Here’s Where We Tell People To Buy A Guitar Online

Not all that long ago, the thought of buying a guitar online would have been almost unthinkable. Most guitar enthusiasts at the time believed you absolutely had to buy in person. While it’s true that getting a feel for what you like is nice, the need to do so has decreased significantly in recent years, thanks to easy return policies and improved guitar manufacturing processes.

Now, the convenience of online shopping reigns supreme. This is a big deal if you don’t happen to live near a music store or guitar retailer. If you’re planning to purchase online for the first time, though, you might be wondering which is the best website to buy a guitar from?

Should you play it safe with big names like Sweetwater or Guitar Center, or should you try and snatch a bargain on an auction site like eBay? In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide, we’ll take a look at the biggest online guitar retailers and the pros and cons of buying from each.

Keep reading as we answer the most common questions about where to buy a guitar online.

Advantages of Buying Guitars Online

When it comes to shopping for guitars, you’ll find that the gap between in person shopping and online shopping has all but disappeared. Very few of the distinct advantages of shopping in person still remain, making shopping online even more appealing.

Personalized Buying Experience

Thanks to advancements in internet technology, you can get a truly personalized online shopping experience any time of day or night, no matter where you live. You can now interact with real sales people, getting their advice and input on your purchase. These aren’t just names in a call center, in many cases these are real guitar enthusiasts who make it their business to share their experience. 

Additionally, some online stores (like Sweetwater) are now taking detailed pictures of their entire inventory so that you can choose the exact guitar you want. You can’t even do that in person at some brick and mortar stores!

Another huge plus for the personalized buying experience you’ll get online is the fact that you can use interactive comparison tools that make choosing between different models even easier.

Customer Service

It’s getting harder and harder to properly staff retail stores, particularly with experienced and knowledgeable employees, and this is particularly true of music stores. Members of the KGR team have been to numerous big box guitar stores, and all of us have found ourselves waiting for extended periods for even simple acknowledgement of our existence after walking in.

With online guitar shopping, this is far from being the case. As the main brands are vying for business, they’re almost trying to outdo each other with their customer service. Sweetwater’s approach, with their dedicated sales engineers for each customer, has really set the bar high for other retailers. Not only do they help at the point of sale, but they also provide ongoing support and advice, with the occasional friendly check in to see if your needs are being met.

Guitar Center’s recent implementation of their “Gear Advisors” has aimed to replicate this model, with personalized assistance to online shoppers, although their execution hasn’t quite matched the renowned service of Sweetwater yet.

Disadvantages of Buying Guitars Online

While buying guitars online is a much safer prospect than it used to be, the absence of any kind of physical interaction with the instrument remains an issue that is difficult to overcome. General improvements in reliability and manufacturing quality from the major brands have reduced the likelihood of getting a lemon, but it goes without saying that sometimes you just want to pick up and play a guitar to see if you gel with it. 

To address this, online guitar stores have introduced a number of improvements, including highly detailed descriptions, high res photography from multiple angles, and in some cases, even 3D imagery.

Additionally, many stores now offer free returns, something that has gone a long way to reducing the anxiety that comes with spending a lot of money on a guitar you haven’t actually picked up.

Online retailers are making continuous improvements, offering services like live chat support, pre delivery upgrade and setup packages, and even virtual try outs, further bridging the gap between the online and in store shopping experience.

Financing Options for Guitar Purchases

All of the major retailers, including Musician’s Friend and Sweetwater, now have multiple financing options, making it easier than ever to buy a guitar online. Many have special arrangements with banks and credit card providers, and offer store credit cards that bring with them perks and benefits like additional discounts or a points system. In many cases they come with an interest free period that allows shoppers to split the cost of a guitar over a period of time without increasing the cost provided that repayments are made on time. Further to this, may also offer loans and revolving credit – these are slightly different to the credit cards, but may also come with perks and interest free offers. 

In all cases, the latest secure transaction technology is utilized, so no matter whether you pay with a debit or credit card, your data is safe from fraud and unauthorized purchases.

Alternative Online Guitar Shopping Destinations

Online guitar shopping doesn’t always have to be at the big name stores. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the usual spots, checkout the used gear marketplaces, or you can look to buy direct from the manufacturer.

Used Guitar Marketplaces

Platforms like Reverb, Sweetwater Gear Exchange, and eBay have established themselves as reliable and generally safe resources for used guitars. The ability to access a vast selection of used instruments, from rare vintage models to more contemporary guitars, at a range of prices, makes these platforms appealing for both collectors and players on a budget.

