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FAQ: Buying Instruments Online?
A: To most people this will be a matter of preference. I personally have never had any problems with online purchases, but I am also very meticulous about which vendors I use.
Always use large vendors with a long track record of excellent service and security. If you're up for it, read their privacy statements (like mine at the bottom of this page) and other documentation about security. Typing your credit card details into unsecured pages or using vendors with less than excellent reputations is not smart.
Security issues aside, I would recommend using the Internet for buying instruments for three reasons:
1. Price - Internet vendors don't pay utility bills and rents for their 'shops', and since their financial overheads are lower, the prices on their products usually are too. This is a very broad statement which assumes a lot, but I've almost always found it to be true.
Internet vendors do provide good prices on instruments and gear, in most cases much better than your local music store down the road can afford to give you. Also take into account that shipping is usually free on larger orders, and you may end up getting a quality instrument for a real bargain.
2. Reviews - A huge advantage of buying instruments online is that, unlike your local music store, Internet vendors provide a more unbiased view on their products. What I mean by this is that they allow customers to post reviews on the products they have bought from them, and these are posted uncensored.
Say you want to buy a $200 Yamaha guitar online. Once you reach the site with product description and price, most vendors will have a 'product review' section where you can read a hundred opinions of customers who have bought this exact same product. The good, bad and ugly are laid bare and provides an unbiased peek into the real quality of an instrument.
3. Guarantee - Good vendors always provide a money back guarantee with their products. If you do buy something from them, but realise it's not exactly what you were looking for, you can refund or exchange your product with them.
If you want to buy instruments, gear and musicians accessories online, I would recommend using ZZ Sounds or Musicians Friend. Both these stores fulfil the criteria of excellent service reputations, good prices, unbiased reviews and money back guarantees.
At the end of the day, buying instruments online remains a personal preference and many people will still feel that it's better to go to a offline store for an important purchase like a guitar. There is of course nothing wrong with that, but at the very least you should check out the value of an instrument you want to buy at an online vendor to have a good idea of its retail price.
Q: Is buying instruments online a smart thing to do? Is it secure and safe?