Buying a guitar online was an idea that not many enthusiasts of musical instruments would have thought of not very long ago. However, many brick-and-mortar music stores have adapted to offer online purchasing, including an over-the-top customer experience, lower prices, free shipping of 1 to 5 business days, hassle-free return policies, and a large selection of brands and models. This has been a tremendous boon to guitarists all over the world.
Moreover, if you live near a physical store and can buy your instrument in person, the online version of a guitar shop might be convenient for checking out a variety of possible new guitars. It's also a great place to research, browse the best deals and reviews from new and experienced guitar players, combining the best of the offline and online worlds.
The advantages of visiting a physical music store are obvious. Trying out your soon-to-be-owned guitar will always be the single most important factor in a purchase, along with all the extras a competent staff can offer in person.
In this article, we'll outline the best places to buy guitars and what they should have in common, and what you should look at to find a new or used guitar, along with that shiny gear and accessories for your instrument. Keep reading until the end; we have the best choice to buy your new guitar with added benefits!
8 Things You Should Look For When Buying A Guitar In A Store
A Great Catalog of Instruments and Brands
This could go without saying, but both a website and a local store need to have a large selection of electric guitars, acoustic guitars, vintage guitars, and bass guitars. There's a good chance you could find an electric guitar in your price range that you would not have thought of or that the stock of the music store would make you change your decision due to the vast array of possibilities as a musician.
In addition to the wide selection of products, the store should have the industry's major brands of guitars for those interested in acquiring the finest brands, such as PRS, Taylor, Ernie Ball Music Man, Suhr, Tom Anderson, Duesenberg, and Santa Cruz. In addition, you'll probably need a guitar case (funny how often folks forget that detail!), a good refund policy and a solid warranty.
An online retailer can offer plenty of high-end guitars and popular models on their site like Sweetwater does, although you more than surely want to try them out with with a variety of amplifiers to determine the best live tone you can get. The ability to try things out is one of the primary reasons why people still decide to buy in a local guitar shop.
High-Quality Guitar Gear
Your guitar shopping experience must include a close look at the angles: how does the neck feel? What types of pickups are installed? Does the bridge feel right under your palm? Is there something about the weight of the guitar that feels right or a little off? These are all considerations that speak to the value of the instrument you're purchasing with your hard-earned money.
The best places to buy guitars also have a huge selection of music gear, and that includes amps and pedals. There's certainly no greater satisfaction than playing your new guitar with the best effects you can find on the market.
Pedals with features such as vibrato, delay, fuzz, and reverb and a first-class amplifier at the lowest price possible enrich your experience and take it to the next level as a guitarist.
The best places to buy guitars should also have a rental program. Let's be honest, we constantly change our minds when it comes to our preferences, and instruments could also be the case.
Maybe you or your kids aren't sure if an electric guitar is the right option for you, or perhaps you find out that an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar suits you best.
Whatever the case, rentals offer the best way to try your own instrument without fully committing to a final purchase. Some programs even provide name-brand instruments of the highest quality—new, used, or refurbished.
Professional Repair Service
Selling a guitar is one thing, but offering a complete repair program for the instrument is what makes the shop a big deal. While it's true that some places like Reverb sell used and upcycled gear and instruments, you should buy in places that offer repair services for band instruments, audio equipment, restrings, setups, and adjustments with a fast turnaround.
Moreover, you should also check if the staff are authorized and can work with official warranties.
Events and Live Music
Due to the pandemic, events have been limited in the United States and the rest of the world. As countries are opening again, musical performance events can be a unique feature of certain music stores.
Shows and live music are the best way to get to know other musicians and learn about your favorite instruments. It can also be the perfect place to ask for expert advice and start to create a solid network that could result in good experiences. Some brick-and-mortar guitar stores like Danville Music even offer an in-store stage, and feature live music right in the store!
Exceptional Customer Support
Excellent customer support must be at the forefront of any guitar shop since it can save you a lot of trouble and get help when buying your new instrument. In order to know if a store has good customer service, check their online customer reviews and try to speak with people that bought anything from them. Specialized forums are also a good option.
You may buy a guitar right at the store, but you may also want to think about it before making your final purchase. In this case, knowing the shipping costs is one of the most important things.
Nowadays, several guitar centers offer free shipping costs for all domestic orders, easing the cost of the bill—especially when purchasing bulky instruments and gear.
Explore their site or ask the owners to know the shipping business days and find out everything about return policies.
Salespeople Who Are Also Professional Musicians
One of the most important aspects to consider when buying a new guitar is knowing that the people behind the business are also musicians. This will allow customers to feel that their purchase is backed by people with years of experience in the music industry, as guitar players, producers, or musicians in any other subfield.
As a result, you will be confident that your salesperson's advice will have a solid foundation and that the most frequently asked questions will receive a professional and detailed answer.
