Are Guitar Center Trade in Values Fair?

Are Guitar Center Trade in Values Fair

Guitar Center is one of the best places for musicians to get new instruments, but many people don’t know that it’ll also buy used ones. If you need to sell an old guitar and want to skip the hassle of finding a buyer, trading in your guitar at Guitar Center will make the process much less of a headache. But will they offer you a fair price, or are you likely to get a lowball offer?

Are Guitar Center trade in values fair? Well, each store has an in-house team of experts who’ll make an offer on your used gear based on many factors, such as condition and quality. If you’re interested in replacing your old guitar, you’ll even get a discount on new Guitar Center instruments.

Let’s discuss Guitar Center’s trade-in policies for gear and instruments, and explore whether or not their values are fair!

How Does Guitar Center Determine Trade-In Values?

Guitar Center store associates determine trade-in values. They’re trained to evaluate your used gear and come up with an offer. The associate that appraises your gear will depend on the quality of the piece you want to trade in. Vintage guitars may need someone with more expertise to examine them.

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Fortunately, each Guitar Center has at least one expert available who can price vintage guitars during their open hours, while an average store clerk can price a cheap Yamaha.

Trade-in values will depend on a variety of things, including:

  • Condition
  • Current stock levels
  • Historical sales data
  • Market desirability
  • Quality

How Much Will Guitar Center Give Me?

Typically, Guitar Center will give you 50% to 60% of your used piece’s resale value. Buying used guitars off of people is only profitable for Guitar Center if they can buy them at a lower price than they sell. They also may need to perform extra maintenance on a used guitar.

That may sound like a lowball or unfair offer, but take a moment to consider that you’re also saving on gas and shipping money that you might have to spend by trading some other way. And if you’re selling your instrument for an upgraded model, you may be able to take care of both transactions at once.

If your gear is worth over $1,000, they’ll give the first thousand dollars in cash. You’ll then either receive a Guitar Center Visa® Prepaid Card or a check (but only at certain locations) with the remainder of what you’re owed.

Note that cash payment isn’t offered at stores in Rockville, MD, or Greensboro, NC.

When Will I Get My Money?

You’ll get your money immediately! Unlike selling to a friend or neighbor, who may promise to pay you at a later date that may never come, selling your guitar to Guitar Center will result in you being able to get paid on the same day.

Can I Get a New Instrument Instead?

You can instead get a new instrument in-store with your trade-in credit on the same day, and Guitar Center will even give you an extra 10% off the price of your purchase.

Trading your instrument in at Guitar Center isn’t only worthwhile because they offer a fair price but also because you can upgrade so easily and cheaply. Guitar Center typically doesn’t stock rare or vintage gear, but they consistently keep most standard popular guitars in stock.

Should I Trade-In at a Thrift Store or to a Friend Instead?

Since you don’t get more than $1,000 in cash from Guitar Center, you might think it’s more attractive to sell at a thrift store or to an individual who “knows their stuff.”  However, if you have something that you think is worth over $2,000, you’re more likely to make at least 50% on that at Guitar Center.

How Do I Get the Best Offer for My Used Instrument at Guitar Center?

Before bringing your gear into Guitar Center, you need to get your gear ready. You should also check the Guitar Center trade in policy to make sure the store will accept your instrument for trade-in.

Get Your Gear Ready

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If you’re taking a guitar in, make sure it’s in excellent condition. Restring it if you haven’t in a while, and wipe off any dust and finger grease as best as you can. Examine the neck for warping, and see if there are any small cracks or holes in the body. If there are, make sure to point these out to the Guitar Center experts when you bring them in.

You may also want to invest in a good guitar conditioning kit such as the Jim Dunlop Body & Fingerboard Cleaning Kit (available on It comes with polish, lemon oil, and two cleaning cloths.

If you’re taking in a guitar amp or a keyboard, make sure you gather all the cords and plug-ins that go with it. Give everything a good dusting off and check that all the buttons and dials work.

If you notice that something doesn’t work, consider taking it in any way since it might be an easy fix for an expert to make.

Check Guitar Center’s Trade-In Policy Online

Take a good look at Guitar Center’s trade-in website and check all their policies, which occasionally change.

Check that they’ll take what you’d like to sell. Guitar Center currently accepts the following items for trade-in:

  • Guitars
  • Basses
  • Traditional stringed instruments
  • Recording gear
  • Amplifiers and effects pedals
  • Keyboards

They currently do NOT accept any of the below:

  • Grand or acoustic pianos
  • Upright basses or other orchestral instruments
  • Wireless gear
  • Guitar parts (minus a guitar)
  • Strings
  • Analog tape recorders
  • Books, CDs, or DVDs

When in doubt, call ahead and ask about the item you want to sell. However, you’ll need to go to a store in person to get a quote on your gear. Show up with everything you’re willing to part with and a valid ID to get your inspection.

Other Benefits of Trading In at Guitar Center

trading in guitar at guitar center

It can be disheartening to realize that you might only get a few hundred dollars for a guitar you played for a long time, but trading your gear in at Guitar Center is often how you’ll get the best value for your used instrument. You don’t need to pay any shipping fees to send it somewhere, and you’re more likely to be dealing with someone who can accurately price what you have.

It’s also safer and easier than using an independent buyer. You don’t need to find someone who’s looking for what you have, and you don’t have to give anyone your address or phone number.

Finally, if you need to replace the item you’re getting rid of, Guitar Center probably has a suitable replacement. Thrift stores may offer you a fair price, but the chances that they’ll also have a similar guitar for you are slim to none. It might just be better to go to a store that specializes in guitars.

Final Thoughts

Guitar Center trade-ins might be one of the best ways to get a fair price for your beloved instrument. Not only that, it’s one of the easiest ways to upgrade to a newer, nicer piece of equipment. If you’re worried about not getting the best value for your old piece, feel free to ask the experts questions about their evaluation.

It’s not easy to part with your old guitar, but making a trade in Guitar Center can make the process easier, and can get you much more bang for your buck.

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