Guitar Center Trade in


Im not here to bash GC just looking to see if my recent experience is the new norm.

I stopped in to trade in a guitar that typically sells for $550 - $575 on ebay and reverb. Trying to skip the shipping, fees and risk of an online sale I thought Id give it a go.

I was told that they could sell the guitar for $500 and that they offer 50 percent of what they can sell it for.

Ive had good experiences in the past but this seem extreme.

Did I just work with the wrong guy or is this what should be expected.

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Yeah they should get paid for their salaries, rent and time, and shelling out the cash now. Pretty standard business stuff. What were you expecting?

also just because you see stuff ‘listed’ for a price on reverb doesn’t mean they sell for that


Silver Supporting Member
When I worked for music stores, their cost (for most items, not all) was @50% of the retail cost. If we had to, we would knock off 20% of list price to make a sale. I think Guitar Center discounts about 30% like most internet sites do ( I could be wrong, but its ballpark). IMO, their offer is about right. You are selling it and you are done. They take on display, resale, and a return policy. They are a business. They have rent, utilities, salaries, and taxes to pay. Don't diss them for that.
On the other hand, you could sell it yourself on eBay or Reverb. With seller fees and payment fees, they are going to take 7-10% off the top and you will do all the work - pictures, listing, and boxing and shipping. On top of all that, you will also be responsible if a deal goes south. I have had to pay for shipping both ways before on a return. Nothing wrong with the guitar other than the buyer had buyers remorse. Ebay almost exclusively sides with the buyer. Don't get me started about PayPals policy.
Soooooo...... I don't think there was anything wrong with the GC offer.


Silver Supporting Member
I think 50% is pretty much fair. When you sell to a shop you're trading convenience of an instant easy deal with no chance of it going wrong for getting less money than you would selling privately.

You can often do better trading to a small shop where you can deal with the owner and they can weigh up how long they've had the thing you're trading against, how quickly your guitar will sell etc but somewhere like GC is going to have a easy to implement universal policy.

Remember this is a simple business transaction - there's a price where it's worth their while buying and a price where it's worth your while selling, and if you can't find a figure that works for both parties you move on, no harm done.


Gold Supporting Member
I have used several Denver area and a Pensacola independent music stores to sell stuff on consignment. They usually charge 20-30% of whatever the item sells for. I have sometimes waited up to 6 months for an item to sell, so the advantage with GC is you get 50% up front and walk out the door with cash. I would much rather support my locally owned music stores rather than a chain business.


Senior Member
When trading anything in, be prepared to take a beating. You’ll always get more by selling yourself but you’ll have to do the work. I was at Guitar Center earlier today and returned a guitar I bought in December because I didn’t like how the fine tuners were screwed in crooked and were cross threaded. Since I was in the 45 day window it was painless. Decided to use the money on the returned guitar and applied it to another one and paid the difference. Hopefully it should arrive next week or so. Even though it is considered “new”, it was on display so I don’t really know it’s exact condition. They said if I didn’t like it they would order another one or refund. Fingers crossed lol.


Gold Supporting Member
These are not exact numbers, but I am sure close. Could be any guitar.

NEW Wholesale to GC: $550, MSRP $1100, Street Price (MAP) sells for $899 all over.
USED they sell at GC for $699.
Trade-in offering of $350.
"But I bought it 6 months ago for $899. I expect at least $699 for it. It's mint!"
They can buy a new one for $150 less than the guy expects, and make the same $350, AND not have a guitar to put in the "Used Section" for $699 and hear everyone complain that "It's used, it should be five hundred bucks. Look at this scratch!". (Because it's USED).


Platinum Supporting Member
Fifty per cent of retails value sounds right for GC, or probably any music retailer. The big difference between GC and a mom & pop shop is that GC will buy outright. Most indie retailers would rather put the gear on consignment, meaning you'll walk out empty-handed, instead of walking out of GC with some cash in your pocket, but maybe not as much as you thought. It all depends on your priorities.


OP, That's been par for the course at just about every retail guitar shop local or nationwide for decades. Stores want to sell you new gear. They want to move inventory out. They don't want to take in your used gear and have it occupying their showroom floor. They pay a certain amount per square foot, so they need every square foot of that shop generating income. They'd rather you just keep your old guitar and buy a new one from them.

But if you insist on doing a trade-in, they're going to skew the deal in their favor by a lot every time. They're not in the business of helping you get every last dollar for your used gear. The most I've ever been offered by guitar shops for trade-ins on a few occasions was a straight-up even-trade offer, no cash changing hands. And that was only those few times when I happened to have something special they felt was rare, desirable and valuable. Every other time, I got lowballed, so I sold privately and got the price I wanted.


I'm actually thinking about going premium here. It's safer than Craigslist, eBay, and Reverb at this point. I'm just tired of getting burned by PayPal's 180 day dispute policy. Will it sit longer here? Probably. At least it's a little easier to control sales here though.


Silver Supporting Member
I'm actually thinking about going premium here. It's safer than Craigslist, eBay, and Reverb at this point. I'm just tired of getting burned by PayPal's 180 day dispute policy. Will it sit longer here? Probably. At least it's a little easier to control sales here though.
Yep and the guys here (myself included) Will want it for 50% of retail PP'd and shipped! :rotflmao

I've bought and sold a bunch here over the years but lately everything I've had to sell sold on Reverb. ;).
Even after I let it be here for a couple of weeks before listing on Reverb.... :rolleyes:


Your experience is pretty normal when trading in gear to GC.

I look at it this way. I've traded in gear to GC before and I know I won't get anywhere near what I put into buying them but what softens the blow (at least at my local GC) is that most of the time they turn around and price it cheaper than what you'd be paying on ebay/reverb so in a way it ends up being a good opportunity for another musician to get a deal.

99% of the time the space opened up is more valuable than the unused piece of gear I just got rid of so taking everything above into consideration I don't mind the hit. There might be exceptions in the future but I have not run into any yet.

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