Do the places you frequent frequently run out of the item you want when you want to buy a new instrument? The Top 12 Audio Stores/Retailers To Buy Gear & Musical Instruments 2023 are what we have provided for you.
A new instrument is often a very important deal for most people. Finding the correct equipment is essential since you will likely invest a sizable sum of money in something you want to give your all. Almost anything you could desire can now be found online and delivered to your home in a matter of days or sometimes even hours, depending on where you reside.
The days of deliberating about whether or not to purchase a vacuum cleaner for your house for several hours at a store with a salesman are long gone. However, if you’re not careful, you can get your new guitar in a less-than-desirable state and have to take it to a luthier for a setup or repair in certain instances, making the original purchase a little bit more expensive than anticipated.
When you purchase online, you can easily see the full range of products that the retailer has in stock. I often encounter lazy customer service when I enter a physical business. This is frequently true for major retailers who have an online store. Compared to a physical store, you’ll typically discover many product possibilities in an online store. You may compare goods when browsing an online store by opening different tabs in your browser. It is considerably simpler to compare the features and costs of several items. Additionally, it improves the effectiveness of decision-making.
In order for you to know where to search and buy your new guitar with confidence, I’m going to guide you through the finest websites to buy guitars online both new and secondhand.
Top 12 Stores/Retailers To Buy Audio Gear & Musical Instruments 2023
When it comes to online sales of audio equipment, Sweetwater is a prominent participant in the e-commerce industry.
The business is headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was established in 1979 by musician Chuck Surack. Sweetwater has grown to be one of the most popular online retailers of audio equipment since it first began doing business online in 1999. It offers a staggering variety of musical instruments and professional and home audio gear Building relationships with customers is the primary goal of the company’s passionate customer-centric strategy. Their customer-centric approach was clear in every one of the encounters.
The United States Postal Service offers free shipping for most orders to the contiguous US. There are options for faster shipment, and the business works with you to pick the best one. Due to limitations imposed by manufacturers, international shipping is restricted.
Sweetwater’s distinctive Total Confidence Coverage, a free 2-year automatic warranty, is offered with almost every product it sells. For brand-new products returned within 30 days, normally starting from the date of arrival, the firm offers a no-hassle return policy. For used equipment purchased through the Sweetwater Used Gear Marketplace, a prolonged 90-day warranty is offered.
- Used Gear Marketplace
Audiophiles may purchase and sell directly with one another on the old equipment marketplace Sweetwater operates. However, they don’t participate in the deals; they only host the market.
- Sweetwater Card
With the help of Sweetwater’s Sweetwater Card, customers may finance their purchases rather than pay cash for their equipment. However, as we all know, audio equipment may be exorbitantly costly. Thus, financing may occasionally be the best choice, particularly if we need the equipment to function professionally.
- Instrument Checking
It’s also vital to know that each item sold by Sweetwater undergoes a 55-point quality check before shipping. An inspection document signed as proof was sent with the guitars I purchased from Sweetwater. When you received these guitars, they were also completely set up and prepared for use, for which most other sellers demand a premium.
The Sweetwater staff has extensive product knowledge. Their team makes every effort to suggest the best equipment for your requirements. When you first get in touch, a dedicated support professional is allocated to you.
In addition, they are always pleased to provide another item at a comparable price if they don’t currently have it in stock. Also, the Sweetwater sales representative always contacts you after delivery to ensure everything is OK.
Amazon will undoubtedly appear on any list of the “greatest online stores.” They are, without a doubt, the biggest retailer in the world. Everything is available on Amazon, even instruments!
Through their own transportation and distribution networks, they complete orders for some of the most in-demand goods and equipment on behalf of the seller while doing the same for other items. Then, the vendors handle and deliver the remaining goods directly to the customer.
Therefore, shipping fees and delivery timeframes will vary from product to product when ordering musical instruments or equipment from Amazon. In addition, depending on who handles shipment, there will also be variations in return procedures, quality assurance, and packing. Therefore, before making a purchase, make careful to review the shipping and return information for each product.
