Guitar Centre Trade-In

Guitar Center Trade-In: the Ultimate Guide to Selling Old Gear

If you’ve ever thought of trading your old guitar in, you’ve probably considered Guitar Center the go-to destination. A popular online store, Guitar Center has been trusted by music enthusiasts for years. But is Guitar Center’s trade-in worth it? Let’s delve into the details.

An interior shot of a bustling guitar store.

The Music Mecca: What is Guitar Center?

Established in 1959, Guitar Center isn’t just another music store; it’s an institution. Guitar enthusiasts, beginners, pros, and everyone in between consider it a haven. With its vast collection of guitars, guitar amplifiers, drum kits, and more, it’s the brick-and-mortar Spotify for musicians — you walk in, and the variety has you hooked!

Whether you’re looking to buy a classical guitar after getting inspired by the best ones under $500 or need advice when it comes to getting the the best guitar tuners, Guitar Center has you covered.

Trading at Guitar Center: What’s the Deal?

Here’s the headline: Yes, you can trade in at Guitar Center. If your gear has been collecting dust, or you’re itching for an upgrade, Guitar Center’s trade process is relatively straightforward.

A person on the phone, offering advice.

From upright basses and acoustic pianos to consumer electronics, they accept used gear trade-ins and can offer up to 60% of the market price for your equipment. Need some cash instead? Guitar Center pays up to a whopping $1,000 for select used gear. But remember, the operative word is up to. The actual value will depend on the condition and demand for the musical gear you’re thinking about trading.

You might be thinking, “What if I have some old, vintage gear that’s collection dust and going to waste?” Well, Guitar Center is interested in that, too. That vintage guitar or pedal could fetch you a decent price, especially if it’s a sought-after model with a high market value.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Trading In

Like everything, trading in at this online music shop has its highs and lows.

The Upside: Trading in is incredibly convenient. You walk into your local Guitar Center, get an assessment, and walk out either with cash or store credit. This credit can then fuel your next purchase, whether it’s from the best electric guitar brands or for those coveted guitar pedals.

The Downside: While convenience is a clear winner, the price might sometimes feel like a compromise. Several voices on platforms like Reddit suggest that the guitar center trade-in resale value might not always feel fair. But then again, the concept of “fair” is subjective. For someone looking for a hassle-free exchange and an immediate discount on new gear, a Guitar Center trade can be a boon. But for those seeing the maximum market value, selling directly to an end buyer might be more profitable.

Environmental Factors: Whether we’re discussing fashion, technology, or, in this case, musical instruments, the narrative remains consistent: waste not, want not. And in the realm of musical gear, trading in rather than discarding is not just a choice for your wallet but for the planet, too. So, how does trading in at a place like Guitar Center tie into the broader picture of sustainability?

When you opt for a Guitar Center trade-in, you’re essentially granting your musical gear a second life. Instead of languishing in a landfill or gathering dust in an attic, that guitar or drum kit can find its way to another passionate musician. Extending the lifecycle of instruments ensures fewer resources are tapped into to produce new ones. Manufacturing new instruments consumes raw materials, energy, and results in emissions, but trading in instruments means less demand for new ones, saving these precious materials and reducing the carbon footprint linked to production.

Gear That You Can’t Sell or Trade at Guitar Center

Ah, the fine print. We’ve been singing praises about the Guitar Center trade-in process, but know that not all equipment is welcomed with open arms. Just as you wouldn’t expect a bookstore to buy every single book, Guitar Center also has its restrictions when it comes to taking on old guitar gear.

Why the Restrictions?

Several reasons could be behind trading restrictions. Some items might not have a broad market appeal, making it challenging to resell. Others could have hygiene concerns – nobody wants used earbuds, right? And then some gear might just be too outdated or in a condition where repairs would cost more than the item’s market value.

While it’s always best to check directly with your local store or on their website to get the most current list of non-acceptable items, here are some general categories and examples of gear they might be reluctant to accept:

  1. Homemade Instruments and Gear: Your DIY pedal or handcrafted guitar might be a labor of love, but it’s hard for Guitar Center to gauge its market value and ensure its quality and safety.
  2. Certain Software: Opened software or DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) that have been registered are a no-go due to licensing issues.
  3. Damaged Gear: Equipment with significant functional or cosmetic damage might be declined. This includes instruments with warped necks, damaged electronics, or heavy cosmetic wear.
  4. Outdated Technology: That 1990s sequencer or an old 8-track recorder might hold sentimental value for you, but outdated tech often has little to no market demand.
  5. Hygiene Concerns: Instruments that are intimately close to the player, such as harmonicas, certain woodwinds, or earphones, might be turned down due to hygiene considerations.
  6. Counterfeit or Stolen Items: This one’s a given. Any gear that appears counterfeit or raises concerns about its origin will be declined.
Guitar Centre Trade-In

