Guitar Center was founded in 1959 by Wayne Mitchell. Originally, it specialized in organs and was known as “The Organ Center.” However, the company began selling more guitars and guitar amplifiers in the late-60s and was subsequently renamed Guitar Center.
Fast forward to 2023, and Guitar Center has become the biggest retailer of musical instruments and equipment in the United States. They operate a bustling e-commerce website and have 294 physical locations spread all across the country.
So, I decided to take a closer look at how to find the closest Guitar Center to you, and what you can expect when visiting one of their stores.
- Guitar Center Near Me Locator
- What Does Guitar Center Offer?
- Can I Sell or Trade-in at Guitar Center?
- What To Expect When Selling or Trading-in at Guitar Center?
- How Does Guitar Center Determine The Value of an Item?
- What Can You Bring to Guitar Center To Sell or Trade?
- What about Vintage and Boutique Gear?
- What Is Likely Not To Be Accepted at Guitar Center?
- Preparing Your Gear For an Evaluation at Guitar Center
- Is Guitar Center’s Bottom Line Considered Fair?
- Does Guitar Center Haggle Over Prices?
- Is it Worth Going To Guitar Center?
- When Should I Not Take My Gear To Guitar Center
- Need Help Finding Stores and Services Near You?
- Final Thoughts
Guitar Center Near Me Locator
To find out which Guitar Center is closest to you, simply go to their website and type “store locator” into the search bar at the top of the screen. From there, you can browse Guitar Center locations by state or use your zip code to find the closest outlet.
What Does Guitar Center Offer?
Guitar Center deals mainly in new and used musical instruments and audio equipment. This includes guitars, basses, drums, traditional folk instruments, keyboards, amplifiers, speakers, recording equipment, and software. Additionally, depending on the location, Guitar Center also provides lessons in various instruments, recording services, and rentals.
Can I Sell or Trade-in at Guitar Center?
Yes, Guitar Center buys second-hand musical instruments and gear. They also have a Trade In/Trade Up program. Their website has a list of items they are in the market for. But, if you are unsure, all you have to do is take it to the store and ask.
The process starts with a simple evaluation of the item by the salesperson. For your gear to be accepted, it needs to be in %100 working condition. Cosmetic damage, like scratches, dents, scuff marks, etc., will affect the value, but it won’t disqualify the item completely.
If the item passes inspection, you will be made an offer for sale or given a trade-in value based on the determined value of your item. The store will give you cash up to $1000 and a cheque for anything more than that.
What To Expect When Selling or Trading-in at Guitar Center?
Guitar Center offers a baseline of up to 60% of market value. For example, if your item is valued at $1000, Guitar Center might offer you up to $600 for it.
That said, getting 60% of the market value is not a realistic expectation. Your item would have to be almost brand new to get that much. On average, you can expect to get anything between 45% and 55% for an instrument or piece of gear that is in good condition.
Should you decide to trade in/trade up, an additional 10% will be added to the amount offered. For example, if you were offered $500 for your item and decided to trade it for something else, your trade credit would be $600.
How Does Guitar Center Determine The Value of an Item?
Items are evaluated in person by a Guitar Center associate. When inspecting your item, they will take into account the condition, market desirability, current stock levels, and historical sales data.
What Can You Bring to Guitar Center To Sell or Trade?
Guitar Center will accept any kind of musical instrument or piece of audio equipment that they can easily make a profit on. Here are some of the most popular items that Guitar Center will buy:
- Drums and drum kits.
- Traditional folk instruments.
- Keyboards and synthesizers.
- MIDI controllers.
- Recording interfaces.
- Effects pedals and rack units.
- DJ equipment.
- Live sound equipment like speakers and monitors.
If an item is not listed here, that does not necessarily mean that Guitar Center Might not be interested in it. So, if you are unsure, just get in touch with them and ask whether they’d be interested.
What about Vintage and Boutique Gear?
