A guitar is not something that is immediately obvious as an online purchase but there are a few reasons that make it a good idea to buy an acoustic guitar online.
There are of course some cons to this way of purchasing a guitar too.
Below I will outline what I think are the pros and what are the cons.
Buying an Acoustic Online Pros
- Range of options
- User reviews/professional reviews
- No pressure from sales staff
There is a crap load of information online these days for just about any guitar you are interested in, no matter how obscure.
Yes you’ve got to sift through a bit of BS but poor information is usually pretty easy to pick – and you’re just as likely to get a sales person in a store feeding you mis-information just to make a sale (or because they don’t really know what they’re talking about!)
If you shop around online you can find a lot more options than you are likely to in physical stores in your town/city.
And with those options you are likely to be able to find a better price.
Not only that, but stores that only sell online save a lot of costs over traditional offline stores – and, at least some of, those savings are usually passed onto the customer.
Range of options
That range of options is not only good for price reasons – but also just for selection reasons. Any given physical store will only stock so many makes and models.
Online you have virtually every make and model available to choose from.
User reviews/Professional reviews
Depending on the guitar there are likely to be heaps of user reviews and professional reviews online. Even some of the more obscure options will have plenty of reviews to look at.
Why are reviews so good?
Because you can get a number of different unbiased opinions on the guitar you are looking at. This will give a good impression on the sound, quality and playability of the guitar.
It’s recommended to look at a mix of professional reviews (like the ones on this site) and user reviews. The more reviews you look (and if you look at the two different styles of reviews) the more accurate the impression you can get to see if the guitar is right for you.
You can do your entire guitar selection process on your computer from the comfort of your couch or dining room table (or at work – just don’t tell your boss!)
And then you can get the guitar delivered straight to your door. How easy is that!
I like to do my research on the online store I am looking to buy from (again through user reviews) to make sure that they package the guitars well for delivery so that the guitar comes without damage – most stores are pretty good from my experience but it pays to be careful.
No pressure from Sales Staff
This might depend on your personality, but I hate being looked over by sales staff and I hate being sold to.
You can say you are just looking to get them off your back but then you always get a negative vibe from them when you are trying out guitars because they believe they’re not going to make a sale.
O.k. not all sales people are like this but I’ve definitely experienced some pushy ones.
So those are all the pros I can think of offhand for buying online – if you can think of any others please leave a comment below. Now let’s look at some cons.
Buying an Acoustic Online Cons
- Trying before you buy (this is the big one)
- Get your guitar straight away
- Delivery safety
Trying before you buy
Chances are these days that there are videos online of the guitar you are interested in – so you can get some idea of the sound of the guitar.
And user reviews will give you some indication of the guitar’s playability. Plus, user reviews, professional reviews and descriptions from manufacturers and online stores will also give you an idea of the guitars tonal qualities and playability.
But none of that quite matches hearing and feeling how the guitar plays in person. There are subtle differences in playability and sound that might change your opinion of the guitar, for better or worse, when you experience it in the flesh.
A good tactic to go by (and brick and mortar retailers will hate me for this one!) is to:
- research online to narrow down your top couple of options
- find those options in physical stores near you and try them out
- go back online and find the cheapest price and have the guitar delivered conveniently to your door
Of course if you’re not that fussy on trying out the guitar you could always just order online based on reviews and videos and you’ll probably be fine. For some who don’t have access to shops with what they are after then ordering online may be the only option. You can’t go too far wrong with the amount of information going around these days.
On the other hand if you don’t care that much about price you may just buy on the spot in store. For me it usually takes a couple of days to mull over my options (with anything, not just guitars) so I usually buy online rather than go all the way back to the shop (and I’m usually seeking out the best possible price!).
Get your guitar straight away
If you are buying online you normally have to wait a while before it gets delivered.
In my experience this can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on where you are getting it delivered from, the delivery times of the store you are buying from and where you are getting it delivered to.
If you go into a physical store you can leave with your guitar that day. So you’ve got to be a little more patient buying online.
This is an anxiety-maker of many an online purchaser – what condition will my guitar arrive in? How well will they package it?
I don’t see this as a huge con as generally speaking guitars are pretty well packaged. I mean, the online store don’t want you to have to send the guitar back and get it replaced – that’s just as annoying for them as it is for you (and costly for them too). Not to mention that it can be damaging to their reputation and brand.
So, typically, they’ll do what they can to ensure that your guitar arrives in good condition.
But, to be careful, go with a trusted online store and check out reviews on that store to make sure they have a good delivery reputation.
Even my $150 do up job guitar I bought recently came heavily packaged, meaning it had very little chance of breakage – though I have seen some people in reviews complain about a lack of packaging so it pays to do your research into a store packaging to make sure you are getting a nice safe package for your new instrument.
This might sound like a cop-out but the answer to whether it’s better to buy in person or online is:
- Maybe you are more or less willing to buy a guitar without trying it?
- Maybe you are more or less willing to try in store first and then buy online?
- Maybe you don’t have the time or patience to go into a physical store or there isn’t one that close to where you live?
- Maybe you are more paranoid of getting your guitar delivered or maybe you are quite relaxed about it?
It really depends on your personal situation. Personally the pros of buying online outweigh the cons for me but each person is different.
Which do you prefer? Have you ever bought online – and what was your experience? It’d be awesome to hear any opinions or experiences or if you can think of any other pros or cons I’d love to hear those too. Just leave a comment below.