The struggle of buying guitars in Canada

METAL

Member
Messages
338
If you're in Canada and you play Gibson or Fender guitars (or any extremely popular brands), you're all set! If you're like me however and do not, it's a lot more difficult to find guitars that suite my needs. I've checked eBay and found some great deals. However all the items I was interested in ship from the U.S. which means the shipping and taxes costs will be significant. Amazon.com has a good selection, then again shipping ruins it. Guitar Center and Musicians Friend has a great selection, but basically nothing ships to Canada. I've visited many local music stores and most of them are filled with the huge name brands.

I am mainly interested in ESP, Schecter and Ibanez. Does anyone in Canada know of any reputable stores that carry a good selection of those brands with reasonable prices?
 

teofilrocks

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,671
Could you check the websites of the guitar makers you're interested in and look for their dealers list? That might turn up Canadian dealers of those brands which would keep shipping and custom costs down.
 

Tim Plains

Member
Messages
6,140
Where do you live? There are many places just south of the border that you can ship a guitar to and go pick it up. They charge a small $5 or $10 fee per box. I do it all the time.

Do you have a mom, wife, or girlfriend? Take them shopping for a day. I have yet to meet a Canadian woman who does not like shopping in the states.
 

PBGas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,868
'Tis true....fortunately, I play a couple of Fenders and a Gibson and am all set. Lots of PRS and you can find EBMM as well as Ibanez and some Suhr. But, yup....the shipping and brokerage fees suck! I managed get one of my Fender CS strats (barely used!) from a friend in Alberta who went down and picked up a used one for me since it was near his border. He then shipped it to me in Ontario. My other Fender CS (also barely used if at all!) was shipped up directly from Wild West Guitars but Doug made a great arrangement with me so I wouldn't get dinged. Since the guitar was used already, he was able to do this. A new one would have probably been an issue and would have cost me my left one in taxes and brokerage. I've had guitars shipped from Japan and my contact there will put them as a used instrument and drop the value so I only pay a small amount of taxes and duties. Sometimes I would get charged for taxes/duties, other times, nothing. It is a chance you take as well.

I've picked up stuff at one of the UPS stores across the border. I simply let them know that I have a package coming and they charge me a small fee per day to hold it. If it is a higher value item, I declare it when crossing, pay the taxes and be on my way. You take a chance trying to get it across without declaring and if you get searched, you will be paying through the nose with a possible fine. I've never had an issue.

The exchange rate royally stinks at this time!
 
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5,086
The Canadians I know live pretty close to US border and usually just drove across to buy gear. I now that wouldn't work in some areas but might be the best option.
 

SackvilleDan

Member
Messages
2,087
Where do you live? There are many places just south of the border that you can ship a guitar to and go pick it up. They charge a small $5 or $10 fee per box. I do it all the time.

Do you have a mom, wife, or girlfriend? Take them shopping for a day. I have yet to meet a Canadian woman who does not like shopping in the states.

This. When I lived near the border in Ontario, I spent far more than I should have doing this... not just with gear, but everything! The dollar was almost at par, and I saved a ton of money on everything I bought. Pay the $5 per package, and the tax at the border, and still ahead 25%-50%... not so much now with the CDN$ being down.
 

treeofpain

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,654
A USA seller can ship using USPS and avoid the brokerage fees and other surprises. Can't help you with the actual shipping fees. I normally charge $150 to ship a guitar from USA to Canada, which is reasonable considering shipment within the USA can be $75.
 

James_E

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
625
cosmomusic.ca can order pretty much anything. They have lots of Ibanez for sure.

Long Mcquade carries ESP (maybe only "LTD" though.)

theartsmusicstore.com carries Schecter
 

Yamariv

Member
Messages
599
BEWARE of the scamming brokerage fees my Canadian brethren!! The only US shipper that doesn't do this is USPS but then USPS won't ship anything large to Canada so we are then screwed. I ordered a large package (won't say what cause it's not the sellers fault) and it was shipped from the US via FedEx. I paid shipping which was very expensive with a handling fee upfront which totalled $150 US.... I then got a letter from FedEx to reimburse them the taxes (which is fine) but then they added another $70 friggen dollars on top of everything else for tax advancement fees and brokerage fees. I nearly lost my sh*t!! So all in all, I paid roughly $300 to have an item come to me from the states, brutal when you factor in our low dollar too.
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
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29,240
Customs hits you hard. I had an ES-335 come my way Canada to NYC and customs took $150. I sent a les Paul up there and he got hit with the same.

