at websites such as Musician's Friend or Music123? They have all the brands on the planet! You can choose between a Gibson, Dean, Ibanez, Hamer..and the list goes on. It is virtually impossible for physical stores to keep such an inventory! - Guitars come and go like a fashion season. Every year companies release new guitars, with new designs and dimensions and what not. Online stores have the ability to keep up with all new launches, as they do not actually keep everything that's put for sale on their website in a warehouse. Once you place an order, they contact their wholesaler and ship your item to you. This simply does not mean that you can get newer guitar releases much before your local shop, but also that the older designs would now be available for cheap, as manufacturers want to get rid of them as fast as possible! A guitar is a guitar at the end of the day, and a 2007 Epiphone is not going to be much different from a 2009 model in terms of quality and playability. And the best part is that it's now going for cheap! A physical store cannot usually do this as most stores are small private businesses that order guitars and keep them until they are sold out, before ordering the next stock. Personally, I wait till it's the start of a new season to buy a guitar, and end up choosing an older model that now is selling for half the price it went for last year. - Online stores also have concrete return policies (at the expense of shipping, however). Remember that online stores these days all give free shipping to customers in the USA and Canada, and that is a huge benefit. While it obviously isn't "free", because nothing is, it most certainly saves you the hassle of wondering if it would be a lot more costly once shipping is added to it. I have also never heard of anyone returning a guitar bought online due to bad production. Most returns are by people who do not invest time in looking for what they want and then end up not liking what they get. - Even more savings are warranted when you look for items that are marked 'Scratch and Dent' and such, which usually have a bit of an aesthetic loss but play and sound exactly like a perfectly new model. If you're looking to get that awesome Razorback that sells for a $1000, but you've only saved $800, look for one with a marked 'defect', you could still get that very Razorback. These defects are only visual and never really affect playing.

The Guide To Buying Guitars Online

The most obvious disadvantage of buying online is that you cannot actually try a guitar you see online. This is what turns most people away from online shopping for guitars, even though there are huge savings to be made. And it's only sensible to try a guitar before you buy it, because that Wizard II neck is only as fast as your hand likes it to be. What I personally do is that I look up all guitars matching my musical tastes and style and make a list, and then contact respective dealers of those brands in my town and look for a store where I can go and try the guitars that I liked online. This seems like a simple thing to do, but it really is a lot tougher than it seems. As I've gotten more and more into online guitar shopping, I've started realizing that (unfortunately) guitar dealerships are usually on either corners of the city. I once found a good Jackson dealership in town where I tried the RR3, DKMG and the KE3, but I also had a Dean Razorback 255 and ESP-LTD EC-1000, among others, still left to try out. This meant that I had to now find a Dean dealership, and an ESP dealership. It took me a whole month to be able to find stores where I could try out these guitars and finally decide on what I would get. It's great if you live in a big city where there are guitar stores aplenty, but smaller, sparser cities are less likely to have everything you see online, regardless of where they're located in town. In this case, I would recommend that you go only with what you've tried and purchase the tried guitar online, unless you're willing to pay the shipping costs of returning a guitar to the online store. Another issue that you need to be careful of when buying online is the time lapse between trying different guitars. I had tried the Jacksons, but there was a gap of almost a month in between trying them and the rest of the guitars. When I went in to try the Dean, I had more or less lost track of what I thought of the Jacksons IN COMPARISON TO THE DEAN! I knew that I liked the DKMG, but how did it fare against the Dean Razorback 255? I had a difficult time crossing either off the list. To solve this problem I had to go to the Jackson dealership again, but this time, I made a list of things that I wanted in my guitar. That list should include your personal choices; mine included things such as "Playability ahead of the 12th fret", "Feel of Neck", "Sound Quality" and so on. It's imperative to remember that the DKMG and the 255 both have the same pickups, so which one sounded better was now a matter of personal flavor. In terms of price, the local stores were significantly more expensive than Musician's Friend, Music123 and SamAsh. The DKMG was almost $120 cheaper online, while the Razorback 255 was almost $400 cheaper! The RR3 astonished me the most, where it was almost $600 more expensive locally. While these prices usually differ by city or state, I've never seen a local store selling a guitar cheaper than an online one. My story aside, I'd also like to mention that if you're currently looking for a budget guitar, it is much better to get one at a local store, as they do not really have much of a price difference online and locally. Also, budget guitars do have a tendency to encounter some problems, which your local store could help you out with (broken tuning peg, unscrewed strap hook etc). On an end note, I'd like to say that buying guitars online can be a major boon to the intermediate and advanced guitar player, because from this stage onwards you know what you want but the price is not always right. As musicians we have to deal with significant costs, not only for our guitars, but amplifiers and effect pedals too. These costs run into thousands of dollars, and I'm glad that we can finally save some money and make honest investments. It's not so much a great help for the beginning player as I mentioned before, but it is only a matter of time before you go online too! Last but not least, my friendly tip of advice. If you run into a nosy salesman, whip out a crazy Michael Romeo sweep-tap combo. It will usually blow everyone in the store away, unless Mr.Romeo is at the very place looking for his new Juliet (probably a $5000 ESP). Cheers! On a side note, please do not consider this as legal advice on buying guitars. This is what my personal endeavors and research has taught me, which I'd like to pass on to you.

