Jun 19th, 2007
Many people often consider buying their guitar gear on Ebay but are hesitant to do so for fear of being scammed. In this series on buying guitar gear on Ebay I hope to cover some of the pros and cons of buying guitar gear on Ebay. I will break this down into separate series for different types of guitar gear. In this post I will cover buying a guitar on Ebay.
Reasons people buy on ebay
Before I get into the specifics, let’s talk about the main reason people buy anything from Ebay—to save money. Buying on Ebay will save you money for a number of reasons. First, you have the opportunity to by something used off someone else. If that item is in good condition you can save significantly compared to buying it new. But you can even save on new items on Ebay. Because everyone is bidding on something you will end up paying the fair market value because most people aren’t willing to bid more than an item is worth. It’s classic economics—supply and demand.
Other reasons people buy on Ebay include being able to purchase something that s no longer available in stores and buying non working items and parts to fix themselves.
Why people don’t buy on ebay
The biggest concern with buying on Ebay is getting ripped off or scammed. But Ebay wants you to buy from them and therefore they have put practices in place that drastically limit the chances of you being scammed by another ebayer:
Ebay Feedback System
Ebay has a unique feedback scoring system that gives buyers information on sellers. The feedback system allows users to rate buyers with positive, negative, or neutral feedback, as well as leave a short comment about the transaction. While you I wouldn’t say you should only buy from sellers with 100% positive feedback, I wouldn’t buy from anyone with less than 90% positive feedback. But I also like to make sure the person I am buying from has over 50 feedback scores, and they should be a good mix of buyer and seller feedback.
The best way to make sure you are protected against any fraud is to pay with a credit card through PayPal. PayPal offers buyer protection ranging from $200 - $2000 at no extra charge. Plus most credit card companies do not hold you liable for fraudulent charges. This way if anything does happen you will be reimbursed. For more information on fraud protection Click here or read about buyer protection programs.
Buying a guitar on ebay
Now let’s talk about buying your axe on Ebay. Most guitar players need to play a guitar before they shell out cash for it. This prevents a lot of guitar players from even considering Ebay as an option for buying a guitar. But these worries should not stop you from buying on Ebay. Why? There are a few reasons.
Guitar Company standards
First, when it comes to manufactured guitar names like Fender and Gibson, just about all factory guitars are made adhering to company standards. So if you go to your local guitar store and try out a guitar and like it, it’s a safe bet that if you buy that same model guitar on Ebay you will be just as happy. (Maybe even happier because you saved a couple hundred bucks).
Guitars don't have complex internal wiring
Second, when it comes to guitars it’s pretty much what you see is what you get. Unlike amps and pedals, guitars do not have tons of complicated circuitry inside that has potential to short. If seller with god feedback says the guitar sounds fine there really isn’t a reason to worry about the wires. So if the pictures are good and the seller points out all the small dings you can bet that the guitar is in good working order.
Checking the neck and frets
But what about the neck and frets? This is one area where not all sellers are knowledgeable enough to give accurate information. Typically if a guitar is not too old and it is a good brand guitar I would not worry about the frets wearing down. This is rarely an issue. What’s more, normally if there is a neck problem it will cause some sort of buzzing on certain frets and this is something the seller should point out in the item description.
Other tips to protect you from Ebay fraud
A few other things you can do to ensure you get the guitar in good shape is to ask the seller a lot of questions. Don’t be bashful. Ask away: “Are you the original owner?” “How long have you had the guitar for?” “Do you gig with it” “When was the last setup?” “Do you keep it in the case, or out?” “Is it in the basement or the upstairs bedroom?” Etc… Ask any question you can think of that might impact the condition of the guitar.
Another thing you can do is ask the buyer for a short period of time where you can send back the guitar and get reimbursed if you find anything wrong that was not described by the seller. Typically I ask for 3 days. If the seller was honest about the item they should have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you get their response in writing.
Lastly, there are tons of Ebay stores that sell guitars on Ebay. An Ebay store is like a real store, but they just sell on Ebay. So these are not guitars that are coming from previous owners. The advantage of buying from an Ebay store is that they have their reputation on the line as a store and they make an extra point to provide great service. Many also allow refund in the first few days if you are not happy, even if the item comes as described.
Keep in mind that after you buy a guitar on Ebay you should have it set up the way you like it. A guitar setup is usually no more than $50. This will assure it is the perfect fit for you.
When it all comes down to it, you can save a lot of money buying your guitar on Ebay. I bought 2 guitars on Ebay and saved over $600 of what I would have paid if I bought them in the same condition from a guitar store. I also sold guitars on Ebay as well.