- Product Range
A huge variety of practically all available brands of musical instruments and equipment. Although there is a presence of well-known brands, the variety of high-end guitars isn’t very large. Various tools and beginning kits are offered, as well as affordable Asian producers’ knockoffs of well-known names.
- Customer Service
Customer support from Amazon isn’t terrible. However, you won’t receive a dedicated salesperson. And unlike personnel of a specialized music equipment business, they won’t be knowledgeable about certain instruments.
You have the choice to add on a music accident protection plan from Amazon. There is a standard 30-day return policy for anything bought on Amazon, albeit it differs depending on the product and the seller. Usually, you can acquire a thing online for the lowest price—or a price that is very near to it.
The user reviews for each product on Amazon are what I find to be the most useful. The most well-liked products have considerably more authentic customer evaluations on Amazon than anywhere else, except for highly expensive things. This is a fantastic approach to evaluating the product’s quality before purchasing.
I try to avoid purchasing these items because there is no real “advantage” to purchasing them through Amazon, as the packaging and delivery options are up to the seller. But, yes, there are well-known merchants in this category who only utilize Amazon as an additional online shop in addition to their own website to market goods they already have in stock.
German-based Musikhaus Thomann is a sizable online supplier of musical instruments, studios, lighting, and professional sound gear.
The business was established in 1954, and since 1997, it has been selling goods online. Today, Thomann offers a large selection of audio equipment brands and types and delivers worldwide.
In all of Europe, Thomann provides affordable international shipping. Depending on the European nation the goods are being transported to, free shipping is offered over a particular price threshold. In non-EU nations, goods are subject to taxes and tariffs.
- Used Instruments
Thomann does not have a marketplace for used instruments, but it does have a section called “bargains and remnants“, where it offers excess, discontinued, and returned products at a discount.
Thomann offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its products, including those supplied to businesses. In addition, Thomann provides a fantastic three-year guarantee that, at no extra cost to its consumers, extends the manufacturer’s standard 12-month warranty to a full 36 months.
I’ve heard for a very long time that this website provides welcoming and beneficial services. I tried to purchase instruments from them, and the first time I did, I got an outstanding guitar that I still own. I can say that the entire experience was excellent.
Their pricing is, therefore, comparable to those of American internet shops. Most languages have excellent customer service that replies to calls and texts swiftly. There is a 30-day return policy, though I didn’t need it, and you are guaranteed to have your money back in your brief account (they are valid in Europe and the US).
Additionally, you may buy goods directly from their fully functional application, providing a quicker and more practical experience. They do provide several practical payment choices, however, they do not provide financing services.
Reverb may be regarded as the top used musical instrument store.
However, there are also a lot of brand-new instruments and accessories on the marketplace. So if you’re searching for a rare or vintage guitar, here is the place to go shopping.
This online market, founded in 2013, runs similarly to Amazon. In addition, they give vendors a place to show the market their new and old items. However, in contrast to Amazon, the Reverb website is entirely devoted to musical instruments.
Sellers are frequently also musicians. Most are people who are either selling guitars as a tiny side business or because they no longer need them. Some of them are regional distributors of musical instruments.
As a result, I discover that product quality and upkeep frequently need a more hands-on approach. Reverb features a stylish website and a useful mobile app if you need to purchase while on the go.
- Product Range
First, a list of well-known brands is provided. These are undoubtedly the equipment and tools with a high resale value. In addition, there are some amazing custom guitars available for purchase. But if you want a special tool, be ready to spend more money. Collectors will go crazy over the website.
- Customer Service
Reverb’s customer support was respectable, in my opinion. However, you will deal with individual merchants the majority of the time. As a result, the quality of service will vary amongst vendors.
Each seller and item has a different shipping cost. On each product’s website, however, the general rate is listed next to the price. I decided to offer the postage myself when I sold items on Reverb. There was a little drawback here, too, in that Reverb did not attempt to lead consumers this way.
