Where To Buy A Guitar – Top Tips & Buying Advice

Learn where to buy a guitar with this popular National Guitar Academy buyer’s guide. (Includes our top 5 tips and recommended retailers.)

where to buy a guitar

Wondering where to buy a guitar?

If you’re wondering where to buy a guitar then we’ve got you covered.

We’re going to look at 4 options:

  • Buying a guitar from your local music shop
  • Buying a guitar from an online retailer
  • Buying/Getting a guitar from a friend or family member
  • Buying a guitar from a listing site (e.g. ebay/craiglist)

Let’s dive in!

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National Guitar Academy

Buying a guitar from your local music shop

If you’re wondering where to buy a guitar this is our recommended place to start for two reasons:

  1. Generally, you get a high quality of service from knowledgable guitarists.
  2. You get the opportunity to go hands-on with many different types of guitar.

Remember, the most important thing of all is that the guitar feels comfortable when it lays across your body and is in your hands. Can you reach the frets and does the neck feel comfortable in your hand?

Forget the reviews you’ve read, does the guitar feel comfortable, accessible and easy to play in YOUR hands? Read our beginner guitar buying guide for more tips.

When you’re considering where to buy a guitar it’s important to remember that it’s impossible to try multiple guitars if you’re buying from an online retailer. (And for this reason alone we always recommend that you buy from your local guitar shop.)

In our experience of having visited guitar shops all over the world, the people who work in guitar shops are generally passionate and knowledgeable people who love music, love guitars, and will give you solid advice.

(And if something goes wrong it’s easy to go back to the shop to get help.)

Summary

  • Chance of buying a guitar that is well-suited to you: High
  • Chance of buying a damaged or defective guitar: Very low

Click here to find a guitar shop near you.

 

where to buy a guitar

Buying a guitar from an online retailer

Buying online will usually save you some money (though not that much nowadays) with the drawback being that you don’t get to go hands-on with the guitar before buying it.

You can get around this problem by trying a guitar at your local guitar shop, finding one you like, then ordering online.

But to me that’s a pretty crummy way to treat the people at your local guitar shop. So I always advise our students to support their local music shop when they’re considering where to buy a guitar.

  • Often the difference in price vs online retailers is small and personally, I’m happy to pay a little more to keep my local music shop alive. I value what they provide.
  • But of course, if the difference in price is too big, then people naturally buy online. And online retailers will sometimes have move stock and variety than bricks and mortar retailers.

If you want to know where to buy a guitar online, here are our favourite online guitar retailers:

Our recommended USA guitar retailers

Our recommended UK guitar retailers

When our UK students ask us where to buy a guitar online these are our go-to recommendations.

One of the biggest drawbacks of online retailers is that if something goes wrong it can be harder to get help. Guitars are big objects and posting them back and forth can be a hassle.

Summary

  • Chance of buying a guitar that is well-suited to you: Medium
  • Chance of buying a damaged or defective guitar: Low

where to go to buy a guitar

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Checkpoint! Have you considered this?

Please consider reading our Beginner Guitar Buying Guide which will explain how to choose a guitar that is well suited to your body shape and size.

If you’re wondering where to buy a guitar this is something you need to be aware of because the biggest mistake we see guitar learners make is buying a guitar type that isn’t suited to their body. (This often happens when someone buys a guitar as a gift for someone else.)

  • There are dozens of different types of guitar and they are different in significant ways.
  • For example, electric vs acoustic (and if acoustic, nylon or steel stringed?) and crucially what size of guitar body will suit your own body shape and size?

Your choice of guitar is the master variable in your chances of successfully learning to play the instrument. Choose carefully. (We’ve lost count of the amount of guitar learners we’ve seen waste time and money trying to learn on unsuitable guitars.)

So with that important caveat out of the way let’s get back to this guide and where to buy a guitar.

where to buy a guitar

Buying a guitar from a friend/family member

Buying or ‘inheriting’ a guitar from a friend or family member is something that we see our students do regularly. What are the pros and cons?

This is often overlooked when people are considering where to buy a guitar, but there are two big benefits to buying a guitar this way.

  • Firstly, you know where the guitar has come from and will have a good idea if it might have been mistreated. So you are less likely to be surprised by any major flaws or defects in the guitar than if you bought through ebay or craiglist, for example.
  • The second big benefit is you can often get guitars very cheaply this way (maybe even for free).

Lots of people own guitars that they never play. They may have bought a guitar intending to learn, but never stuck with it. This happens to many thousands of people every year (which I find sad!) but it’s a fact.

So before you shell out your hard earned cash at a music retailer, you may want to ask around. If you’re considering where to buy a guitar there may be someone you know who already has a guitar you could use (and often people are glad to see their unused guitars ‘go to a good home’).

The big drawback to this method of getting a guitar is you don’t get much choice in the type of guitar. Beggars can’t be choosers, so you have to make do with what you’re given. 🙂

Summary

  • Chance of buying a guitar that is well-suited to you: Low
  • Chance of buying a damaged or defective guitar: Medium

buying a guitar where to go

Buying a guitar from ebay/craigslist

If you’re wondering where to buy a guitar you’ve probably already considered ebay or craiglist. 

While there are success stories of people buying fantastic guitars this way, in our experience this is the worst place to buy a guitar.

  • You don’t get to spend much (if any) hands-on time with the guitar before you buy.
  • You know almost nothing about the guitar’s history and how well it’s been treated.
  • Returns/refunds are awkward and fraught with uncertainty.

The biggest drawback of all here is that there is the highest risk of buying a guitar with defects that may not be apparent immediately. This is especially true of electric guitars that have sensitive internal wiring that isn’t visible from the outside but could well be damaged.

So you may well bag a bargain, but this is still our least favourite method of buying a guitar. So if you’re wondering where to buy a guitar, we’d advise you to stay away from this.

Summary

  • Chance of buying a guitar that is well-suited to you: Low
  • Chance of buying a damaged or defective guitar: Medium to High

If you’re wondering where to buy a guitar you hopefully now have a clearer idea of where to begin and what to consider.

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