When it comes to finding the perfect guitar online, it can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. But don’t worry, my friend! I’m here to help you out.
So what should you keep in mind when shopping for a new guitar? First, you want to ensure you have an excellent selection and a store that can be your instrument’s last quality control point. How else will you find the perfect one if you can’t get your hands on it before you buy?
Also, let’s be honest; we all want a good deal, so reasonable pricing is critical. Plus, finding an online store with excellent customer service is always nice if you need guidance.
The best place to buy a guitar online is Sweetwater if I have to play favorites. They have a fantastic selection, and their customer service is top-notch. But hey, if you’re looking for something specific or a great deal, plenty of other reputable online guitar stores are out there.
So, please grab a cup of coffee, and let’s start browsing together. We’ll find you the best place to buy a guitar online in no time.
Top Online Guitar Stores
Suppose you’re looking for the best place to buy a guitar online, check out Sweetwater Sounds. Sweetwater is one of the largest and most reputable online music instrument retailers in the United States (they don’t ship outside the USA), offering products from all the reputed brands, such as Gibson, Fender, Taylor, Martin, PRS, Ibanez, and more.
Whether you’re looking for a new or used guitar, you’ll find the right one for your style and budget on Sweetwater.
But what makes Sweetwater stand out from other online guitar stores?
- Customer service: Sweetwater has a team of knowledgeable and friendly sales engineers who can help you with any questions or issues about guitars and gear. They can also offer personalized advice and recommendations based on your needs and preferences. Oh yeah, each purchase comes with a bag of candy.
- Quality control: Sweetwater’s 55-point guitar inspection process ensures every guitar they sell is in perfect playing condition ($399 and above). They also have a climate-controlled warehouse that protects the guitars from humidity and temperature changes. And they take professional photos of every guitar so you can see exactly what you’re getting before buying it.
- Shipping and returns: Sweetwater offers free shipping on most orders within the contiguous United States, and they pack every guitar carefully to prevent any damage during transit. They also have a generous 30-day return policy and a 2-year warranty on most products. If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return it for a full refund or exchange. They also provide a shipping label so you don’t eat the cost of defective products (returns have a deduction from your refund for shipping).
As you can see, Sweetwater is more than just an online guitar store. It’s where you can find your dream guitar and get the best service and support to be confident in your purchase decision. So if you’re ready to buy a guitar online, try Sweetwater. You won’t regret it!
Who should buy from Sweetwater: Anyone looking to buy a high-quality guitar online with excellent customer service, quality control, and no-risk shipping and returns policies should choose Sweetwater Sounds.
- 2-year warranty (Total Confidence Coverage)
- An expansive list of instruments
- Sales engineers available for personalized advice
- 55-point guitar inspection for guitars above $399
- Will see actual pictures of the guitar you're purchasing
- Ships only within the United States
- They only have one public, in-store location located in Indiana
Guitar Center is the United State’s largest musical instrument retailer, with over 300 locations across the United States. If you’re like me, going to Guitar Center was like going to Disneyland.
They now have a substantial online presence, and their physical stores are still great depending on where you’re located (I’m in Southern California, so the experience is still good; however, this isn’t the case in other parts of the country).
However, because of its massive presence, Guitar Center creates a unique guitar-buying experience you don’t get with other companies. Also, whether you’re looking for a brand-new or used guitar, you’ll find plenty of options on Guitar Center’s website.
So what makes Guitar Center an excellent choice for buying guitars online? Here are some of the key benefits of shopping with Guitar Center:
- Convenience: Guitar Center makes shopping online and picking up your guitar in-store easy. You can browse their online catalog and see which guitars are available at your local store. You can also have products shipped to your local Guitar Center to try out before you buy if you want to get your hands on a product before committing. This way, you can avoid shipping costs and enjoy the best of both worlds: online shopping and in-store service.
- Returns: Guitar Center has a hassle-free return policy that lets you return any product within 45 days of purchase for a full refund or exchange. You can return your guitar online or in-store, whichever is more convenient.
- Rewards: Guitar Center has a loyalty program called Guitar Center Gear Card that gives you 5% back in rewards on every purchase. You can use your rewards towards future purchases or redeem them for gift cards. You also get exclusive offers, discounts, and special financing options on select purchases.
