Can you trade in at Guitar Center?

Yes. Guitar Center offers 60% of the market value for used gear, which is reasonably good. You just need to walk in with your instrument or gear and have it evaluated by a member of the staff. They offer cash up to $500 and a check for higher amounts.

Your gear has to be fully functional, as it won’t make it past the 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 they will impact the evaluation to some extent.

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 Store
  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 $500 or a check for a larger amount!

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

Is Guitar Center trade-in value fair?

For music stores, 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 in, they add an extra 10% on items that are not a part of any sale of clearance.

It’s not always about the money though; it’s a combination of value and the hassles involved in reselling. If you sell in the used market, you need to deal with shenanigans ranging from joke-offers to trolling to failed payments and freight charges.

Is selling to Guitar Center worth it?

The best part about a trade in or selling to Guitar Center is the ease of walking in with your gear and walking out with a check. The downside is the check – relatively lesser than what you could make if you can endure the stresses of 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 will not consider these factors as we proceed.

How much money does Guitar Center give for trade ins?

The first step is approval – the store manager or sales-associate will evaluate your gear and check the quality. Once approved, Guitar Center will offer 50% to 60% of the market price of what you brought in. 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.

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 so would you if it is a trade. You will also bear the shipping expenses, 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 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 us take a simple example: Hypothetically, you own a guitar with a $1000 current market value. Most music stores constantly offer coupons and discounts (like the Black Friday sale, for example) ranging from 10 to 20% off on new gear. So, the 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 at $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 the same if not lesser than the money 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 in a relatively fast process.

Dos 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 before you go in with implausible expectations and get disappointed. Find a used listing on GC or other used markets of the exact same gear that you want to sell. The trade in offer that GC will make 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 in the final price. If you sell a pedal for $150 but shipping costs you $50, you’ve only made $100.

For more tips, you can check out our extensive article on how to get top dollar for your used gear.

Go prepared and trade up!

We hope to have equipped you with our first-hand wisdom regarding the second-hand market. We are a reader-supported website that depends on your pro-active actions to sustain these free articles, guides and guitar-related resources.

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