Although Reverb did instruct me on how to pack the guitar, they did not provide me with any alternatives for the shipping service. Even when several offers exceeded significant sums, like $500, I had to decide for myself. Ultimately, we determined that cargo from Europe would cost $100 in total.
I had a wonderful experience using Reverb to sell my guitar. But take care—getting the money is quite challenging. There are several procedures you must complete to obtain your money. First, you must call the businesses to ensure the buyer that everything is in order. I had to put in nearly every day of the sale period to demonstrate that I was selling my instrument.
I admit it; it’s a start in the right direction, which gives me hope for transactions like these. I feel more secure about the entire procedure now that I am familiar with all the processes. Reverb has helped me meet new people, so it’s a terrific location to exchange ideas.
The zZounds online business was established in 1997 and has been immensely famous among musicians and gear nerds.
The key factor is their fiercely low pricing. Another benefit is the free and quick delivery, with most products arriving within two days of ordering.
Dealing with zZounds has special benefits, like the regular distribution of discount coupons to their mailing list. In addition, they provide both new and old items in their product line. This implies that if you’re on a tight budget, you have a few alternatives at your disposal.
- Product Range
Comparatively speaking, they provide smaller items than some of their main rivals. However, all the well-known brands are there. They provide things that are new, secondhand, factory resealed, dents, scratches, and scuffs.
Any item can be sent for free with no purchase need. Most products may be delivered in 1 to 2 days. Exclusively sends packages to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Usually, they have the most affordable costs. To protect your purchases, it provides a 45-day price match guarantee. Superior financing strategies Tools and equipment can be financed for 3 to 18 months without a credit check.
Service Many of their customers view less engagement with them than with Sweetwater, even though their customer assistance is sufficient as a benefit. Because many musicians are just irritated by Sweetwater’s excessive phone calls and follow-ups, zZounds would be your best alternative if you know what you’re getting and don’t want to connect with other people.
When it comes to packing, they occasionally appear to miss the mark. A guitar was sent to my buddy by zZounds in an enormous rectangular box with little to no padding. There was no protective case within, as is customary for added security. When it came to bubble wrap, they were a little bit frugal. Thankfully, the instrument was delivered undamaged!
Naturally, this isn’t always the case; they are always eager to replace goods harmed in transportation. Furthermore, smaller, less delicate things are not even an issue in this situation. Overall, zZounds is a choice if you want the lowest price and lightning-quick shipment.
6. Andertons Music Co.
In the UK, a family-run business called Andertons sells musical instruments.
They have existed since 1964 and are well-known on both sides of the Atlantic. Anderton’s selection is extensive and includes all the top manufacturers. As a result, there is a huge selection, and there is even a sizable area solely for left-handed guitars.
Only consumers purchasing from the UK are eligible for their guarantees. These cover a 12-month warranty on newly bought items. And all previously owned goods come with a 3-month parts and labour guarantee. In addition, their website states that products may be returned for a full refund, provided you get in touch with them within 14 days of receiving the item.
- Product Range
The selection of guitars is vast. They offer a section devoted to beginning guitar packages, and the pricing is reasonable. These packages include accessories like amps, backpacks, tuners, and other goodies. Particularly affordable are their beginning guitar package rates.
The cost of delivery is determined by weight and is specified at the time of purchase. Orders shipped internationally often arrive in 5 to 10 days.
I believe that the majority of musicians in the UK order from Andertons. Only UK residents are given the option to finance plans for 6 to 36 months on a few select things, and they do so at a great price. According to what I’ve heard, the retailer values its customers well. The personnel are well-versed in the available tools and equipment. The pricing also appears to be extremely reasonable.
European online music retailer Gear4music has a stellar reputation and a strong capacity for service customization.
The business was founded in 2003, which gives it a roughly 20-year existence. It collaborates with top general merchants in the international digital market and provides various musical instruments to draw clients from various markets.
It has been a publicly traded business with a solid reputation since 2015. It indicates that many people hold it accountable for actions that can obstruct its functional and effective operations. The company’s product assortment spans all subcategories in prior online music retailers.