As you can see, Guitar Center is more than just an online guitar store. You can find your ideal guitar and get convenient service and support.
Who should buy from Guitar Center: If you value having the option to try gear in-store and a large selection of new and used equipment, Guitar Center offers both convenience and a huge selection.
- Wide range of guitars (new and used)
- Convenient in-store tryouts and returns
- Financing options available
- Frequent sales and discounts
- Sometimes you purchase gear that isn't actually in stock
- Not all used gear is listed properly on website
Reverb is a marketplace for new and used guitars, catering to unique and rare finds. Buyers and sellers on Reverb often have a passion for guitars, creating a community-driven guitar shopping experience. Transactions are secure and protected by Reverb’s buyer policies.
Reverb is a popular platform for finding used gear and boutique shops, but it requires caution to avoid scams.
Who should buy from Reverb: Experienced buyers seeking used gear or unique boutique items may find Reverb an exciting platform, but caution should be exercised to avoid scams.
- Wide selection of used gear
- Access to boutique shops
- Find vintage and rare guitars
- Beware of potential scams
- No guarantees on item condition or customer service
If you’re looking to buy a guitar online, Thomann is an excellent choice. As a German-based retailer of musical instruments, studio, lighting, and pro-audio equipment, Thomann has been in the music business since 1954 and is still family-owned and operated. Here are some of the key benefits of shopping with Thomann:
- Online presence: Thomann has a robust online presence, like Andertons, but with a top 100 e-commerce site in Europe and a popular YouTube channel with over 1.5 million subscribers. Their website offers video demonstrations, product reviews, interviews with famous guitarists and makers, and more, making it an excellent resource for learning about guitars and gear.
- Shipping and returns: Thomann offers free shipping on orders over €199 in Europe and competitive international shipping rates. They also have a 30-day return policy and a 3-year warranty on most products. If you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can send it back for a full refund or exchange.
- Customer service: Thomann has a friendly and knowledgeable staff who can help you with any questions or issues about guitars and gear. They can also offer personalized advice and recommendations based on your needs and preferences.
As you can see, Thomann is like the European Sweetwater and is more than just an online guitar store. It’s where you can find your perfect guitar and get the best service and support.
However, remember that Thomann is based in Germany, and shipping/cost will be more expensive if you purchase from the United States. So if you’re ready to buy a guitar online in Europe, try Thomann.
Who should buy from Thomann Music: European buyers searching for a one-stop online retailer with expert support will appreciate the selection and services that Thomann Music offers.
- Large selection of instruments, including major brands
- Ships worldwide, however, best-suited for European customers on larger purchases
- 30-day money-back guarantee and 3-year warranty
In-house technicians for quality assurance
- Shipping and delivery times may be longer for buyers outside Europe
- Language and timezone barriers might present challenges with customer support for US-based buyers
Andertons Music Co.
Andertons Music Co. is a musical instrument retailer based in Guildford, Surrey, England. They have been in the music business since 1964 and are still family-owned and operated.
But what makes Andertons Music Co. an excellent choice for buying guitars online? Here are some of the key benefits of shopping with Andertons Music Co.:
- Online presence: Andertons Music Co. has a solid online presence, one of the top 150 e-commerce sites in the United Kingdom, and a popular YouTube channel with over 800,000 subscribers. They offer video demonstrations, product reviews, interviews with famous guitarists and makers, and more. From their videos and website content, you can get honest feedback from the “Captain” and Pete about guitars and gear.
- Shipping and returns: Andertons Music Co. offers free shipping on orders over £99 within the UK and competitive rates for international shipping. They also have a 14-day return policy; if you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can return it for a full refund or exchange (minus shipping).
- Customer service: Andertons Music Co. has a friendly and knowledgeable staff who can help you with any questions or issues about guitars and gear. They can also offer personalized advice and recommendations based on your needs and preferences.
As you can see, Andertons Music Co. is more than just an online guitar store. It’s where you can find your ideal guitar and get the best service and support. However, remember that Andertons Music Co. is based in the UK, and shipping/cost could be more expensive if you purchase from the United States.
