Buying guitars online. Should I do it?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Behaving_badly, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. Behaving_badly

    Behaving_badly New Member

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    So I've been really thinking about buying a new guitar soon (I've got a lovely thread going on here ) but I've always done my shopping at an actual store and just used magazines like Sweetwater and Musicians friend as a sort of Playboy-esque "ohh look at that nice guitar" source. Now I'm flipping through an issue of Musicians friend and I'm browsing the internet and I'm seeing lots of guitars I would love to buy but no local dealers carry them.

    Specifically I'm looking at this Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro and this PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow among others.

    My problem is that I like to sit and play, or just physically see, the guitar before I buy them so an online purchase (to me) leaves a chance that the guitar gets to me and I can't stand playing it and then what do I do!? (obviously I don't do lots of online purchasing). Basically I just don't know how to buy something online, do I trust the reviews (that are possibly posted by 12 year olds) do I watch Youtube videos (where amps and effects alter the sound) or WHAT:scratch:

    So does anyone have any tips, words of caution or advice for buying online? Is it even a smart choice?
     
  2. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Dread-I Master

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    Sure, why not? I typically only buy guitars that I've played before in which case I kind of know what I'm looking for when it comes to buying them online--especially when buying second hand.

    I HAVE, however, bought guitars w/o having played them. I bought my Agile that way but it was a guitar that I'd done a fair bit of research on via this forum and I decided I was willing to take the risk on it.

    So I believe that's really what it boils down to. Is the risk worth it to you? And a lot of the time dealers will have an exchange/warranty deal. Be sure to look into that before buying for sure. :yesway:
     
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  3. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    This is a very much discussed topic.

    I'll try to give you a couple of different standpoints s someone who's bought bout 20 guitars online, most of which were from overseas, but also as someone who used to work in a 'bricks and mortar' family guitar store who's sole business was from people walking through the door. I'm also an experienced tech, electrical engineer, a risk taker and I'm very impulsive :lol:

    When people come into a shop, it's usually because they want to try things or don't know what they want. The two actually have an awful lot to do with one another, and the only way either thing can be solved is by walking into a music store. When you go into a lot of (particularly smaller) music stores, what you get before you even hand over any money is service. The assistants will spend time with you hearing what you're looking for, giving you their knowledge and expertise and spending time letting you try guitars sometimes at their financial risk (dropping, scratching etc means the guitar has to be marked down).

    If you are the kind of person who requires this kind of assistance, and when you walk into a shop you would consider buying from you accept this assistance, I think it's only fair you pay a little more (though this isn't always the case) and buy it from the shop that took the risk, gave you their time, and need the money to stay open so that next time you need to try some guitars out or don't know what you want, they're there to let you try stuff and help you out.

    On the other hand you could be like me. In my short career as a musician, guitar enthusiast and guitar sales man (10 years, 8 years and 3 years respectively) I've had the chance to play literally thousands of different guitars, and I've spent so long working out ways to find what people want that I've developed a very clear picture in my head of what I want. I also know the rules and key points of dealing long distance (damaged in transit, missold goods, incorrect goods, returns, and my rights as a buyer). If I want to try something out, I'll find one online (used), get to know the pricing, what's cheap and what's expensive for this particular item, and I'll watch and wait for the right one to come up and just buy it. If done correctly, and if I've judged something right, what I get should be a decent condition guitar that's exactly what I expect it to be, and if I don't like it I've paid the right price so I won't make a loss (and hopefully I'll make a profit) and I can just move it along. I haven't bought a new guitar in a long time.

    Buying new guitars online is relatively safe. One of the important things, however, is knowing if your guitar is a dud and needs to be sent back, or if it just needs setting up. Most guitar shops that sell online will probably not even get the guitar out (unless it needs photographing) before they put it up for sale online. Just as many guitar shops won't even have stock of the guitar when you buy it and they'll be ordering once you've paid. Because of this, a large portion of online bought guitars are set up the same as if they arrived at the shop, and most guitar companies under about 1k will be setup horrendously. Bad setup doesn't mean the guitar has to be sent back, but it does mean you have to either pay $50 to get it setup (a lot of the time negating the money you saved on the guitar) or you have to be able to set the guitar up yourself.
    If something actually doesn't work (a pickup or something) or the guitar is flawed from the factory (defects under the paid for example) then it is your responsibility to send it back to the shop at your expense (it's not the shop's fault unfortunately) so that they can deal with the distributor/company and get a replacement. There's nothing anywhere that states a guitar shop has to pay for the guitar to be returned to them if a problem should arise.

    If the guitar is damaged in transit (it's usually the cases that get wrecked...) then it's again your responsibility to report it to the shipper and claim on the insurance, the shop you bought from can also do this, but it's not necessarily their problem. A lot of shops will however do this for you if they can.