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    eastern_riffs
    I made a mistake in the price of the RR3, it was not $600 more expensive locally but rather $370. I got mixed up in the prices of different guitars.
    wafl
    A funny thing aboot buying online in Canada is that the shipping on a 100 dollar item was 60 bucks
    decayingdave
    A load of obvious pointers that aren't really all that exclusive to just buying musical instruments online... What you've said is simple, but it's still effective. I've only ever bought online 'cus my local music stores are terrible, the people are snobby and inbred and their idea of a ''metal'' guitar is either a feckin' dean or an ibanez... let's face it, if I wasn't buying online, I might as well be buying junk. Still, I would like to actually be able to TRY a guitar before I buy it, but when you're buying it from germany or america it can get a little tricky If you want to try before you buy - I think that's the only thing that online stores lack.
    flyingVleft
    If you are left handed, there is not usually much chance to try anything at the real stores. Online is your only chance to get the model you want, whether the individual guitar really matches your wishes or not.
    jean_genie
    eastern_riffs wrote (edited for brevity): 1) If you really are willing to match the price that an online store has, why do you price guitars so much more expensive in the first place?
    Three reasons. One, many companies give up what they call co-op money. I just bought new Fenders ... I'm not going to tell you what I paid, but it's well below what MF charges. Fender told me they'll help pay for advertising, billboards, etc. - but only if I price them at MAP - Minimum Advertised Price. Fender thinks it's bad for their image if something is priced too cheaply. It sounds like BS, but it's true. I actually got MORE students after raising my rates a little, as people think I'm worth more now. Second, people are going to try to haggle. Now you mentioned the price only goes down so far, and that's true. It goes down as far as it needs to. If you want me to take $200 bucks off a road-worn Strat I'll tell you to go spin, since there are plenty of people looking to buy those at any price. If you want a big chunk off a Les Paul, I'll be happy to accomodate you. We're in business to make money, and a sale is a sale. Third, you mentioned the cost of doing business. Believe it or not, between health care and business insurance (plus other operating expenses), I pay almost three times a person's salary to have the store open. We're open for 4 hours on Sundays, with 4 employees. That means that for the most part, I'm in the hole $500-$600 before we even open the register, depending on who's on staff.
    eastern_riffs Not everyone may look NICE to your employee, even if they are trying to be. So if they don't seem overly friendly, are they going to end up paying more for a guitar just because? That's a kind of discrimination. We might as well send a very pretty lady into your store to deal with your teenage salesmen.
    First off, we don't have teenage salesmen. All our employess are adults, well-trained, and have all been playing at least ten years. I'm actually the youngest, at 25. The business has been in the family for a long time, if you're wondering how I got there. 'Customers we want to help' usually implies kids or parents that want to buy a guitar, but have trouble scraping together the cash. Usually we'll find something that's been on the wall a long time, and figure out the least we can charge for it. 'Customers we don't want to help' are usually people that treat us as if we have nothing better to do that day, ask for lower prices on everything, and then buy nothing. Next time you come in, we probably won't be as attentive.
    eastern_riffs 2)Who says online stores set the lower limit for a guitar's price? Why can't you ever sell for below what an online store sells, and not just match it?
    We sell at what we need to. But a sale is a sale. If it's something I'm happy to see go, I only need to make enough profit that I can still break even if I need to mail it back for warranty reasons. If someone else is willing to pay more (and in the case of those road-worn Strats, a lot of people) ... well, it's just plain retarded to take less than what people will spend. Pardon the offensive phrase, but 'stupid' doesn't cover it.
    eastern_riffs 3) Most people under 30 are also the very ones that are pressed for cash. It's a free world almost everywhere, so it's up to you to let someone try out a guitar or not. If you're so concerned about people trying out your precious products then you may as well post a sign outside your store that says 'If try, you buy'. Good luck with that.
    If you're that hard on cash, learn to use a savings account. Don't use credit. Trust me, it gets you into trouble. If you can't afford to buy something, don't shop for it. I love test-driving cars, but there's a reason I haven't done it lately.
    eastern_riffs Calling me a jackass doesn't change the fact that most online stores sell for cheaper than a brick-and-mortar one, without the hassle of having to deal with a salesman or bargaining like it's a flea market.
