Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Selling Your Guitar, Part 1: descriptions and photos

Buenos Dias!

Today I am kicking off a series about selling your guitar on the internet, from listing it to getting it shipped out. I have bought and sold hundreds of guitars and basses on the internet over the past 13 years, so I think I have it figured out by now.

The first thing to do is: figure out what you have. This sounds pretty basic, but there is more than just knowing that you have a Fender Stratocaster. Where was it made, and when? What kind of wood is it made of? Is there any history of repairs or modifications? Are the frets in good shape, and does the truss rod work? These are all questions that your buyers may have, and if you do not know the answers do not make something up. This is where a lot of misunderstandings occur.

If you get a chance, weigh it on a decent scale. Buyers get cranky if you get the weight wrong, because some of them are really persnickety about even ½ pound of extra weight. And, most importantly, play the thing and make sure that it plays well and sounds ok. Get it fixed if something is wrong. You cannot assume that everything is ok just because it was fine when you put it in the case years ago. The battery may have leaked or the neck could have warped, or the top cracked all by itself.

Write up a description that includes all of the stuff I was just writing about. Try to use real sentences with verbs and put capital letters in the correct places.

Now for the pictures. Do not use your cel phone unless it has a really good camera in it. Borrow a decent camera if you need to, but put out some extra effort here. Good pictures do a great job of selling your guitar, and can save you headaches in the future if you can accurately show the condition of the guitar up front.

Before your photo shoot, clean up the guitar. Get the fingerprints off the paint and the smutz off the fretboard. Wipe down the tuners and bridge. Show some pride in your instrument, and show your customers that this was a beloved instrument, and not a tool that you neglected.

Pick a spot where you can use natural light, which will help you avoid flash reflections in your photos. Pay attention to your background. Nobody wants to see your trashed house or garage, or junk-strewn backyard. If you living conditions are so horrible that you have no place nice to take the picture, take your photo shoot down to your local park.

Shoot photos of the front and back, the pickups, the bridge and tuners, the condition of the frets, the neck joints, around the strap pins, the front of the headstock, the back of the neck and any notable damage or repair work. If there is worming or rash on the back, try to capture that too.

After you down load the photos onto your computer, crop them so they look nice, and so the guitar is the focus of the picture, not stuff in the background.

You will want to have copies of the pictures on the internet so they are easier to view, and the best way I have found to do this is with Photobucket. Starting a Photobucket account is easy (and free) and will also come in handy for posting pictures to internet forums and whatnot.

Ok, that is enough for today. We will pick up with actually trying to sell the guitar next time. Stay tuned!


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