It provides alternatives for purchasing an extended warranty as well as delivery flexibility. The retailer takes strong precautions to increase delivery flexibility, giving consumers the option to change the delivery schedule, track the delivery, and track an automated tracker.
The consumer has the option of choosing a delivery date and exploring the range of services that reputable shippers provide. Given that even the most affordable plans are pricey, it offers non-standard pricing for delivery. In order to give some straightforward solutions that satisfy the demands of frequent consumers of online retailers, it fails to harmonize the price of delivery options.
- Language Support
Utilizing this music shop also offers the important benefit of increasing accessibility because of its support for more than 15 languages. In the online store, a user can choose a nation and language for automatic text translation. As a result, international clients are drawn to its platform. Customers from other countries can also make purchases and know the precise delivery date and time.
- Customer Service
Customers greatly praise Gear4music’s customer service in general. They have knowledgeable staff available by phone, email, or chat to respond to inquiries. Just keep in mind that the timings for customer care are in UK time. So you might need to do some arithmetic before contacting if you live in the US.
- Return Policies
All of Gear4music’s goods come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Within 30 days after delivery, you may return any defective orders for a complete refund. Even the shipping will be included, which is a fantastic value for international costs! Gear4music also provides a standard 2-year guarantee on all new equipment to ensure you can enjoy your new guitar for years. Gear4music is a tough competitor when it comes to sales of guitars abroad. However, it quickly delivers top-notch equipment to practically all nations worldwide.
Along with a significant selection of guitars, Gear4music also offers a wide range of pedals, effects, amps, and other accessories. To aid artists on a budget, they also sell cheap Gear4music-branded guitars and equipment under their brand. Unfortunately, not all of the goods on the Gear4music website are eligible for free delivery.
But your order will be delivered fast regardless of where you reside. One of the quickest international shipping companies is Gear4music. Regardless of the nation, most orders arrive within five business days and are delivered to over 200 nations globally!
A family-run business, Fiddlershop, was founded in 2012 because they believed that by promoting music and assisting others in their musical endeavours, we might improve the online buying experience.
To assist artists in learning how to play the violin for free back then, the owner made several videos for their website. They had the insight and confidence to launch a store that would help consumers of all skill levels based on the queries from that community around where to buy a tool, what tool to buy, and similar issues.
They are aware that practising an instrument by yourself at home is vital. Because of this, every item has a simple 45-day return policy, and all purchases over $30 qualify for free shipping. As a result, online tool purchases are no longer dangerous. In addition, they ensure that everything arrives to you securely by properly packing everything.
The world-class luthiers at Fiddlershop put up each instrument to guarantee that it is simple to play and sounds its best, which is the main distinction between their store and other online retailers. Before each instrument is delivered, one of their expert musicians evaluates its sound and works closely with the luthiers to make any necessary modifications.
The primary differentiator between Fiddlershop and other online vendors is the fitting of each instrument by the shop’s world-class luthiers, who guarantee that each instrument is simple to play and sounds its finest. One of the experienced players examines the sound of each instrument before delivery and works closely with the luthiers to make any required adjustments.
As a result, there were never any problems, and whenever one did arise, it was resolved without delay. Additionally, a highly competent and experienced individual who knew what they were talking about answered every call to FiddlerShop and offered good, unbiased advice.
9. Sam Ash Music
Sam Ash offers free 2-day shipping via FedEx on most purchases and operates four distribution sites across the United States. The business does not ship to PO, APO, or FPO addresses; it only ships to US territory.
This retailer’s philosophy when purchasing used equipment is that if it works, we want it. Therefore, Sam Ash will always buy instruments for bands and orchestras, guitars, basses, amps, pedals, drums, cymbals, keyboards, live sound, DJ, recording, and equipment.
On both new and used equipment, the firm also provides two and 3-year extended warranty coverages. The guarantee for used items only covers refunds and repairs; it does not cover product replacement.