Always Check First

The golden rule? If in doubt, check it out! Before lugging your gear to the Guitar Center store, give them a call to see whether your equipment is worth selling. Describe your equipment, its condition, and any other relevant details. Their sales associate will guide you through whether your gear can find a home on the used market. This will save you the potential hassle of a rejected trade-in and guide you on the next best steps for your gear.

Remember, the restrictions aren’t there to make life hard. They’re there to ensure that the Guitar Center trade-in program remains streamlined, profitable, and beneficial for both the store and its clientele. So, while that vintage kazoo might not find its place on Guitar Center’s shelves, it could be the star item in a personal collection or local sale.

Comparison with Other Trade-in Programs: A Side-by-Side Look

It’s a crowded world out there, and most music stores and online platforms will be ready to take your used gear off your hands. So, how does the Guitar Center trade-in program stack up against its competitors? Let’s do a deep dive.

Guitar Center Trade-in Process


Nationwide Presence: With numerous physical stores across the country, it’s convenient for anyone to pop into their nearest Guitar Center.

Wide Acceptance: They accept a vast range of instruments and gear, offering up to 60% of market value.

Instant Gratification: Immediate store credit or cash payout is a significant draw for many.

Reliability: Being a well-established brand, there’s a trust factor that comes into play.


Possible Lower Offers: As discussed earlier, some feel the offers can be lower than expected.

Restrictions: Not all gear is accepted due to various reasons, as previously detailed.

Local Independent Music Stores

Guitar Centre Trade-In


Personal Touch: These music shops often provide a more personalized touch, given their smaller operations.

Negotiation: There’s usually more room for negotiation at smaller establishments.

Unique Finds: If you’re trading in for store credit, you might stumble upon rare and unique pieces in stock.


Limited Scope: They might not accept as wide a range of instruments as Guitar Center does due to limited space or market demand.

Cash Flow: Some smaller stores might have cash flow constraints, meaning they may prefer to offer store credit over cash.

Online Platforms (like Reverb, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace)

Guitar Centre Trade-In


Direct to Buyer: Selling directly to the end-user might fetch you a higher price.

Global Audience: Your gear can be seen by a global audience, increasing its market.

Control: You control the listing, photos, and description, giving a detailed pitch for your equipment.


Fees: Platforms usually charge a listing fee or take a cut from the final sale.

Shipping Hassles: Packing, shipping, and potential damages or returns can be a headache.

Scams: The online world is rife with potential scams. It’s essential to be cautious and use secure payment methods.

Pawn Shops


Immediate Cash: If they’re interested, pawn shops offer on-the-spot cash.

Less Scrutiny: They might not be as particular about minor cosmetic flaws.


Lower Offers: They’re in it for the resale and typically provide much lower offers than specialized music stores.

Limited Knowledge: Not all pawn shop owners are experts in musical instruments, which can affect your item’s valuation.

While Guitar Center offers a blend of convenience and trust, independent stores provide that warm, personal touch. Online platforms, on the other hand, give you global reach but come with their set of challenges. Pawn shops can be a quick solution but might not be the best if you value your music gear.

The bottom line? Your choice will depend on what you prioritize — convenience, profit, trust, or immediacy. Each platform has its merits. Assess your needs, do a bit of research, and you’re sure to find the right fit for your trade-in journey.

How Much Does Guitar Center Pay For Used Gear?

Guitar Centre Trade-In

It’s the age-old question every musician asks at some point in their journey: “How much can I get for this piece of equipment?” Knowing the potential payout from a trade-in can make all the difference. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how Guitar Center determines what they’ll offer for your used gear.

Factors that Determine Payout:

The Condition of the Item:

Mint Condition: If your gear looks like it just came out of the box, you’re likely to get the highest percentage of its market value.

Good Condition: A few minor scratches or dings might decrease the value slightly.

Poor Condition: Significant cosmetic damage or any functional issues can substantially reduce the offer.

Brand and Model:

High-demand Brands and Models: Popular brands or models that are currently in vogue can fetch a higher price.

Vintage Gear: Some older models, such as a vintage electric guitar, if rare and in demand, can be worth more than you’d think!

