So you’ve been playing music for a bit and you’re itching to add some more pieces to your gear collection? You’ve done all the research, watched countless YouTube demos, and you’ve figured out exactly what you “need” to take your playing to the next level. Sound familiar?
Maybe you’re trying to get some gear for your church or you’re about to make an upgrade to your current setup and you’re still trying to figure out what to get.
Whatever boat you’re in, these tips and tricks for buying used gear are really going to come in handy.
Over the past 10+ years, I’ve been buying and selling a ton of music gear… I mean, a TON of gear. I would say that I’m a creative and enjoy trying out new things that inspire me but my closest friends would probably just say that I’m a gear head and a pro at finding good deals (a.k.a. I’m super cheap lol). Anyways, let’s get back to why you’re really here…
You want to know the secrets for saving a ton of money when you’re buying used gear.
WHEN TO BUY NEW?
Alright, I know that this blog is all about the tips and tricks for buying used gear but there are a couple of scenarios where you might buy something new:
- You’re on a time crunch and need something super fast.
- You’re on a time crunch and you need to buy a lot of different items for your church.
- You’re on a time crunch and you can’t find anything used.
- Your church needs the warranty that comes with a new piece of gear.
- You bought Bitcoin in 2009 and have more gold than King Solomon himself.
There are definitely other reasons to buy new, but usually, the biggest reason is time. You need something really fast and don’t have time to shop around for a used item. If you are able to wait, buying used has a ton of benefits.
Pro tip: If you do have to buy new gear, I would highly recommend calling a sales rep at a music store like Sweetwater and asking them if they can give you a discount. This is especially helpful when you are making a large purchase or buying a lot of items at once. You might save anywhere from 10-20%.
THE BENEFITS OF BUYING USED GEAR
Before we jump into how to buy used gear, let’s take a second to talk about the benefits of buying used.
- Buying used is significantly cheaper than buying new. Sometimes you can save over 50% of what it would cost to buy new!
- A lot of used gear retains its value and you can actually sell it close to what you bought it for down the road. If you don’t love what you purchased you can sell it, get all of your money back (sometimes more), and use that money to try out something else.
- You are helping support other musicians by purchasing used gear from them instead of buying new from a retailer.
- If you have a limited budget, you can use the leftover funds for other purchases.
- Buying used allows you to get something of nicer quality while staying on budget.
- Did I mention that you are saving a ton of money???
Pro tip: Some companies have lifetime warranties for their products even if you purchased the item used!
One of my friends bought a really nice used bass case/gig bag from a company. It had been heavily used and unfortunately, the zipper ended up breaking on it. He reached out to the company and they ended up sending him a BRAND NEW CASE for FREE.
I had a similar experience where I bought a nice used delay pedal. After a couple years, the tap tempo button stopped working so I reached out to the company to purchase a replacement button. They ended up sending me three replacements for free and walked me through the quick and easy repair process.
TIPS FOR BUYING USED GEAR
Before we start looking into all of the strategies for buying used gear, let’s just take a second to remember to be kind to others. Don’t use kindness as a manipulative tool to try to get a better discount.
Also, don’t be mean because you feel entitled to something, or because your items got lost in the mail or damaged during shipping. These things can be easy to do when we become me/inward-focused. Instead, take a second and breathe, remember the life of Jesus, and be kind.
Extend grace and love to others and respond to frustrations with a heart to understand. Sometimes when you encounter rude or angry people, it is easy to forget that they are often hurting and in need of love. A rude employee at a music store might be having the worst week of their life. Instead of responding to their attitude, we can choose compassion and love.
I know that this is a little silly for a blog about buying music equipment but it’s always good to be reminded that as followers of Jesus we are invited to join Christ in the renewal of all things, to be a counter to the narrative of our culture, and to choose love.
Make An Offer
On certain online sites like Reverb, sellers can allow you to make offers for the items they are selling. If a seller has this option enabled, I will always send an offer. Because this is an optional feature, if the seller has it turned on it means that they have some buffer in their price and they are open to negotiate.
After countless transactions, I’ve found that the sweet spot for making an offer is around 15-20% off of their asking price.
Sellers are usually more flexible with their price the longer the item has been up. If the listing has been up for 3 hours, you are unlikely to get a discount. On the other hand, if the listing has been up for 3 months, you generally have some room to negotiate.
Patience Is Key
Again, this is a huge component for getting a great deal on a used item. If you are able to be patient and wait, you are likely to come across an amazing deal.
Literally, while I was working on this blog, I found a drum pad that I have been looking for. It showed up on Reverb for 30% cheaper than all of the other used ones listed online. Not 30% off the new price. 30% cheaper than all of the used ones! So I ended up finding an amazing deal just because I waited a couple extra days before making the purchase.
Many websites like Reverb or Facebook Marketplace will allow you to create alerts for very specific items you are looking for. This comes in handy so that you don’t have to look continuously for good deals. I use this feature a lot. I’ll add the specific item I’m looking for and choose to only be notified if one pops up below a certain price.
Pro tip: Buying used instruments allows us to make upgrades. Unless you are that guy/gal who I mentioned earlier that bought Bitcoin in 2009, we are all working on some sort of budget.
Let’s say that we have saved up for a long time and have a huge budget of $2,000 to buy a guitar. Instead of buying a new guitar for the full price, we could wait until we found that same guitar used for $1200. With the extra money that we have left in our guitar budget, we could upgrade the pickups, add a tremolo system, and give the guitar a fresh setup from a local guitar tech.