Sam Ash Music offers a 45-day money-back guarantee with a complete refund on most of its items, less the first delivery cost. In addition, Sam Ash offers a clearance section where they sell open and worn goods at a discount and purchase back equipment.
Sam Ash Music offers several financing alternatives, including the Sam Ash Credit Card, 90-day no-credit financing programs, and financing through Marlin Capital Solutions.
- Customer Service
You may speak with a salesperson immediately, thanks to Sam Ash. Additionally, their salespeople appear to have a solid knowledge of the items and equipment they sell. Their live chat support feature on their website is also quite useful.
But I don’t particularly like how they designed their website. It now has an outdated feel to it and is harder to navigate and locate what you’re searching for than other websites. That their internet store solely serves US clients is hardly surprising. As a result, if you reside outside of the US, you must complete a form on their website. One of their representatives will then get in touch with you to talk about your needs.
10. Guitar Center
The fact that Guitar Center is a genuine store sets it apart from many other online guitar retailers. They not only have a strong internet presence, but they also have over 294 physical sites around the country.
The enormous American company Guitar Center provides a wide range of services, including music tuition, equipment maintenance, leasing, and expert installation, and emphasizes selling music and audio gear.
Its current headquarters are in Westlake Village, California, where it was founded in California in 1959. One of the biggest chains of its sort in the US, Guitar Center has over 200 locations.
A few items that Guitar Center does not send for free, despite their best efforts. Special orders, large, formerly owned by a shop, vintage, and clearance products are not eligible for free delivery. Despite being an American business, Guitar Center distributes to more than 100 nations worldwide.
180 days of customer satisfaction is offered by Guitar Center. This policy permits a customer to return an item during the return period in its original state for a full refund of the purchase price, less shipping and handling fees. For both new and used equipment, Guitar Center also provides extended insurance via Asurion under the name Pro Coverage.
At Guitar Center, financing is offered through the Guitar Center Gear Card for a few manufacturers. There are also business-to-business programs and other lending sources. Used and antique equipment can be traded in at Guitar Center for up to $500 in cash or store credit.
- Used Instruments
A wide selection of high-quality new and used musical instruments and equipment at Guitar Center. These include some expensive yet uncommon bespoke and antique guitars for collectors. But many low-cost solutions are also available for guitarists at all levels, including beginners.
- Product Range
There is a list of all the major guitar manufacturers and several exclusive, tiny, beginner-focused manufacturers. They offer a tremendous assortment of left-handed guitars online, but visiting one of their locations is rarely the case. Therefore, it would be better to acquire your guitar online if you are left-handed.
Overall, they provide decent customer service. However, I occasionally dealt with a staff worker who I felt lacked sufficient technical skills at their physical locations. However, when purchasing equipment from Guitar Center, there appears to be some variance in the packing and quality control.
Most of the equipment I’ve seen bought from them has arrived well-packaged and in good condition. However, I saw a few items were damaged upon arrival owing to poor wrapping. Despite how expensive it is, they don’t set up your guitar before shipment, which is one drawback compared to other stores. As a result, the guitar frequently ends up in less-than-perfect playing conditions. However, they do provide paid guitar setup services.
11. Alto Music
In 1981, Jon Haber, the current owner of Alto Music, began working there as a show coordinator and floor sweeper.
When Jon took over the business in 1989, it had grown to include three complete sites and a pro audio showroom in New York. Jon has worked in the music industry’s retail sector his whole career and is still a working songwriter and performer.
One of the top music shops in the world, Alto Music has expanded its award-winning store combination of a wide variety, affordable prices, and outstanding customer service online. As a result, countless periodicals, national television like CBS, and commercial campaigns for American Express have all included Alto Music. Alto’s brilliant staff, many of whom have worked here for decades, is the foundation of its success.
- Customer Service
The Gear Advisors are here to assist you if you have questions or need suggestions on what equipment to buy. They can all steer you on the proper path based on your demands because they are all knowledgeable about guitars and musical instruments. Although their customer service is normally rather decent, it is the most lacking aspect of purchasing equipment. Online accounts of phone order processing issues and transfers to foreign contact centres are common.