Direct from the Brand

Some manufacturers offer more competitive pricing by cutting out the middle man and offering their guitars for sale direct to consumer from their own website. Kiesel Guitars is a great example of this – they offer great specs at great prices, and can keep prices low by only selling on their own platform. Some big brands like Gibson and Fender sell direct to consumer on their websites, but unfortunately don’t offer any kind of discount for doing so.

Online Guitar Shopping Tips

Just as with shopping in a brick and mortar store, there are a few things you can do to not only make your online shopping experience more seamless, but also to help you get the best possible deals. 

Research Thoroughly

Start by researching different types of guitars to understand which style suits your needs. Do you want acoustic or electric? Consider things like the type of music you play (or want to play), the guitar body style, wood type, and even the brand reputation of models you’re interested in.

Read Reviews and Watch Demos

Look for online reviews and video demos to get a sense of how the guitar sounds and performs. We have a huge catalog of product reviews and demos here at, and also on our YouTube page for you to check out and get our take on the latest guitars and gear.

Reviews from other musicians can also provide valuable insights into a guitar’s playability, tone, and build quality, too. 

Understand Specifications

It’s a good idea to brush up on guitar terminology before diving into a purchase. Learn about the differences in neck profiles and who they’re suited to, whether a guitar has humbuckers or single coils and why that affects its tone, and read up on the different tonewoods and how they can affect the sound of a guitar amongst other things. 

Use Price Comparison Tools

Make use of online tools and websites that can help you to compare prices across different stores to help you find the best deal for the guitar you want. When comparing prices, don’t forget to include potential shipping costs, taxes, and any additional fees for things like setups.

Shipping and Handling

Most retailers offer some kind of free standard ground shipping, but if you need your guitar or gear in a hurry, you might have the option to choose an expedited shipping service. If you aren’t using the free service, it can get quite expensive, and in the case of cheaper guitars, may end up costing as much, if not more than the item itself!

When shopping on Musician’s Friend or Guitar Center online, you also have the option to ship to store. This is great if you aren’t going to be home to take in a package during the day, giving you the peace of mind that your guitar is safe and waiting for you to pick up at your local Guitar Center.

Return Policies and Warranties

Before making a purchase, properly read the return policy, paying specific attention to the return window and conditions for returning a guitar. There are often hidden restocking fees that may end up being deducted from your refund, so be aware of this before buying. 

It’s preferable to buy from retailers that offer free returns. Shipping a guitar back to the store you bought it from could cost $100 or more, which is a cost we’re sure you don’t want to shoulder should you decide not to keep a guitar for any reason. 

You also need to look at the warranty, both from the retailer (where offered) and the manufacturer. Be sure to understand what is covered under the warranty and for how long.

Our Favorite Online Guitar Stores

There are tons of options when it comes to shopping for guitars online, but the below are by far the most popular.


Our #1 Pick


Sweetwater has unrivalled customer service, a huge array of makes and models, including many retailer exclusives, and above all else, good pricing and an easy to use website.

Sweetwater is the largest online guitar retailer in the United States, despite only operating one physical store, which also happens to be their warehouse and operations center. They have over 100 acres of space, including the store, recording studios, warehouse, office space, and even a diner.

This store carries equipment for guitarists of all types. For beginners, they have a great selection of starter guitars and bundles to suit even the smallest budgets. You’ll find gear from the likes of Epiphone, Squier, PRS SE, and many more amongst their collection of entry level gear.

Besides their huge collection of gear, Sweetwater’s biggest benefit is their unparalleled customer service. It sounds easy to say, but no other music retailer in the US can come close to Sweetwater when it comes to looking after their customers.

After your first purchase from Sweetwater, you’ll be assigned your own “Sales Engineer”.  Sweetwater sales engineers are essentially specialists who are able to guide and advise you on purchases. 

The only real downside to shopping at Sweetwater is their limited used selection. Because they have only one physical location (in Indiana), they receive very few guitars in trade, which keeps their pre-owned stock pretty low. While they don’t have a lot of used stock, they often have great deals on demo models, giving you the option to buy gently used gear at a reduced price and still get a full warranty.

Sweetwater offers free shipping on almost all items that they sell, but if you require an upgrade, you can pay extra for expedited delivery.

Guitar Center

Biggest Physical Retailer
Guitar Center

Guitar Center

Guitar Center is the most well known guitar retailer in the US thanks to their huge retail presence. They sell guitars for all budgets, and have access to a huge number of pre owned instruments.