    Actually, I called you a jackass for encouraging people to waste my time. There are a lot of money-grubbers out there, like you said. There's one down the street. But most stores are in business because we like what we do. We also sell televisions and cameras, install $1000-$50,000 systems in people's homes, and have a full professional photo lab staffed by two 4-year photography graduates. Well, a 4-year and somebody who quit with one year left. Go figure. The guitars are new for use (2 years), but we've been in business for over 70 years, all family-owned. We're a small store and can only afford to keep a small inventory, so we special order things. A lot. We probably do 20% of our business by special order. And in most cases, you're not required to buy it if you don't like it. Maybe it's my background, but I've never had trouble identifying within five minutes which stores are staffed by professionals and enthusiasts, and which ones are staffed by goo
    jean_genie
    Oops, out of words. Here's that last bit: Maybe it's my background, but I've never had trouble identifying within five minutes which stores are staffed by professionals and enthusiasts, and which ones are staffed by goobers. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you ask a question that the guy doesn't know the answer to, and he says, "Geez, I'm not sure. Let me go look it up for you," then there's a pretty good chance he'll price match to that MF printout you brought along. You did bring it, right? If he asks what amp you use at home rather than just plugging into an expensive one, that's a good sign too. But if he barely looks up from the magazine long enough to say hello ... well, feel free to waste that guy's time. He may want your money, but he doesn't care about your business. On a related note, I have two Avril Lavigne Telecasters I could give you an AMAZING deal on. Please?
    eastern_riffs
    To jean_genie: I don't have anything to add to what you've said because I don't know as much about running stores as you do, but I would say this. I'll buy a guitar where I can get it cheapest. I would've bought my last two guitars at a store if they were cheaper there. But they weren't, so I went and got mine online. What I would tell you is that I am judicial with my money, and I stopped going to guitar stores to try out guitars I couldn't buy a long time ago. Things need to have a purpose now. But, money doesn't come easily, I know I've had to work double shifts sometimes and still be an engineering student just to pay off tuition. The musical dimension to me is an extra, and while I do long for as many guitars, amplifiers and pedals possible, I don't go trying for one if I'm not in the market with the ability to buy one. I'll tell you that every time I went to a store to try out a guitar I would buy online, I took enough cash with me to actually buy it. Firstly, If I chip it by mistake, I knew I'd buy it. Secondly, sometimes you get lucky and the store gives you a nice discount with a couple of freebies. But yes, the further outside you go the more you want things. And lastly, I don't have a credit card. I use one owned by a friend and pay him off when I buy online. Credit cards make life funny. To me, it is the love of music and guitars that drives me to work for it. But the money issue is just a side hassle that needs to be dealt with. Actually, the stores in my city don't even accept printouts from online stores. I tried that yesterday to see if my local store would give me that price for an Epiphone Les Paul Custom which they priced at CAD 999, but it was selling for about CAD 780 on MF. The lowest they went was CAD 900, saying that it was impossible for them to go lower than that. So it either is my luck that I haven't seen a store such as yours, or maybe yours is the only one. I never did flame buying from a store, it still is more convenient for anybody to do so, but it is not always cheaper. Honestly, I don't even know why you would keep Avril Lavigne Telecasters. Avril and Telecasters both went out of demand a long time ago. Actually, I still wonder if Fender sells as much. Hardly see any guitarists use a strat these days. But they still own Jackson so I'm sure they're not losing out.
    jean_genie
    We got the Avril Teles when we started carrying Fender. Almost two years ago. Fender encouraged us to order them, so we did. I only sold one so far. I yanked the Affinity Strat out of a beginner's pack and put that thing in for a girl's 16th birthday. I'm pretty sure I lost like ten bucks on the deal, but I was totally psyched to get it off the damn wall. Then I remembered I had two more downstairs
    welcomehomeyou
    Well you my friend are the reason why my business i've had for over 20 yrs is now failing because you are pushing people to go online and abandon their local store, now i'm not a huge dealership, i'm just a small business but i have all the big brands such as gibson,fender,ibanez,dean etc etc etc and its why i've been lucky and successful for last 20 yrs and been able to provide the service to people to offer these brands. But i also offer one thing Online stores cant, Customer Service, When you need a repair done, new strings, advice for upgrades as in pickups, these websites arent gonna help you with that. Their advice will be limited as well. When you said that you cant feel the guitar so you go down to the local music store and try it out there and then buy online, well that infuriated me as thats biggest act of rudeness i have come across, how dare you waste the time of the sales guy who helping with the guitar, talking about it, trying to sell it so he can feed his family and you just say thanks for the advice but screw you i'm buying online. If you came into my store asking for help because you got a bad deal online and need help with your guitar, i would just kick you out and the other music stores would do the same thing and then you would have travel for quite a while just to get a simple thing done. Why, because You didn't support me so why should i support you. The majority of customers agree with me on this one and by customers i mean people who shop with me not rude %$#^ who ask for my valued advice, play on the guitars i worked so hard to get the agency for just to go online and preach the word. So just think next time you're after the guitar and if it is bit more expensive online, think of the support you will get after and those expenses the guy has to deal with. So much more to say but wont.