    So to put that more briefly:
    If buying new and you don't know what you want, pay the extra and buy from a shop, it's worth it. I've driven over 3 hours (each way) to try and buy a guitar before :lol: but I'm glad I did.
    If buying on the internet something you've never tried, consider buying used in case you don't like it. If doing so, that's a whole other kettle of fish which I won't go into here.
    If buying new off the internet, be prepared there's always a real chance of a problem, be it a setup issue, damage in transit, or a flawed guitar, all of which are up to you to resolve. These are of course all risks if buying used too, but if you do it right it's reduced somewhat. Buying used from an individual is a very different experience to buying from a website, but it's a whole other ballgame.

    I could probably write more but that would be effort, I think I painted a decent picture...
     
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  4. Behaving_badly

    Behaving_badly New Member

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    damn thanks man, can I PM you some specific questions when I actually get around to finding and buying a guitar?
     
  5. somniumaeternum

    somniumaeternum SS.org Regular

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    If you buy online, you should really be fairly sure that it's exactly what you want. You have to do a lot of research and - be honest - know what you want. I say be honest because it's really easy to get caught up in the marketing of it. "I love player X so I know his guitar is perfect for me". This is often untrue.

    I agree with a lot of what Fun111 said regarding sharing experience, etc. But, really, there's a lot of assholes out there who will sell you the wrong stuff because it gives them more money. I prefer the smaller guitar stores because you can get more of a relationship going with the seller instead of you just being customer 2349234 of the day for them.

    Having said all this, if you really don't know but feel adventurous, you can go to GC and order the guitar as a special order. Then you have 30 days to check it out and/or return it if you don't like. Make sure to talk to the sales guy to let him know you're not 100% sure on the item and if you get a good one they'll understand.

    (Even if you like it, return it and go buy it from your neighborhood small guitar shop and support them :D A lot of smaller stores throw in setups for you and check the guitar over. Much better service than the GC imho)
     
  6. Rook

    Rook Electrifying

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    Go for it :)
     
  7. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    Buying online from big shops is usually not a problem, as they know how to pack, statistically there will be problems but they are few and far between.
    Remember most shops have return policies too.

    One word though, buy only guitars from companies with a decent rep for QC. if yuo have to return 5 duds before getting a good one it's not worth it.
     
  8. Behaving_badly

    Behaving_badly New Member

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    Very cool guys thanks.
    some basic things I'm picking up is that I should check out reviews and get as informed as possible before buying. I'm checking out videos and stuff online, I know the Steinberger is going to need a pickup change, so now my big choice is going to be deciding which to buy........

    (hint hint)
     
  9. engage757

    engage757 Banned

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    just do it man, besides, those two guitars are about as opposite as they can get. Besides, You can play the SE at any guitar center in the world. ;)
     
  10. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Dread-I Master

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    I didn't even read which guitars you were considering. I played the SE. It's sweet but it wasn't for me. It plays damn nice, though. :yesway:
     
  11. Rap Hat

    Rap Hat the:pawn.project

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    This right here is key. I made the mistake of trying to get an amp (used Peavey 6505+ combo) from one of the huge online retailers, and the first one arrived split in half. I was upset but they were willing to pay for return shipping and give me a brand new one instead, so I was happy. Of course there was a three week wait to get the new one, and when that arrived the clean channel was busted, it sounded terrible (the split in half one sounded better:lol:), and it had a lot of cosmetic damage. They once again paid for the return and gave me a $100 coupon (which didn't actually work), but I chose not to try my luck again.

    The companies may have great return policies, but if they can't be arsed to ship out a well protected item then it's not worth giving them business.
     
  12. Mordacain

    Mordacain 1-watt brigadier

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    I can't really add to the magnificent post of Fun's (as expected) other than to share my personal experience.

    I've purchased almost every single guitar I have online or over the phone. I've only ever acquired 3 guitars total locally and the last one in a trade that was enough to put me off of trading for the foreseeable future (since you have to really disassemble a guitar to see the extent of its damage in some cases).

    The few guitars I've purchased used from Ebay were all in far worse condition than were advertised and I've regretted every one.

    That being said, all but a few guitars I've purchased new online were perfect examples of their species. Most of the bad ones were budget, though my sole (new) Fender American Standard Strat was not as nice as I have seen locally and is the sole bad example of a higher end guitar being anything but awesome for me.

    In terms of not getting ripped-off, I advise not buying used from Ebay, making very close inspections of local purchases (and walking away if the seller starts to take offense at the inspection) and making sure the online retailer has excellent return policies. The only guitar I've returned was an el-cheapo LTD Guitar Center had one closeout and it cost me nothing to return it (fretboard was pulling away from the neck).
     
  13. mikemueller2112

    mikemueller2112 SS.org Regular

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    The way I look at it, if you're buying used guitars online, if you don't like it, you can always resell it for either no loss, or sometimes a profit if you were shopping smart. Buying new is a little different, but I've bought a few guitars used online, and been happy. I made sure that they were a fair price so that I wouldn't have a bit hit on resale.
     
  14. TelosHedge

    TelosHedge Enjoys Chicken.

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    this. mike has an excellent point - you can't always feel a guitar out, so it's best to cover your butt before you do so. i have no problem trading and buying used guitars online because they are, in face, used! they've already depreciated so as long as you have something relatively desirable you can always move it later.
     

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