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If you’ve been shopping for guitars within the past couple of years, you may have noticed that prices have increased. This has happened across the board, affecting both new and used guitar prices. In some cases, the increase is quite dramatic.
This raises a couple of questions. What is causing the increase? And most importantly, can you still find good deals on guitars? The answer to that is yes, but you just have to shop a little more selectively than you did before.
The reason for the higher prices is relatively straightforward as you will see below. As far as finding good deals, we have some tips that will help you track down that great price. Keep reading to find out how to score that guitar you want at a sweet price.
Why Are New Guitar Prices Higher?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the entire supply chain has been disrupted. There are delays across the board in manufacturing and shipping. There are shortages in components used to manufacture electronic goods.
With more people staying at home and starting new hobbies in 2020, there was a surge in demand for guitars and related items. Combine a greater interest in guitars with supply chain issues, and you have a reduction in supply.
Over the past year, we have seen much discussion of inflation and its impacts. The cost for both retailers and consumers has increased.
When you consider these reasons, it’s no surprise that guitar prices have increased. Increased demand, supply chain disruption and reduced supply, and inflation have all contributed to an increase in guitar prices.
Why Are Used Guitar Prices Higher?
With more people buying guitars, the price for used gear has also gone up. At one point, it was easy to find a great deal on a used guitar. But most sellers are aware that they can charge higher prices for their used gear, so they act accordingly.
In some cases, this can be related to a specific guitarist. For example, after Eddie Van Halen‘s passing, anything with a Kramer logo on it dramatically increased in price.
I’m a fan of Kramer guitars. At one point, I was looking for a used import for a project guitar. You could readily pick these up for $300-400. The current price is $500-600, and they are much harder to find.
It is also more expensive for sellers now. Shipping costs have increased, as well as some platform fees. For example Reverb’s selling fee increased to 5% from 3.5% in 2020. Sellers will either absorb the fee increase, or pass it down to buyers.
Full disclosure, I buy guitars from Reverb, and I also have an affiliate arrangement with them.
Example Price Increases
We will look at a few examples just to see how prices have changed. As an example, the Squire Classic Vibe series was previously $399 in 2020. Currently, the going price is $449.
The ESP LTD EC-256 used to sell for $449 in 2020, and it’s now selling for $549. The PRS SE Standard could be had for $499 in 2020 and early 2021, and is now $649!
The Cort G290 FAT I purchased in 2020 for about $525 including shipping is now selling for $620-749, not including shipping.
These price increases seem high on average, but it may just be a reflection of our current economic environment.
Enough of the bad news, let’s look at how you can still find a deal.
Adjust Your Expectations
One simple strategy is to adjust your expectations. Don’t worry too much about the price from a year ago, but consider the current price, and look for deals relative to that.
For example, you may not find a new Classic Vibe series for $399 anymore, but you can find them for less than $449. Retailers will run periodic sales to clear out inventory, or just price competitively to keep sales steady.
A quick search shows me several new Classic Vibe Strats for $429 including shipping. That’s a good deal for a new, quality guitar.
Consider B-Stock or Mint Used Guitars
Instead of focusing on a brand new guitar, try searching for B-stock which is essentially new but with a minor issue. Check out the description in the listings and see what the issue is and whether you can live with it. It might be a guitar with a minor blemish or scratch selling at a healthy discount.
When searching for ESP LTD EC-256 B-stock guitars, I see several starting at $465. Expanding this search to include used guitars in mint and excellent condition, there are used ESP LTD EC-256 starting under $400.
Shop For Alternate Guitar Brands And Models
One strategy is to look for lesser-known guitars. Everybody knows about Strats, Teles, and LPs, but when you wander off the beaten path, you might find some gems.
For example, I recently ran across the Ibanez Jet King guitar, selling for around $400-500 on Reverb. This guitar has tons of character. You get a unique guitar that not everyone has, at a decent price.
Browse by brand on Reverb or other sites, and see if there is something you overlooked. Check out the “Deals and Steals” and featured areas on Reverb’s main category pages. You might find something worth a closer look.
Shop On eBay
It’s possible to find good deals on guitars at eBay. Often, sellers here want to complete a transaction quickly and are not always interested in figuring out what the going price of something is. If you shop carefully here, you can find some decent deals on guitars.
But, you will need to use caution as damage and other issues are not always well represented in the photos or in the item description. On average, eBay sellers may not be quite as knowledgeable as sellers on Reverb. Keep that in mind as you’re shopping and be sure to ask the seller questions.
Shop Guitar Center Used Listings
It’s worth checking the used guitar listings at the Guitar Center website, or in person. If you’ve ever looked at the used section before, you’ll know that there is virtually no detail on the guitars, and the photos are very low resolution.
But you might find a great price on something you want. If you do, call the Guitar Center where the item is located and ask for more details. Or, you can gamble on the guitar’s condition. They do have a return policy in case something goes wrong.
Shop Your Local Music Store
I am definitely an advocate of frequenting your local music store and buying from them when you can. They might carry a selection of used instruments as well. Check their website, or visit the store and see what they have.
A benefit of buying from your local store is that you have someone to talk to about the guitar, and support if there is a problem. If you ask nicely, they might just give you a deal too.
Shop On Craigslist
We should probably mention Craigslist, where you will find a variety of guitar listings. These seem to run the gamut from people who know what they have and price it accordingly, to really random guitars and items that you may not want.
Much like eBay, you should use caution and ask the seller lots of questions. I find fewer good deals on guitars here, however you might be able to find something if you do a little digging.
Ask For A Deal
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to ask a seller directly if they can give you a deal. It’s more than likely that the seller will work with you on the price if you ask politely. It helps to show some interest first so the seller knows you are serious.
So overall, yes you can still find good deals on guitars. But you may have to search a little harder than before. The demand still seems to be high, and the supply has decreased. And economic conditions are driving prices up.
But with a little bit of luck and some patience, you’ll be able to find the guitar you want. It helps to be flexible and be open to potential deals as you find them.