That old axe has been hanging on the wall for months while you instead play your latest Strat toy.  May as well sell it, right?

(The following advice pertains to mid to low-end used electric guitars like Squier, Yamaha, Fender, Ibanez and Epiphone, etc.)

HOW TO PRICE A GUITAR

Check places like Reverb, eBay and Craigslist for pricing ideas.  A guitar that’s only a year or so old might bring 2/3rds to 3/4s of its “new” price, if it’s a popular model, popular color and in excellent shape.

Older guitars might bring anywhere from roughly 1/3rd to 2/3rds of their original price, with the average falling in about the middle.  Condition, model popularity, upgrades and color will dictate exactly where your guitar falls in that scale.

Once you’ve decided how much your guitar should bring, you need to work on your price “range”.  Your listing price has to have a margin for negotiating flexibility, yet it can’t be so high as to keep people from being interested.

Before even posting your ad, set a bottom price – an amount you absolutely refuse to part with your guitar for one nickel less than.

WAIT!

You’re not ready yet.  Based on the million used guitars I’ve bought, I bet I can describe your axe without ever seeing it!  The strings show rust and corrosion.  There’s a build-up of black gunk on each side of the frets near the top of the neck.  If you’re a good player, that crud goes all the way down the neck!  There’s dirt and gunk in your bridge area, saddles, etc.  More dirt under the strings on the pickguard.  Need I go on?

Take the old strings off, then clean the guitar.  Use naptha, some rags and an old toothbrush.  Check the nuts on the tuners and tighten any loose ones.  Install the new strings and retune.  Set the intonation – either Google how to do that, or fret at the 12th and adjust saddle position so you get the same note as the open string, just at a higher octave.  Now, assuming you didn’t just fall in love with the guitar all over again, continue..

PHOTOS

Since my first suggestion has you looking at ads for similar guitars, think back to the ads that impressed you the most.  Take another look at them for ideas of how many photos to take, what angles to shoot at, what backgrounds look best, lighting, etc.

No need to lug your Nikon out of its case, your phone will do just fine.  I usually like to use a close-up of the body front as my “featured” photo, then a shot of the whole guitar; one of the headstock front & back; whole guitar back and close shot of the back of the body.

If there are any major blemishes, be sure to show them prominently and point them out in your text.  You don’t want someone driving fifty miles only to discover it and leave in disgust.

WRITING THE AD

You want to accurately describe your guitar while emphasizing its best features, but also noting any flaws.  If you’re not a natural at marketing and writing ad copy, look again at the used guitar ads you liked most, “borrow” some ideas on wording your ad, but be honest.

If there’s visible fret wear, major dings or other issues, you should state them plainly.  If you don’t come across any ads to model by, look over ads for new guitars and bend them a bit to your purpose.

Of course, you could always borrow ideas from our ads, but then I probably have a stronger claim to the title of “Luthier” than “Ad Man”, so use caution!

CONTACT INFO

If you’re generally unavailable during certain hours of the day, say so in your ad.  Do allow phone, text and email if the advertising medium allows.  The more ways people can contact you, the more people will act on your ad.

When you get an email, text or voice mail – follow up right away.  The person was hot and heavy to buy a guitar (or guitar amp, etc.) and wanted yours.  You have to strike while the iron is hot!  (Whatever that means?  Anyone old enough to decipher that one?)

POSTING YOUR GUITAR AD

Most ad sites let you have a “title”, then a “description”.  Usually the title will be searchable, sortable & filterable.  This is important.

Think for  a moment, as though you are shopping for a used electric guitar.  Are you going to just browse through every ad – through keyboards, violins, trumpets, drums and what-not, scanning for the few electric guitars that are posted?

No.  You’re probably going to search or filter the results to show only electric guitars.  So how should this affect how you post your ad?  That’s right – you want to get that term “electric guitar” worked into your ad title.

Now think about when to post your ad.  Craigslist lets you renew your ad every 48 hours.  So, if you want your ad to show high in the listings at lunchtime on Fridays, when some office workers begin to spend the rest of the afternoon browsing social media and doing online shopping, you won’t want to post your used guitar ad on a Thursday morning.

NEGOTIATING

You’ve listed your shiny, trusty Fender Squier guitar at $110 and some jerk just low-balled you at $40.  What do you do?  You could tell him off and you’ll fell a little better perhaps, but that person will never buy this guitar from you.

Here’s how I’d respond – “Hey Joe!  Thanks for your offer!  If I still haven’t sold it in twenty years, I’ll accept.  😉  I think you failed to notice that it has (insert great feature here) and how beautiful it looks.  Still, I AM anxious to sell, so how bout I knock off $5 and you drop by and see how great it sounds for yourself?

Another response –

I don’t want to waste your time negotiating a price for a fine instrument like this when you haven’t even had a chance to hold it and experience how great it plays for yourself.  I do want to sell it, so why not drop by and see for yourself what it’s worth, then we can discuss price with both of us knowing its true value?

Try to avoid making big drops in price.  Make little moves with a new sales pitch after each one, and don’t go below your “bottom price”.  However, you may wish to rethink that bottom price at the end of each week.

If you don’t reach a deal with your prospect, but he or she isn’t terribly out of range, offer to write down their phone number and call them back if you still have the guitar after ‘X’ number of days or weeks.  Of course, they may be anxious to buy before that time.  You’ll just have to weigh all the variables for yourself.

WARNING!

Shortly after posting your ad on Craigslist, you’re almost certain to get one or two strange messages via text or email that only say something like –

My wife wants to buy, email her at – {some email address here}

(if this were true, why wouldn’t the husband email the link to her?), or..

{Copy of your item description} Available?

once you answer, the next one is –

paying via money order, Send your names and address Im adding forty dollar for saving it for me

The ones asking for an email are sent by bots (automated messages) that collect email addresses for spammers.  If they texted the “Available” and you responded, they now have a verified phone number to sell to scammers and robo-callers.

It’s probably best to avoid anything that seems to be automated, or offering extra money, payment via money orders, etc.  Put a line in your ad saying that you will take the ad down as soon as the item sells and that you will not respond to questions asking if it is still available.

But if you hear from that Nigerian prince who needs a little cash to help him collect his inheritance which he’s willing to split with anyone who’ll send him a few hundred bucks.. Now that one sounds interesting!  <NOT!>

Where to meet?  Having strangers come to your house may not be a great idea.  There’s all kinds of people out there.  Even if we skip over the drug users who may want to rob you for a quick few bucks, there’s also the crazies – they guy who buys your guitar, then two weeks later is banging on your door demanding his money back because he lost his job; has to bail his mother out of jail; or broke a fingernail on the ‘E’ string and wants his medical fees paid.

BETTER IDEA!

An even better idea, is sell your guitar stuff to me!  🙂  No. Seriously.  Sure, you’ll get less money.  I do all the cleaning, setup, repairs, re-stringing, etc.  I do all the advertising, photos, writing ads and taking the calls and responding to emails, etc.  Then when they show up at my door, smoking cigar in hand, I deal with it all.

I’ll probably give you $70 to $80 for the guitar you’ll list for $120 and sell it for $100.  So it’ll be a 20 or 30 dollar difference.  For that, I do all the work, and I stand behind the instrument.  If anything goes wrong in the next 30 days, I’ll fix it or replace it.  You probably wouldn’t want to do that, nor would you want to suffer the nasty phone calls from a justifiably disgruntled buyer if something goes wrong.

Call me now.  I’ve got your cash, and I’ve got the naptha, toothbrush and rags all ready to go!

Ordering is disabled because I only do cash and carry local sales unless arrangements are made. Dismiss