Who should buy from Andertons Music Co.: For European buyers seeking a reliable and comprehensive online retailer, Andertons Music Co. is a top choice.
- Wide selection of guitars
- Ships worldwide, best-suited for European buyers
- Great customer support & family owned
- Shipping charges may be higher for customers outside Europe
- Only one store location
Amazon is a convenient choice for purchasing musical instruments online because we are all so familiar and comfortable with using the Amazon platform.
You can find various guitars from different brands and helpful customer reviews to guide your purchase. Check shipping options and return policies based on the specific seller before completing your transaction.
Amazon offers convenience, security, and fast shipping. However, because these guitars are usually in a warehouse, you are taking a gamble on the overall quality of the guitar you purchase.
Who should buy from Amazon: If you’re looking for convenient and quick guitar purchases, Amazon can be a suitable choice. However, it may be better for expensive or high-end items. However, you can expect a hassle-free return if you purchase through Amazon.
- Easy purchase and fast shipping process (if purchased with Prime)
- Convenient returns
- Wide variety of instruments
- Limited assurance of proper handling and storage before shipping
- Not the best choice for high-end guitars
Other common online guitar dealers
This section will cover three other common guitar shops you’ll find online shopping.
I created a separate section for these because your mileage will vary. Some customers have no problems with these options, but there are often common complaints with all three vendors.
I’ve had good experiences with them, but it’s been a while since I’ve used them as I buy through Sweetwater.
Sam Ash Music is the largest family-owned chain of musical instrument stores in the United States, with roughly 44 locations in 16 states.
But what makes Sam Ash Music an excellent choice for buying guitars online? Here are some of the key benefits of shopping with Sam Ash Music:
- Family-owned: Sam Ash Music is still owned and operated by the Ash family, who have been in the music business since 1924. They have a passion for music and a commitment to customer satisfaction. There’s something to be said about supporting a family business and not a venture-backed company like others on this list.
- Loyalty Programs: Sam Ash Music is big enough to offer you competitive prices and a wide range of guitars and gear. They also have exclusive deals and offers you won’t find anywhere else. Plus, they have a loyalty program called Sam Ash Rewards, which gives you points for every purchase you can redeem for discounts and coupons (without needing to sign up for anything).
Another thing I like about Sam Ash is if you live next to a store, they don’t lock their guitars like other big-box retailers like Guitar Center, so you can easily try them out before you buy without the hassle of finding help within the store (which can be challenging).
Who should buy from Sam Ash: Sam Ash Music is for someone who values family-owned businesses, competitive prices, and a wide range of guitars and gear with the option to try out guitars in-store before buying.
- Nationwide retail presence
- Will work with educators and provide discounts
- In-store tryout options and returns
- Online inventory may not be up-to-date
- Common complaints over poor customer service from Trustpilot
zZounds, the same company as American Music Supplies, carries a vast selection of guitars, amplifiers, and more. With their “Play as you Pay” installment plan, you can split your purchase into manageable payments. They also have a reasonable 45-day return policy for your peace of mind.
zZounds boasts competitive pricing, fast shipping options, and a comprehensive selection of guitars across budgets.
What makes zZounds a great online music store?
- Flexible payment and financing options. They have a “Pay as you play” program that lets you split your purchase into monthly installments (3 to 12 months). They also have lots of gear you can purchase without a credit check.*
- Low prices and price match guarantee. zZounds often has the best price on guitars. However, there is no QA with zZounds, and you will be purchasing new instruments that come straight from the manufacturer (which could make it to where you need to pay for setup after purchase). zZounds has a 45-day price match guarantee that allows you to get a refund if you find a lower price on another retailer within 45 days of your purchase.
- Extensive selection of guitars from different brands, models, and styles. Whether you’re looking for an electric, acoustic, acoustic-electric, or classical guitar, you’ll find it on zZounds.
*I personally don’t think you should finance instruments, and zZounds relaxed attitude towards financing and credit checks could be seen as a negative. However, I know some readers will want to take advantage of this, which sets them apart.
