Musician’s Friend was initially founded by Rob and DeAnna Eastman. As newlyweds, the couple financed their startup with a $5,000 loan from Rob’s family. They ran the business out of their garage for a time before relocating the company’s headquarters to a dairy barn in Southern Oregon.
The first mail-order catalog from Musician’s Friend was a two-color flyer that offered discounted guitar strings and a few other accessories. Once business started picking up for the family, they were able to expand their offerings to include many of the top brands and instruments.
About 10,000 orders are shipped each day from the company’s 700,000-square-foot warehouse in Kansas City. Additional support centers are in Indianapolis and Salt Lake City to serve customers.
Musician’s Friend also offers a verified price match up to 45 days after the purchase for an identical item from an authorized US-based dealer.
What Happened to Musician’s Friend?
Musician’s Friend used to be a direct competitor to Guitar Center. In the late 1990s, both brands owned retail stores throughout the country. Once they became the same business, the mail-order and internet side stayed under the Musician’s Friend name, with headquarters based in Medford, OR.
Guitar Center is the largest music instrument retailer in the world today. The company agreed to acquire and merge with Musician’s Friend in an all-stock deal worth $33.5 million in 1999.
At the time, Guitar Center said that it was interested in acquiring the direct marketing experience that Musician’s Friend offered. “We have a belief that the Internet will become a strong sales channel for musical instruments,” the company stated in the press release announcing the merger.
Once the merger was complete, the business had 61 retail stores and a mailing list of four million potential customers.
In 2022, Guitar Center had nearly 300 retail operations active in the United States.
Many Guitar Center outlets provide music lessons, offer repairs, or have rentals available for student learning. You can find vintage instruments, a destination drum shop, and even a content creator.
Although the Musician’s Friend retail stores were reformatted, the company’s website remains active at https://www.musiciansfriend.com. “Get the lowest prices and free shipping on most orders” is the catchphrase you’ll find in the meta content.
You can also contact Musician’s Friend directly at 1 (800) 449-9128.
Why Do Some People Love Working with Musician’s Friend?
Musician’s Friend might share its offices with Guitar Center in Westlake Village today, but there are still people devoted to this brand. You can even find content that discusses the pros and cons of shopping with Musician’s Friend vs. Guitar Center online, even though they’re operated by the same parent company.
It is fair to say that the shopping experience at Musician’s Friend is a little different than it is for Guitar Center. You can also find numerous similarities in the format and checkout processes.
If you’re looking at Musician’s Friend for your next setup or instrument, here are a few ways that you can save money or create an enjoyable shopping experience.
1. Diverse Selection
Musician’s Friend offers a broad range of instruments and supplies for musicians of all genres, types, and perspectives. You can find everything for an orchestra, a rock band, or to become a DJ.
They even sell gear for marching bands, home studios, and churches. Whether you need audio/video support or a new electric guitar, you’ll find access to all of today’s best brands.
2. Stupid Deal of the Day
Each day, Musician’s Friend offers a heavily discounted item to everyone on its mailing list. There is no way to predict what product it will be or how much it will be reduced. Deals have included high-end guitars, unique strings, amps, and stage equipment. It’s always worth giving this sale item a closer look!
During special events and holiday sales, the Stupid Deal of the Day multiplies. You can see something different discounted each hour for a designated time, creating a unique opportunity to stock up on supplies or try new gear without breaking your budget.
3. Used Equipment
Although Musician’s Friend reformatted their physical locations into Guitar Center stores, you can still sell used gear to them for trade. The inventory offered in this category is shared with the most recent Guitar Center listings.
The used gear is taken at a physical location, photographed, and listed for sale. That makes it easier to trade instruments without paying a significant cost for something new.
4. Free Shipping Options
Most orders through Musician’s Friend qualify for free ground shipping by UPS throughout the continental 48 states. Used and vintage products are excluded from this offer. The company says that all orders ship within 24 hours of completing the checkout process.
5. Instrument Warranty
When you purchase a guitar of any style from Musician’s Friend, you get a two-year warranty included with the instrument. This guarantee protects consumers from potential manufacturing defects over an extended time.
Although this benefit doesn’t apply to used instruments, it is available for open-box models and everything new.
6. Helpful Return Policy
Customers that shop with Musician’s Friend receive up to 45 days to return an item, though some exclusions apply. As long as the item is returned in a sellable condition, it can be for any reason. You’ll need to contact the company’s customer service department to receive a return number and slip to add to the packaging.
7. Multiple Payment Options
You can choose to pay with the Musician’s Friend credit card when you need a new instrument or more gear. This lending product is from Synchrony Bank. You can also finance some products for up to 48 months with 0% interest.
You can pay for your items with any major credit card. Klarna is available to split the cost across four equal payments if you qualify, although the debit comes every 14 days instead of monthly.
The entire process is meant to be simple and straightforward. Once you find the instrument or accessories you want, just add them to the cart for a simplified checkout. Since many items qualify for free shipping, there aren’t any surprises expenses to manage.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Items from Musician’s Friend?
The standard shipping option from Musician’s Friend is UPS Ground. This option can take between 7 to 10 business days to arrive at your designated address. The actual time depends on how close you are to the company’s warehouse and the local UPS distribution centers.
Many people receive their orders from Musician’s Friend in three to five business days. Those who love on the East or West Coast typically see slower times because they’re the furthest away from the warehouse in Kansas City.
You have the option to upgrade your shipping to overnight or two-day services if you need something faster. The eventual expense for this added cost depends on where you live and what you’ve ordered.
Some promo codes and coupons allow for a free shipping upgrade throughout the year. You can also find different rates for international shipping, with over 100 countries globally authorized to receive products.
Why Does Musician’s Friend Get Negative Feedback?
The primary issue with Musician’s Friend involves the quality of the gear or the instrument you receive. If new stock isn’t available, you might get a floor model without realizing it. You don’t always get that info ahead of time.
Sweetwater offers a similar inventory while providing exact photos of the instrument you’re receiving when asked.
The best option for many musicians is to shop the used market for guitars and other instruments. It’s one of the few places left online where the pricing is consistently fair and competitive.
Musician’s Friend has developed a reputation for selling used or open-box gear as new. Stories of having pedals with blue tape on the bottom while paying for in-box, never-used items are found throughout guitar forums online.
Part of the issue is that Bain Capital bought the combined company in 2007. After getting saddled with tons of debt, the parent company filed for bankruptcy in 2020 after the pandemic hit. After the reorganization, the goal is to create a clean slate and a new IPO to change the current reputation it has earned hopefully.
Is It Worth Buying Instruments from Musician’s Friend?
Musician’s Friend provides a significant selection of music-related goods and services. The online catalog offers access to one of the biggest collections of musical instruments available today. From guitars to pianos, amps to A/V equipment, there is something for everyone at a competitive price.
I have multiple acoustic and electric guitars in my collection. The majority of them have come from Musician’s Friend Stupid Deals of the Day.
My best pickup was a Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar. It retailed for $599 at the time, but the discount let me get it for $149. That price included free shipping.
Although I don’t use that guitar for live gigs, it has become part of my songwriting gear. I use it to test different chord combinations because the resonation is pure and distinctive. It lets me know what I can expect from my performance instruments.
Guitar Center provides a similar shopping experience, but I’ve always found the layout and navigation on Musician’s Friend to be a bit easier. If you’re looking for a great instrument or musical gear, this site has what you need.