Can You Haggle at Guitar Stores Like Guitar Center?

Haggling. In some cultures, it’s a given that you should haggle and in some stores, you can often get a discount if you ask, but is it the same for guitar stores?

It’s okay to haggle respectfully with guitar store clerks, but don’t expect too much. You should also make sure that you’re haggling with someone who has authority, not the part-timer who started last week.

Most stores won’t give you a huge discount on new merch since their profits as a brick-and-mortar store are already cut these days. But let’s take a look at how you could maximize your own discounts.

How flexible are big guitar store prices?

Online purchases have given guitar retailers a lot more competition, so your best bet is used items.  Some brands have made their prices more competitive due to the advent of internet sales, but retail stores always add a markup to this.

What you can get, however, is MAP, (Minimum Advertised Price) which is what most of the chain stores are selling at already. You could also possibly get them to cut sales tax for you, that’s about a 5% discount.

Can you haggle at Guitar center for new gear?

New gear generally has a fixed price, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some stores have wiggle room, but you won’t likely get a discount asking a sales rep.

You should keep in mind that these people are also here to do a job and they want to make a profit at the end of the day. It’s not in their best interest to give you discounts, because that hurts them.

Can you haggle at guitar center for used gear?

I’d say used gear is your best bet because it’s usually bought by the store for cheap already. There are ways to get discounts on used gear.

For starters, don’t be rude about getting a discount for your desired item, haggling is a negotiation after all. While you are more likely to get lower prices for second-hand gear, your chances are better if you start by being polite about it. Simply ask.

Used gear usually comes with small defects, which lower an item’s value. You should always check over something you want to buy for damages anyway, but if you happen to find any, pointing it out to the sales rep may make them more likely to sell it to you for a discount.

The last thing to know when haggling for lower prices on used gear is that you shouldn’t be unrealistic about it. At the end of the day, the sales clerk is still trying to make a profit and they are more than happy to wait for a customer who’ll pay the sticker price.

Try to get the best value possible when trading in

When it comes to trading in, there are a few things you need to know before you even enter the store to make a trade.

You need to know how much your gear would cost to buy brand new today and have a good idea of its depreciated value due to how long you’ve owned it. You should also consider the damages you have on your gear.

A great way to up the value of your gear before trading it in is to fix any small defects beforehand. Take the time to clean it so that it looks as close to brand new as possible.

If you go in armed with the knowledge of your gear’s real value and you’ve done all the work of prettying it up, you’re sure to walk away with a good trade.

When should you try negotiating at a guitar store?

If you’re a regular patron at the store and you already have a good relationship with a lot of the staff. People tend to bend rules for those they already have existing relationships with, but you’re a lot less likely to negotiate successfully as a first-timer.

You’re unlikely to get any discounts if you make small purchases though. Everyone buys strings once or twice a month, and you won’t get discounts on that because it’s a very low-value item. 

You may be able to haggle new gear if you’re buying a set of things and it’s altogether a big sale. For example, if you’re buying three or four guitars and the best amps in the store to go with them. That size of a purchase can be haggled down, but not for a single guitar.

The main thing is that you have a good relationship with the store employees. Know some names, introduce yourself politely and be sociable with them, because even if you’re emptying out the store, if you’re smug about it, they’ll still make you pay full price.

Tips for negotiating musical instruments

If you’re selling

  • Be honest about the condition of the gear you’re selling, and list any defects or cosmetic damage.
  • Make sure your asking price matches with other options. A quick google search will help with this.
  • Make a good impression of your item. If you’re selling online, take good pictures and if you’re selling in person, make sure your instruments are well maintained.

If you’re buying

  • Ask for details about the instrument. Most buyers will be happy to give you more info.
  • Try to play the instrument before you buy it. This is pretty important for you to get a feel for what you might be buying.
  • Research the instrument market as well as the seller. If you’re buying online, try to find reviews about the person you’re buying from.