By Stephen Pate – You can save money buying B-stock guitars – guitars that have a minor finish problem or blemish. Generally B-stock means cosmetic not structural damage to the guitar. The guitar does not need a neck reset but has some smaller cosmetic issue. A guitar with structural damage would or should be repaired by the dealer before it is sold.
Musicians Friend regularly lists off grade guitars along with the best quality, with proper discounts. They also sell open-box (returned or demo) guitars and the odd one that needs minor repairs which they show. Price savings can be up to 20%.
When I went looking today on Musicians Friend, I could not find a single Gibson listed as B-stock but did find open box guitars. Quality guitar dealers will refuse to accept b-stock or structural damaged guitars from Gibson or any manufacturer. Musicians Friend are scrupulous about identifying the issues since they offer 45 day return privileges. They are great people to deal with. maybe not the lowest price but the best service.
Long and McQuade in Canada, who run a chain of stores across the country and are the Gibson wholesaler Yorkville, must get a lot of Gibson B-Stock since they have a website dedicated to them – Gibson B-Stock guitars. Yorkville is the parent company and wholesaler so they have their own website with the same guitars.
The bad news is they have so many of them – 73 different guitars. The good news is that Long and McQuade are admitting Gibson is shipping them a lot of 2nd grade guitars. There is a Gibson J-200 Bob Dylan Player’s Edition on the page with a 5% discount, hardly enough to move the needle.
B-stock guitars used to be the music store “dirty little secret.” For example, there is a music store in Toronto (Beaches) that specialized in buying B-stock at wholesale discounts and pawning them off on unsuspecting buyers as first grade guitars at full price. Music stores generally make gross margins of 40% and more. Some dealers are too greedy and like to cheat for the extra 5% or 10%. Nasty people.
With online sales you always have return privileges. Find a trusted luthier or guitar expert in your area to inspect any new guitar you buy so that problems can be identified before the return period expires. Guitars are a living breathing thing made of wood, glue and steel. Don’t expect any guitar to be perfect but get major problems resolved.
People have been buying used and almost new guitars on eBay since it started. eBay is this great crowded market with new dealers, used dealers, amateurs and con artists all working together.
The con artists will break your heart when they ship you a guitar that looks nothing like the pictures, or don’t ship at all. Look out for anything that is too good to be true, because it probably is not true. You generally get what you pay for in life and eBay is life and life only, as Bob Dylan says.
eBay has been in decline since people discovered the local free postings on Kijiji. That may work for you but only when you can meet the reseller face to face before forking over your money. Due to a few murders, they are also recommending buyers and sellers meet in public places. Weird eh?
The best part about eBay is paying with PayPal who has a very effective dispute resolution system to retrieve your money from the crooks and cheats. I ordered a Bob Dylan LP set from Italy and discovered it was a bootleg not genuine. PayPal got my money back despite the sellers protests. Sweet.
I’ve bought guitars on eBay and there is always something you discover when you get it. My 1969 Martin N-20 from the UK had a neck reset. The guy didn’t tell me but what the heck. It was a 40-year-old guitar and irreplaceable. Neck reset or not, it hangs on the wall in my bedroom and I play it every night.
Gibson J-200 Bob Dylan Player’s Edition showed up on eBay almost immediately after release, which is normal, at $4,500, a 10% discount off dealer price. For that you could get a virtually unplayed guitar with no Gibson warranty. In that case I knew the seller and figured they were on the up-and-up and the deal had little risk. I still bought my new J-200 from LA Music: there was too much money going down and the difference in money was pennies.
Today there are two of the same model for sale which is typical for a new guitar. People like to turn guitars over for a profit. The dealer cost is somewhere around $3,500 for this guitar so there is a spread.
The 1st one is 2014 GIBSON SJ-200 BOB DYLAN CUSTOM SHOP PLAYER’S EDITION SJ200 w ADIRONDACK from guitarbrat1 who has 3,343 positive deals is selling for $4,399. It looks gorgeous is listed as “Mint”, a 14-day return policy, and has no dealer warranty which the seller admits.
Over at Kansas City’s regular site, the price of the same guitar is $4,150. They are a small business with 29 sweet looking used and vintage guitars. The difference in price could be accidental or it could be the cost of extra insurance on eBay guitars where you are protected better as a buyer.
Also at Kansas City there is a 1964 CF Martin D-28 Straight Grain Brazilian Rosewood! for $4,995 that looks super sweet and an antique 1903 CF Martin 0-21 Model O-21 for $4,500 if you want to play that really old song.
OK I have GAS – guitar acquisition syndrome held back only by my credit card limit and the realization I don’t play the guitars I already own.
Have fun finding the guitar you crave.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network