Is Guitar Center trade-in value fair? [With 7 tips to follow]

Like anything else in the world, your music gears are getting old as well. In most cases, musical instruments tend to get old quicker than anything else. Guitar Center is an American music retailer that will accept your used and unwanted gears for a price. Does that price benefit you enough, or is the Guitar Center trade-in value fair? You are about to figure it out. 

Guitar Center or GC was founded in 1956 by Wayne Mitchell, in Hollywood, California. Guitar Center is the largest guitar reseller in America that has expanded its online reach to overseas as well. “Ares Management” is the current parent company of GC. Guitar Center has a greater reputation in society and they are also funding and supporting music education through their Fender Music Foundation. Great! But now, let’s talk about their “trade-in” procedure… 

A few reasons why a person may want to trade/sell their music gear;

  • Old, used, and faulty- not quite capturing the interest anymore
  • Replacing with a new guitar
  • Money emergency

How to trade in your gear at the Guitar Center

No appointments required. You simply walk-in and show your guitar to a salesman in the Guitar Center. As they check the condition of your guitar, they will evaluate it with the current market price and offer you approximately 50% to 60% of it. Now, they are very unlikely to cross 65% of the current market value of the guitar, so what if your guitar is in mint condition? Would you still settle with just 65% of its current value?

Trade-in Vs. Sell

If you are to sell your gear on your own, your market is pretty vast and you could possibly sell your guitar for a very good price. If lucky, you would sell it for 80% of its current market value. But what are the chances?

The chances are that you would first need to upload some decent pictures of your guitar, write down the gear specs, sweep through the offers, negotiate, recognize the fake negotiators and serious buyers, may need to meet people to show the actual guitar, and will even take more time to seal the deal. The used market can also be tricky as we can’t forget about the scammers. Selling your guitar can get you more money, but will it always be worth the effort and time…

Comparatively, the Guitar Center is pretty straightforward. You just walk-in and let them evaluate your guitar, where they will agree to pay you up to 60% of its current value. Well, the guitar center is a reseller and they also need to make some profit in order to run their business. If you opt for an in-store trade-in, they would then add an extra 10% on items that are not a part of any sale of clearance. 


Let’s say your guitar original price (brand new) is $599. During the seasonal sales or Black Friday or New Years, you can easily get discounts or discount coupons, commonly 15% offs. Now your guitar brand new price is $510, with a factory warranty, setup, and a return/exchange policy. You won’t stand a chance selling your used guitar close to that price. 

Let’s assume your guitar is in great or mint condition and the Guitar Center can resell it for $450. GC will offer you 60% to 65% which means around $280. But now the competition is high. The brand new version of your guitar only costs $510 and your used guitar is $450. Customers may automatically ask GC for a discount and they are most likely to get at least a 10% discount. Now the GC is selling your guitar for $405. Depending on the condition, the customers may also demand a new set of strings or/and a case, and now the guitar is something around $380. After all, the profit they get could be something around $100 or even less. 

In comparison to the time and hassle you go through selling your guitar on your own, the simple process of selling it in the Guitar Center is much more effective and relatively fast. If you are capable of selling your guitar outside, we can’t deny the fact that you would more likely to sell it for a better price than trading it at the GC. Nevertheless, it is clear that we cannot call GC prices “unfair”, more like you will get faster and convenient service from them. Since the Guitar Center has a “Full Disclosure” policy, there are no hidden charges or no Volvo Switch tricks.

Tips to follow (Sell/Trade)

No Quotes

Don’t email them or call them requesting quotes. That is not how they work. You just walk in with your guitar and discuss.


Make Sure you clean your instrument. If required, do change a new set of strings and make your guitar look good. A poor looking guitar won’t do you any favors. 


Your guitar should be fully functioning. If your guitar is broken or not functioning properly, it won’t pass the inspection. 


Conduct research beforehand. You knowing the actual market value of your guitar and the second-hand price will come in handy. 


If your gear is a unique piece (discontinued, rare, boutique, or vintage items), remember to see a Manager. The sales guys in GC are well experienced and have good knowledge, but a manager always has better experience and higher knowledge about special guitars. A salesman in doubt may try to decrease the actual value of your guitar. 


Don’t lie recreating facts that are not true because they will always know what they are dealing with. Be realistic with the prices, especially as we have already elaborated on how the pricing works. And also, please don’t get mad at the salespeople if you don’t get the value you were expecting. You are up for a trade-in with the GC and you do know how it works now. 


If you do sell online on your own, always keep in mind the packaging and shipping charges. 

As the bottom line, Guitar Center can make your life easy letting you trade your used guitar with the least hassle. Yet, the price you get may not be as high as you would get selling it elsewhere, however, it is indeed fairly reasonable. 

After all, “Value” is just not the money, it is Money plus Service!

Further Reading

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