Who should buy guitars from zZounds: If you prioritize getting the best deal on guitars and want flexible financing options, zZounds is a solid retailer to consider for your guitar purchases.
- Often has the cheapest pricing
- Fast shipping options, including 2-day shipping for eligible items
- Good selection across all budgets
- Flexible financing and payment options
- Inventory isn't always up-to-date
- They run batch payments every day, so when you purchase, sometimes it takes a while to see the debit from your account
Musician’s Friend is another great store for finding guitars. It began in 1983 and is one of the first catalog companies. In 2005 was purchased by Guitar Center to help the brand expand its online business.
Musician’s Friend has a fantastic option of instruments (boasting over 1.7 million). They have this fantastic “Stupid Deal of the Day” that can get you up to 70% off products. You get the benefits of Guitar Center’s easy in-store returns, price-matching, and Free 2-year warranty on guitars.
While Musician’s Friend is a behemoth in the online guitar shop space, it isn’t without issues. Unfortunately, Musician’s Friend has 1.4 stars on Trustpilot, with lots of customers complaining about unwanted outreach, out-of-stock items, and floor models being sold as new, to name a few.
Who should buy from Musician’s Friend: If you are looking for great promotions and flash sales, then Musician’s Friend is a suitable choice.
- Massive selection of instruments from beginner to premium
- Musician's Friend runs great sales and promotions like the "Stupid Deal of the Day."
- Can return instruments to Guitar Center if you don't want to have the hassle of repackaging and sending them back
- Guitars don't go through an inspection before being shipped
- Inventory on the website doesn't update fast enough, and you may order unavailable items
- Recently they have been selling Guitar Center floor models as brand-new instruments
eBay is another platform to find new and used guitars from various sellers. This auction website allows you to bid on your favorite guitar or opt to buy it now.
Verify the seller’s information, shipping, and return policies before purchasing.
Who should buy from eBay: Online shopping enthusiasts seeking unique items and great deals may find eBay a compelling platform, but it’s essential to be cautious about the item quality and scams.
- Large, diverse selection of used and new gear
- The auction-style platform can result in great deals
- Access to boutique and specialty items
- Potential for scams or misrepresented items
- Limited guarantees on item condition & if you'll get good customer service
Used and Vintage Guitars
Buying Used Guitars
When searching for a used guitar, it’s essential to consider factors like condition, authenticity, and the seller’s reputation.
The best online guitar stores to explore used gear is Sweetwater and Guitar Center. You can be sure that your purchased instrument has been vetted for authenticity and playability.
Finding Vintage Guitars
When it comes to vintage guitars, you want to ensure you’re dealing with a reputable seller with experience and knowledge about the guitar’s history and value. Gary’s Vintage Guitar is a reputable source for vintage guitars, offering an array of:
- Arch Top Guitars
- Bass Guitars
- Gibson, Fender, and other brands of electric guitars
- Martin Acoustic Guitars
Furthermore, The Music Zoo is an excellent online resource for vintage and pre-owned guitars. Their inventory includes various brands and models, with detailed descriptions of each guitar’s features and condition.
Why buy guitars online?
• More options than you may be able to find locally
• Getting good prices
Why to not buy guitars online?
• Shipping Costs
• Returns can be a hassle, and often you can eat the shipping cost
• You don’t get to try the guitar out before you buy it
• If you’re purchasing on a marketplace like Reverb or eBay, you may get a fake or misrepresented instrument
Is buying music gear online safe?
It is safe if you purchase through one of the dealers mentioned in this article. The only caveat would be purchased through eBay or Reverb.
While these marketplaces are often a safe and great place to buy a new acoustic or electric guitar, you must keep your guard up a little more to avoid scams.
The Bottom Line
Remember, when shopping for a guitar online, you must research the instrument you’re interested in and compare prices between these top retailers. Take advantage of their return policies and customer service to ensure a smooth and satisfactory purchase experience.
While you will most likely have a smooth transaction with any of these companies, Sweetwater is still the one I consider the best place to buy a guitar online and the one I use most of the time.
I hope this article has given you the confidence to place that order and experience the fun anticipation of knowing you have a new instrument arriving at your doorstep shortly.