How Much Do Pawn Shops Pay for Guitars?

How Much Do Pawn Shops Pay for Guitars?

The first pawn shops started appearing in China about 3,000 years ago. By offering short-term credit to different households, an economic infrastructure began forming. It was an idea that the Greeks and Romans would eventually adopt.

When the Catholic Church was an influential force in global politics during the Middle Ages, the restrictions placed on charging interest put a hold on the industry.

Christopher Columbus pawned jewelry from Queen Isabella to finance his expeditions. It’s said that King Edward III pawned the royal jewels to pay for a war against France.

In the 19th century, some households pawned their clothes on Monday to repurchase them on Friday with their paycheck. If you have a guitar to sell, it can be a fast way to get some cash.

How Much Do Pawn Shops Pay for Guitars?

Pawn shops typically work on a low-high value matrix when evaluating the price of a guitar. Since these businesses must make money, they’ll offer at the low market value and sell at the high price. Although sellers get less than they could get themselves with this method, it also generates a guaranteed transaction.

Some music shops offer to buy guitars and other musical instruments, but they don’t provide a fair low market price.

Unless you bring in a custom piece signed by the famous guitarist who played the instrument, you can expect an offer of 20% to 40% less than the low market value.

Why do music shops take this approach? Their goal is the same as a pawn shop. They want to make some money on the transaction, so they work to expand their profit line as much as possible.

A pawn shop provides you with a closer offer to the low market value. These stores typically have more traffic, which means additional opportunities to see.

They’ll also take products to auction, which is something the average music store doesn’t do when generating profits.

Since a pawn shop can typically make a faster sale, they don’t need to generate more profit into the offer. That doesn’t mean you can skip negotiations, but it does mean you can ask for a fair figure based on the current pricing.

Before you decide to raise some cash by going to a pawn shop with your guitar, here are some things you’ll need to know about working with this business type.

Pawning a Guitar vs. Selling a Guitar

If you pawn a guitar, that means the shop gives you a loan. The instrument serves as collateral. Should you default on the debt, the business keeps it to sell off to pay off the obligation. This offer typically includes interest and fees.

If you sell a guitar at a pawn shop, the transaction is straightforward. You’ll bring it to the business, they’ll determine an offer, and you can agree to it or walk away. It will be offered for sale once you have the money from the sale.

How to Understand Market Value

Musical instruments are often pawned because of how much value they offer. That means you won’t usually get a high-value offer for the instrument, but it can be a more generous opportunity than at a music shop.

You can tell if you’ll get a decent offer based on the number of guitars hanging on the wall or sitting behind a counter at a pawn shop.

If the business has more than a dozen, you might get a lower offer. When their inventory levels are higher than they want, your request to sell might be denied.

Choose a Payment Plan

If you decide to take out a loan at a pawn shop instead of selling your guitar, take the time to work with the business to hammer out a payment plan that works with your income. It’s usually a 30-day short-term loan, but the actual stipulations are based on local rules and laws.

In most situations, you must pay the loan back by the end of the 30 days. If that isn’t possible, the pawn shop might have an extension policy. If not, the instrument gets surrendered as the collateral payment.

Get the Most Out of Your Sale

Before trying to pawn or sell a guitar, you should try to repair any damage. That means replacing broken parts, fixing broken strings, and giving everything a deep clean. If you have accessories that go with it, include them with the instrument. Straps, bows, tuners, even the case – all those additions may increase the final payout.

Be Willing to Walk Away

Most pawn shops work from the idea that you need money, so they start with the lowest offer they think you might accept.

You have the right to turn down that offer or counter with a price more suitable to your liking. If the offer doesn’t budge and it’s not enough, you have the right to walk away.

It helps to remember that the amount a pawn shop pays for a guitar depends on the make and model. Some brands (Gibson, Fender) are more desirable than others.

If it is autographed, you’ll need to provide verification of its authenticity to get the full amount for this addition.

What Guitars Bring in the Most Money?

If you’re thinking about pawning a guitar, here are the average values you can expect to find when working with a shop in the United States.

Urban pawn shops tend to offer more money than rural ones. Some people travel to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York City, and other major cities because the difference in price could be more than $1,000 for some guitars.

Since pawn shops set their own offers, they are not bound by the figures in the table below.

Guitar BrandMinimum Pawn ValueMaximum Pawn ValueAverage Pawn Value
Les Paul$150$1,400$775

If you have an electric guitar to sell, some brands sell better than others. Taylor holds its value well, as do the Les Paul and signature series instruments.

Most sell better than an acoustic, but that fact ultimately depends on brand, quality, care, and other factors.

How to Sell a Guitar to a Pawn Shop

Most communities have more than one pawn shop. You’ll want to check around your community to see what people are saying about it.

Are people getting fair offers for their guitars? Is the shop well-kept, clean, and professional?

Before deciding to bring your guitar there, it often helps to visit the location as a customer first. You can get a feel for what the business offers, how many guitars are already for sale, and how your instrument would fit in with the inventory.

If there are six guitars that are similar to your make and model already, you’ll want to find a different pawn shop.

Most pawn shops will ask you what you want to do with your instrument. That’s your cue to say whether you want to pawn or sell it. If you don’t have the option to repay a loan, choose the latter option.

Pawn store owners aren’t collectors. They resell guitars and other items of value. You might have a vintage guitar valued at $1,500, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get that price. They need to make money too.

That means you might get an offer in the $500 to $800 range. It helps to set a minimum price before negotiating to ensure that you can walk away.

Then imagine what you would want to see if you saw the guitar for sale. Would it look good with a dust layer on top of it? Show your instrument in the best light possible to fetch a better offer.

You’ll typically get paid in cash. Make sure that you bring something along that can safely store it, especially if you think you’ll get more than a few hundred for it.

Why Work with a Pawn Shop to Sell a Guitar?

Pawn shops provide a safer transaction venue than Craigslist, eliminate shipping costs from eBay or Mercari, and offer a fair rate for the instrument. It’s a great spot to turn something you’re not using into cash that can buy something else you need.

I haven’t sold one of my guitars to a pawn shop, but I did pick up a Les Paul at the local spot once. It wasn’t in the greatest shape, so I got it for $125 cash.

Once I got it home, I started the refinishing work right away. It only took a couple of weeks, but that instrument turned into one of the best pieces in my collection. I still play it for the bigger gigs that I take.

A pawn shop makes sense if you need quick cash and aren’t interested in store credit somewhere. If you want the most value, a marketplace is your best choice since you can sell at the high price – or more!


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