    welcomehomeyou
    Just one more thing as last post was bit rushed and now have calmed down a bit. Also upon reading other comments especially jean_genie who seems to be on the same boat as me. Now i'm not saying you're wrong or he's wrong and taking sides but here's the thing. So how does business work and music business. When i order a Fender guitar, anything from $200 up to $2000. I get it straight from Fender and they give me the guitar at cost price, How much it cost them to make, as well as this price i also get the RRP, Recommended Retail Price. This is the price i'm recommended to sell the guitar at to make a profit. For Example- these arent actual prices, just example as they all vary. Fender guitar Cost price $350.00 Fender guitar RRP Price. $549.00 Once again not actual cost, just example. So yeah there my goal is to try sell the guitar at $549.00 or around that. The cost is what i gotta pay to fender or any other brand and the rest i make is hopeful profit. So i sell it at $549.00 i make $199.00, sounds good right, whats wrong with that well, that profit goes to employees,rent,electricity,insurance,those sort of things, so when i gotta price match something, the reason i wanna keep it as close to the $549 is so can make some profit, if i have to pricematch it for as low as $400, i make $50.00. That hurts big time. But prob still do it for the right customer. Why, well like you said for the love of music, I'm a musician myself so i love my music and i love helping other people get into music and seeing the joy on people faces when they find the guitar they love is worth the $50.00 but if can make more and get closer to the retail price, it means another night off the streets. I understand where you're coming from, hey people love a bargain but understand where i'm coming from. Music is my love and my store i've had and worked so hard for in the last 20 yrs to now be on verge of losing is bit too much. I love the competition, got plenty of stores that i gotta compete with in price matching which i'm cool with, thats business but the internet and whoever is selling it i cant compete, how they are able to do these prices is beyond me and by encouraging people to venture into this, well prob know what happens and whats been happening in the last few months. But yeah dont object you buying online, just wanted to tell you why it could potentionally destroy what you grew up. The local music store.
    eastern_riffs
    To welcomehomeyou: I totally respect your statements, and you and jean_genie are saying pretty much the same thing as you both are telling me how it's like from an actual stores perspective. Firstly, I'll make one thing clear, I don't ask for advice from a salesman. I never did. Not when I first bought a guitar, and not today. I walk in, ask the guy if they carry the guitar that I'm looking for (I make a list of those I see online that I like), and ask him to let me try it if they do carry it. I then take a small corner and play the guitar for about 5-7 minutes. Now I understand that your stores need to make a profit. Absolutely.Everybody does, I work so that I can have money to spend. You make profits so that you can pay off your bills and keep your store running and have money to spend. But you know, in the whole process, this being a free market, some people decided to come up with new ways to bring down prices and still make profits. And two out of the three groups won..The internet stores and us consumers. The people who lost out were the true guitar stores, such as yours. I can't add too much to what I've already said to jean_genie, because it's more or less the same thing. But, what I can encourage you guys to do is to innovate. Come up with new ways to bring prices down. What you cannot change is the fact that the internet stores are here to stay, so worry about what you can change. As consumers, we would come up with new ways to bring prices down for ourselves and still get an optimal product. Remember that now you're competing with the so called 'mighty' internet stores. What do you have that they don't? A lot. I kept my article constrained to the price differences between your stores and the online ones, but there's more to the whole picture. Maybe you could use the internet itself to compete against online stores. Keep your store open but give out memberships to people who buy from your store. Email them regularly about deals. Man, it's a free world and you can do anything. Get dealerships with certain companies and keep catalogs that have ALL their guitars which you can order for customers. More importantly though, let the people know that you can do all this. That, in addition to the fact that you can actually let people try out your products. That's a huge plus. Sometimes, the difference in competition is a lot lesser than what we make it out to be. I still support my article because it allows me to purchase a more premium guitar at a lesser price, but I would still like to support local stores because, as you said, they've been around just as long as we have.
    eastern_riffs
    jean_genie wrote: I can't believe I'm reading this. This guy actually recommends using brick-and-mortar stores to try, and then depriving them of a sale. This is no different than buying a dress for prom and returning it the next day, or using a 1 week car return policy to take a trip. As a small business owner myself, I honestly hope every single thing you ever buy online is damaged in shipping. I'm guessing you consider insurance on ebay purchases a scam. You know what the best part is? Almost every dealer pays the same price for guitars. What jackasses like you don't understand is that if you walk into a store with a printout from Musician's Friend, and you're NICE to the employee, most stores are able to either price match, or come very close. Aside from the 'stupid deal of the day', I've never been unable to price match to MF. Not once. But most people under 30 are too dumb to ask.