Guitar Center is a brand that needs little introduction. They have by far the largest physical presence of any musical instrument retailer in the US, which has ultimately given them the strongest brand presence of any of the websites on this list.

Where Guitar Center tends to fall down is with their customer service, or rather lack of it. Guitar Center’s reputation has taken a beating in recent years, with reports of demo and, in some cases, pre owned and returned gear being passed off as new.

They’ve been trying to overcome this negative image with their new “Gear Advisor” program. The intent is to emulate Sweetwater’s Sales Engineer system, and while you are connected with a specialist when speaking to the Gear Advisors, you aren’t guaranteed to speak to the same employee each time you call.

If you’re looking for used gear, this is an area in which Guitar Center really shines. Because of their huge physical presence, they take in a lot of gear in trade, which leads to a vast selection of preowned, guitars, amps, and accessories. Used guitars can be shipped from whichever branch took them in trade, direct to your door, giving Guitar Center the Benefit of a national network of preowned gear.

Musician’s Friend

Another Great Option
Musician’s Friend

Musician’s Friend

Musician’s Friend is one of the real giants of online guitar sales. They offer good pricing, a great selection of used and new guitars, and some killer flash sales and limited time discounts.

Musician’s friend is currently an online-only retailer, although they did start out by selling musical instrument accessories out of a garage. After creating a website, their owners were quickly approached by retail giants, Guitar Center, and were subsequently bought out. After the acquisition of Guitar Center and their associated companies by Ares Capital, both companies began sharing the same corporate structure.

Where the lines between Guitar Center and Musician’s friend begin to become blurred is on their stock. The two brands share their entire inventory, meaning any item you see listed on Musician’s Friend is also listed on Guitar Center’s website. If one site is out of stock, so is the other. This can obviously be problematic if you’re shopping for rare or hard to find guitars as 2 reputable sites are taken out of consideration at once if there is no stock.

Unfortunately, Musician’s Friend suffers from the same poor customer service reputation as their parent company. It’s a safe website to buy from, without question, but they aren’t exactly renowned for swift or decisive resolutions to customer issues.

Musician’s Friend’s biggest benefit is their “Stupid Deal of the Day” promotion – a daily discount on one item, with hundreds of dollars often knocked off the MSRP for all kinds of items, including guitars from entry level to high end.


Another Great Option


Zzounds often comes up clutch with the hard to get guitars when the more popular sites are already sold out, and their fast, free shipping gets your gear to you quicker than any of the competitors can.

Zzounds is a popular US based guitar and music equipment retailer that, like Musician’s Friend, operates online only. 

There are guitars to suit all budgets at Zzounds, with entry level models often costing under $200. Those looking for high end gear won’t be disappointed, either, as Zzounds carries a good selection of premium models.

While they don’t boast the same range of products for sale as the big retailers, Zzounds does offer some of the best shipping in the business. Their free shipping offer covers almost all products listed, and because they ship 7 days a week with the exception of holidays, the time from order confirmation to delivery is often only 1 to 2 days for 95% of customers.

Customer service at Zzounds something of a mixed bag. Some customers report responsive agents and rapid resolution to issues, while others have reported receiving open box and used guitars after specifically ordering new items. It seems that your mileage may vary with Zzounds.

Zzounds website design and layout is another area that could use improvement. It’s best described as “early 2000s” style, with an outdated, difficult to navigate interface, and slow page loading – not ideal for an online only retailer!

Sam Ash

Another Great Option
Sam Ash

Sam Ash

Sam Ash is a familiar name in a sea of pop ups and flash in the pan websites. They offer some great discounts on guitars and have frequent sales that are always worth checking out.

Sam Ash is one of the few holdouts operating multiple physical stores across the country in addition to their website. They are one of the oldest and most trusted music retailers around, and while their stores aren’t famed for their wide selection, their website tends to carry far more items.

Pricing is generally quite good at Sam Ash, although, like most of the other sites, they tend to stick fairly close to the MSRP for each of the guitars that they list. They do, however, have some of the best sales, and so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on their site for markdowns and reductions.

For customer service, Sam Ash is one of the better online retailers out there today. Agents are generally knowledgeable and friendly, and they don’t ask too many questions about returns making the entire process nice and simple. Their return policy is industry standard, with 45 days to return items with no questions asked.

For used guitars, Sam Ash is only second to Musician’s Friends and Guitar Center when it comes to variety and availability, with over 1000 pre owned acoustic and electric guitars for sale on their website at the time of writing.