Market Demand:

Seasonal Surges: Certain times of the year might see an uptick in demand for specific instruments or gear.

Trends: What’s popular in the music world now? For example, vinyl had a resurgence; the same can happen with musical instruments or gear, increasing the trade value.

Current Stock:

Overstock: If your local Guitar Center already has several pieces of the same gear, they might offer less.

Need for Inventory: Conversely, if they’re short on, say, acoustic guitars, they might pay a premium for yours.

Original Packaging and Accessories:

Complete Sets: If you’ve got the original box, manual, and any accessories that came with your gear, you might see a bump in your offer.

The Final Numbers:

While it’s challenging to give an exact figure without evaluating the item in question, here’s a general guideline:

Up to 60% of Market Value: As we’ve mentioned, this is often the upper limit for gear that’s in great condition and in high demand.

Cash Payouts: If you’re looking for cash instead of store credit, Guitar Center can provide up to $1,000 for your used gear, depending on its value and desirability.

A Word of Advice

Before heading to your nearest Guitar Center store, it’s worth doing a bit of homework. Check online listings for similar gear to get a sense of its going rate. Remember, while you might get a bit more selling it directly to an end-user, the convenience and immediacy of the Guitar Center trade-in process can often outweigh the potential additional profit.

While there’s a financial aspect to consider, remember the joy and passion that music brings. Whether you’re trading in to declutter, upgrade, or try something new, the end goal is always the shared love of music. And that, as they say, is priceless.

Guitar Centre Trade-In

Maximizing Your Trade-in Value: Tips and Tricks

Everyone loves a good deal, especially when parting with cherished musical equipment. Trading in gear at Guitar Center or elsewhere is more than just a financial transaction; it’s a process often tinged with nostalgia and future aspirations. You might be looking to hand in the model you started playing guitar with or another that got you that first solo gig.

So, how do you ensure that you get the most bang for your buck? Here are some pro tips to maximize your trade-in value.

Presentation Matters:

  • Clean Your Gear: Dust off that old amp, polish your guitar and ensure your gear looks its best. A clean instrument often gives the impression that it’s been well taken care of.
  • Replace Old Strings: A fresh set of strings on a guitar or bass can make it sound and look more appealing.
  • Original Packaging: If you’ve kept the original box and manuals, bring them along. It adds to the perceived value.

Full Functionality:

  • Fix Minor Issues: That scratchy pot or a loose input jack? Fixing small issues can significantly increase the value of your gear.
  • Include All Accessories: Pedal power supplies, amp footswitches, and other add-ons should be included.

Research the Market:

  • Know Your Gear’s Worth: Before heading to a Guitar Center store, browse online platforms like Reverb or eBay to gauge the current market price for your equipment.
  • Seasonality and Trends: If you can, time your trade-in when demand for your gear type is high.

4. Documentation and Provenance:

  • Receipts and Warranties: Showing proof of purchase or any remaining warranty can up the trade-in offer.
  • Historical Significance: If there’s a story behind your gear (e.g., it’s a rare model or was once owned by someone notable), document it.

5. Negotiate with Confidence:

  • Stand Firm, but Be Reasonable: If you believe your gear is worth more than the initial offer, don’t hesitate to negotiate. However, be prepared with reasons and remain open to compromise.
  • Bulk Trade-ins: If you’re trading in multiple items, you might have more negotiating power.

6. Consider Store Credit Over Cash:

  • Higher Value: Some stores, including Guitar Center, might offer more in-store credit than in cash. If you’re looking to upgrade or purchase new equipment, this could be a viable option. Maybe it’s time to invest in one of the best classical guitars under $500?

7. Know When to Sell Elsewhere:

  • Specialty Gear: Some unique or highly specialized gear might fetch a better price on niche forums or sites dedicated to that specific equipment type.
  • Direct to Enthusiasts: Selling directly to fellow enthusiasts can sometimes yield a higher return, though it comes with the trade-off of added time and potential hassles.
Guitar Centre Trade-in

Wrapping Up

Guitar Center has carved its niche in the musical instruments space for decades. While not perfect, their trade-in program offers musicians a platform to upgrade, switch, or simply declutter. While it’s essential to manage expectations regarding the trade-in value, the convenience, and immediate gratification that come with the Guitar Center trade-in make it an option worth considering.

So, next time you’re thinking of a switch, remember: your used gear could be the ticket to your next musical adventure at Guitar Center.