    I've actually bought from stores for over 10 years, and in my experience you guys never go below a certain limit. No matter HOW much I try. You stated you're a small business owner yourself (I'm assuming it's a music store otherwise you wouldn't have written such a comment), so I'm going to pose a few questions. 1) If you really are willing to match the price that an online store has, why do you price guitars so much more expensive in the first place? That's a very business oriented approach, and not a very musician friendly one. Not everyone may look NICE to your employee, even if they are trying to be. So if they don't seem overly friendly, are they going to end up paying more for a guitar just because? That's a kind of discrimination. We might as well send a very pretty lady into your store to deal with your teenage salesmen. 2)Who says online stores set the lower limit for a guitar's price? Why can't you ever sell for below what an online store sells, and not just match it? I know you have extra costs, but if you can match the price, then why not take it a notch below? And you obviously don't lose anything in letting a person try out a guitar in your store. If a hundred guitarists visit your store in a week, I can guarantee to you that only 50 have the intention of actually buying a guitar (and not a few picks or a strap and such), regardless of whether they tried out your product. There is no way for you to know if somebody has that intention, unless you have a few of the world's greatest salesmen who can pester a guy into purchasing right away. 3) Most people under 30 are also the very ones that are pressed for cash. It's a free world almost everywhere, so it's up to you to let someone try out a guitar or not. If you're so concerned about people trying out your precious products then you may as well post a sign outside your store that says 'If try, you buy'. Good luck with that. Your intentions are good, and you did say that you can match prices at times with online stores, and I respect you for voicing your honest opinion. But calling me a jackass doesn't change the fact that most online stores sell for cheaper than a brick-and-mortar one, without the hassle of having to deal with a salesman or bargaining like it's a flea market. I wouldn't have written this article if I had not tried every trick in the book to get my guitars at a store which would sell them for cheap. Wouldn't it have been a lot more convenient for me to just pick up that Razorback at a store, and not having to worry about credit card payments, shipping damage and what not? But the fact did not change that I could still get my guitar cheaper online than at a store such as yours, and I was willing to take the risk because the price difference was significant,even with the bargaining and haggling I tried to do. Lastly, I'll also say that people still would buy $3000 Gibsons and USA made guitars at a store rather than online. Custom made guitars have a feel that really differs from stock guitars. I know if I one day decided to purchase a $3000 ESP I'd do so at a real store, because if I'm willing to shell out that much money I'd like to be extra careful about what I'm getting. It's the guitars between $750-$1500 where there is a significant price difference. You can be rest assured that you won't be losing customers over this article because somebody who buys at a store wouldn't convert overnight. If you really want to compete with online stores though, start pricing your guitars lower (this is to all store owners). If you really want to make a $500 profit over a guitar then you're in the wrong business. I know yours might be a more musician friendly store judging by your comment, but not all are. Some stores are money-grubbing institutions. And if you can truly match a guitar's price with MF or SamAsh or whatever, then why worry? Simply tell your salesmen that you have deals available, and make sure they convey this message to potential customers. If your deal sounds right in comparison to an online one, then there's no problem at all. You already have an advantage in being able to let customers try out a pr
    welcomehomeyou
    Thanks for the reply, wont say anymore as both expressed our opinions and respect what you have said and have also taken on board your suggestions as its true, the internet wont be going away so the stores will be staying and more will be emerging so will need to work on my prices and how can get more customers to buy from store, although still a kick in the gut when someone comes in and just wants a price and goes online and makes you feel pretty worthless, call me old fashioned but not used to that and this online thing, have a website but haven't looked at it in months, just not with these technology days so will find someone that is and will look into the suggestions as some did get my attention so will embrace this into the business.
    filthylittleboy
    first of all, it's a debate, and more or less actual conversation. secondly, 95% of all guitars i try in the store are messed up. The necks are bent, the strings are corroded and dirty (un playable) the pots jiggle... I actually got a deal with a local shop where I set up every single instrument in their store in about a month. shiny new strings, and proper action/intonation. at least when you buy a guitar on line, it's new and no one else has rubbed their grubby fingers all over it. that being said, I have a prestige ibanez RG, and I ordered it through an actual store because I always go in and play their guitars, but they just didn't have what I wanted in an instrument. not only that but when I go to buy my next electric, I'm probably going to contact Ibanez myself and get a seven string with custom specs.
    thewhorock
    Just watch out crazeehorse there are alot of fakes on ebay. nice deal though love ebay.
    RadioMuse
    Most of my guitars are used, all were bought locally. I've never seen significantly better prices on MusiciansFriend, SamAsh, or Music123 than I have at Guitar Center. Though GC is also the most useless in my area in terms of helping you when you have problems. They have only the most minimal in terms of the abilities to set up a guitar and no way to really repair electronics issues. Needless to say they have no amp tech. Again, this is my local GC, not to say that it reflects accurately on the chain as a whole: but do check into such things. Also, any price different between an online store and physical one can usually be talking out. I've done this solidly a couple times and it's not unheard of to get a Standard Fender Tele (which is listed at $550 currently on Musiciansfriend) for ~$450. Particularly if you have that amount of cash and no more (I recommend this strategy. If you want to save about $100 on any guitar just scope it out beforehand and show up with $100 less than the price in cash. It's EXTREMELY rare that any store will turn you away... I mean unless the guitar is like $150... (starting price has to be around $400 for this to work).