Another Great Option


Amazon is a site that truly needs no introduction! As you’d expect, guitars are available on this site, and many at almost unbelievable prices. It’s always worth checking out Amazon before committing to buying from any other site.

Guitar shopping at Amazon is an incredibly intuitive process, and this makes the experience even more straightforward. Just as you would for any other item search within amazon for exactly (or roughly) what you want, and you’ll be met with a list of choices, most of which are relevant to your search, but others will feel quite random.

Amazon’s customer service is absolutely fantastic, and it’s one of the areas that has cemented their already stellar reputation. Returns are generally no questions asked, and the return shipping is almost always free.

Free Prime shipping means members will get their products in usually around 2 days, unless an item is backordered, in which case, it can take weeks. Their return policy is excellent, too, with free returns offered and convenient UPS store drop off available.


Amazing New & Used Range


Reverb is a global marketplace for guitars and gear. You’ll find everything from rare vintage models, to brand new, hard to find guitars that have just been released.

Reverb is one of the most popular guitar sales sites on the web today. It isn’t a retailer per se, but more of a marketplace that allows sellers to list their items in exchange for commission on each sale. Unlike eBay, it isn’t an auctions site, so unless the seller is prepared to sell to you for the price listed or less, the item will sell for the asking price.

Reverb has one of the biggest collections of rare and vintage guitars in the world, so if you’re in search of something hard to find, there’s a good chance you’ll see on this site.

Individuals are also welcome to sell new and preowned gear on Reverb. Because of the huge community, items tend to sell quickly, which means you often need to move fast, especially if an independent retailer is having a sale or offering heavy discounts.

Because of the way the site runs, Reverb isn’t directly involved in customer service disputes pertaining to items bought, although they will step in if the buyer and seller cannot reach an amicable conclusion to their issues.


How secure are online payments when purchasing guitars?

Online guitar retailers typically use advanced encryption and security protocols to protect your transactions. Look for websites with secure payment gateways, indicated by HTTPS in the URL and security certificates from trusted authorities. Many stores also offer the option to use third party payment services like PayPal for added security.

How can I verify the authenticity of a guitar sold online?

To ensure authenticity, always purchase from reputable online retailers, or directly from brand websites. Exercise caution when shopping on Amazon or Walmart, as they use third party sellers who may try to sell you counterfeits. 

Many stores provide detailed information about the guitar, including serial numbers and authenticity certificates. For used guitars, platforms like Reverb offer verification services and guarantees against counterfeits. Regardless, always read reviews and check the seller’s history for red flags.

What should I know about return policies when buying a guitar online?

Return policies vary between retailers, so be sure to read these before purchasing. Look for shops that offer a reasonable return window (typically 30 days) and understand the conditions under which returns are accepted. Some stores may require the item to be in its original condition with all accessories included. You should also be aware that some stores charge a restocking fee. 

Are there options for financing guitar purchases online?

Yes, many online guitar retailers offer financing options, including credit cards and credit lines with interest free periods and payment plans. Check each store’s financing options and their terms for details. 

How do online stores ensure safe shipping of guitars?

Reputable online guitar stores will keep guitars in their original manufacturer’s packaging, and in most cases will put that box inside of a larger box with additional padding and often insure the shipment against damage during transit. Sweetwater goes above and beyond by placing a warning label to let the package acclimatize to your home before opening to prevent damage from temperature and humidity changes.  

Can I get expert advice when buying a guitar online?

Yes, many online guitar retailers, like Sweetwater, offer expert advice through their sales engineers or gear advisors. The cool thing about this, is that these are actual guitar enthusiasts who can provide advice based on your needs and your preferences, and who will proactively follow up with you from time to time to let you know about new gear.

Final Thoughts

Buying a guitar online is now no more treacherous than buying a pair of shoes. It’s convenient, safe, and offers a much wider selection than you’d ever find in a single retail store. Online guitar stores have made it easy to secure financing, and because of the customized customer service they offer, you’re more likely to get the answers you’re looking for.

While there are disadvantages, most notably not being able to pick up and actually try the guitars you’re interested in, there’s nothing stopping you from visiting a store, trying them out, then returning to shop online to get the best deal possible by comparing the prices across all the major stores – it’s a more involved approach, but one that will result in the lowest prices.

  • Simon Morgan

    Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and played the local scene throughout his teen years before running away to work on ships. These days his passion is budget guitars, amps and pedals - though he's not afraid of the finer things.