Where did you buy your last guitar? Chances are, the next guitar (or gear) that you buy could be through the recently funded Reverb.com.
Buying a guitar, or guitar equipment, can still be oddly challenging. In an era of Uber and Airbnb, it seems like buying and selling musical instruments should be simple, transparent, and safe. And yet it isn’t.
The Sultans of Swing
If you’re like me, you’ve used Craigslist before. Craigslist is great because you can meet the other person, play the instrument, and negotiate the price. But it has it’s limitations. It’s limited to driving distance. And hit or miss whether the guitar you’re looking for will be listed this month (or ever).
I’ve also bought and sold through eBay. The sheer size of eBay makes it easier to match buyers and sellers and geography, of course, is no limitation. But there’s a lot of trust issues here. For example, I sold a bright red Ibanez Artcore semi-hollowbody through eBay a few years ago. It was a terrible experience.
The purchaser returned it because there was damage. UPS denied my insurance claim, though I had paid for extra insurance, and eBay said it was my problem. To this day, I’m not sure if the guitar was damaged (and it was truly damaged) by UPS in shipping? Or by the customer at his house? So I don’t use eBay anymore.
The fees were too high, anyways.
s on the Block
I’m intrigued by Reverb, though. Based in Chicago, Reverb.com is a snappy online marketplace for buying and selling new and used musical instruments and gear. They want to be more than functional, they want to be inspirational. New, vintage, guitars, keyboards, they’ve got it all.
The business was founded by David Kalt, owner of Chicago Music Exchange, a large and cool music store also based in Chicago.
After poking around on the site and reading a bit. Here’s some feedback. Buyer beware: I haven’t bought or sold through them…yet.
- The listings are set up Pinterest-style, making it fun to scroll through instruments and gear.
- Lots of good feedback from users who seem to be turning away from eBay.
- They’re producing fun, quality stories. Articles like this interview of Mimi Fox are genuinely interesting and inspiring.
- Reverb provides a Price Guide to benchmark used gear pricing.
- They provide “Reverb Protection” to arbitrate any purchasing disputes. An account manager will walk you through a clear process to handle any problems. (This would’ve been helpful with my Ibanez.)
- The site looks nice and the technology is flawless, making me very confident in their checkout, chat, email services, etc.
- iOS and Android apps available.
- Listings can vary, research required. Similar to eBay, there are certain standard fields when listing a guitar for sale. But a lot of the listing content is determined by the seller. So, searching for “Larrivee LV”, for example, will yield everything from private sellers in Pennsylvania to brick’n’mortar shops in Montana. Be ready to do a little research.
- Prices may be a bit high. Communicating with the seller can allow you to negotiate, though.
- Nothing is ever a sure thing. So, as with Craigslist and eBay, the rule is still “Buyer beware”.