Because we bought the guitar used, we now have the same model guitar with some incredible upgrades and we are still under our original budget of $2,000. Our guitar sounds and feels incredible and the upgrades that we’ve made have increased the value of our guitar.
THE BEST PLACES TO BUY USED GEAR
If you haven’t noticed from all of the times I’ve already mentioned this store, Reverb is my absolute favorite place to buy and sell used gear. You can pretty much find anything you’re looking for (seriously anything). You can find all of the essentials for whatever instrument you play. They have tons of vintage, new, used, and obscure gear. Reverb is great because you are able to negotiate prices with most of the sellers to get amazing deals.
This is pretty much the new Craigslist (if you don’t know what Craigslist is, consider yourself blessed lol). In my experience, FB Marketplace is definitely less sketchy than Craigslist and it’s a cool way to connect with other local musicians. I usually search for items near where I live in Nashville but you can also search for items that can be shipped to you. Like Reverb.com, you can set-up alerts too.
One way to watch out for scammers is to check out their profile. If they have a normal amount of friends, a profile photo, and their account has existed for a while it’s usually safe to say they are a real person selling a piece of gear. You don’t really have to worry about this when you’re buying locally, but I always check if I’m buying a piece of gear that will be shipped to me.
If you’ve ever purchased anything from Sweetwater, you know that they are super kind and their customer service is unbelievable. Most people only know about their main store, but they actually have a pretty good used section where you can find sweet deals. I have only bought new items from them so I’m not sure if their used items come with candy. Let us know in the comments if you find out lol!
Music Go Round feels like a treasure hunt. If you go into one of their locations, you never know what you’re going to see. They are constantly getting new items from musicians so it’s a cool place to check out occasionally. They also have an online store that you can check out.
Probably the most well-known music store. If you’ve ever walked into a Guitar Center, you’ve definitely been blessed by the sounds of Sweet Home Alabama, Sweet Child Of Mine, and the infamous Smoke On The Water all being played at the exact same time. Well, do I have good news for you. Guitar Center has a great online store with used music gear. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t have a media player with those classic rock jams, but it does have some pretty sweet deals.
Another great music store where you can find a ton of used items for various instruments.
This is relatively new to the finding used gear arsenal. Byrd has an amazing skill for finding gear and primarily uses Instagram for sharing what he has available. Occasionally he’ll get ahold of a piece of gear that he then sells for a steal! Definitely worth following both of his Instagram accounts too! @byrdfinds & @byrdsells
Your Local Music Shop
Shopping at local businesses is a great way to support your community and connect with other musicians. I was at a music shop in Milwaukee once and ended up meeting another local guitarist who ended up becoming one of my best friends (hi Caleb!). I’m not saying you’re going to meet your best friend at your local music store, but you definitely won’t meet him/her buying new gear online lol.
Pro tip: When I’m looking for a very specific piece of gear, I will often look at all of these websites to see if one pops up. Sometimes the used gear inventory can change daily on these sites so it is good to check often and if you are patient, you could find a really good deal.
ITEMS TO AVOID BUYING USED
An Expensive Instrument
Ok, hear me out on this one. Almost every guitar that I’ve EVER owned I purchased used from one of the sites that we talked about earlier. If you are saving up to buy a really nice instrument, I would recommend trying to buy used locally if you can. You can find some really good deals online, but if you are investing in an instrument it is always the best option to play it before you buy it.
I especially recommend this if you are a guitar player and are buying an acoustic guitar. If you go into a guitar store and play 5 of the exact same model guitars, usually one feels a lot better than the rest. Because of how slight variations can change how instruments play, sound, and feel, I always prefer playing a used instrument before I buy it.
If you’ve read my blog on the 10 Surprising Guitar Accessories You Never Knew You Needed, then you definitely know that I have a love-hate relationship with cables. You might be able to find some really good used cables, but I would only recommend buying new cables of my past cable traumas. If you’ve read that blog, you know exactly the embarrassing story that I’m referring to… lol.
If you are going to buy used cables, make sure that they are soldered and from a reputable company. If you’re curious why quality cables matter, check out this blog from our friend Austin at Runway Audio and get 15% off your order!
Essentially I wouldn’t recommend buying anything used that has a very short shelf life: guitar picks, strings (lol please don’t tell me that you have bought a pair of used strings), amp tubes, drum heads, drum sticks, etc. These things are usually inexpensive so it would be best to buy them new. That way you can use them for the entirety of their life span.
2 Final Strategies
Make a Trade
You’d be surprised how often people are willing to trade. Who knows, you might even have the exact piece of gear laying around that they were going to but after they sold their item. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a real thing that’s definitely worth mentioning.
Flip the Steals
While you’re keeping your eyes open for the pieces you want, keep a lookout for other gear at crazy prices. If you see a piece of gear that you know normally sells for a lot higher price, even if you don’t need it, buy it and flip it! Back to patience, if you are willing to hold onto that piece for a while￼￼ you can end up making a decent profit.
This is a great way to fund the dream pieces you’re saving up for.
What are some tips that you’ve learned about finding good deals? What is the best deal that you’ve ever found? Share with us below in the comments!!
Check out these similar posts!
- Over 150 Ways to Improve as a Worship Musician, Worship Vocalist, & Worship Pastor!
- 5 Things Volunteers Do that Annoy their Worship Pastors More than Anything
- The Ultimate Guide to Instrument Cables
- The Most Surprising Guitar Secret for Sounding Massive
- Advanced Music Theory for Worship