Can You Trade in Gear at Guitar Center? [2023]

Yes, you can trade in your gear at Guitar Center. They offer up to 60% of the market value for used gear, which is reasonably good. You just need to have your instrument or gear evaluated by a member of their staff. They offer cash up to $1,000 and a check for higher amounts.

Your gear has to be fully functional, as it won’t make it past inspection if it isn’t in 100% working condition. This doesn’t include cosmetic damage like scruffs, dings, dents and/or cracks that don’t impact the playability of the instrument, although that will impact their valuation. Items such as gig bags may also increase the price.

You can check out the list on their website to see if your gear qualifies for a trade-in. Overall, it is a simple process that includes:

  1. Take the gear to your nearest Guitar Center.
  2. Get it inspected and evaluated.
  3. They will make you an offer for a sale or trade-in.
  4. Walk out with cash up to $1,000 or a check for larger amounts!

You don’t even need an appointment. You can walk in with your gear during open hours and meet with a sales associate who will guide you through the process.

Looking to buy a guitar online?
Check out our full guide to online guitar retailers.

Does Guitar Center Buy Used Gear?

Yes, Guitar Center buys used gear including guitars, amps, and pedals, and just about else guitar-related. They also buy a small number of keyboards, recording equipment, and drums. You may however find that consumables such as strings, picks, and drum sticks are a no-go.

What Can I Sell or Trade In at Guitar Center?

Guitar Center will buy or accept as trade almost any musical instrument or accessory they feel they can sell in their Used department. The obvious items are guitars, amps, pedals, basses, drumkits, cymbals, microphones, keyboards, PA speakers and mixers, interfaces etc.

Gear You Can’t Sell or Trade at Guitar Center

While the list of things they will accept is long and often self-evident, there are still things they will not accept, either because they typically see too much wear to make sense as a used item (strings, pick, drumsticks) or because Guitar Center doesn’t generally sell that kind of item. Acoustic pianos, for example.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of such items:

  • Acoustic pianos
  • Any sort of copyrighted material
  • Computers
  • Random consumer electronics
  • Tape recorders
  • Switching systems
  • Custom-built cables
  • Wireless units
  • Used strings
  • Guitar parts
  • Drum heads
  • Drum sticks
  • Low-end drum hardware
  • Upright basses
  • Really big mixing boards
  • Orchestral instruments

As always, the final decision lies with the manager on duty at the time.

Guitar center Trade in

Is Guitar Center Trade-in Value Fair?

Guitar Center offers reasonably fair prices for used gear. They are a reseller and need profit for their efforts, but if you opt for an in-store trade, they add an extra 10% on new, unused items that are not a part of any sale or clearance.

It’s not always about the money though. Part of the value is avoiding all the hassles generally associated with reselling. The used marketplace is rife with shenanigans, ranging from lowball offers to trolling to failed payments and scams, and of course there are the freight charges.

Is Selling to Guitar Center Worth It?

The best part about a trade-in to Guitar Center is the ease of walking in with your gear and walking out with cash or a check. The downside is the check is relatively less than what you could make if you can endure the stresses of selling on the used market.

In general, the resale value of musical gear or instruments is 50 – 60% of the current market price. If your gear is in mint condition and highly in demand, you can push it to 70%. Nevertheless, this process requires uploading pictures, gear specs and negotiation on the price in an online platform or classified listing. It also takes more time to seal the deal than it would to walk-in to GC for a quick trade-in.

We are aware that certain instruments and boutique gear can fetch a larger price. This applies to limited-edition runs or discontinued gear that has a lot of demand in the used market. However, such items are more of an exception than the norm – so we aren’t focused on those factors in this article.

How Much Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

Guitar Center will offer 50% to 60% of the market price, provided the store manager or sales-associate who evaluates your gear and checks the quality signs off on the purchase. The final offer for trade-ins depends on the gear quality and your haggling skills.

And, yes you can certainly haggle at Guitar Center but it’s unlikely to cross 65%. If you compare this to a pawnshop or other music stores, this is a fair trade-in value. However, you may have better luck online if you are willing to put in the work.

Guitar center Trade in

How to Calculate Your Guitar Center Cash Sale Value

Guitar Center offers a baseline 60% of the worth of your guitar for a cash sale. To find the value of your guitar, use one of the various online options for valuing a guitar, then take 60% of that. You’ll also need to take into consideration the condition of the guitar.

How to Calculate Your Guitar Center Trade-in Value?

Guitar Center offers a 10% “Trade In/Trade Up” premium on used guitars that are brought in for a trade rather than cash. As before, use an online blue book to value your guitar, then multiply that by 60% to get a rough idea of Guitar Center’s trade-in value for your guitar.

