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Which Site is Best for Selling Gear?

A guide to selling your gear online — part 1
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Getting Started

If you’re a home recordist or a performing musician, chances are you have gear you want to sell. Perhaps you’re thinking of upgrading to something better, or you have extra hardware or instruments that you’re not using. Thanks to the Internet, your chances of finding a buyer are very good. The two most prominent sites for selling are eBay and Craigslist, although there are other options including Amazon.com.

View other articles in this series...

 

Selling your gear is a lot easier now than in the pre- Internet days. Back then, your options were to take out a classified ad in your local newspaper, or maybe try to trade your gear to a music store, where you’d inevitably get less than if you sold it privately. 

With eBay and Craigslist and other online gear-selling sites, things are a lot easier, but you’ll do much better if you know what you’re doing. In this multipart story we’ll offer advice to make your online sales smoother and more profitable.

Craigslist vs. eBay

These two online behemoths are conceptually very different. Craigslist is more of a local bulletin board in your own area or region, where you advertise your gear and prospective customers actually come to your house or apartment to look at the gear and hopefully buy it. Payments are generally made in cash.

On the other hand, eBay is a remote service, for the most part, where buyers purchase your gear based on photos and a description, and you have to ship it to them, unless you use eBay’s local pickup option.

Unlike Craigslist, eBay listings cost money (not a lot, typically) and you have to pay a commission (aka “Final Value Fee”) of 9% for a typical sale. On the back end of the deal, you get dinged close to 3% by PayPal, for handling the payment.

But eBay has one major advantage: reach. Your item listing will be seen by buyers all over the country (and even internationally — although international sales and shipping are somewhat problematic), so you have a much bigger pool of potential buyers. Of course, you also have more competition, which offsets the reach advantage to some degree. Because of its larger pool of buyers, you’re probably more likely to find someone interested in your item on eBay than on Craigslist, especially if it’s obscure.

Another advantage to eBay is its auction feature. If you have an item that’s desirable, it will frequently sell for well over asking, when buyers start bidding against each other. We’ll talk about pricing strategies in a subsequent installment of this story.

If you value privacy, eBay wins hands down, because you never come face to face with your potential customers. The closest you’ll come is through emails that you receive and send through the eBay website. If you’re selling on Craigslist, you have to let people come to your house or apartment (unless you can get then to meet you elsewhere) to checkout or test out the item to make sure its in working condition. There’s always somewhat of a risk when you’re letting strangers come into your home. Insist, in advance that customer pay you in cash. Definitely do not take a check, or you could get burned.

One of Craigslists' biggest plusses is that you get to keep 100% of the proceeds of your sale. What's more, it makes it possible to sell items that are too large to ship without incurring prohibitively high costs. Since Craigslist customers pick up the gear themselves, you can amps, drum kits, PA speakers, and other large items, which would be difficult and very expensive to ship for an eBay sale.

What’s more, you won't have to worry about packing items up to ship, and you won't need to buy bubble wrap, tape, and shipping boxes. Some gear, such as guitars or basses, requires special boxes that you'd probably have to order online.

Other options

You can also sell your musical instruments and recording gear on Amazon. Your reach will be good, because when somebody searches for a matching item on Amazon, the site will give them results that include both the price to buy new through Amazon and “More Buying Choices.” These are separated into “New” and “Used” categories, and if the latter is selected, your listing (and that of anyone else selling that item used) will show up. Amazon’s seller fees vary widely depending on the category. For musical instruments, they take a whopping 15% of the sale price, which is even more than eBay.

Dedicated music sites like Reverb are another option. Reverb charges only 3.5%, and only if your item sells. Otherwise there's no charge. Like eBay and Amazon, it offers the buyers protection against fraud, which adds confidence and facilitates sales.

We now have a free classified section for selling gear right here at Audiofanzine. You can sell to other AF members directly, and get info on the gear through our database. We're also hosting select listings from Craigslist, and soon from eBay. The Audiofanzine classifieds don't provide an online payment mechanism, but you could use a site like PayPal, or arrange another private payment method between you and the buyer. 

Sweetwater Trading Post, a service offered by mega music retailer Sweetwater, offers a no-fee classified section, as well. Additionally, you can find “For Sale” categories in other specialized gear-related forums online. The advantage to such sites is that you're selling to a very targeted market. The disadvantage is that you probably won't get as large an audience for your listing as with eBay or Craigslist.

In the next installment, we’ll offer specific tips for selling your gear and instruments on eBay.

Next article in this series:
eBay Selling Tips for Musicians →
  • Mike Levine
    Mike Levine
    AFicionado
    1064 posts
    Quote:
    My issue with ebay is that, while I've bought things on eBay before, I feel like their prices are higher than on other sites, even for second-hand gear. And as someone who has GAS but not necessarily the money to feed his addiction, any lower price I can get is always appreciated :)

    And that's why it's good that we have a lot of choices regarding how we buy and sell used gear, including eBay, Craigslist, and (shameless self promotion alert :mdr:) the Audiofanzine Classified section https://en.audiofanzine.com/audio-music-gear/classifieds/, among other choices. Overall, we're a lot better off now than we were in the pre-Internet days, when the only options for buying and selling were classified ads in newspapers and dedicated buy/sell publications, and notices posted on bulletin boards at rehearsal studios or other places where musicians gathered.
  • Mike Levine
    Mike Levine
    AFicionado
    1064 posts
    Quote:
    I can say that in my 8 years of buying on ebay, building-up a considerable home hardware synth studio after my military career ended, I have YET to have a bad experience with *any* seller, and all gear as described. I think there's that element of common sense and thoroughly asking the right questions before purchasing, makes a world of difference as well, whatever means a person uses to sell/buy gear.

