Sell Your Bass Guitar Online

You can maximize your selling price and earn more money if you choose to sell your bass guitar online. It’s really not as hard as you might think.

I flirted with the idea of selling my extra basses for a while before getting serious last year. I found my dream bass guitar and to afford it, I would have to sell all three of the basses (two electric, and one acoustic bass guitar) that I owned.

The ultimate bass that I wanted cost more than any other bass guitar that I ever had, so maximizing the sale value was crucial to reaching my target. At the time my bass guitar inventory looked like this:

  • Ibanez Soundgear 5-string bass, natural finish, purchased new in ’95.
  • Washburn AB-10 4-string electric/acoustic, purchased new in 2000
  • Ibanez BTB 5 – string bass, trans-black finish, purchased new in 2000.

I set some tentative price goals for each instrument in my mind, probably about 60 – 75% of the purchase price I paid and set out to do some window- shopping.

After visiting a local music store I was brought back down to earth; $500 can by you a brand-spankin’ new (and shiny) brand-name instrument, why would someone shell out the same (or more) for my used instruments no matter how well maintained they might be? Good question!

At this point, a lot of people would give up. They figure they won’t get enough money to make it worth while to sell, so they might as well keep the instruments – but not me! I was resolved to get the new bass or die trying, so I had to re-evaluate the value my instruments offered the general bass-buying public.

Pricing your Bass Guitar and Targeting your Buyers

You can only make money if your bass guitar sells. To sell your electric bass you have to price it right – you need to know the amount that the typical consumer would pay for your instruments. If you don’t price it right, nobody will buy.

Rather than focus on what I paid for the basses, I decided to figure out the bare minimum price that I would accept for them. I ended up setting my goals as $400 for the Washburn AB10 and $500 for the Ibanez Soundgear 1205. While I would love to earn more than this amount, going too far north of these numbers would scare away beginners and hobbyists – reducing the amount of potential buyers dramatically.

If you can target the beginner bassists, do it. Experienced bass players are more likely to spend more money but will also have specific wants in a bass guitar; they’re also a smaller market to crack. It’s the nature of the beast: the longer you’ve been playing an instrument, the more selective you are.

I determined that my Ibanez Soundgear and Washburn AB10 would appeal to beginners because:

  1. They still looked and played great with little to no wear on the finish
  2. They had unique features: AB10 was an electric/acoustic and the Ibanez 1205 had neck-thru-body construction
  3. Neither bass was my primary instrument (so they’d be easier to part with)

Both instruments had some unique features that weren’t common on other basses in my area from what I observed. It all comes down to supply vs. demand – the less competition you have the better your odds of making the sale.

Ways to Sell Your Electric Bass

There were a few ways that I could sell my electric bass –put the bass on consignment at a local store, take out a classified ad, or go online with either a classified, ebay auction or post on a bass guitar forum like Talkbass.com.

My main goal was to make money, not spend money so I weighed the following information discovered during my research:

  • A consignment sale at my local music store would cost me 40% of the final sale price.
  • Classified ads are costly, short-lived and don’t include a photo.
  • Successful Ebay auctions require a high feedback score – which I didn’t have. Plus I didn’t want the extra hassles involved with packing, insuring and shipping my electric bass somewhere across the continent. Plus Ebay costs the seller money regardless of whether it sells or not.
  • Talkbass requires you to pay a membership fee to be able to sell your bass equipment

After learning this, I chose to create an online classified ad. While there are several companies that you can create a classified ad with, I chose Kijiji which is owned by Ebay.

Kijiji has individual site pages for most of the cities in my province. Their classifieds have no limit to the amount of text you use and remain active for a few months. You can re-edit your ad at any time, track the number of views to your page and include up to four pictures. When the ad expires you can renew it again if you bass guitar hasn’t sold. They also protect your email by linking to it rather than displaying it on the sales page.

Oh yeah, and Kijiji is FREE!

I also used Craigslist to list my instruments for extra exposure. There is less targeted traffic however because Craigslist didn’t have a section for my particular city whereas Kijiji did.

Ebay vs Kijiji for Selling your Bass Guitar

I just want to take a moment to further explain why I chose Kijiji instead of Ebay.

Since I figured that both my instruments would appeal to beginners I was willing to go with Kijiji which has less online traffic, but more local traffic than Ebay; this means I’ll get more views from people in my area than from out of town or other countries.

Kijiji is great for selling your electric bass locally; you meet the customer face to face and exchange cash directly. This is more comforting for beginners that want to try before they buy, and aren’t sure about how to pay for something online.

Selling your bass guitar on Kijiji is a good move if your target buyers are beginners, local and you are selling something like a bass guitar where the buyer may wish to try before they buy.

Besides successfully selling two bass guitars online with Kijiji, I also sold my Xbox console and two Himalayan cats using their classified service -with only positive results.

