Is it a Good Idea to Buy an Acoustic Guitar Online?

Published Categorized as Buying Guides, Guitar selection

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Buy an Acoustic Guitar OnlineA 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

  • Researchpros of buying a guitar online
  • Price
  • Range of options
  • User reviews/professional reviews
  • Convenience
  • No pressure from sales staff

Research

research guitars onlineThere 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!)

Price

acoustic guitar budgetIf 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.

Convenience

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

  • cons of buying an acoustic guitar onlineTrying 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.

trying a guitar in personBut 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:

  1. research online to narrow down your top couple of options
  2. find those options in physical stores near you and try them out
  3. 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.

Delivery Safety

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.

The Winner?

This might sound like a cop-out but the answer to whether it’s better to buy in person or online is:

It depends.

  • 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.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

12 comments

  1. You have some valuable in formation here buying an acoustic guitar online.

    I really like the fact that you don’t have a sales man pressuring you to buy. Also like you said you have a much wider range of guitars to pick from, and the cost is usually cheaper buying online.

    However it is always nice to try out a guitar before you buy it. This is the biggest drawback for me when buying online.

    Excellent post! Thank you Nathan.

    1. Hey David

      Thanks for your opinion.

      You’ve definitely hit the key points on the head for the pros and cons of buying online.

      Now all we need is a way for online companies to beam through a complete guitar through the computer that you can try – and then after 3 days that guitar is beamed back through the computer to the supplier if you decide not to buy! O.k. maybe that’s fantasy but it would make buying online perfect then!

      Thanks for visiting.

  2. I liked shopping online in general and I bought few things online that were cheaper than the offline price.
    But, I think that somethings must be only bought after getting a hold of it in hands like clothes and music instrument.
    So, I agree with what you said about the general pros of shopping online, but not guitars. It must be tested and heard before buying.

    1. Hey Mahmood

      Thanks for visiting and for your opinion.

      Definitely ideally you would want to try a guitar before you buy but it’s not always possible. That’s why the ideal scenario is to research online to narrow down your options, try your top 3 or 4 picks in store and then return online and find the best price and have the item delivered to your door (usually free delivery when you spend as much as you do on a guitar).

  3. Hi, the title attracted me instantly, and I must say I had mu answer even without reading the text. But I did read and there are some issues where I strongly disagree. Just take for example user reviews. Can you really trust them? Should you trust comments? You have your site and you will remove my comment if you dislike it. Or at least, I am sure majority of people do this. The same is with user reviews if you read them on the site of a seller. I do not buy them.

    But you have valid points elsewhere. My first thought when I saw the title was related to what you write later: trying! Of course this is an issue. For such a fine instrument this is important. I agree with what you say in this regard. Thank you.

    1. Hey Jovo

      Thanks for your input.

      I agree that user reviews can be misleading in that way. The site owner might choose not to publish all the reviews – but in my experience looking through user reviews there are usually some bad ones from people having bad experiences.

      And also you can still read up the reviews that are there and see what people had to say. Often someone will give a 4 or 5 star review but will still mention something about the product (in this case guitar) that isn’t perfect or is useful. And I don’t think every retailer necessarily filters out bad reviews.

      And for products through the likes of Amazon, the retailer may not get a choice as to whether a review is published or not. I’m not sure what the story is with the likes of Amazon, E Bay etc but I imagine that they wouldn’t allow their retailers to filter their reviews. If anything they might filter them for obscenities and what not but not otherwise.

      That said I take your point that you can’t rely on them alone, but I do think they still hold a good bit of value.

  4. Hey Nate,

    Awesome post here. I bought my guitar at the local guitar shop and I love it! However I bought my drums online. I think both online and physical stores have their advantages and disadvantages. My favorite thing about buying online is the overabundance of reviews and opinions on the products. I like buying at the physical store because it is nice to try before you buy. I think you are right that it just depends. keep up the good work!

    -Aaron

    1. Hey Aaron

      Thanks for your take on this. You make some good points about the pros and cons of buying guitars online or any musical instrument for that matter.

  5. I bought a guitar one time on ebay and it was really nice. It was a gift and the person I gave it too really loved it. Thanks for giving me an ideas of what to look for if I made a purchase again. I actually want to buy one for my son because he has shown an interest in music.

    1. Hey Kristie

      Thanks for visiting. Yeah I have bought a couple of guitars online and it’s a really good way to buy and really convenient.

      Great to hear that your son is showing an interest in guitar! Let me know if you want any recommendations for a good beginner guitar.

  6. Great info here. Although I’ve never purchased a guitar online. I have purchased several items in the electronic category and it always poses a bit of a conundrum. The pro’s and con’s you listed could be applied to quite a few online purchases. You just have to check those online reviews.

    1. Hey Keith

      Thanks for your input. Yeah it can definitely be applied to a lot of online products. You just have to make sure to do your research on both the product and the store you are buying from.

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