Your Guide to Musical Instruments at Pawn Shops

February 06, 2020 - Equipment and Tools

You can find all kinds of musical instruments in a pawn shop, like guitars, drums, flutes, violins, and even pianos.

A pawn shop is a great way to make a quick sale and dispose of a musical instrument that’s been lying uselessly around. However, whether you buy or sell used musical instruments in a pawn shop, you need to be careful and do your research well.

Pawning a Musical Instrument: Pawning versus Selling

There is a difference between pawning and selling, even though you can do both at a pawn shop. When you are pawning a instrument, you are giving it to a pawn shop as collateral for a loan. The loan amount is the value your instrument is appraised at by the pawnbroker.

The loan will need to be paid back by a given date that you and the pawnbroker agree on. When you pay back your loan and by the given date, you should expect to receive your instrument back.

Selling a instrument at a pawn shop is very straightforward. The instrument is appraised and you either agree to sell it to them outright for that amount, or you don’t. You have negotiating power, but do keep in mind pawnbrokers tend to keep a good pulse on the current pricing of electronic devices.

Pawn shops are a reselling business so they need to be able to sell your instrument for a profit. It is easier for them to buy it from you than it is for them to issue you a loan. You will get more money if you sell it to them than if you pawn your instrument.


When you want to sell something at a pawn shop, it’s a good idea to have some leverage that can drive the price of your product up. One of the best ways to do that is to determine the value of your musical instrument in the first place. If you follow these steps, you should be able to make a good deal on your instrument:

You can walk into any music store and have them examine your instrument carefully. They will be able to point out flaws and selling points and let you know just how much the instrument could potentially sell for. This will give you a solid idea of what to expect.

A pawn broker isn’t going to pay full price for the instrument. After all, they need to make a profit off it. To determine the price of the instrument, they’ll look for the eBay listed price and the maximum amount they can sell the instrument for. They’ll most likely pay 40% to 70% of the sale amount because they need to make some profit.

It’s important to negotiate as much as you can. You’ll probably have to lower your expectations a little bit, but you should get a fair deal if you remain cautious.

If you don’t want to part with your instrument you can always pawn. This allows you to get instant cash without losing your item.

Is Your Musical Instrument an Antique?

Before you pawn your musical instrument, work out whether it’s an antique. To do this you should:

  • Check for a manufacturer mark or serial number
  • Google this number and mark to find out all you can
  • Contact the company to see what they say (note, this service may cost.)
  • Speak to a professional at your local music store

By working out whether your instrument is an antique, you’ll be able to come up with a more accurate price point and won’t be selling yourself short.

Take Your Instrument for an Appraisal

Rather than coming up with a random figure of how much to sell your musical instrument for, get a professional to help!

By going for an appraisal, you’ll be more likely to sell the instrument for a fair price and know what you can demand.

Visit a music store in your area to speak to someone in the know. Often, a music store will give you a free appraisal or can at least point you in the right direction.

If you find that your appraisal is going to cost money, then consider trying to appraise the instrument yourself.

You can do this with websites such as the Appraiser Association and save yourself some money.

Keep in mind that pawn shops are reselling agents and need to resell your musical instrument for a profit. What they offer is extreme convenience and cash upfront.

Repair Your Musical Instrument

It’s often said that you have to spend money to make money. If your musical instrument has been lying around unused, it may need a little touch-up.

Your appraiser will be able to tell you whether paying for such a service is worth the money or not.

If it is then before you even begin the process of trying to sell the instrument, get a quote for how much it’ll cost to repair any damage.

Of course, if it’s going to cost you a lot of money then there isn’t much point in paying lots to sell it for little.

You need to work out whether a small touch up by a professional will help you sell the instrument for more.

Do Research on Similar Instruments Online

After your instrument is appraised, repaired and ready to be sold, you’ll need to find out what your competition is like online.

Take to the web to work out whether the price point you’ve been given during an appraisal is an accurate representation for how much your instrument is going for online. The two don’t always correlate!

Check out websites such as Craigslist and eBay to work this out. Look for the age of the instruments, damage and quality of craftsmanship to compare it to yours. Knowing market rate is good, but understand that pawn shops are resellers, so they need to give you a lower price.

Then, take both of the prices you’ve come up with from the appraisal and research to work out the best and most fair price point for you.

Find the Best Place to Sell Your Instrument

When selling your instrument on an auction site, you’ll always need to offer a lower starting price point and hope that bidders will raise the price.

However, a better option for selling your second-hand items is Pawn Guru.

With this website, you can receive many offers for free. You can use this website to either pawn and sell a single item or sign up as a shop to sell regularly.


You need to be careful when you purchase something from a pawn shop as well. The broker will try to get as much profit as they can and will always set the price tag for used guitar or other such instruments pretty high.

You should study the instrument carefully and make sure that it’s not a refinished model. Look at the wear and tear on the instrument and check the stings, pegs, and other components carefully.

Play the instrument at the pawnshop to determine its quality. If you have some experience with music, you’ll easily be able to identify a good tone. For example, a used violin should have a deep, rich tone rather than a light one with high treble voice.

If you keep these factors in mind, you can make a good deal at the pawn shop.

What is PawnGuru and How Do I Sell My Musical Instrument?

At PawnGuru, we give you an online platform to list your musical instrument for sale in your local area just for pawn shops to view. You describe the musical instrument, take a photo and add your contact information. This gets sent directly to pawn shops in your local area.

This way, a pawn shop can contact you to make an offer on your instrument. This happens pretty quickly, and sometimes almost immediately!

This accomplishes two things, which save you time, money and research:

  • You get to compare offers from pawn shops in your local area, where it’s convenient to you
  • You get to see which pawn shops are actually interested in your instrument

Here’s how to sell your used musical instrument through PawnGuru:

  1. Clean your musical instrument so it looks as new as possible and include all parts
  2. Take a photo of it in good lighting
  3. Create a new listing on PawnGuru—it’s free, quick and easy!
  4. Upload the photo, contact info and describe your instrument in as much detail as possible.
  5. Watch offers roll in
  6. Accept the highest bid (no obligation!)
  7. Enter the pawn shop with the highest bid (have your musical instrument in hand or in the car!)
  8. Finalize the offer and walk out with cash in hand

Now that you know where to sell used musical instruments, you might be interested in more information related to selling used items at a pawn shop. We put together the related resources below to help you. Enjoy!

If you have any questions comments or concerns, please send them to We’re eager to help!
David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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