    High_E
    First off, Guitar Center and Musicians Friend are the same company so it would make sense that there prices are the same or close. As to the author saying he has played 11 years and could not feel a difference in the same models of medium priced guitars: I have had a much different experience, as have many people Ive talked to. Ive sat in guitar center for hours playing about 10 different strats all of the same model and some definitely felt different, same with Gibson LPs etc. Especially the newer "light weight" ones that dont have the same crunch that their predecessors did. Some of this has to do with the crappy store setup, but it goes beyond that. People may not have the same feel or maybe you've been playing 10 years but not very regularly. I have 8 of the exact same model guitar and I can tell immediately if you put my #1 in my hands. Small shops should think about changing their business model in this (not so) new era, if they are still playing by 70's 80's and 90's rules. I moved my business online after a large evil corporation came to town and I'm making 500% more in PROFIT now after cutting out those old school expenses. Times have changed so should you. Lessons and repairs while carrying minimal inventory (used would be perfect) would cut down the amount of money hanging on your walls and would free up cash flow. (especially considering the absurd minimums that manufacturers make you purchase on a yearly basis just to carry their brand). A shop nearby, which is also not far from both sam ash and GC has done this and I see tons of people carrying in their axes for a lesson or repair. They even moved to a smaller store to lower overhead. You have to change with the times or be left behind. But as some one earlier wrote that they would deny service to those that bought their guitars offline. Why the hell would you turn down their $$$? That is one of the dumbest things Ive ever heard a supposed businessman say (and Ive heard a lot of them). It is also against the law to deny that person service based on that fact. And if you want a great way to get free stuff at music stores. Send your girlfriend in (if she's hot). I do this all the time and she gets free repairs and other crap from the sales dudes who would charge me full price. My pimp hand is strong! Ive bought offline and been happy with the quality after having a good setup done on the guitar (anyone who says they bought a guitar out of the box and it was perfect is either lying or inexperienced) and replacing the strings with what I use. Sometimes the savings are worth not trying out the guitar first. To anyone who tries out guitars in-store then purchase them online: Its a great idea, ive done it, but please have the decency to purchase a pack of strings or a new strap. But in reality, If you are looking to buy cheap, buy used! So many people buy a guitar that they abandon within a short period of time due to lack of interest or poor teaching. These guitars have little to no wear on them. Others sell their current guitar before moving up a model. Usually guitarists take great care of their 'baby' and you'll find a great deal on a well kept model. Great deals on craigslist and even posted on the walls of some music shops. Many times buying new is the absolute wost thing you can do when it comes to getting the most for your money.
    scflyer55
    So whilst you're plundering you hard working local stockist's stocks and waisting HIS time and effort, why don't you just make him the same rediculously low offer on his price as you found, or may find, online? We got an excellent bargain on a new Jaguar our dealer was out of stock on and he threw in a hard case for less then we saw anywhere.
    eastern_riffs
    scflyer55 wrote: So whilst you're plundering you hard working local stockist's stocks and waisting HIS time and effort, why don't you just make him the same rediculously low offer on his price as you found, or may find, online? We got an excellent bargain on a new Jaguar our dealer was out of stock on and he threw in a hard case for less then we saw anywhere.
    I think I've stated my opinion on this issue more than enough, please read my previous comments. Local stores don't go below a certain point.
    fretburn
    i just wish that there was a musician friends here in India because every guitar here is priced at almost double than what one would get in the us i bought my first guitar from a local shop here when i was a beginner it wasnt setup the neck had a warp the intonation was off the action was high when i take it back to the store he tells me electric guitars have fixed intonation! anyway i just wish the guitar are cheaper over here they sell an ibanez gio for 400$ when i know very well in 400$ i could get a rg350ex or a bc rich asm standard or an esp or even a damn jackson
    jean_genie
    I can't believe I'm reading this. This guy actually recommends using brick-and-mortar stores to try, and then depriving them of a sale. This is no different than buying a dress for prom and returning it the next day, or using a 1 week car return policy to take a trip. As a small business owner myself, I honestly hope every single thing you ever buy online is damaged in shipping. I'm guessing you consider insurance on ebay purchases a scam. You know what the best part is? Almost every dealer pays the same price for guitars. What jackasses like you don't understand is that if you walk into a store with a printout from Musician's Friend, and you're NICE to the employee, most stores are able to either price match, or come very close. Aside from the 'stupid deal of the day', I've never been unable to price match to MF. Not once. But most people under 30 are too dumb to ask.
    cyborg_monkey
    well, that was all pretty obvious. personally though, i would never buy a decent guitar online, i think you really have to be able to play them first. also its better to have a good working relationship with your local music shop. that way you'll get personal discouts, i got a 250 accoustic down to 185 with no trouble at all because i knew them
    eastern_riffs
    I feel like my article has lacked quite a few things to be honest, and that I did not do a great job writing it. Sorry, I was pressed for time. Your comments all make sense to me, and since you've taken the time to express your views, I'd like to do the same.
    unininium wrote: I love it go into a shop to test the guitars but dont buy them there. Why not urinate in the shop while youre there? At the very least have the decency to buy from the shop if they match the online price, if they cant match it but give you a good price take that anyway. Like you said physical shops have much higher overheads than online ones.
    If I can save $300 on a guitar online then I would definitely do so. I know that money does not come easily so I try to be judicial where possible, even if it isn't always ethical. Besides, be honest with me, how many times have you gone into a guitar store knowing that you aren't going to buy anything, but you'd like to try a nice guitar or two? All stores know that over 75% of the people that walk in don't have an intention of buying. But they're not going to refuse you to try a guitar. And physical stores have always been in business, because they do not lose anything in letting you try a guitar. Be ready to pay for it if you damage it though.