Guitar Center accepts vintage and boutique gear. In these cases, the evaluation might take a bit longer, though. This is because they might have to reach out to someone at another branch who is an expert in that particular type of instrument, amplifier, etc.
What Is Likely Not To Be Accepted at Guitar Center?
While the scope of acceptable items at Guitar Center is quite wide, there are just as many items that are a no-go. The first and most obvious is disposable items. For example, things like guitar strings, drumsticks, picks, guitar straps, and other types of accessories. The store is likely to have plenty in stock, and there’s simply no way they can make a profit on these items.
The second type of item would be instruments and/or equipment that Guitar Center doesn’t typically deal in. Here are some examples of items Guitar Center does not buy:
- Old organs.
- Acoustic pianos.
- Orchestral instruments.
- Custom-made hardware like speakers and cables.
- Guitar hardware like volume/tone knobs and machine heads.
- Tape recorders.
- Large mixing desks/consoles.
- Upright bass guitars.
- Switching systems.
- Copyrighted material.
- Music software.
If your item doesn’t fall within one of the categories listed here, use the Guitar Center near me locator, give them a call, and inquire.
Preparing Your Gear For an Evaluation at Guitar Center
It would be impossible to cover every kind of item Guitar Center might buy. So, we’ll look at preparing some of the most popular ones:
Clean the guitar beforehand, and make sure the finish is nice and shiny without any fingerprints showing. Put on some fresh strings. If you can’t do that, take off the old ones and take the guitar/bass to the store without any strings.
Make sure the instrument is properly set up. The neck needs to be properly aligned, and the intonation needs to be correct. If you are unsure of how to check or set this, it would be worth it to get a professional to do it for you. The increase in value for your item during the evaluation will more than cover this.
Make sure you give a “complete package” to the best of your ability. This means including the original hardware, owner manual, knobs, etc. It will result in a higher value for the item. Also, adding a guitar case or a nice carrying bag won’t hurt either.
Take off all the knobs (if they aren’t easily removable, then leave them intact) on the amplifier and clean it properly. If it’s a tweed or felt-covered amp, use a brush to get rid of all the fluff and dust.
Plug the amp in and take it through its paces. Check that all the effects (if any) and channels on the amp are working. Make sure to align the knobs properly when replacing them. Remember to include the original cables, owner’s manual, and any included accessories if you can.
Pedals are traded quite a bit, so be realistic when taking yours to the store. If it’s a cheap one that you bought a year ago, then you’re likely to get nothing or very little. Vintage pedals like original Tube Screamers and Big Muffs will fetch good prices at any time.
Ensure the pedal is in 100% working order. Clean it up as best you can, and remember to include original cables, manuals, and packaging if possible.
The more complete a drum kit is, the higher the value will be. If you’re attached to that snare, too bad. You can’t swap it for another because the value of the kit will be lowered too much. When it comes to electric kits, the same rule applies and extends to cables and adapters, etc.
Clean the kit up, and make sure all the heads are secure and tuned up properly. Take the kit through its paces a bit to make sure it’s all in order. If you include cymbals, make sure they are in pretty good condition, or include a set of fresh ones.
Don’t bring cheap mics to the store; they’re not likely to accept unknown brands. Stick to well-known names like Shure, Sony, AKG, Neumann, etc. If you paid a lot for it, then it’s likely to still be worth something.
Include the original packaging, service tools, other diaphragms, and screen guards. Clean the mic and check that it’s performing as intended.
Keyboards/Controllers and Synthesizers
Clean the instrument and make sure that it’s functioning as it should. Get all the cables and other bits together and put it in a nice carry bag or the original box if you can.
If you have an analog synthesizer, remember to check the sensitivity and response of every control. Check that the oscillators are playing the proper pitch and that the filters are performing as they should. If there are inconsistencies, it would be better to get them taken care of before taking your synth to the store for evaluation.
A single speaker is no good; you need at least two to pass an evaluation. The only exception would be wedge monitors. Clean the speakers, remotes, center console, etc. Get all the original cables together, and test the system’s performance and controls. Put it in the original packaging if you can.