Since they have played a significant role in the music business for so long, they can carry practically any brand you can think of. From large manufacturers to tiny ones, they almost certainly have it. In addition to brand-new guitars, effects, amps, accessories, and live sound equipment, Alto Music also carries old and antique equipment. You never know what you could find on the site because they continually purchase and sell stuff at all their shop locations.
Having been in business for more than 18 years and employing over 160 knowledgeable staff, Guitarguitar takes great pride in being the UK’s largest guitar retailer.
So whether you’re a beginner, intermediate player, or rocking the stage, we’ve got the instrument for you, and we’re here to help you find it. They are reachable wherever you are in the UK thanks to their six outlets. It’s unlike any other music store experience you’ve ever had, going to their guitar store.
With personal soundproof booths, you may close off the outside world, switch up the amp, and have the guitar experience of a lifetime. If electronic drums, keyboards, and synthesizers are more your style, they also have a large range of the greatest brands on the market. And as Glasgow is home to the only brick-and-mortar Roland store in Europe, you can see our variety firsthand.
In addition, several of their sites feature a repair department with an in-house staff of luthiers, so if your valued instrument needs a little TLC, our highly skilled crew is ready to restore it to top-notch condition.
- Customer Support
As you would expect from their physical locations, their live chat feature enables you to communicate with one of our professional staff members, who are prepared to assist you with your needs if you need online help. Additionally, to bring you the most current discounts and guidance on how to get the most out of your gear, they also have a wide variety of gear guidelines and ideas on our blog.
This shop appears to be a domestic one that places a strong emphasis on its patrons. It is commendable that the shop, which has several guitar models and amplifiers, is spotless and gives customers the option to customize their instruments there. Each shop has a luthier on staff.
Online tool and equipment shopping is undoubtedly beneficial. Online merchants are aware of the risks associated with doing business online. Because of this, they all have extensive return policies for your security and assurance. And some of them (Sweetwater, for instance) offer in-depth photographs of every aspect of the same product you’ll receive. Therefore, there is no need for concern while purchasing guitars or other goods from an internet store. Particularly if you utilize the list of stores above, you may generally relax knowing that your purchase is in capable hands.
The benefits of purchasing online:
You can explore several internet shops at once if you buy your tools and equipment online. You may find out which stores carry the item you’re looking for and which don’t get very fast. Additionally, you may take advantage of bargains by conveniently comparing costs among retailers. When you go to a physical store, you cannot do this.
You may compare goods when browsing an online store by opening different tabs in your browser. It is considerably simpler to compare the features and costs of several items. Additionally, it improves the effectiveness of decision-making.
When you purchase online, the entire globe is theoretically at your disposal. You may choose tools and equipment from shops and producers all around the world and have them delivered to your house. You are not constrained by national or international boundaries. Even if no online music stores in your nation sell it, you have the luxury of choice and the chance to buy exactly what you want despite the hefty shipping charges.
Without a doubt, online-only retailers have lower overhead costs than traditional retailers. Online shops may now provide greater tool discounts and bargains as a result. Even the price of that vintage cherry Gibson SG you’ve had your eye on may be subject to negotiation.
Online shopping’s disadvantages:
Every guitar is distinctive in terms of tone and feel. And sometimes, the only way to know if playing the guitar suits you is to try it out. Guitarists typically like to examine an instrument before purchasing it. As a consequence, ordering tools online without first having an opportunity to test them out might be challenging. You can acquire a feel for the instrument before purchasing it if the dealer offers an in-store collection option.
The ability to check the guitar for damage before purchasing is beneficial whether you’re purchasing a new or secondhand guitar. New instruments might have minor transit damage from the manufacturer. Then there is the regular wear and tear that used tools experience over time.
Most online guitar retailers, with the exception of Sweetwater, do not show high-definition inventory photographs from all sides. However, practically all online retailers provide a good return policy for your security. But having to send back a damaged instrument is not a pleasant experience.
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Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age.