[Note - Kijiji now attempts to charge you to bump your ad up to the top of the page. I recommend when you create an ad to sell your bass guitar that you write it in MS word, notepad or some other program and save it. This way you can just create a new ad by copy and pasting from your saved file. Each time you do this you'll be back at the top of the listings again for free. It's a good idea to keep tabs on the number of views you've gotten from each incarnation of the ad - this way you can tell if there's any interest in your offer.]

Beginners vs Experienced Bass Shoppers

Beginners don’t know a lot about bass guitars, they just want to get their hands on one that works and looks cool. They may buy a bass purely on the shape, or the colour, and the price should be $500 or less.

Beginners won’t necessarily appreciate that your Fender Jazz Bass for sale is “Pre-CBS” or that it has all the original parts. Beginners won’t care that you’ve spent over a $1,000 putting in Nordstrand pickups and a Glockenklang preamp. They will care about dings, cigarette burns, and whether a guitar strap or hard shell instrument case is included.

Selling on Ebay is a good idea if your electric bass doesn’t appeal to beginners. Experienced Ebay instrument buyers are looking for deals, or for specific bass guitars. They may be hunting for a used F Bass BN5, or a 70’s Jazz bass. They may not care about the finish in some cases, if all the parts are original. They may care about the modifications you made to your bass if they like or have heard good things about those products (like the Nordstrand pickups and Glockenklang preamp I already mentioned).

Ebay is probably a better place for me to sell my Ibanez BTB 505 for the following reasons:

  • The finish is worn and absent in several places
  • It has been modified with an F Bass pre-amp and a new input jack

Therefore, my Ibanez BTB 505 will probably not be attractive to beginners.

The fact that the bass has been modified would probably scare away a lot of customers, unless there are people out there that are intrigued by the F Bass preamp, in which case this makes my bass unique compared to other Ibanez BTB five string basses.

Locating the small market that would be interested in this bass will be easier with an Ebay auction because Ebay reaches millions of people. However, with the increased viewers also comes increased competition, so once again price will be a key factor in getting the sale.

Online Electric Bass Sales Tips

  1. You can maximize your sale price by having:
  2. A clean bass guitar with new strings
  3. Decent photos of the bass guitar for sale
  4. A detailed bass guitar description
  5. A selling price and strategy
  6. Patience

Let’s explore these points in greater detail.

Clean bass with new strings

Regardless of whether you sell your bass on Kijiji or Ebay, it needs to be clean and have fresh strings. For one thing, you’re going to need to take some photos of the bass and its features, and dirt is not one of them. If you have a potential buyer come to view the instrument, you want it to look as good as possible; the old saying is true, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. If the buyer sees a dirty bass they may assume that the bass hasn’t been cared for properly. Even on Ebay where hundreds of bass guitars are bought and sold sight unseen on a daily basis, you want to ship a clean bass to your buyer. Shipping a dirty bass will increase the odds of getting neutral or even negative feedback.

Decent photos of the bass guitar for sale

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get some great photos of your electric bass. If you don’t have one, you will need to borrow a camera (preferably digital so you can easily get the photos online) or have a friend take the photos for you.

Your photos should be taken with natural lighting and not with a flash – the flash will often distort the finish of the bass, making colors seem brighter than they are. A flash may also cover up fine details that you want to show to help sell your bass.

Here are the details your bass guitar photos should reveal:

  • Dents/Dings/Damage – while you may wish to hide any flaws to maximize your selling price, I don’t recommend it. You want to build trust with the customer, and one way is being perfectly honest with the state of the instrument being sold. Use close-ups wherever possible – you may need to include a caption or alter the photo with software (like circling a spot on the image to draw attention to something) if what the view is supposed to show is not obvious.
  • Features – here’s you chance to prove your bass guitar is worth the money you’re asking. Show a close up of the seamless neck-thru-body construction, or a close-up of the unique mono-rail bridge, or those Bartolini pickups. How about that quilt maple top? You’ll need good natural lighting, a steady hand and no flash to bring out subtle details like wood grain that truly make your bass guitar shine. It takes more effort – but it will pay off in the end.

Make sure to take a combination of distance and close up shots. This shows the buyer the entire bass (front and back) along with as many close up shots are necessary to show off your bass guitar. It’s always better to take lots of photos and use the best of them than to discover that there were a few shots you forgot to take.

A detailed bass guitar description

Giving the customer plenty of information is one of the best ways to sell your bass guitar online. To successfully make the sale, you need to impress upon the buyer that you’re trustworthy and that you’ve taken good care of the instrument. Your photos will go a long way towards accomplishing this, but so will your words. By giving specific details you are telling the potential buyer that you know your stuff and that you care about your bass equipment.

