This guide can provide helpful information to those who want to sell a guitar on Ebay. I have made a living in the past year doing just that. You will find some helpful tips on photography, listing location, description and terms that will make your sale more attractive than others.
SELLING GUITARS ON EBAY
I had always been a buyer on Ebay. For years I was happy to do just that. Then I had an accident at work that left me unable to make a living as I had in the past. I needed to find a way to make money from home and I started selling some of my musical assets on Ebay. Eventually, I turned this into a full time job by running an ad in the local news paper under 'Wanted To Buy'. I bought other peoples guitars and turned around and sold them on Ebay. I am not embarrassed to say I have done quite well.
Here are some tips on selling guitars that will help you have a positive Ebay experience.
Guitar Preparation: Whether you are selling your own guitar or one you have aquired from someone else it is important that you do what you can to enhance its appearance. This is the most labor intensive part of selling, but the rewards are great for the effort. I usually strip the guitar of its strings and make a critical visual inspection from headstock to bottom. Things to look for are cracks around the tuning pegs on the headstock, fractures or cracks on the neck, missing nut (the little piece that spaces the strings at the top of the guitar), bad dents, severe fret wear, cracks or spaces where the neck meets the body, lifting or raising of the bridge piece (the lower wood part where the stings end on acoustic guitars), frozen or binding tone and volume knobs, frozen switches, decals, goobers on the finish, and buckel rash on the back of the guitar body. Now, you may think this is alot of stuff to go wrong but you don't want to sell an item 'as is' and have the bid winner unhappy with you because you didn't describe its condition properly. Alot of these things can be corrected prior to listing. Unfortunetly, cracks and lifting pieces are a 'red flag' for me as they take a professional luthier to repair them, but lets say you have a guitar that is complete but just dirty. I clean every guitar I get after I strip the strings from it. One of the best methods for painted guitars is to get some machine glaze buffing compound and rub out all the painted areas and then buff with a terry rag. If the fretboard looks very dry you can take pledge lemon oil and wipe it on the wood. Rub the wood hard and watch the grime disappear. If the guitar has decals on it, you can peel them with your fingers and a little help from WD40. This stuff is actually a solvent and will get rid of any glue or goo. I sell no gooey guitars. Once the guitar is clean I inspect the electronics. Plug the guitar into an amp and use a screwdriver to touch the little metal magnets on the pickups. They should make a popping sound when working. Switch the pickup selector back and forth to make sure it is selecting different pickups. Turn the volume knob up and down to check the volume of the pops. Do this to the tone knob also, you will notice the sound changing if it works. If the knobs and switch are binding or frozen you may have to change them, but before you do it is good to try to refurbish them. Take some WD40 and spray a little on the post of the vol/tone pots after you take the knobs off. A squirt into the switch is recommended also. Let it sit overnight. If this solves the binding then you want to test these items with the amp. If you get a scratchy/noisy sound when you turn the knobs then you will need to buy some DeOxite spray at your music store. This stuff is wonder juice for corroded or dirty electronics. Take the cover off the back of the guitar and spray a liberal amount into each pot and on the switch until it runs down the outside cover. Let sit overnight again retest them the next day with the amp. If they work fine, you are set to go. Now, one last thing to do before you restring the guitar is to 'sight the neck' for straightness. Hold the guitar out in front of your face and look down the edge of the fretboard. The board should be relatively straight but might be a little bowed without strings. What you are looking for is the extreme arch, this is not good without strings or even with strings. Severe arching may be a job for your luthier. Restring the guitar and tune the strings to their proper tension. Resight the neck. If the neck looks perfectly straight you are ready to go, if not, there are plenty of web sites with tutorials of how to adjust the neck. Don't worry, it is very easy. Just take your time. We are now ready to list your guitar.
Photography: This is a no brainer. A fuzzy picture does not help you sell your item. I try to photograph the guitars on a plain background and with natural sunlight when available. The first picture is the most important. I shoot from the base of the guitar up to the top. This way you have the whole guitar in the picture. Then I usually include a picture of the headstock with brand name and serial number visable. A nice pic of the back of instrument is helpful, and include any pictures of damage so your customers can see it up front.
Listing Suggestions: Now that you have a clean and functional guitar to sell, you want to place it on Ebay in a place that will attract the most viewers. I use 'topic search' when I have a brand name guitar such as 'American Fender Stratocaster' and choose to sell it with other fender strat's. It is important that you get the key words into your primary title section, i.e., 1987 Fender Stratocaster, U.S.A. so that people searching can easily locate your guitar. You can add less informative items in the secondary title space such as 'Vintage beauty, a rare find' that will catch the browsers eye, but be honest with your description.
Description: I like to recap the name of the guitar with the date of manuf. and any special details up front in the description. I don't like to list the specs. cut and pasted from a web page, to boring and too much to read. I figure if a person wants my guitar he will find the specs. somewhere. I also find that warnings about non-serious bidders tend to drive off buyers. I try to infuse humor into my description with a little story about how the guitar came about or about this particular models features. I have never had a person write to me asking me to be more serious, but I have had a lot of emails from people who loved the humorous description. One thing to keep in mind though, you do not want to lie about any condition affecting the guitar, honesty is the best policy. If there is a big ding in the body don't call it a 'nick that is hardly visable'. I find that nicks and dings sometimes add to the value of a guitar. Especially the vintage ones. And you won't have any nasty emails or negative feedbacks from unhappy customers.
Terms: Here is a big hint, make sure you note that you will ship worldwide instead of 'only US states'. You will find that the Europian Ebay community is very wealthy and more often than not will outbid a US bidder on wanted items. I always do a little research on the guitar I am going to sell by checking the bidders from 'completed items' search for the guitar. You can find alot out about who is interested and what they may bid. I try to list my item late at night if I want Europian bidders and I list earlier for US bidders. It all depends on when the auction ends. Not many people will stay up until 4 a.m. to snip an auction.
Packaging: I try to ship using USPS and state 'actual shipping cost' on my auction page. This requires a good scale. I send an invoice with shipping quote and then when the item is shipped I refund extra dollar amounts back to the buyer if they overpaid. I want to make my money on the auction, not the shipping. My customers are very pleased with this policy. Remember, always require 'postal insurance' with all sales, you won't find many people who will object.
Now sit back and watch the excitement. Promply answer any viewers questions and determine whether you need to add more to your description. The real excitement happens in the final 20 minutes. It beats watching 'Texas Holdum' on ESPN. The most important thing to remember is that you are selling something to someone who loves your item, try to make it a positive experience for everyone. GOOD LUCK.