Guitar Center is America’s largest musical instrument retailer, with physical stores in nearly 300 locations. The company is owned by Brian Capital, who owns Musician’s Friend, another popular site for buying guitars.
As far as we’re concerned, the Guitar Center website (or app) ticks all the boxes, and we’ll explain why below.
So, Is Guitar Center The Best Site To Buy A Guitar?
From entry-level acoustics to premium electrics and used/vintage instruments,GC has every type of guitar for sale. They stock all major brands like ESP, Dean, Fender, Martin, Gretsch, and more.
The site also has an impressive listing of amps, stomps, strings, and accessories. Moreover, they offer easy payment plans and daily discounts with excellent customer support.
There’s another thing about GC we love. They have many physical stores across America and will ship a guitar to your local store so that you can play it before you buy it. No other site in this roundup offers this convenience, which is why they are our top pick.
Even if there’s no GC store in your city, the site has a 45-day return policy to buy risk-free. Plus, the site ships guitars for free across America (lower 48) within 2 to 5 business days.
Lastly, the site has one of the largest collections of used and vintage guitars because Guitar Center is the go-to store for trade-ins. People can visit any store to sell a guitar.
The guitars go through an inspection, repairs, and a setup before they are available on the site for a sweet price.
Sweetwater is another big-name online guitar retailer, a site we recommended with utmost confidence. If Guitar Center is the most recognizable site to buy a guitar, Sweetwater has one of the largest selections of musical instruments in the US.
It may have only one brick-and-mortar store, but it boasts one of the largest warehouses in the world, roughly 500k square feet.
Sweetwater sells acoustic and electric guitars, including guitar hybrids and folk instruments like mandolins, banjos, and resonators. Whether you want an entry-level student guitar or a limited edition electric, their site has an impressive listing of guitars and accessories.
The site stocks instruments from 25+ guitar manufacturers, including big names like Fender, ESP, Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Alvarez, and Ibanez, among others.
At the time of this review, they had 1k+ acoustic guitars and 2k+ electric guitars in stock. There are more you can pre-order.
Is Sweetwater Reliable?
You can buy a guitar online from Sweetwater without hesitation. They are one of the most reliable sites with the best in class customer support. Sweetwater ships fast and have a 45-day return policy.
More importantly, every customer is assigned a sales engineer who walks you through the purchase and/or returns with knowledgeable suggestions.
Lastly, Sweetwater’s used guitar collection pales compared to GC or Reverb. But you can buy demo models at a reduced price with a full warranty.
The site also has daily deals, clearance sales, and other limited-period discounts on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and other holidays.
Musikhaus Thomann is a German-based retailer of musical instruments, studio, lighting, and pro-audio equipment. Thomann Musik became widely known primarily due to its extensive online retail operation, Thomann Cyberstore.
Thomann Musik is the cyber store of Musikhaus Thomann, a German-based retailer of musical instruments and pro-audio gear.
Their site, Thomann.de, is the world’s largest online musical instrument retailer, with a fantastic collection of acoustic, electric, and specialty guitars.
The Thomann site is the best place tobuy guitars online at a great price if you live in UK and Europe. They also ship guitars worldwide, particularly to USA and Canada.
Their online guitar store has a vast collection of new, used, and B-stock guitars. They stock entry-level, mid-level, premium, and alternate-design guitars from all big and up-and-coming guitar manufacturers like Fender, Maton, Hagstrom, Rickenbacker, Dusenberg, Taylor, and Gibson.
Thomann has two famous in-store guitar brands – Harley Benton and Startone.Harley Benton guitars target the entry-level market, offering higher quality guitars at a cheaper price.
Is It Safe To Buy A Guitar From Thomann?
Thomann is Europe’s largest online retailer of musical instruments, making them a safe choice to buy a guitar online. They boast top-notch customer support and a solid return/exchange policy.
However, some products can have additional costs/charges for international shipping.
Does Thomann Have A Black Friday Sale?
Thomann has started offering blowout deals as a part of their Black Friday Sale. Last year, they offered unreal prices on musical equipment, with some guitars marked down 70% or more.
They also have year-round Download Deals and Hot Deals with absurd markdowns.
Founded in 1966, zZounds is an online-only retailer, meaning it doesn’t currently operate from a physical location. While they may have ditched the physical stores, they have become one of the top sites to buy sound, light, pro-audio, and musical instruments.
So, Is It Safe To Buy A Guitar From zZounds?
You can buy a guitar from zZounds without any concerns. The site has a 100% trust score on scamadviser, and many musicians vouch for its customer support and fast shipping times. In fact, zZounds has four strategically located warehouses across America.
If you buy a guitar, most orders ship on the same day and arrive within two business days.
Another reason to buy a guitar from this site is the easy payment plans (no interest) for all new instruments. They also offer a 45-day hassle-free return period with some limitations.
According to the site, zZounds will make you the best offer on a guitar to beat the price of an item listed by a competitive retailer. Moreover, they will refund you any difference in cost if you buy a guitar from their site and find it listed cheaper elsewhere within 30 days.
