Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Selling Your Guitar, Part 3: selling on eBay

Hola vamanos!

Today we continue the series on how to sell your guitars, and we move on the big mama of internet sales: eBay. As I said earlier in the series, they will take a big cut out of your proceeds, but they are the biggest game in town, and you should have good chances of selling your guitar there.

But, people make plenty of little mistakes when they list their instruments, and these little mistakes can lead to leaving big money on the table when the auction ends. Here are some hints, based on what I have seen over the years:

1. Make sure your instrument is in the correct CATEGORY. When buyers sort search resorts by brand model and dexterity, you could be left out if you put down the wrong information, or if you left the fields blank.

2. Most buyers initiate there searches with keywords, so make your auction TITLE as descriptive as possible and use all of the characters that they allow. Include the brand and model, and add in USA if it was made there and if you think it will help sales. Oh, and make sure you spell everything correctly. Try searching for a “percision bass”, and I bet you will find a few.

3. We covered the item DESCRIPTION in day one of the series. Head back there and take a look. It increases my pages views, you know…

4. PHOTOS. See Item 3.

5. When figuring out PRICING, start out by checking what similar instruments have sold for recently. If you have a real set of stones on you, start it out with $1 and no reserve. I double-dog dare you. Or, if you are hoping for a quicker sale, set a BUY-IT-NOW price. Your starting price has to be at least 10% lower than the buy-it-now price.

6. Or, if you are not sure how much you are going to get for it, you could set a RESERVE price. I use reserve price auctions to get people interested in my items and get them bidding early. This is especially useful if items cost more than a few hundred dollars, where a higher starting price might discourage bidding. Also, if the item hits reserve early, it usually avoids the dozen guys that bid in the last five seconds, all hoping to be the highest, which is not always the best for the seller. This helps to preserve my interest, by making sure I get my price for the item and usually quite a bit more. If I reveal the reserve to even one person, that person has the advantage over all of the other bidders, and negates the whole purpose of having a reserve auction. I cannot understand sellers that will actually list the reserve price in the auction, as they might as well just list a starting price, especially as there is an extra fee to list an item with a reserve. Surely a reserve will tick a few people off (and usually this is the smarter people who do not have a sheep mentality), and of course they are free to shop elsewhere. If it is an item that they want they will bid if they really want it. Reserve prices are not unusual, or limited to eBay. All auction houses use reserve pricing, and the majority of big ticket items that they sell have a reserve. Whoo! Gnarly ranting paragraph! Sorry.

7. Pay close attention to your AUCTION END TIME. I almost always run 7-day auctions, and aim to have them end around 7:00PM on a Wednesday or Thursday night. eBay will let you pick your end time for an extra 10 cents and it is worth it. Most people wait until the last minute to bid. You are selling a guitar, right? Musicians are not going to be home on Friday or Saturday nights to bid. Ditto for holidays. I stupidly had an auction end on New Year’s Day one time, and nobody bid. Dang it.

8. You need to figure out your SHIPPING COSTS, and this is one area where eBay gets the most complaints. Admittedly, some sellers do gouge their customers, but then again, many people do not realize how much it costs to ship a bass. Generally, I make shipping free, and just bump up the price of the instrument to compensate. They can’t complain if it is free, right?

9. And lastly, give some thought to offering INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING. You know what? The dollar sucks pretty hard right now, making our products a pretty good deal in the rest of the world. I’ve had no problems shipping to Germany, England, France, Romania, Sweden, Finland, Brazil, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Just be careful to verify maximum package size and maximum insured amounts before agreeing to ship.

Next time we will be talking about how to choose your shipper. Check in often!



  1. Do you ship internationally for free?

  2. Hi there!

    No way!

    It is expensive to ship internationally. I will cover that in the next installment, but it is a least $100 to $150 to ship a guitar or bass to another country.

    Thanks for checking in today!