The Best Places To Buy A Guitar - Ranked
So let's get to our "Best Places to Buy Guitars" ranked list! With the above factors in mind, here’s our ranking of the best places to buy a guitar:
1. Danville Music
Danville Music is a premier music store located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Home to a wide variety of high-end and signature guitars, along with the best music gear you can find, their stock has you covered with over 70 models in stock at any time. Find selected brands such as Paul Reed Smith, Yamaha, Suhr, Tom Anderson, Ernie Ball, Duesenberg, Music Man, Santa Cruz, Sennheiser, Shecter, Taylor, Lakland, and much more.
Danville Music sells electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass guitars, ukuleles, drums, amps, and pedals. In addition, they offer a rental program with new or used guitars, a professional repair service, lessons, and events, making it one of the best music stores to buy your first guitar or to get one of the top-grade models both locally or online.
The guitar store is also a PRS signature dealer in Northern California with a beautiful collection of Core, Private Stock, Limited Edition, and Wood Library guitars. To top it all off, you have the opportunity to build your dream guitar through the PRS Private Stock Program, and the artisans will help you make it real. Whether you live in Walnut Creek, Livermore, Dublin or Pleasanton, Danville Music is centrally located and a terrific choice!
Sweetwater is one of the largest music instruments retailers globally and obviously in the United States. They only operate one physical store, functioning as their warehouse and operations center. Working with 480,000 square feet of space in their warehouse alone, they can certainly offer one of the biggest guitars, amps, and pedals stocks.
Sweetwater offers a large selection of starter bundles to suit small budgets and even financing options. You can find names like Squier, Epiphone, PRS SE, and an extensive guitar gear offer in their online catalog to enhance your experience. For intermediate and advanced musicians, you can find major brands like ESP, Ibanez, Jackson, Gibson, Fender, Martin, and other popular models.
The guitar shop also offers one of the most important things when buying entry-level instruments or high-end guitars: knowledgeable customer support that brings expert advice to answer your questions about a product, specifications, configurations, and gear. They can even help you remotely—and in an efficient manner— with any music software you have purchased.
Reverb is the biggest new and online used gear store. The cool thing about the platform is that you don't have to browse an endless catalog of products you're not interested in, such as on Amazon or eBay.
It's common to find guitars in Reverb that are usually high-end models, and their asking price may be, in fact, somewhat high. However, it doesn't have to be a big deal for those looking to buy the top of the top for a reduced price.
Think about it like this: if the previous owner has upgraded the guitar to their specific style with several expensive changes, you may end up paying less overall than if you upgraded it yourself. A great thing, indeed.
4. Musician's Friend
As the store's name suggests, Musician's Friend is a great option for buying a guitar. Even though they started as a small business by selling musical instrument accessories out of a garage, they were finally bought by Guitar Center after creating their website. In any case, they have kept their identity as a well-recognized online retailer.
Musician's Friend shares the same stock as Guitar Center, so you'll be able to purchase an instrument and gear from the same inventory. It's worth noting that the store offers what they interestingly call the "Stupid Deal of the Day," considerably lowering the prices of some items. One cannot think what the latest deals may bring.
Good prices and selling guitars that are sold out on other sites characterize zZounds. Originally from Chicago, they only operate as an online business. Yes, they aren't as big, but they offer a wide selection of major brands, such as Fender, Gibson, Martin, Yamaha, ESP, Jackson, and Ibanez.
This musical instrument store has what every guitar enthusiast needs: the right instrument and music gear at the lowest price possible for every situation. From a starter model to a Fender Stratocaster with a solid body, customers will surely come to the right place. However, people's reviews vary in terms of the company's customer service.
6. Sam Ash
Sam Ash has built a remarkable reputation over the years, and it's one of the largest global guitar retailers. If online shopping is not the first thing for you, you can get a good deal in their multiple physical stores across the United States.
As you would expect, Sam Ash sells everything between starter packs and gear to premium electric guitars, guitars of distinction, bass guitars, and many others. They also have special offers for a limited time and the option to finance your purchases.
At the same time, the store offers free shipping or store pickup. Sam Ash is undoubtedly on the list when looking for the best site to get your new guitar and has some of the best reviews from customers out there.
7. Guitar Center
Guitar Center enjoys a strong brick-and-mortar presence all across the US as a reputable musical instrument retailer. Their many physical locations and their extensive selection as a guitar store since 1959 are a few reasons to buy a guitar on their website.
Guitar Center is a one-stop-shop for all things guitar and for acquiring a first guitar or new gear. You can easily get lost in the enormous selection of products. Do you want an electric guitar with the best possible live sound? Maybe vintage guitars for your home project? Perhaps a classical guitar? You'll find deals on Guitar Center and even a guitar lessons course, whatever you are looking for.
Your Next Guitar is at Danville Music
Buying a new guitar at a competitive price doesn't have to be a cold transaction, and it's not always easy to find everything mentioned above in a guitar store. All the best things about the big box retailers, along with a local presence, long-term staff, and a friendly team ready to help you select the perfect guitar are what you will find at Danville Music, a premier guitar shop located in SF Bay Area with an online shop and free shipping.
They offer an excellent service with free adjustments for as long as you own the instrument and excel for the quality of the teachers, who are among the best in the area. Danville Music is your next stop if you want a high-quality guitar or music gear from a full-service music center with years of experience and top-notch service as the center of the business.