Musicians are known for constantly buying, selling and trading used gear. The benefits are obvious: selling or trading used gear allows you to get back some of your investments and most of the time can help contribute to your next gear purchase. Buying used equipment saves you money, and that can be especially nice when you find a good deal on a like-new item. These days there are a lot more ways you can buy, sell and trade your old cymbals, drums and accessories. There are countless resources both in-person and online. Here’s a detailed list of the top 5 places to turn to for used gear, including the pros and cons of each, and what sets each option apart.
This article was originally written for TomTom Magazine, the only magazine dedicated to Female Drummers.
The best part about buying used gear at Guitar Center, or any other big chain for that matter, is that you have solid protection. Large companies like GC have policies and warranties in place that guarantee your purchase is covered. Some of these warranties are included, and others you have to buy in addition to the product. Either way, the gratification of knowing you’re insured is a good feeling. Another advantage of buying used gear at Guitar Center is that their prices are reasonable. You won’t likely find a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but Guitar Center is definitely fair. Also remember that just because it’s a “real store” doesn’t mean negotiations aren’t allowed. Ask to speak to a manager to see if they’d be willing to consider an offer.
As far as selling used gear at GC, it is super easy compared to selling on a website (see below). There are no fees, taking of pictures, answering questions, or anything else associated with selling on the web. It’s a one-time process and you can walk away that same day with cash (alternatively, you can take part in Guitar Center’s Trade In Trade Up deal, if you want to use your credit toward a new piece of equipment — this program gives you 10% off your next purchase when you sell them your old gear first). The downside of selling at GC is that you’ll get significantly less money compared to selling on your own because GC acts as a middleman and therefore must profit from the deal. As a general rule, you typically get around 50% of whatever price your item sells for. In the end, compare your options and decide how much of a loss it will be, and whether that loss is worth the time you’ll save by not having to list the item on your own.
Reverb is a relatively new site that launched in 2013. It differs from resources like eBay or craigslist mainly because they only deal with music equipment, making them the world’s largest music gear website (according to them). They also have a whole team of employees who are musicians themselves, which helps when you need reliable and understanding support. For selling, they have unlimited free listings, secure transactions and trusted customer service. They also have a unique Price Guide that can help you discover the value of each piece of gear. If you’re a buyer, Reverb is a very organized site that allows you to sort and filter through the listings to find what you’re looking for. You can even communicate directly with buyers. Finally, Reverb has a online community presence that extends your experience with them beyond the transaction of gear.
eBay is a dominating force when it comes to buying and selling used gear online — everyone from a one-time seller to a big brand can offer items on eBay. The downside is that they charge fees for selling, and most transactions on eBay involve shipping which also costs money. This can be very annoying when it comes to big pieces of equipment like drumsets that are difficult and expensive to ship, and require some kind of insurance if you want to cover yourself against the possibility of damage enroute. While you can request that the buyer pay for shipping, the cost might dissuade them from completing their purchase, even if the price of your item is low. And, packing a fragile instrument can be a very time consuming process for the seller.
As an alternative, eBay offers local listings, similar to craigslist, which eliminate shipping cost altogether since buyers can pick up the items themselves. Whether you’re buying or selling, one of the best parts about using eBay is its listing features, meaning for example, they allow you to list an item as either an “Auction” or a “Buy It Now” product. This gives the seller the ability to control how to sell and how long the item should be listed, and it gives the buyer the option to get something immediately rather than waiting around to see if they win an auction. When selling with eBay, or any online source for that matter, spend time creating accurate and detailed descriptions, taking clear photos, answering questions, and providing anything else that gives your potential buyers the most information possible on your item.
The main benefit of craigslist is that it’s local and free. You can pick something up in person rather than paying and waiting for shipping, and the seller has no packing to do or fees to pay. It doesn’t take long to create a listing, and communication is secure and private. If you live in a small town, your options will be more limited, but at this point most of us live within a few hours of a major city so the money and hassle you save on shipping may still outweigh any inconvenience. The drawback of craigslist is that it can be dangerous. There’s no guarantee of safety with craigslist, so the risk involved with meeting someone you don’t know can be high. If you do decide to meet someone, make sure you get their information and verify it beforehand. Try to meet in a public place, and ALWAYS take someone with you.
Facebook has very recently turned into a resource for buying and selling. Just this year, they released a new feature called “Marketplace” which allows you to buy and sell within your local community in a similar way to craigslist. It can recognize your location and list the items for sale in your area. You can even search for specific locations outside of where you’re currently at. Marketplace might add extra security that craigslist doesn’t provide because a seller’s profile must be connected to their listing. In addition to the Marketplace feature, there are many Facebook groups and pages dedicated to selling items. They’ve even designed a custom post-type that allows the seller to include pictures, pricing, and description information.
All in all, when you’re buying and selling used gear, it pays to weigh your options. Remember that your considerations will differ depending on what type of equipment you’re dealing with too. If you decide to sell online, it might behoove you to list your items on more than one source in order to increase the chances of it selling — just make sure you can keep track of what’s happening on each website so that it doesn’t sell twice!
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