Pawn shops have long had negative associations as quick-money depots that sell items of little value. While any business can have a dark side, pawn shops don’t have to be disreputable. They can be a great place to find high-value items like women’s and men’s rings, antiques, and other items, and buyers can capitalize on deals that might not be found elsewhere. The fact of the matter is that times are tough for many people, and pawn shops can be a go-to source for those who might not have the funds to purchase new merchandise, such as the budding musician who is looking to purchase his/her first guitar. Here are some suggestions for getting the best deal possible when shopping for a guitar at a pawn shop.
1. Choose two or three pawn shops to frequent and browse their merchandise often. Becoming known by staff members is a chance for you to let personnel know what you’re looking for and to possibly get information about products that might not yet be on display for the general public. The staff might be willing to share pointers about other stores that might have what you’re looking to purchase, including stores that you should avoid or definitely frequent.
2. Be prepared to make a purchase when you go to a pawn shop but avoid the urge to impulse buy. You’ll want to be as sure as possible that the guitar you’re purchasing is a quality piece of equipment that won’t end up in a dumpster two weeks after you buy it. Take your time to find a good item and a good deal and get the most out of your shopping experience and guitar ownership. Taking a guitar-playing friend with you is also wise, especially since beginning musicians might not be able to pick up on a guitar’s poor tonal qualities. An experienced guitar player can also point out brand names to look for or avoid.
3. Always negotiate. There’s little sense in agreeing to pay the price on the sticker in an environment where haggling is commonplace. Some stores may not want to bargain and you may not be able to talk shopkeepers down to the price you’re willing to pay, but it’s important to try. You can always walk away from a sale if the price doesn’t come down enough to suit your budget or knowledge of what the item should cost.
4. Beware of a guitar’s potential hidden problems, including damage to the knobs, lead, neck, or switches. Make sure the neck and body aren’t warped. There is no guarantee that the pawn shop owner has even an inkling of experience with musical instruments and may have been tricked by someone looking to unload a broken guitar for a little cash. Be sure to plug the guitar into different amps to test its sound quality. Don’t patronize any business that won’t let you try out the instrument prior to purchase. Keep an eye out as well for counterfeit guitars – that is, a poorly-made substitute bearing a quality brand label. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
Taking a tour through your local pawn shops will give you an idea of the guitars that are available for sale. While your education may take some time, appreciate all that you’re learning on your musical journey. Be patient, be wise, do your research, and find the guitar of your dreams in your hands before you know it.