Recording interfaces are traded quite often. So, if you’ve got a small one or two-channel interface, don’t be surprised if it gets declined. If you’ve got four or six or more channels, and it happens to be a high-end model, you’re sure to get an offer.
Clean the device, make sure it powers up, and test each of the inputs and outputs. You need to be able to record, playback audio, and use MIDI ports the interface has them. Check that all the knobs are working as they should. Finally, try to get your hands on the old box and its cables if you can.
Mixers are always desirable, just don’t show up with a 32-channel desk that needs to be transported on a truck. Likewise, don’t bring the store a cheap four-channel mixer you bought for $100 two Christmases ago.
Sometimes, the store you go to using the Guitar Center near me locator might not be able to sell the mixer in a practical timeframe. In this case, they’ll send it to another branch for evaluation and potential sale or trade-in. The process might take a bit longer, but you’ll be likely to get an offer since good mixers are always in demand.
As always, make sure the item is cleaned and working 100%. Include all the cables and packaging if you can. If you have the mixer serviced before taking it to the store, make sure to include an invoice or letter for the servicing.
Is Guitar Center’s Bottom Line Considered Fair?
When selling on the used market, musical instruments and audio equipment have an average resale value of 70%. This figure is based on items that are in the very best of condition.
Considering the time and effort it takes to sell your gear by yourself, Guitar Center’s offer of 60% is considered very reasonable. The added 10% in case of trade-ins is fantastic.
Does Guitar Center Haggle Over Prices?
Of course, they do! This is a business just like any other. That’s why it’s important to make sure you know what your gear is worth because you can bet the farm that they will. And, they’re going to try and boost their profit from the sale as much as they can.
Will they try and lowball you on the first offer? Most likely. So, make sure you do at least a bit of negotiating. Check the value of your gear beforehand using online resources like Sweetwater or UsedPrice. Furthermore, if you’re no good at negotiating, take someone with you who is.
This is especially important if you’ve got some vintage gear that you want to sell. You can even push the sale total to 65% if you’re confident in the desirability of the items. You need to be thick-skinned and well-informed, though.
Is it Worth Going To Guitar Center?
If you need money right now and you’ve got musical instruments or gear to sell, then Guitar Center is one of your best options. Here are the main reasons to sell your music gear at Guitar Center:
- A long-standing company with a good reputation (no scams).
- Fair offers for good gear.
- Paid immediately.
- Accepts a wide variety of items (even vintage gear).
- Numerous convenient locations throughout the US.
When Should I Not Take My Gear To Guitar Center
If you’ve got a signed piece of memorabilia, a guitar owned by someone famous, an old original Stradivari, etc., you’ll get a better price selling it independently. Guitar Center is also likely to decline the item. But, even if they make you an offer, it won’t be close to what you could get selling it on your own.
Need Help Finding Stores and Services Near You?
If so, check out our guides on Pawn Shops Near Me Locator, 24 Hour Pharmacy Near Me Locator, Scrap Yard Near Me Locator, Motel 6 Near Me Locator, and La Quinta Near Me Locator to help you find just what you’re looking for in 2023.
And, if you’re looking to sell some items, have a look at our thoughts on the Best Places to Sell Your Used Bike for Cash, the Best Places to Sell Used Car Batteries for Cash Near You, the Best Places to Sell Used Rims for Cash, the Best Sites to Sell a Car Fast, and Places to Sell a Broken TV for Cash Near You for more useful information.
Guitar Center is probably the best option for anyone looking to sell used instruments and music gear. They’ve been around for a long time, so you’re not selling your gear to shady people in parking lots. And their 60% bottom line is better than even some of the independent dealers.
If you need cash immediately and you don’t have time to sell your music gear yourself, then cleaning it up and taking it to your nearest Guitar Center is your best option. They know what stuff is worth, and they won’t try and rob you. Just make sure you’ve got your haggling boots on.
Until next time, good luck, and may you find success.
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