Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends / Selling Your Guitar

Selling Your Guitar...In Eighteen Easy Steps

We're occasionally asked something along the line of, "You hang a guitar on the wall. You collect the dough. Tell me again just how you earn this consignment fee?" Good question. As it happens, our consignment rates are among the lowest in the industry. But that's not the real point. The real issue is all the work we do for you behind the scenes that you may never be aware of. To help you evaluate your options, let's see how you could sell your guitar yourself, just the way we do it here

-To ensure your guitar will sell at its maximum value, the instrument will need to look, play and sound its very best. To accomplish this find a full-service repair and restoration specialist. To get the job done right, this should be a shop with a dedicated focus on the specific requirements of archtop guitars in particular. Make sure they can do precision setups, structural repairs as needed, finish work, fretwork, inlay and binding repair, electronics etc. The shop should have a deep inventory of vintage and replacement parts in house, otherwise you'll need to search out and purchase them yourself. (Since many of these parts haven't been available for generations, a time machine will be handy.)

- Hire a professional photographer to stage a photo shoot for your instrument. Make sure they have the equipment and expertise to create detailed high-resolution images in digital format, including closeups that highlight the wood figure to best advantage, and can eliminate problems like finish glare from a variety of angles.

-Next, find a Photoshop technician to prepare a web-ready photo gallery, by controlling the brightness, contrast, color saturation, cropping, and web compression of the pictures for maximum impact and rapid screen loading.

-To price your instrument accurately, you'll need the services of a professional researcher, with a specialization in vintage fretted instruments. Researcher should have access to current inventory lists for all major vintage dealers worldwide, updated daily. This individual should also maintain a private database of actual instrument sales prices over at least a decade. In addition, they should posses a reference library that includes dates, specifications, and production figures for all makes and models of the major manufacturers, and all changes that occurred in chronological order. This library should also include vintage manufacturer catalogs dating back at least 70 years. These will allow the researcher to spot hidden value in your instrument that an ordinary music retailer may be unaware of.

-When research is complete, hire a professional copywriter to distill the raw data into a vivid, succinct, and compelling description of your instrument. The description should combine meticulous technical detail, accurate historical context, and highly persuasive prose. This writer must be able to compress a wealth of information into a precisely crafted narrative targeted specifically toward converting casual surfers into motivated purchasers.

-When photos and text are ready, hire a web designer to build an individual page for your instrument, create and test all links, and upload and proof all files. Make sure your web master has assembled and maintained several hundred archive pages of pictures and text of guitars similar to your own, so major search engines will drive web surfers to your site by relevancy linking. If this site is attracting less than 20,000 hits a day, move your page to a site that does.

- To make your page available to the public, rent space on a reliable web server. Make sure they have sufficient system redundancy and power backup so your page is always available to anyone worldwide with no downtime.

-To further advertise your guitar, subscribe to a web-based multiple listing service for vintage guitars. And don't forget to purchase your magazine ad spaces, and hire an ad firm to produce and place your advertisements monthly.

-Hire a salesperson to provide detailed hands-on descriptions of your instrument to callers. Salesperson must be able to answer technical questions on every aspect of your guitar, including history, hardware, finish, tone and playability, and compare and contrast your instrument to others on request. Also, make sure they have an extensive mailing list of qualified buyers for your instrument, and sends out regular notifications of new listings to their clients. (At this writing, ours is approaching 3000 active names.)

-Place an experienced jazz guitarist on retainer to stand by during all business hours to demonstrate your instrument by playing it for customers in person or over the phone. (You'd be amazed how many sales are clinched just this way.)

-When your buyer is ready to pay, contract with a credit card processing network to authorize the VISA/MC transaction, and forward the proceeds to your account. Pay VISA/MC their processing fee on your transaction, about 3% of the sales price.

-Contract with an industrial crating manufacturer to have shipping cartons custom built to your specifications, and designed to protect against road shock, baggage handlers and newly-hired forklift operators.

-Hire a freight expediter to pack your guitar. Make sure they've done it before, and more than once. If they're not fully expert in shock-proofing a delicate vintage soundboard against impact, crushing, and variations in temperature, find an expediter who is.

-Consult an insurance agent to make sure your instrument is covered in full against loss or damage. Make sure the policy covers not just repair costs and salvage value, but also any diminution of value consequent to damage.

-If your instrument has been purchased by an overseas buyer, find a customs broker to complete all forms and declarations required by both the country of origin and the country of destination. (There's a lot of them.)

-Once your instrument has been delivered to the customer for approval, have your customer service manager close the sale by fielding any questions or concerns the buyer may have. Make sure this individual is upbeat, knowledgeable and very, very patient. He or she should be skilled in alleviating symptoms of buyer remorse, or worse, panic. (To conclude some transactions, you may need to retain the services of a consulting marriage counselor as well.)

-Hire an accountant to tabulate, itemize and expedite your sales proceeds to you.

-Finally, and most importantly, advertise for a business partner who will pay for each and every expense listed above, out of pocket and on speculation. If your instrument sells, he or she gets their money back, and a little for their time and trouble. If it doesn't sell, they write their time off for nothing.

That's it! So if you can afford the time to assemble and supervise a team like this, and the money to pay for them, you may very well be able to sell your guitar as quickly and profitably as we can for you here at Or perhaps another dealer has told you they can sell your guitar for less. In that case, they probably will. (Sell your guitar for less, that is...)

Otherwise, consider hiring us. Life is short. Do we earn our keep? Check with any of our hundreds of happy consigners here. It's your call: 206-325-3737.

Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends / Selling Your Guitar