Details that should be found in your description include:

  • Make and model
  • Year purchased and whether bought new or used
  • The type of woods used on the body, neck and fingerboard of the bass
  • Colour
  • Active or passive electronics
  • Any cosmetic blemishes with the finish
  • Special features
  • Scale length
  • Weight
  • Relevant links

The more specifics you give the customer the better; if you’re selling an active bass – let the buyer know whether it runs on 9 or 18 volts. If you made any modifications to the bass, let the customer know if you kept the original parts or perhaps why the modifications were made (especially if it was to improve the bass). Are you including a case, a guitar strap or an instrument cable with the bass?

It’s also a good idea to include relevant links to either the manufacturer’s web site or a site like Harmony Central with reviews on your particular make and model.

Selling Price and Strategy

At the start of this article I mentioned that I set my prices as $400 for the Washburn AB-10 four string electric/acoustic bass and $500 for the Ibanez Soundgear 1205 five string electric bass – but that those aren’t the prices that I advertised.

I started anywhere from 20 to 40% higher than my minimum prices as part of my sales strategy. The reason is simple; by starting higher you have the option of dropping your price and still making your bare minimum. If you start at the bottom, you have no where to go.

This strategy works great for an online classified like Kijiji where you can renew your ad every month or two for free – but it would cost you money if you tried the same thing with an Ebay auction.

Your selling strategy will vary according to the manner you choose to sell your bass guitar. Since I used a free online classified with Kijiji, I didn’t have to worry about incurring extra fees. If I tried the same thing with Ebay and set my prices too high, I would have to pay money for each subsequent listing. It would only be a couple dollars for each listing, and maybe you’re okay with spending that money – but I wasn’t.

Each time I renewed my Kijiji ad, I dropped my price. Each price drop was significant – often $50 – 100 or so. However, even with my last price drop I’d leave a 10% buffer so that I could still offer my buyer a discount if I needed to seal the deal.

In the case of my Ibanez Soundgear 1205 five string bass guitar, my price went from $700 down to about $550 over a five month span. Any buyers that saw the original listing and thought the price was too high, were teased by each price drop. Dropping $150 off the original price to them appeared that they were getting a great deal on a $700 bass.

Using this technique I sold both basses at or above my minimum amount. Both my customers and I were happy with the price paid. Incidentally, both of the buyers were first time bass buyers as well.

Patience When Selling Your Bass Guitar

Last but not least, patience plays a big part in successfully selling your bass guitar online. If you get impatient and drop your price too soon, or change strategies too often you may jeopardize getting your sale price or lose potential buyers.

It took me a few months before both basses sold, and I needed about 400 – 600 pages views before either instrument sold. The Washburn AB-10 sold first because there was less competition for it – there simply wasn’t another electric acoustic bass around for the same money that also included a hard-shell case; my customer came from more than an hour away to buy it.

If you’re getting a regular amount of page views and an email inquiry every so often – you’re on the right track. If you page views are not increasing and you’re getting no emails you may need to revisit your strategy or pricing. But before you do that you should use the secret to selling your bass guitar online to help seal the deal and make it easier to sell your used electric bass.

If you’ve made it this far through the article, you’ve already demonstrated near super-human patience. This will serve you well in your efforts to liquidate your used bass guitar. So without further ado – here’s the secret to selling your bass guitar online that will improve your odds dramatically.

The Secret to Selling Your Bass Guitar Online

What do you do if a detailed description and excellent photos aren’t quite enough to convince people to buy?

The secret is to show them the bass guitar; give them a brief tour of the controls and features. Bring attention to the dings and dents in the finish and lastly – play the bass for them to prove that it is in working condition. The way to do this is with a bass guitar sales video.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that if a picture is worth a thousand words than a video with audio must be worth at least 10,000.

Remember what I said earlier about earning your customer’s trust? Having a bass sales video puts you front and center, they have a face for the person they may be dealing with, and they can see the bass guitar that they’re curious about in action.

Here’s what you should cover in your video

  • Introduce yourself and the bass
  • Show any dings or blemishes to the bass (get the bad stuff out of the way)
  • Show off the features, demonstrate and explain the controls.
  • Show any extras that come with the bass like a guitar strap, or case and comment on their condition as well.
  • Don’t mention the price (that way you can use the same video if you drop the price)

You can host your video for free on sites like myspace or youtube and add or embed a link into your classified ad. Keep the video brief and to the point. If you’re like me and tend to talk too much when it comes to bass guitars – write a list of points you want to cover and keep it somewhere off camera where you can refer to it and stay on track. The last thing you want to do is bore them to death.

If you don’t get it right the first time, try again. Nobody has to know how many times it took for you to get it right. Playback your video and make sure you can see and hear everything okay. If it doesn’t sound or look right at the beginning – chances are it will only get worse when you put it online.

For those that want more details on how to make a successful bass sales video, stay tuned for an upcoming post at BassGuitarRocks.com

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about how to sell your bass guitar online. With a little time and effort, you can now convert those rarely played basses into the cash you need to buy that dream bass.

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