How To Sell Your Gear
So far, we’ve addressed lots of topics in regards to acquiring and taking care of your gear, specifically guitars. Let’s shift the focus for a moment. For this week’s blog we take a look at what your options are if you need to sell.
As The Word Turns
It seems like everyday at JAMS we get offers to buy guitars and other musical gear. I get it, people are at different stages in their lives. Someone starting out is looking to buy while a more experienced person of age may be looking to downsize. Some folks look to upgrade and have to sell their old gear to fund their next purchase. Others have sadly realized that playing music is not their passion. We all have our reason to sell gear, but what’s the best way to go about this? Let me share some tips and review the pros and cons.
Keep It Local
I will keep this discussion regional since it's relevant to most folks that live in the area. Finding a potential buyer can be a difficult process. There are not many businesses, including JAMS, in the area that actively buy items. Maybe a few pawn shops are still around, but for the most part you have to look for an individual to buy. The most effective approach is using our friend the internet and social media sites.
The best route I know is Facebook Marketplace. Sites like Craigslist are still around but Marketplace is definitely the most lively. There are items added daily and removed daily so you know many potential buyers are watching. It’s a relatively easy process to make a listing and your personal information is kept private as you can communicate via FB Messenger. The best part, it’s free. Once you find a local buyer you are not obligated to give Facebook any compensation. If you choose to offer shipping, Marketplace does charge a fee, but if you just stick to selling locally no cost is applied.
There are a few reasons to consider avoiding Marketplace. Most folks selling on Marketplace expect cash for their gear, but you will get a large amount of trade offers. Even if you specify “no trades” there are individuals that will ask. In addition to trade offers you will get a steady flow of low offers. It can be frustrating receiving those messages when your sole goal is to sell your gear quickly. Then there’s the matter of the exchange. You always want to put your safety first when meeting up with a person you’ve never met. It’s not uncommon to arrange a meeting and then the buyer does not show up. Overall, Marketplace is a great option if you want to get the most value for your gear and want to sell it quickly, but it does require a little patience, time, and work.
Sell to the Masses
While selling your gear to local buyers tends to be the easiest approach it’s not always easy to find a local buyer. Sometimes you may have gear that doesn’t appeal to the local musicians. For example, we don’t see a lot of synth players in Southeast Missouri compared to other areas of the country. Six string basses aren’t top sellers either. There are a number of products that you would have better success selling to musicians in different parts of the country. That’s where the online resale sites excel.
Reverb, Ebay, Sweetwater Gear Exchange
For those sellers that are tech savvy and have a little extra time, online resale sites are an excellent option. JAMS has a Reverb page and we find it to be an excellent option for selling lots of gear. If you’ve never heard of Reverb, think of it similar to ebay, but Reverb only sells musical gear. Reverb is great because it has become the “go to” site where musicians go online to shop for used gear. Individuals and businesses can sell items to would-be buyers. It’s great because folks all over the country and over the world use Reverb. So, if you are having trouble finding a local buyer an option like Reverb is an excellent choice. Ebay is a good option too if you are more comfortable with that platform and Sweetwater has recently launched their Sweetwater Gear Exchange, just for individuals, not businesses. These sites all work the same, snap some pictures, write a description, and list your item. Once you go through the process a couple times it can become an effective option.
Of course there are some cons. You still get the same trade offers and low price offers. There’s also a sellers fee. Reverb takes 8.5% fee from your sales price. Another problem is shipping. It can be a pain to box up and ship your item and if you don’t guess the shipping cost correctly you can lose a significant chunk. Plus, there is the risk that your item is damaged or lost in shipping. Even if you purchase shipping insurance it is a huge inconvenience and process when handling the claim and communicating with your buyer. So, Reverb is a great option as you can expand your market and sell your product quickly, but it can take up a lot of time and be just as much of a hassle as Marketplace. After paying the listing fees and taking the time to ship your product you may find it not worth the hassle.
Another great option folks have is the trade route. JAMS has many customers that trade their items to upgrade for better gear. If you have items you no longer use or need an upgrade, trading your gear in at a local music store is the quickest way to get it done. Many times, you can trade in your items and walk out with your purchase in the matter of minutes. It’s an easy process and often the easiest route to use. However, when you trade items into the local music store you don’t get as much value as you would if you sold the item yourself. However, it takes a lot of your time to create a listing, answer questions, and ship your product if necessary. So if you value your time too much to spend it on selling your gear, trading it in is the way to go.
Why is my Trade Value So low?
If you ever traded your gear into a Guitar Center or local music store you may have felt like your gear is undervalued. Even though I’ve been working at JAMS for almost 10 years trades can sometimes be the most difficult transaction. We never intend to insult our customers when we offer a value for their gear, but it's easy to read the face of someone expecting more. For the most part our customers understand the process. As a business, every trade has to financially make sense. In order to do so we have to offer a very conservative price so when we sell it we justify the transaction. There’s lots of factors when it comes to figuring out the value of trade.
First, it’s really hard to determine the resale value of used gear. There’s no firm established price like when you buy a new product. Used prices vary greatly and it's determined by many factors, including condition, version, and sometimes even the color can make a huge difference. At JAMS, we provide quality inspection and service for all used items to get them in prime condition. That requires the cost of a tech to properly test and set up the instruments. Trade transactions often happen quickly too, and that means things get overlocked. When an item is traded to us there’s no return policy. If we later discover that the item is defective then we’ve lost out on that money. Many times items traded in to us don’t have a strong local market. So, we use Reverb to move those products. As discussed above it takes a certain amount of time to create a listing, handle customer questions, and prepare and ship the item. All time consuming and in business time is money. Not to mention the 8.5% Reverb takes off our sales price. All of those factors add up and increase our cost to sell a product. Our goal is to have a fair transaction for every customer, but it has to be fair to us too.
Of course there are a bevy of other options out there to sell your gear, but these are the most practical solutions for those gear hungry players who dwell in Southeast Missouri. Hopefully, this provides some practical insight for those who have never ventured into this realm. If you are willing to put in some extra time you can maximize the value of your item. If your time is of the essence then you’ll be better off trading your gear in. Whichever route you choose we hope these tips will give you the ultimate success.
- Chad Daniels