With an ever-growing number of online guitar and music gear stores appearing online, it’s harder than ever to decide which suppliers offer the best value and deals.
Purchasing music gear should be straightforward. Thankfully, some exceptional retailers offer extensive selections of stock. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll present you with the best online guitar stores so that you can confidently and efficiently buy the equipment you need.
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The Best Online Guitar & Instrument Stores
Sweetwater is, in my opinion, the best supplier of guitars and other music gear online. They are committed to going above and beyond for their customers, and this is evident in the extensive information they provide on all of the items they stock.
Sweetwater hasn’t always been the world-renowned online guitar store that they are today. Coming from humble beginnings, they originally set up as a remote recording studio service in the late 1970s.
Since then, they have gradually grown into a retailer that is held in high regard by musicians all over the United States. Despite their exponential expansion, they have stayed true to their original blueprint, which is to put musicians first.
The main reason that I regard Sweetwater to be head and shoulders above other online guitar stores is the incredibly wide range of instruments and music gear that they offer.
Their stock is so comprehensive that it’s quite dangerous for me to visit their website, as I can quite easily lose a few hours admiring their selection of premium instruments and recording equipment!
It’s more than likely that Sweetwater stocks the exact instrument or musical item that you’re searching for. Even if you’re looking for a very particular make and model, chances are you’ll find that exact one with a quick search on the website.
Another quality that Sweetwater boasts, is the sheer quantity of information they provide on every item. In comparison to some online guitar stores that can feel too sale-orientated, Sweetwater genuinely attempts to educate their customers.
This informative approach not only benefits you through newly acquired knowledge, but it also benefits them, because you are much more likely to choose the perfect product from their store if you know exactly what it does, and what it is capable of.
On top of the abundance of written information and guides, Sweetwater also produces their video reviews where one of their top engineers or salespeople demos the musical equipment.
When you’re looking to purchase a new guitar, having someone show you exactly what tones it produces, and demonstrating its functionality is incredibly valuable. This allows you to gain an accurate representation of the instrument in an unbiased manner.
Indeed, Sweetwater’s educational qualities are one of the reasons I rate them so highly. Too often musicians make quick decisions on what gear to buy, only to later realize there were more suitable options for their requirements.
Sweetwater publishes a wealth of educational information in the form of their Music Educators Technology Resource and ProGear Directory. The topics range from entry-level guides to complex theory, and it’s all free for musicians to enjoy!
Of course, one of the most important aspects of any online guitar store is the prices they offer. Sweetwater excels in this area too, and in truth, it’s hard to find more generous deals on guitars and other instruments anywhere else on the internet.
The shipping service that Sweetwater offer is as good as any, too. They quickly distribute your items, and if you have any queries their team of customer service staff is always there to provide guidance.
In addition to Sweetwater, zZounds is another great online guitar store. Owned by industry heavyweights American Musical Supply, zZsounds offer some interesting options to their customers.
When exploring their online store, the first thing I became aware of was how easy it is to navigate. The design is simplistic, and it’s pretty straightforward to search for and identify the musical equipment you desire.
Although the stock is not quite as extensive as Sweetwater’s zZounds still offers an impressive range of guitars, other instruments, and musical gear. They stock everything from Martin acoustic guitars to Focusrite interfaces.
Arguably the most impressive thing about zZounds is the unique services they offer to their customers. These include a price protection promise that lasts for 45 days after your purchase.
If you were to find another retailer that is offering the same item for a lower price, you can notify zZounds and they will match it. This guarantee is a very generous gesture to their customers.
Also, another unique service they provide is the Pay as You Play installment plan. Without credit checks or stacks of paperwork, you can choose to spread the cost of your new guitar or other items with zero interest.
The shipping and delivery service offered by zZounds is also commendable. Their fast shipping is free of cost on the vast majority of orders. The customer service team is easy to contact via their website, and are quick to respond to any questions you may have.
Sam Ash music was originally formed in the 1920s and has stood the test of time, growing into one of the best-known online music retailers. There’s a wide range of musical gear available on their website.
One of the standout services I found when researching Sam Ash, was their part-exchange deals. If you are replacing an old guitar, for example, you can trade it to Sam Ash, and they will take the cost off the new model you choose to purchase.
The Sam Ash website is stacked with a host of acoustic and electric guitars, from all of the best-known manufacturers. There are instruments to suit all abilities and budgets, from top-end models to entry-level replicas.
The consensus on Sam Ash’s service is positive. They provide quick and efficient shipping and reliable customer service. The website is pretty easy to navigate, too.
Another thing that is worth mentioning, is that Sam Ash offers 0% finance over 24 months when you spend over $299 in their online store. This is a great deal if you want to acquire some equipment, but perhaps don’t have the money to pay all at once.
Amazon’s success is well documented. They dominate many industries, and their guitar and musical instrument section continues to grow in popularity. Convenience is one of the main reasons for this.
Despite Amazon being a multi-faceted retailer, they still offer a decent amount of information on the guitars and musical equipment that they sell. The customer review section is amongst the best on the internet.
Delving into Amazon’s customer reviews can be a quick and easy way to assess whether a certain item is right for you. This feature is very useful if you’re undecided on what musical equipment to go for.
A standout feature of Amazon’s musical gear store is that they produce “best of” lists on all product categories. If, for example, you needed a wah-pedal, Amazon has a page that lists their top 20 picks in that category.
Guitar Center is another reliable online guitar and instrument store. They stock a pretty wide range of instruments and recording gear, and occasionally it’s possible to find good deals on their website.
The main downside to Guitar Center’s service is that they don’t set up your guitars so that they are ready to use when delivered. Unlike Sweetwater, which ensures that the instrument is fully functioning before dispatching, Guitar Center doesn’t offer this perk.
