Time to Sell?

Fallen out of love and it's time to sell? Need the cash? Don't play any more? It happens. Someone even sold me this one.

Yes, it happens. We fall out of love with our once beloved 335 and something else catches our eye. When I became a serious (OK, semi serious) dealer, I had to learn how not to fall in love with every guitar I bought-which is a little tricky since I only buy guitars I fall in love with, it seems. Or maybe you still love the old gal but you just don’t play any more and a pretty $12000 doorstop doesn’t fit your otherwise intelligent lifestyle. Or maybe Grandma just broke her hip and you’ve got some medical bills to pay. Sadly, it happens. As a dealer, if I’m doing it right, ¬†half the time I’m buying and half the time I’m selling. And, as a dealer, I can’t buy guitars at retail and sell them at retail. It doesn’t work that way. But you can. I get asked this all the time and it’s not brain surgery. My brother is a brain surgeon and he usually uses the expression “it’s not rocket science.” What does that tell you? Anyhow, here’s a road map for the successful sale of a guitar in this kind of tough post-recession market: Make certain you know what year it is, what model it is and what is or isn’t original. If you aren’t sure, ask someone who knows. Ask me if you want. It’s often impossible to tell which parts are original from even a detailed photo but I can usually tell if they are correct (which to most buyers is fine). Once you know what you have write a very complete description of it and see if you can get a market (retail) price for it. Ebay gets you the biggest audience but there are pitfalls there as well that don’t exist in places like Craigslist (which has its own pitfalls). Scammers abound. What’s the retail price for your guitar? ¬†That’s the $64000 question (anybody get this reference any more?). You can go to Gbase but those are dealer prices which tend to be very high (and generally very negotiable). You can look at what others on Ebay are asking but those guitars haven’t sold and may have been listed for years. Really. Years. A good guide is to look up your year and model under “completed listings” in Ebay. If the price is red, it didn’t sell. If it’s green, it did. And don’t just look at the long list, call up the individual listing because the list shows the asking price, not necessarily the selling price in the case of “best offers”. Ebay is a pretty democratic place. Guitars rarely sell for more than they are worth. They do sometimes sell for less and that’s because the listing leaves unanswered questions that scare away potential buyers. And people lie. Another choice is The Gear Page. These tend to be knowledgeable buyers who will very often pay what the guitar is worth if you have what they are looking for. Again, a complete and accurate description is your best asset. Finally, if your efforts to sell at retail fail and they very often will-these guitars don’t sell overnight-then consider offering the guitar to a dealer. And not just one dealer. Shop it around and see what they offer. If a dealer has a willing buyer already on a list for your model and year, he will likely pay a bit more. If your guitar is an easy sell, as certain years are, he may offer a bit more. If it’s a stereo ES-355 with a sideways and an added coil tap, you may be disappointed. You may be disappointed anyway because dealers don’t pay nearly as much as consumers but they pay you today. Some guitars take a year to sell. Many take months. If you need to sell today, that’s a consideration (the Grandma hip thing). If you aren’t in a hurry, then take some time and test the market.

2 Responses to “Time to Sell?”

  1. RAB says:

    Excellent advice Charlie. Detailed photos are helpful towards helping sell a guitar including shots of the pickups (showing back of pickup, cover solder joints, stickers), neck joint, front and back of headstock, fingerboard, inside/outside of the case, etc…

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Absolutely true. Better photos equal better prices too.

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