    Good point. One of the things that also helps a lot on eBay is the feedback system, which makes it possible to avoid sellers who have had sketchy transactions in the past (there's no equivalent on Craigslist). If you see a seller who's had several transactions resulting in negative feedback, it should be a major red flag.
  • thesweetspot
    thesweetspot
    New AFfiliate
    8 posts
    Quote from namnibor:
    My point should have emphasized that one of the BIG advantages of Ebay is if an item is a stolen item being sold on Ebay or it's simply or blatantly NOT what was advertised, Ebay has quite a few protections, lest we also not forget PayPal...now, yes, these things come at a small fee and commission, but the Philosophy that Craigslist stands behind that actually infuriates Police of all kinds is that Craigslist stands tall on their position of "freedom" and "ask no questions", which means IF you get ripped-off using Craigslist, you really have absolutely no recourse other than to file a police report because Craigslist will do absolutely nothing to help all in the name of "freedom of the internet"...freedom is all well and good, but we are indeed living in a much different world where unfortunately some people exploit those very "freedom and free speech CL Policies", to the chagrin of the musician or anyone that *may* get ripped-off.
    I can say that in my 8 years of buying on ebay, building-up a considerable home hardware synth studio after my military career ended, I have YET to have a bad experience with *any* seller, and all gear as described. I think there's that element of common sense and thoroughly asking the right questions before purchasing, makes a world of difference as well, whatever means a person uses to sell/buy gear.


    That's true to an extent, but I've actually bought stuff on both Craig's List and from a french dude on Audiofanzine's french site. In both cases, I insisted on Paypal payment, because much of eBay's protection actually stems from their acquisition of Paypal and the protection that comes with.

    I bought a deluxe telecaster from someone on Audiofanzine who sold many used products. I admitted I was nervous that it would arrive beat up or broken, but with Paypal I knew that, at least I would be reimbursed if that was the case. Thankfully, the guitar actually came in perfect condition :)

    My issue with ebay is that, while I've bought things on eBay before, I feel like their prices are higher than on other sites, even for second-hand gear. And as someone who has GAS but not necessarily the money to feed his addiction, any lower price I can get is always appreciated :)
  • namnibor
    namnibor
    New AFfiliate
    10 posts
    Right-on!
    My point should have emphasized that one of the BIG advantages of Ebay is if an item is a stolen item being sold on Ebay or it's simply or blatantly NOT what was advertised, Ebay has quite a few protections, lest we also not forget PayPal...now, yes, these things come at a small fee and commission, but the Philosophy that Craigslist stands behind that actually infuriates Police of all kinds is that Craigslist stands tall on their position of "freedom" and "ask no questions", which means IF you get ripped-off using Craigslist, you really have absolutely no recourse other than to file a police report because Craigslist will do absolutely nothing to help all in the name of "freedom of the internet"...freedom is all well and good, but we are indeed living in a much different world where unfortunately some people exploit those very "freedom and free speech CL Policies", to the chagrin of the musician or anyone that *may* get ripped-off.
    I can say that in my 8 years of buying on ebay, building-up a considerable home hardware synth studio after my military career ended, I have YET to have a bad experience with *any* seller, and all gear as described. I think there's that element of common sense and thoroughly asking the right questions before purchasing, makes a world of difference as well, whatever means a person uses to sell/buy gear.
  • Mike Levine
    Mike Levine
    AFicionado
    1064 posts
    Quote:
    I just rather deal with the inherent safety and convenience of Ebay rather than the "underbelly of the internet", Craigslist.

    I totally understand where you're coming from. There's definitely more risk using Craigslist, but a lot depends on where you're located. Craigslist does have its benefits, though — such as no commissions or shipping — for those willing to deal with the risks. I've sold a number of items on Craigslist without a problem, but some of the people who responded to the ads were definitely a bit sketchy.
  • namnibor
    namnibor
    New AFfiliate
    10 posts
    Great article! I for one, really value my privacy and above all, my security and safety too much to EVER use Craigslist. I have seen on my local news all too often where people either get robbed at gun point in their own homes, or even some brazen people will try to do same even if meeting in front parking lot of a police station. I just rather deal with the inherent safety and convenience of Ebay rather than the "underbelly of the internet", Craigslist.
    A few years ago I was alerted by a friend to look at something I had been looking for that popped-up on CL, well all the conversation went well and sounded up and up, then as soon as asking to meet in a public place...it was what a fresh flea collar is to fleas...so just a heads-up to musicians with a considerable home studio, be careful with Craigslist. Have many other crazy true stories about fellow musicians getting ripped-off, even a whole multi-band practice hall recently was wiped out...it was all from a Craigslist transaction, and luckily they caught some of the stuff being posted for sale...again, their very stolen gear, on CL.

    Again, sorry for the rant, but I really hate CL.

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