Selling or trading music gear independently online can be cumbersome because you need to sift through multiple offers and accommodate the demands of each prospective buyer. They may request a meet-up to check out your instrument, and you will also bear the shipping expenses and hassles, which makes the process less worthwhile.

At the end of the day, the marginal uptick in value may not be worth the time and energy involved in finding the right trade or buyer in other formats.

Is There a Guitar Center Trade-in Value Calculator Online?

Unfortunately, no such thing exists, but the following table should give you an idea of what you’re looking at.

Item ValueSell For CashTrade For Another Item

Is It Worth Selling Used Gear to Guitar Center?

The consensus is that Guitar Center is very fair and transparent when it comes to their trade policy. They mostly offer you a flat 60% of whatever they think they can make on your instrument, even if you would have been willing to settle for less.

Let’s take a simple hypothetical example: You own a guitar with a $1,000 current market value. Most music stores constantly offer coupons and discounts (like the Black Friday sale) ranging from 10 to 20% off new gear. So, the actual selling price for a new guitar is more like $800.

Now, very few people will buy a used guitar for $700 if a new one costs $100 more. So they have to price the used guitar around $500 based on the condition of the guitar. This means they will offer you 60% of that price – which will amount to $300.

If you factor in the time it takes them to process this, setup the guitar, refurbish it and push for the sale – they are only making $200 on their investment. At best, this is roughly the same (if not less than) they make by selling a new instrument, which involves less work.

If you think about it, the fact that they accept trades is more of a customer service or courtesy rather than a profit-making venture. Keeping this in mind, Guitar Center offers a reasonable trade-in value and a relatively fast process.

Does Guitar Center Really Pay up to $1,000 for Used Gear?

Yes, Guitar Center pays up to $1,000 cash for used gear. If your valuation is over $1,000, they will pay the remainder in different ways depending on the store:

  • Store credit towards another purchase
  • A check in the amount exceeding $1,000
  • A prepaid GC Visa card

As with everything used, this is at the discretion of the individual store and the manager in the store at the time.

Guitar center Trade in

Do’s and Don’ts of Trading in at Guitar Center

Don’t call or email GC looking for a quote. Guitar Center will not respond to such queries as their policy mandates an in-person inspection and evaluation of the instrument.

Polish, clean, restring – do whatever it takes to make your gear look nice and shiny. First impressions matter, and you don’t want to walk in with a guitar with rusted strings or a pedal covered in a layer of dust.

Do your research instead of going in with implausible expectations and coming away disappointed. Find a used listing on GC or other used markets of the exact same gear you want to sell. The trade-in offer from GC will be 60% of the price you see on that listing.

If you are selling in the used market, don’t forget to factor in shipping for the final price. If you sell a pedal for $150, but shipping costs you $50, you’ve only made $100.

Go Prepared and Trade up!

Ultimately, the choice to trade in an item at Guitar Center comes down to a balance of convenience and how much you really want to be paid for the item. If you need fast cash and aren’t worried about getting top dollar, GC can be the way to go.

However, if you’re patient, you can make extra money by selling on Reverb or Craigslist – just be prepared for a lot more work!


  • Brian Kelleher

    I'm the main guy at and I want to tell you all about guitars. I've been playing music since 1986 when my older brother taught me to play "Gigantic" by The Pixies on a bass with two strings. Since then, I've owned dozens of instruments from guitars to e-drums, and spent more time than I'd like to admit sitting in vans waiting for venues to open across Europe and the US.

5 thoughts on “Can You Trade in Gear at Guitar Center? [2023]

  • Thank you Andrew for putting this info together for anyone considering to sell to Guitar Center. I have been buying and trading in several guitars and amplifiers with GC now for 8 years. I’ve found trade in my used gear t o be waaay easier than trying to sell on Craigs List.

  • How much did guitar center pay you to write this? I don’t know anyone who was ever offered anywhere near 60% of the value of what they were trading in. I’m not saying they are doing anything unethical, they are in business to make money, but let’s not shill for them.

    • Hi Erik, I think you may have misunderstood what it’s 60% of – say you have an acoustic that you paid $1500 for. It’s used value according to Reverb/Ebay/Etc is $1000 – GC will give you 50-60% of that $1000, or $500 to $600, not 60% of the new value of the item. This is what we’ve experienced and this is what people we know who work at GC say is the baseline. We have no ties whatsoever with GC – just reporting on how it works.

      Hope this helps!

  • Ah, this is “moderated” which means any comments contrary to the big lie don’t get published. Good to know.

    • Comments are moderated because spam comments vastly outweigh genuine comments, and as soon as you turn off moderation, spammers tell each other and it turns into a hellhole. Sorry you had to wait a few hours before your comment went live – hope it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience!


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