Does Guitar Center Pay Well for Used Gear?

With all of the options available to us for selling gear these days, selling to a store like Guitar Center may seem outdated or even lazy. But it has its uses especially when time is more urgent than getting maximum profit.

While selling to Guitar Center won’t net you as much money as selling gear yourself it provides a quick, easy solution. And as far as selling to a store I believe their policies and payout percentages are comparable to similar businesses. So it’s a decent option to get rid of a lot of heavy but inexpensive gear.

Trust me, people are still selling instruments and gear to Guitar Center. Although their used inventory went way down while people were stuck at home and buying a lot of instruments, it has started to increase again. 

So is it a good idea for you to sell there? It depends…

Does Guitar Center pay market prices for used gear?

Now there is no fair comparison between selling your gear person to person and selling to a shop. So as far as selling to GC, Sam Ash, or another store I don’t think Guitar Center’s payout prices are low at all.

If the person dealing with buying gear doesn’t know the value of an item they can research completed eBay auctions or something and come up with a price. 

So yes, when they offer you a deal it is based on what they think they can sell it for in the current market. 

Now in the case that you think something is worth more than they tell you, remember that Guitar Center actually offers pretty good deals on used gear compared to a lot of online sites. 

So if you are interested in buying some used gear then that will work in your favor. To put it another way, I think their pricing of used merchandise is realistic.

But if you still don’t like the offered deal, you don’t have to sell. Just be sure to thank them for their time; the person behind the counter doesn’t make the company policies after all. 

How much can you expect to get for your used gear from Guitar Center?

So once you get an appraisal on something you should expect to be offered about half of what Guitar Center will list it for (40%-60%). 

It will probably be influenced by how quickly they think they can sell it too because they will have to discount it eventually to make way for new stuff. 

If you really want to know the details you can check out this video from Robert’s Guitar Dungeon who has bought and sold at a Guitar Center for many years: 

As it turns out the company isn’t making nearly as much as you probably think they are from used gear. 

Two things to note here are that not every state has an inventory tax on businesses and Robert’s math is based on getting 60% of the projected sale price because he is friends (former co-workers) with the staff. 

So if you are a regular customer and know the staff at your local store you may get a better offer.

Does Guitar Center pay cash for your used gear?

One of the best reasons to sell to Guitar Center is when you need quick cash. 

You should be able to get $500 – $1000 in cash for your gear with the rest available by check or prepaid credit card. 

There are a few localities where stores aren’t legally able to offer cash in Michigan, North Carolina, and Maryland so do your research first if you live in one of those states. 

But for the most part, you can expect cash in hand, and sometimes when life throws you a curve ball that is more important than getting the most money for your gear.

Does Guitar Center pay with store credit for your used gear?

You can stretch your money a little farther if you are willing to re-invest it in something new from the store. 

Guitar Center will offer you a 10% discount on buying something new (not used) at their store when you trade-in

There are a lot of exclusions (certain manufacturers, coupons, already-discounted items) so I would recommend looking around the store while your gear is appraised to see if there is something you want. 

Then you can talk with someone and make sure that the thing you want qualifies for the discount before you accept store credit. 

If nothing, in particular, catches your eye then you could at least stock up on guitar strings and picks to last a year or two.

Is it a good idea to sell your used gear to Guitar Center?

I believe there are three main scenarios where selling to Guitar Center or similar stores makes sense. 

Here are my thoughts:

  • Time is an issue; if you need quick cash or something unexpected happens and you have to move to a different home or city, you can’t beat the convenience of selling at Guitar Center. If you are moving, you can always trade for credit and spend it later when you have settled in your new place.
  • You have one piece of gear to sell and it is either inexpensive (like a pedal or practice amp) or its weight makes it uneconomical to ship for what it’s worth (a budget guitar). Go trade it in for some strings and a new strap or strap locks.
  • You have a bunch of mostly inexpensive gear that you’ve decided to get rid of and you don’t want to make a dozen trips to the post office or private shipping business because of your work schedule, etc. You can sacrifice some money for your time and take care of it all in an hour.

Places to get better deals for your used gear

When you aren’t strapped for time you have a lot more freedom of choice. And when you decide to part with expensive gear the percentage that you lose selling to a store can mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

So for premium instruments, amps, or boutique effects pedals try to sell online locally or by shipping. 

There are many websites for e-commerce but social media networks aren’t just for posting photos of your lunch; you can sell gear on many of them too. 

If you don’t want to deal with the risk of shipping, just specify “local buyers only” and wait for the right person to come along.