If you have been in the market for a new guitar lately you have probably come across factory 2nd and refurbished guitars in your research. These instruments have become more prevalent in music stores, pawn shops, and especially online auction sites like Ebay. Although their prices are usually very attractive there is some degree of skepticism with them. Just what exactly are factory 2nd and refurbished guitars, and what are their advantages/disadvantages?
Factory 2nd guitars are deemed as such directly from the manufacturer. They have never been previously sold in retail or distributed to a music store. These guitars are marked as 2nd by the manufacturer when they fail to pass final inspection. They usually will have a minor cosmetic finishing flaw that prevents them from being sold as new instruments. These blemishes do not affect the playability of the instruments at all, and otherwise these guitars are brand new instruments. It is often difficult to identify why some of these guitars were marked as 2nd. They will have ‘2nd’ lightly stamped on the back of the headstock.
In contrast refurbished guitars are originally sold to distributors or retailers and then later returned to the manufacturer for various reasons. These reasons may include shipping damage to the packaging and/or instrument, scratches or finishing flaws, guitar in need of re-set up or repair, overstocked items, etc. These guitars are then purchased by a certified guitar refurbishing company that will inspect, grade, and repair them if necessary. These refurbishing centers employ highly skilled and certified luthiers that will restore these guitars to a like-new condition. They will usually have ‘Used’ or ‘B-stock’ impressed on the headstock.
The advantage of purchasing a factory 2nd or refurbished guitar is the tremendous value. These guitars are often sold at hundreds of dollars less than their ‘new’ counterparts. You are basically getting a never owned, like-new condition or near-perfect condition guitar for the price of a used instrument. Factory 2nd and refurbished guitars are available in many of the most popular brand names of electric, bass, and acoustic guitars such as Epiphone, Fender, Squire, Ibanez, Schecter, Yamaha, Takamine, Alvarez, Gretsch, Hamer, Jackson, and B.C. Rich, to name a few.
One disadvantage of buying a factory 2nd or refurbished guitar is availability. These guitars are not quite in the mainstream market, but rather are found most often in pawn shops, internet e-commerce sites, and online auction sites like Ebay. Because of the nature of these guitars it may take some diligence and patience in finding the specific model, color, and options that you desire. Another disadvantage is the lack of a manufacturer’s warrantee. The manufacturers and refurbishing centers will partially remove the original serial number on the guitar and stamp it ‘2nd’ or ‘Used’ accordingly which voids the manufacturer’s warrantee. They do this to avoid unauthorized warrantee claims on guitars that may have been repaired by an outside refurbishing center. Many reputable retailers will, however, offer some kind of limited money back guarantee of their own.
In summary, you might want to consider a factory 2nd or refurbished instrument for your next guitar purchase. If you can find the specific guitar that you are looking for from a reputable dealer, you can get a quality new-condition guitar for an exceptional price.