    DarkValo666
    I think what he wanted uns to tell was not to buy a guitar without trying it out first. You can try out the guitar at your locas store and -if you like it - order it online for less money then.
    androidred0100
    I've never seen a local store selling a guitar cheaper than an online one.
    There's a store near me that ALWAYS beats the price of Guitar Center and Musician's Friend. I got my Thinline Telecaster for $650 after tax when GC wanted $930 before tax for it! Granted they charge a bit more for Amps and Effects and stuff but who cares? I only need one amp to plug any of my axes into.
    eastern_riffs
    i do not disagree with what you're saying, it might be true as I have not travelled to every city in the world. However, I have been to Canada, USA, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and a few other small countries, and wherever I've been to, the price of guitars has been lesser online than at the store. Maybe I should've added.."Unless you live in a major state/province in the USA/Canada, guitars would always be cheaper online than they would be at your local store".
    eastern_riffs
    cyborg_monkey wrote: well, that was all pretty obvious. personally though, i would never buy a decent guitar online, i think you really have to be able to play them first. also its better to have a good working relationship with your local music shop. that way you'll get personal discouts, i got a 250 accoustic down to 185 with no trouble at all because i knew them
    I think unless you're buying a custom shop guitar, or a $3000 Les Paul, you're pretty safe buying guitars online, because premium stock guitars (between $750-$1500) are not going to differ as they all undergo the same standards and are made by the same machinery.Yes, I also believed that getting such discounts from my local store was a great thing, I could get $100-$200 off as I had been their customer for over a decade, but at the end of the day, one store simply does not carry everything you need or could possibly get for the money you're willing to shell out. Also, I've realized that I can save more on guitars now as I'm past the stage of buying budget ones, and expensive ones usually go for cheaper online than at a local store.
    unininium
    I love it go into a shop to test the guitars but dont buy them there. Why not urinate in the shop while youre there? At the very least have the decency to buy from the shop if they match the online price, if they cant match it but give you a good price take that anyway. Like you said physical shops have much higher overheads than online ones.
    Dream Floyd
    I can think of better guitarists than Michael Romeo... (nah, I'm just kidding )... But I've but every one of my SERIOUS guitars online... the only ones I buy in a local store is to help them out a bit...
    ratlr
    i got my local store to give me $285 off of my guitar and they threw in a case for free. but i will my my next electric online, there is no place near me that sells a very wide variety.
    urkittenpoo
    thats not always true... my local fender store has the road worn strats $300 less than any online store
    Equivalence
    You know that if we'd all start buying online we'd literally destroy physical guitar shops? And moreover, you can indeed try them out at your local store, but no guitar feels the same, not even stock factory guitars. I would never buy one online, but that's all my opinion
    eastern_riffs
    quote]Equivalence wrote: You know that if we'd all start buying online we'd literally destroy physical guitar shops? And moreover, you can indeed try them out at your local store, but no guitar feels the same, not even stock factory guitars. I would never buy one online, but that's all my opinion [/quote] Physical guitar stores can never be run out of business. Far too many people do not favor internet shopping, and besides, most people in their first few years of playing would understandably not purchase a guitar online. Buying a guitar has a 'thrill' that one can only get from an actual store, and not by using a credit card. Most parents of beginner children would also prefer to take them to a store where they can get some help in deciding what to get for their kid. I've never found a difference in the feel of stock guitars in all my 11 years of playing, but then again, thats my opinion haha. Also, it's not that I do not like buying guitars in actual stores, I'm not flaming that. But buying online has far too many advantages in terms of range and price that I believe none of us guitarists should miss out on that. cheers!
    Andy2k64
    i've brought online and i'm happy...you do feel a sense of nervousness if u ain't tried an instrument out before but i did. however, if i was buyin an older guitar i would go to stores cuz each instrument can vary even if they are the same make and model
    kineas
    I don't like this. The author writes that you should go and try a guitar in a shop, and if you like it, buy the same one online. But guitar shops arn't just there to try guitars and then not buy them. What if everyone did that? Small independant guitar shops would have to start closing down because they arn't selling enough.
    Myung'sMusicman
    My problem with my local stores is they only carry Gibson and Ibanez... Which is very small selection I got my Ernie Ball on eBay great purchase. But I see why people may have problems purchasing things online
    MealsOnWheels7
    It's called capitalism. If the physical stores can't compete, sucks to be them. Efficiency always trumps in the free market, and this is no different.
    NearlyPrescient
    it's all helpful to note that in a local store, they're not as firm in their prices; you can occasionally get the price lowered on an extra thrown in for cheap for free. when I purchased an Artcore at my local Guitar Center, I told him that if I couldn't afford a case to go with it, I wouldn't be purchasing the guitar; I had barely enough money for the guitar with tax, so the case (roadrunner mid-quality gig bag) ended up being free.
