What Happens if You Break a Guitar in a Store?

Breaking a guitar in-store is a scary thought, especially if it’s a guitar you could never afford to buy in the first place. 

Luckily, there are a lot of things that need to be taken into account when this sort of thing happens.

Unless it can be proven that you broke the guitar in question out of maliciousness or carelessness, the store has to cover it. If it was broken due to careless placement by the store, then it’s not on you.

The “you break it you buy it” rule is often quick to be brought up, but if a guitar was set up or placed in a position or manner that would make it easy to bump off of its stand, then it’s not really your fault. 

Are store guitars insured?

Big stores like Guitar Center and Big Musical have insurance and most smaller stores do too. It’s just good business practice to be insured in case something does happen. Guitars are broken for a lot more reasons than just customer clumsiness.

Stores actually have what’s called General Liability insurance most of the time and this covers a lot of possible expenses. From guitars getting damaged to customers getting injured, this covers all of that.

So in short, yes, guitar stores are insured and you can break their stuff within reason and they’ll be fine.

Would you have to pay for it if you break a guitar in a store?

There are a lot of situations that can lead to guitars breaking that involve you. 

Let’s say you’re reaching for a guitar you like and you pull it from the rack and the rack comes apart and suddenly every guitar on that rack has fallen and received damage.

Who pays for that? Not you, that is a store issue, because you weren’t the one who didn’t set the rack up properly.

Another example of a possible mishap would be if you slipped on a wet floor while holding a guitar. In this case, the store would even be liable for injuries you’ve sustained if they didn’t have a wet floor sign present.

Now, if you’re trying to be Mr. Rockstar and you decide to smash the guitar you were testing at the end of your ten-minute solo that nobody wanted to hear, that is something you would have to pay for.

The main point is that you would have to pay if you broke the guitar intentionally or possibly due to carelessness. Carelessness could be unintentional, but some things are obvious.

For instance, don’t try to fling the guitar around your body like Asking Alexandria do, they probably went through several guitars to get that right in the first place.

What would happen if you damage music gear in a store?

The same thing counts for gear damage. Since most stores are covered for all-around damages, if you damaged it through maliciousness or foolish behavior, you’re liable.

Sometimes gear can be faulty or old and in the case that you plug a guitar in and the amp just fizzles out while you’re playing, that’s something you could contest.

It’s important to mention that the “Break it you buy it” rule is tenuous as best and most of the time, stores really can’t legally force you to pay for damages.

Short of committing a crime or vandalism, you can contest most cases.

What to do if you damage a guitar in the store?

So the worst thing happens, you’re testing out a guitar and you didn’t connect the strap properly and it slips from your hands. You’re still holding the neck, but you watch in slow motion as the body rotates with your wrist and swings into the wall, scratching the finish.

You now have a case of damage caused by “carelessness”. 

First off, be forthcoming about it. Nobody appreciates dishonesty and while you may have to pay damage fees, you’re much more likely to be charged full price if you’re caught lying.

You may be offered options. In some cases, the store will offer to have you buy the damaged instrument at a discounted cost due to the damages if it’s nothing significant or mostly cosmetic.

One thing to consider is the store’s insurance policies. If you’re a bit armed with general retail insurance knowledge you can haggle things down, but be polite about it.

Most store retail insurance covers damage in the case of customer handling and it can be argued that store employees should be responsible for handling and setting up guitars for customers to try.

It can also be stated that stores have liability when they allow the public to enter the premises and try their equipment.

My advice is to speak to a manager and ask them if their insurance covers the accident before offering to pay for things. You may at worst get a 50-50 cost split, but the store can still rarely legally force a customer to pay for the damages as they’re supposed to be covered for liability.

How to prevent damaging store instruments?

Firstly, this is mostly a store problem and not a you problem, but it pays to be careful in any case. Being clumsy is a you problem.

Most stores will keep their high-end stuff out of the way of the public. Expensive guitars are hung higher up so they can’t just be taken down by customers for that reason. 

If you have small kids, keep an eye on them and make sure that they’re either moving close to you and slowly or that you’re carrying them. It’s not a pretty truth but young children can be reckless at the best of times.

If it’s just you, it helps to be aware of your surroundings. Some guitar stores are a little cramped and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to hook your shirt cuff or jacket on a guitar and send it tumbling.

And if you want to test anything, always ask an employee to handle the entire setup for you. From fetching everything to plugging everything in to even turning on the power button to the amp. 

This ensures that any damage due to improper setup isn’t your fault, but it’s a great help if you’re completely new to guitars and honestly don’t know where to begin.

In summary,  just be mindful when you’re in a guitar store. Guitars are built to withstand abuse and they’re pretty tough overall. We all love them, that’s why you’re thinking of buying one in the first play.

So treat them with care and consideration and you’ll be fine.