​​​​Is Guitar Center Legit? Your Questions Answered!

If you’ve been searching online for guitars or other instruments, there’s a good chance that the targeted ads that pop up on your browser are starting to direct you to a site called Guitar Center, and if you’ve never heard of them, you might be wondering whether or not this is a legit business.

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

Is Guitar Center legit/safe to buy from?

Yes, Guitar Center is a legit retailer that you should by and large feel safe to buy from. That being said, we would suggest exercising some caution as they have been known to sell used items as new, and can sometimes mess up their used listings, leaving you in the lurch.

Guitar Center History

Guitar Center has the nation’s biggest chain of music stores. They have locations in almost every major city in the US, and they also have a huge online presence. So, if you’re wondering whether or not they’re legit, we can confirm that they are indeed a real business.

There is, however, a downside. While GuitarCenter.com is not a scam site, their Truspilot reviews are fairly dismal, with just 1.4 stars from 201 reviews at the time of writing. Many of the complaints seem to center around customer service, and more worryingly, a large number come from customers who have received used, or in store demo items when paying for new products.

Things don’t get much better on Sitejabber, with a rating of just 1.8 stars from 91 reviews, indicating that customers are generally dissatisfied. The reviews tell the whole story, with comments like “You Guys Are Horrible!”, “stay away”, and “If I could give a zero I would”.

In slightly better news, they boast a 100% Trustscore on Scam Adviser, with over 270 positive reviews

Company Info

Guitar Center is, as we briefly mentioned, the biggest retailer of musical instruments in the United States. They operate an e commerce website, and have 294 physical locations across th country.

The company has always been California based. It was founded in 1959 by Wayne Mitchell in Hollywood, where believe it or not, they specialized in Organs, and at the time operated under the business name “The Organ Center”. In the late 60s, Mitchell’s suppliers began requiring that he sell more guitar amplifiers and guitar related products, and as this side of the business took off, the business was renamed as “Guitar Center”. Today, they are headquartered in Westlake Village, CA.

What Are Some of the Reasons to Buy from There?

Physical Locations

Having physical locations in metropolitan areas across the country gives players a chance to try before they buy, which is particularly important when purchasing guitars and amplifiers.

Equipment For Almost All Needs

In addition to the benefit of physical locations, the company boasts a huge range of supplies for many different instruments, as well as pro audio, studio, and DJ equipment.

They Take Trades

If you’re looking for a new guitar, and you’d like to trade in an older instrument, you can do so by taking it to your local store. They’ll inspect it, and give you a valuation, which can be used as credit against a new or used guitar. The valuation method they use is a little crude – they take recent eBay sales for the same instrument, and offer you 60% of that price. You can absolutely make more by selling it yourself, but this is the price of convenience

If you do trade in your guitar, they will also give you a 10% discount off a new guitar – note that the 10% discount does not apply to any pre owned instruments you might want to purchase.

They Sell Pre Owned Guitars

As mentioned, the store does take trades, and the instruments they buy in go to their preowned section. As the majority of guitars depreciate after initial purchase, preowned instruments can often be found in great condition for far less than the price of a brand new example.

They Offer Music Lessons

In Guitar Center’s physical locations, you are able to sign up and attend guitar lessons with professional teachers. These are perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics, or even more advanced players looking to sharpen their skills. They also offer online lessons if you’d prefer to learn from the comfort of your own home!

Good Return Policy

They offer a 45 day satisfaction guarantee. If within the first 45 days since your purchase, you decide that you aren’t happy, simply return the item, either by mail, or to a physical location, in its original condition for a full refund. There are some exclusions to this policy, however, so it’s advisable to read the fine print before making a purchase you’re not 100% sure about.

Guitar Center Gear Card (Synchrony)

GC offers a credit card known as the “Gear Card”, which is processed via Synchrony Bank. They offer great interest rates, including up to 48 months at 0% APR on qualifying purchases. They also offer 5% back in rewards for purchases made on your Gear Card.

Guitar Center FAQ

Here’s some of the common questions people have about Guitar Center – if yours isn’t answered, leave a comment!

How Long do Orders Take?

The company offers a number of shipping options including free ground shipping for purchases over $25. The free ground shipping typically takes 5 business days, but can sometimes come in as little as 2.

If you really need your items in a hurry, you can opt to upgrade (at a cost) to expedited shipping, with the option of 2 day, or next day shipping if you’re really in a hurry.

Is It a Good Place to Buy Guitars?

If you do thorough research on the guitar you want to buy prior to purchase, and understand any common issues, then they can be a good place to buy guitars. By knowing that many customers have received preowned or demo models instead of new items, you will know to explicitly state at the time of your order that you want something factory sealed.

What Carrier Do They Use For Shipping?

Guitar Center uses the United States Postal Service (USPS) for shipping guitars and any other (excluding bulky and oversize) items. Customers are provided with a tracking number after their items ship so they can keep an eye on the progress of their purchase.

Do They Sell Gibson Guitars?

Yes, they sell Gibson Guitars as well as guitars from many other famous brands such as, Fender, Gretsch, Epiphone, Squier, Jackson, Ibanez, Yamaha, Martin, and Taylor to name but a few.

Did they go Bankrupt?

No, Guitar Center did not go bankrupt. In November 2020, the brand did file for chapter 11 Bankruptcy, but by December had come up with new financing and organizational restructured that allowed them to emerge.

Do They Provide Discounts on Guitars?

Yes, and they’re often very good. Every day they offer their “daily pick”, which is typically heavily discounted, and frequently guitars are featured. Outside of that, they offer big sales for Black Friday, and many of the other major shopping holidays.

Final Thoughts

Guitar Center is one of the most well respected guitar stores in the country, and while they do have something of an up and down financial history, you should feel safe buying from them in person or at GuitarCenter.com!

  • 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.