Maybe you’re the type of guitarist who would rather set up their instrument themselves, but I don’t want to waste time constructing my new axe when I could be plugging it in and testing out its tone!
Another potential red flag regarding Guitar Center is its shipping services. Some users report that their items took longer than expected to arrive, and there are numerous complaints that their customer service lacks urgency.
Despite this, they do stock some undeniably good instruments. Their service could maybe do with some improvements, though.
For purchasing second-hand musical equipment, Reverb is a solid choice. They boast decades of experience selling used music gear, and their shipping service is free regardless of how much you spend.
The Reverb website, however, could do with some improvements. It’s primitively designed and hard to navigate in places. They produce some information on the products they stock, but it doesn’t reach the standards or zZounds or Sweetwater.
Despite this, I’d recommend taking a look at the items for sale on Reverb. Occasionally, some interesting items pop up, such as vintage pedals or rare microphones. It’s possible to find a good deal from time to time.
The stock that Reverb offers includes recording devices, guitars, drums kits, keyboards, and DJing equipment. If you’re looking for a good deal and don’t mind buying second hand, it’s worth exploring their website.
Hailing from the UK, I used Andertons frequently when looking for musical equipment in my home country. Their service is always very efficient, and their extensive range of informative articles are unrivaled.
UK customers can benefit from multiple payment options that Andertons offer. There are flexible periods and the interest rates differ concerning the length of the finance agreement.
Andertons are without a doubt the premium online guitar and music gear store in the UK. They go above and beyond for their customers, and the generous amount of information they provide on every item is hugely helpful to musicians like me.
In addition to their written content, you can find some brilliant videos on the Andertons YouTube channel. These videos range from product demos to instructional content on getting the best out of your equipment.
PMT is another great must store for UK natives. They started out supplying recording equipment centered specifically around music technology, but have expanded to stock instruments and all kinds of musical gear.
The pre-loved section on their website is worth a mention. There, you can find great deals on second-hand music gear. Their expert team checks every used item to ensure that they work perfectly, so this can be a great way to save some money.
On the PMT website, you can shop for music gear based on the brand. I’ve found this to be useful when looking for compatible add-ons for my studio set up or instruments. The website is fairly minimalistic and easy to navigate.
PMT also have physical stores all over the UK, with 16 in total. You can purchase equipment online and pick it up at your local store if that option suits you. Also, they offer free next-day delivery on all orders over £99.
Thomann is the largest musical equipment retailer in Europe. Since they originated in Germany back in the 1950s, they have continued to grow and expand their company into the impressive organization that they are today.
Despite this substantial growth, one of the things I like the most about Thomann is that they remain a family-run business. This is a rarity in the modern-day and speaks volumes of the retailer’s dedication to helping musicians.
They do ship to the UK, but buyers should be aware that there are likely to be delays compared to their European shipping service. I’ve spoken to many musicians in the UK who use Thomann and have heard nothing but positive things.
Arguably the most popular online music store in Canada, L.A Music offers a comprehensive selection of instruments and other gear. Their website is particularly impressive, with an intuitive layout and easy search functions.
The prices offered by L.A Music is also amongst the best online. They often offer significant discounts on quality guitars, amplifiers, and microphones. These deals change quite quickly so you have to be there at the right time to capitalize.
The shipping charges only apply to order that are lower than $499. However, if your order is deemed to be over-sized or heavy, additional shipping charges may occur. In terms of delivery times, L.A Music state that they will ship within 2 days of your order.
If you have any questions regarding their service or a certain item, you can email the sales team using the address presented on the home page of their website. Their customer service seems pretty good from what I can gather.
Buying Music Gear Online vs. In-Store
Whether it is better to buy guitars online rather than in-store is a subjective matter than many musicians have opposing opinions on. I think that buying online is a more convenient option. Indeed, some would argue that physically trying out a guitar is the best way to learn whether it’s the right choice, but sometimes that simply isn’t an option.
Nowadays, online retailers like Sweetwater and Andertons provide you with such detailed information on the products they stock, that there’s no need to go into a store to find the right guitar for you. Their descriptions cover every aspect of the instrument, from the materials to the pickups.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going into music stores and admiring the instruments they offer. There’s an undeniable charm to the experience, and in some cases, it may be necessary. As a teenager I would often spend hours in music stores, annoying the staff by trialing the guitars and electric drum kits!
However, buying online simply presents you with more options. There’s no way that a physical store could offer the sheer volume of products you find on the internet, and with so many reviews at your fingertips, it’s easy to identify the best-suited guitars and other musical items for your requirements.
Buying online also saves valuable time. Within minutes, you can pick out a handful of guitars that you like the look of, research their qualities, and make a decision on whether they’re right for you.
Considering the current state of retailers due to recent events, shopping online has become a more popular alternative. It’s understandable that people simply don’t want to venture out to stores as much now, and online shopping provides a convenient alternative.
Despite the numerous benefits of buying guitars online compared to in-store, it’s important to shop carefully. Sticking to retailers that have solid reputations is vital, as there are many that perhaps don’t offer the same level of service.
The rise of video reviews and online forums has also made shopping for guitars on the internet much easier. Rather than doing the work yourself, you can learn from experienced musicians and absorb their knowledge on certain guitars and musical gear, to make a calculated decision.
Hopefully, this comprehensive guide has helped you identify the best online guitar store for your needs. If you’re shopping in the US, I would highly recommend Sweetwater and zZounds. For the UK and Europe, Andertons and Thomann are solid options. Now it’s time to enjoy browsing the instruments that these retailers have in stock!