    Equivalence
    eastern_riffs wrote: Physical guitar stores can never be run out of business. Far too many people do not favor internet shopping, and besides, most people in their first few years of playing would understandably not purchase a guitar online. Buying a guitar has a 'thrill' that one can only get from an actual store, and not by using a credit card. Most parents of beginner children would also prefer to take them to a store where they can get some help in deciding what to get for their kid. I've never found a difference in the feel of stock guitars in all my 11 years of playing, but then again, thats my opinion haha. Also, it's not that I do not like buying guitars in actual stores, I'm not flaming that. But buying online has far too many advantages in terms of range and price that I believe none of us guitarists should miss out on that. cheers!
    You're forgetting that all these parents and beginners are buying starter kits or a cheap squier, which I doubt is the main income of a guitar shop. If all the intermediate and more advanced players you talk about would start buying guitars off the internet, shops would definitely feel it because the more expensive guitars that these players buy are not being sold. But I appreciate how you gave us a piece of advice, especially since it's one money...I'll just stick to the shops for now
    Felkara
    Actually, I find that if you're buying a guitar online, you're safer getting more upmarket instruments online as they have much better quality control than budget instruments. I you order a Fender or a Musicman instrument from a website, you know it's going to play exactly like the same instrument you tried in the shop the day before. But if you're going for a less upscale product, like a Squier, Stagg, Epiphone or cheap Yamaha, you're better off going to a shop. Regardless of the saving you may be making by buying online, you have no idea that it'll play anywhere near like one you tried in a shop. That's one of the reasons why budget guitars are so budget, there's little consistency in the build quality. I think the official Squier statistic is that 1 in 11 will play like a real Fender and is likely to have better quality woods too. I've noticed that with Epiphones aswell, not all Epi Les Pauls play or feel remotely similar, even if they're the same model. Regardless, it's a personal desision. But I knew that when I ordered my Stingray off www.gak.co.uk that it would be exactly the same as the one I tried in the shop the day before.
    eastern_riffs
    Felkara wrote: Actually, I find that if you're buying a guitar online, you're safer getting more upmarket instruments online as they have much better quality control than budget instruments. I you order a Fender or a Musicman instrument from a website, you know it's going to play exactly like the same instrument you tried in the shop the day before. But if you're going for a less upscale product, like a Squier, Stagg, Epiphone or cheap Yamaha, you're better off going to a shop. Regardless of the saving you may be making by buying online, you have no idea that it'll play anywhere near like one you tried in a shop. That's one of the reasons why budget guitars are so budget, there's little consistency in the build quality. I think the official Squier statistic is that 1 in 11 will play like a real Fender and is likely to have better quality woods too. I've noticed that with Epiphones aswell, not all Epi Les Pauls play or feel remotely similar, even if they're the same model. Regardless, it's a personal desision. But I knew that when I ordered my Stingray off www.gak.co.uk that it would be exactly the same as the one I tried in the shop the day before.
    My sentiments exactly. I did mention in my article that you're better off not buying budget guitars online. However, like i said in an earlier post, premium stock guitars, those selling above $750 in the US/Canada or 700 GBP in the UK would not differ in terms of feel due to the quality standards in place. Budget guitars should not be bought online. However, in view of the Epiphones, in my experience with them, I have found their high end models like the ZW Bullseye or the Custom to be of good quality. They're nicely built and have a good feel too. Their lower end models are terrible though. You can get a nice Hamer LP that plays 10 times better than an Epiphone low end LP for the same price.
    eastern_riffs
    To High_E: The difference between models was never enough to astonish me, if there ever was. And I've been playing very regularly, but I'm not in the market trying out different models of the same guitar everyday. Your comments seem a little off, but I'd give you my side anyways, although this would be my last comment on this topic. Gibson Les Pauls are bound to feel different as they are super-premium guitars and are made in a highly customized factory. Lot of handiwork into them. Not recommended to buy online, as I've said before. Strats are more commercial, however I am not a big Fender man and it's been years since I played one, so I would not like to have a say there. The savings are not worth if you don't try out a guitar and buy it online, only to ship it back again. Unless you somehow know exactly what you're getting. Buying used is not the same thing as buying new. I wouldn't buy a used guitar mainly because a guitar is something that I plan to keep, and keep like my own baby. If it was someone else's first, it's not the same. But yes, to those of you who don't mind that, buying used is a great option if you're looking to buy cheap. Be careful of online scams and fakes. The reality of the situation is that you can get a new guitar online for a lot cheaper than you would get locally. But I disagree that buying used can replace buying new even if you're looking to save money. It would never feel the same. Usually, the only change needed on a guitar when straight out of the box are the strings. If you've tried it and you like it, then take it home, or buy it online. Strings are minor change. What other changes are you talking about? The action? The finish? Need some scrub for the fingerprints from the previous player? If you make the right choices, research well for your next guitar, you shouldn't have too many problems. Finally, I think I've said enough from my side on this issue. So if you're looking to criticize me, or hear my side of the story, I've posted enough comments on this page. I don't have anything more to say. If you don't like my ways, I'm sorry. But I'm still going to figure out the best ways for me to pick up a great guitar at the best price.