Are Used Guitars From Guitar Center Good?

Buying a used guitar can be a risky business. Especially when it comes to online purchases. Guitar Center, the world’s largest retailer of musical instruments, offers you a bunch of used gear, guitars included.

Is Guitar Center trustworthy when it comes to buying a used guitar from them?

Buying a used guitar from Guitar Center is risky, indeed. That’s due to many issues, the biggest one being a poor description, or no description at all, of a guitar in their online catalogue. Also, guitars are often poorly packaged before they are sent to shipping.

However, there is a number of things you can do to diminish the risk. And, to be fair, Guitar Center’s return policy guarantees you’ll get the refund if you’re unhappy with the guitar you got.

In this article we’re gonna analyze everything you need to know about it. Let’s go!

1. No Description, Not Enough Photos

When searching through the online catalogue, the first thing you’ll notice is there’s no description of the guitar you’re looking to buy. Only information that is shown is the condition of the guitar. There are fixed ‘values’ they list on ‘condition’. It ranges from excellent or great, to fair and poor.

However, the condition grading won’t give you the reliable information. Many experiences from guitar players all over the USA attest to that claim. Often, a guitar that’s in excellent condition may, in reality, not be ‘excellent’.

The fact that there are, more often than not, very few photos of the product doesn’t help either. You just cannot asses the guitar’s true condition from one or two (usually front and back) photos. Although you can zoom on the photos they show, that’s not enough. There may be an issue you can’t see.

There are a lot of potential issues that can’t be seen just by inspecting the photo. For example, volume pots may be broken. Tuning pegs may be too loose. Truss rod problems can’t be seen from the photo, also.

Just by looking at the product online, you can only decide to believe their assessment of a guitar’s condition. And that’s basically the game of coin toss-up.

What you can do is to call them and ask for a more information. And more photos.

2. Packaging Issues

The second problem of buying a used guitar from Guitar Center is packaging. Often, guitar is mildly bubble wrapped in a box. And often it’s just thrown in the box, unattached, so it moves in it through the whole shipping process.

That’s why there are many cases in which buyers got their guitar slightly damaged, possibly from thumping while being loaded or unloaded from the truck.

But to be fair, we cannot attribute 100% of the blame to the Guitar Center, only. The shipping companies, like UPS, are also partly responsible for the possible damage of the product. Workers in shipping companies are encouraged to be as fast as possible in loading/unloading packages.

So, because they are under a pressure to do their job as fast as possible, they often carelessly throw packages in their trucks. Add to that the fact that a guitar from Guitar Center is not properly attached in its box, and you get the high risk of a guitar getting some damage.

But then again, in my opinion, Guitar Center can and should mark their packages as ‘fragile’. That way, workers in shipping companies would surely deal with a package more carefully.

Again, to diminish the risk of that happening, you can call the Guitar Center to instruct them with packaging.

3. Disclosure Issues

There are rarely any disclosures on used products from Guitar Center. That’s somehow related to the first issue mentioned above. Before selling a product, a seller should inform every potential buyer about the product’s crucial characteristics and possible flaws it has.

For instance, the guitar’s finish may not be as it’s shown in pictures. Often, guitars come dirty and unpolished. The overall state of condition is not inspected nor shown in the description. That’s the big problem.

4. Return Policy

The biggest advantage of buying a used guitar from the Guitar Center is their return policy. Even if you don’t like what you got, you can just send it back and get the refund.

You can read the details of their return policy on the official website, here.

The most important information about returning the product you’re not happy with is this:

  • there is 45 day satisfaction guarantee, meaning you can send back a guitar within 45 days of purchase (vintage instruments are excluded from this rule)
  • you get the full refund of the purchase price, excluding shipping and handling charges

Also, it’s advised you return the guitar to the nearest Guitar Center store. Here’s what they say about it:

Return in Store to Avoid Shipping Charges

Items purchased in-store or online can be returned to any Guitar Center store. Just bring a copy of your order confirmation email or the packing slip you received with your order. Credit will be issued immediately. If you return your product in-store, you can avoid paying return shipping charges. For the latest information on store status and hours, please check


Use Ship-To-Store Option

Also, you can opt for ship-to-store option. In other words, it is best for you to purchase a guitar and make it come to the nearest Guitar Center in your city. That way you’ll avoid unnecessary expenses.

What Can You Do?

Here’s what you can do to diminish the risk and to avoid issues associated with the Guitar Center.

Do a Research On a Guitar Model

When buying a used guitar from, the responsibility is not completely on retailer’s side. You need to do your homework. Do a research on a guitar you want to buy. Some guitar brands are known to be more durable than others. That’s something you should have in mind.

If there’s a certain guitar model you see in the Guitar Center catalogue, research the information about it. Maybe that guitar has a ‘short lifespan’, which should be included in your calculation. Read more about it here.

Beware of ‘Good Deals’

When scrolling through the online Guitar Center catalogue, you’ll often find some ‘good deals’. Maybe even too good to be true.

Of course, the price is true in a sense you’ll pay nothing more than a purchasing price + shipping expenses. But if the guitar you’re looking to buy has a price that’s just too good, that alone is the reason for suspicion.

Ask yourself, why is a particular guitar cheaper than what you’d expect? It’s possible that a guitar has some ‘issues’ you don’t know about yet. That’s another reason why you should research a particular guitar model on the internet.

If the price differs significantly from the prices on another retailer sites, that’s an alarming sign.

Be Kind, Call & Ask

This is the least thing you can do in order to diminish the risk of buying a used guitar from Guitar Center.

  • call them up

Call the Guitar Center. It’s better to talk to them on the phone than to send them an email. On the phone you’ll get instant answers and information you need to know.

  • ask questions about guitar’s condition

Ask them about everything you want to know regarding guitar’s condition. As it’s being said, the listed condition of a product may not be reliable enough.

  • demand more photos

Demand that they send you more photos of a guitar you’re opting to buy. Close up photos are crucial for you to assess and inspect the guitar’s condition. You have to be assured that everything is OK with a guitar.

  • be kind

Talk to the employees in a decent and respectful manner. That way you’ll get more information. Also, if you’re respectful, they’ll often tell you their honest opinion. Maybe the guitar you want is not as good as it seems. They’ll often tell you that, and perhaps recommend some other guitar for you.


In the conclusion of this subject, we can only repeat the main points that were highlighted through the article. Purchasing a used guitar from the Guitar Center is risky. You can lower the risk of getting a bad guitar, but still the risk exists.

Guitar Center is the world’s largest retailer of guitars. Big businesses often have their disadvantages. They surely have a tons of guitars coming in and out of their stores and warehouses. Maybe that’s a part of the reason why they are not focused enough on delivering a good used guitar to you.

Nevertheless, you can check the Daily Pick product every day from their site.

If this article provided you a good information about this subject, I’m more than happy about it. Hope you enjoyed reading it. For more interesting articles about guitars and guitar related topics, feel free to click on the link below.

Cheers, and rock on!

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