We recommend zZounds for their lucrative daily deals and several sales throughout the year, including a Black Friday Sale.
The clearance section on the website also has great bargains on demo models and blemished, returned, or scratched guitars, if cosmetic flaws don’t bother you.
Pros Of Buying Guitars From zZounds
A vast collection of acoustic, electric, and hybrid guitars
Sam Ash Music is the oldest and largest chain of musical instrument stores in America. This family-owned business started with a humble store in NYC (in 1924) and now employs roughly 1,000 people, including the fourth generation of the Sam Ash family.
As of today, Sam Ash is a top choice for guitar shopping (online or offline), second in physical retail sales only to GC.
Here’s a lesser-known fact – Sam Ash was the first American store to stock Fender and Gibson guitars. Today, they boast one of the largest online guitar stores with a ginormous catalog of new and used guitars.
The site ships orders in 1 or 2 business days but doesn’t operate on weekends.
Sam Ash has fantastic deals on clearance, returned, and demo model guitars if you’re out guitar shopping. You can buy a guitar on the cheap if you wait for the price drops during Memorial Day, Black Friday, Labor Day, or other annual sales events.
Besides online guitar sales, they also offer services to set up or customize a guitar.
Is Sam Ash Better Than Guitar Center For Buying Guitars?
Guitar Center and Sam Ash have a comparable collection of guitars with evenly matched payment options, customer service, and shipping times.
However, Guitar Center has a better collection of vintage and used instruments, which gives them an edge over the competition.
American Musical is the online retail operation of American Music Supply, a privately owned wholesale supplier and musical instrument retailer based in NJ, USA. Their site is a longstanding and trusted platform for buying guitars online.
At the time of the article, the American musical site has 800+ 6-string electric solid-body guitars in stock, comparable to the top online guitar stores.
Although, the user experience (interface) is not as smooth and intuitive as shopping on Sweetwater or GC.
On the pros side, the AMS site offers a free extended warranty on guitars and has a 0% interest finance plan (with a credit check). There is a 3 and 6-month payment plan without a credit check too.
Orders (before 4 pm) ship on the same day, and the site operates 7-days a week.
Musicians Friend is another formidable online guitar store to consider if you want tobuy a guitar online. The company was founded in 1983 but only gained traction in the late ’90s. They were acquired by the same capital firm that owns Guitar Center.
Yes, GC and Musician’s Friend operate under the same command.
The site has a formidable online presence and is considered one of the best online guitar stores. They offer acoustic, electric, and bass guitars for players of all levels. Musicians Friend is an online-only retailer with no physical stores.
But they’ve got the same supply of pre-owned guitars as GC, which works in their favor.
The “Stupid Deal of the Day“ and flash sales are other unique features. Musicians Friend is famous for the limited-time price drops and offers/sales throughout the year.
You can get up to 48 months of interest-free financing on select guitars (with a creditworthy score).
Lastly, the online guitar store has an industry-standard 45-day return window. All orders over $25 ship free, and you can pay extra for expedited 2-day shipping.
The site doesn’t offer setup or upgrades, but customer support will get you in touch with a GC store for those needs.
Reverb came about in 2013 when a recording engineer-turned-entrepreneur (David Kalt) createdan online marketplace to buy and sell guitars. It slowly evolved into one of the most popular sites to buy used.
According to the site, Reverb.com has been a subsidiary of Etsy since 2019 but continues its operations as a standalone company.
Reverb is a great place to buy guitars online. But it’s not a music instrument retailer like Sam Ash or Thomann. The site is more of an aggregator.
It hosts a marketplace where other retailers, dealers, and individuals sell musical instruments, DJ equipment, software, and other audio gear.
You can buy a variety of acoustic, electric, and bass guitars on the site. Their listings include big-name brands like Ibanez, Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and pretty much any guitar manufacturer you can think of. But the site is best known for something else.
Reverb is one of the most legit places to buy and sell used gear, particularly rare and vintage musical instruments. It’s a big chunk of their online guitar sales. Even the current listings host over 4k GAS-worthy vintage guitars.
We are talking pre-war Martins, Gibson archtops, Fenders from the 60s and 70s, and other highly sought-after instruments.
If you buy new, Reverb sellers offer 0% ARP finance to creditworthy customers from the USA. You can also hunt for a bargain in the discounts and price-drop section.
Amazon isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering online guitar shops. But that’s so last decade… Amazon sells just about everything, and you’ll be surprised to see the number of guitars listed on their site. There are pretty good deals, too.
They don’t compare to any of the dedicated online guitar stores, but ordering from Amazon feels familiar, which is why we mention them. They list budget brands that other online guitar retailers won’t touch.
Thereby, you can find lots of low-cost bargains on guitars. The site also has a decent list of mid-level and premium models, but it’s not the go-to place for serious guitar shopping.
Amazon is also known for fast/free shipping (w/ Amazon Prime) and good customer support. But despite being world-class, the customer support doesn’t know much about guitars.
Don’t expect the kind of support or suggestions you can get from online guitar shops.