Ups held the es-335 up for two weeks in customs somehow. USPS/Canada Post got it through in 2 days.

In those cases it was worth it since the value was high and the availability was low. But for a sub $1000 guitar it may just not be worth it.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
12,325
Ibanez is everywhere in Canada, always has been.

Schecter and ESP may be a bit more difficult, but not impossible. I had the same feeling when amp shopping. Marshall, Peavey and Fender...some Mesa...and...that's about it. Lately Orange has been easy to, but when guys start talking Bogner, Splawn, Two Rock, Soldano...they are no where to be seen. Then someone said, PWE/Ted Stevenson is in Montreal, and the rest is history. For ESP money, you get Tom Anderson quality, and exactly what you ask for. And amps...well...they are among the best you can get for hotrod M tones and quality.

That said, there are a few dealers with some boutique stuff, but they face a harsh reality. Clients want to try EVERYTHING, from $5K amps and $500 pedals and $5k guitars....then they complain about the prices, and buy off the shelf brand name stuff. The dealers have to take a shot in the dark of what is desirable, but what can also be afforded, and sold within a reasonable time. The buyers are tight with their money, and have illusions of the American market's pricing and availability in their heads.

There are no used Suhr's here for $1500. no used Fender custom shop for $1500, no Gibson R9's for $2k. That you can forget. You need to pay full Canadian $ prices, or take a chance with a cross border shot in the dark...then pay duty and 15% tax on it when it crosses the border....plus international shipping. Sometimes you are better off supporting the dealers who bring in a few choice boutique pieces and sell them at standard margins, regardless if you THINK they are over priced, because they are not.
 

Thedude99

Member
Messages
2,505
LA Music and Cosmo Music in the GTA carry the brands you are looking for. LA Music has Schecter and ESP.

"Reasonable pricing" depends on your definition. A "reasonable" price for a guitar in Canada is a sticker price quite a bit higher than the sticker price in the US due to it being an imported instrument and the weakness of our dollar. My experience right now is that bringing stuff up from the US is mostly not worth it due to the poor exchange rate even before you factor in any brokerage charges - unless you find a screaming deal.
 

PBGas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,868
Another great shop to check for some nice Fender Custom Shop and PRS gear as well as Bogner and Friedman is The Guitar Shop in Port Credit, Ontario.
 

Flyin' Brian

Member
Messages
30,557
Customs hits you hard. I had an ES-335 come my way Canada to NYC and customs took $150. I sent a les Paul up there and he got hit with the same.
Don't know what the charge was for, but it's not Customs. What I mean to say is that you may have just paid tax, which Customs collects.
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
29,240
Don't know what the charge was for, but it's not Customs. What I mean to say is that you may have just paid tax, which Customs collects.
Yep that might have been it.
 

Thedude99

Member
Messages
2,505
Don't know what the charge was for, but it's not Customs. What I mean to say is that you may have just paid tax, which Customs collects.

It should be exempt from customs due to being made the US, right?

Probably taxes, but some couriers will charge you brokerage fee up front in order to clear customs for you. This usually ends up costing more than any actual brokerage fees. I doubt they are looking at NAFTA for stuff like guitars to decide whether or not to charge this.

You can always choose to clear your own brokerage, but i think that means having to drive out somewhere to clear the item as opposed to having it delivered at home.
 

pooshoes

Member
Messages
58
I've done a lot of cross boarder deals with success. I agree with the above, if you are shipping guitars To/From Canada, you have to use USPS/Canada Post (express is best). Lately FedEx has decided to be very stringent on guitar shipments and stop them all to check for illegal MOP. I was just selling US guitars back to the US so they let them pass but it's a pain to deal with. The import duty fees FedEX and UPS apply to shipments is a bit crazy.

For the guitars you mentioned above, Kijiji would be your friend, lot's of all of those popping up in the major Canadian cities.
 

Thedude99

Member
Messages
2,505
Another great shop to check for some nice Fender Custom Shop and PRS gear as well as Bogner and Friedman is The Guitar Shop in Port Credit, Ontario.

That is a great shop - the people in there are great. Great place for boutique amps.

They don't really have Fender stuff beyond whatever comes through used though (they do seem to get a fair amount of FCS stuff through used though).

LA Vintage across the road has a ton of FCS stuff in stock. Don't love that store though, don't like the vibe.
 




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