Jesse’s guide to getting the best deal on your lefty guitar

Author: Jesse

As I snagged by most recent lefty, a red 1990 Ibanez 540S,

Lefty Ibanez Saber

Strike first, strike hard

I couldn’t help but wonder what the best techniques or practices are to grab a guitar that you really want, at a price you can live with, when your heart stop s and you see it on an online auction site.  I think the best ways to find and secure the guitar you must have can be broken down into several simple steps:

1.       Look early, look often

One of the keys to scoring is certainly to be one of the first people to find the auction.  This allows you to beat “buy it now” gunners, bidding wars or backdoor dealers.  This allows you to start the negotiation process at the earliest time and before the seller gets confident or comfortable with their auction listing.  Also, use different search terms because everyone lists their stuff differently.  “Southpaw”, “LH guitar”, “Lefty” and “Left-Handed” are my most frequently used ones.  Sometimes I will just search by brand and come up with a listing that doesn’t even mention that it is a left-handed model.  While that technique is more or less a needle in a hay stack (how many Ibanez guitars are listed at any given time???), those are excellent opportunities to go big and be the hero.

2.       Know what you are looking at

A big part of knowing what something is worth is understanding just how available that item is.  If we are talking about a mint Kramer Nightswan with the lightning graphic be prepared to move, move fast, and not to mess around with lowball offers.  A caveat here, always remember, is that is dependent on whether or not the seller knows what he or she has.  If the guitar is listed “Kramer guitar, was my sons, rarely played, has some sort of 80’s lightning graphic, cleaning out my attic” calmly say to yourself “jackpot” and follow the remaining steps of this guide.  If a guitar is not that rare, such as a Les Paul Custom or an American Strat, you have much more room to play around because you know that another one is likely coming down the pipe. You may REALLY want a Kirk Hammett LTD

Lefty Kirk Hammett Guitar

Cool, but common

,  but you also know that they pop up just about every week.  Don’t go gaga for gear you regularly see, you’ll only end up overpaying and subsequently mocked.  It also doesn’t hurt to see if that particular seller has any other items for sale.  If it looks like they are selling everything they own they might be in a pinch financially and more apt to let things go on the low side.

3.       Contact the seller immediately

Whenever I see a guitar I know I am buying (unless there is a ridiculous bidding war, then stay away) I always send the seller an email asking what the “buy it now” price is.  I do not mention how rare the item is, how much I want it or how awesome it is.  Some auctions have them posted, some do not.  Don’t let that fact stop you, because I’ll bet my ass that every seller has a number in their mind when they list their guitar or gear for sale.  One downside to this is that you are showing immediate tangible interest, which could alert the seller that what they are selling is in high demand.  Conversely, waiting too long could allow bids to pile up or people like me to also email the seller.  That could give the seller the confidence to merely let the auction play out.  Pick your poison, but I always go for the early kill.

4.       The number game

When you contact the seller you will get a hard number from them or they will invite an offer.  If they give you a number, it is usually (if not always) higher than they expect to get for the item.  This is no different than buying a used car.  If they ask you to make an offer, ask around, research, hit the forums and try to find out what the item is worth.  Come back with an offer that is significantly lower than the value, but don’t be insulting or negotiations could break off.  The more you search for gear, the better feel you will have for what is worth what.  Remember though, another advantage of the early buyout is you are also eliminating the risk of someone else getting that gear.   That can be priceless.  Don’t forget, the most dangerous buyer is someone who doesn’t need what is being sold.

5.       Be ready to pay “right now”

Again, just like buying a car it always helps to have the money ready to go.  Walking up to someone’s house and negotiating a $10,000 deal on a car that will happen after you ask your mom, get a loan, go to the bank, get a check and come back next week will never be as tempting and immediate as walking up to the same house with $10,000 cash ready to go.

Cash Money!

Whenever I make my offers I always mention at the end of the email that I am ready to send payment as soon as they confirm acceptance of my (low) offer.  This shows them that you mean business and it usually results in acceptance of your offer or a reasonable counteroffer from the seller.  At this point the seller is coming to terms that he or she is selling you this item.

6.       Don’t dilly dally

I know we all have busy lives, but in the midst of negotiations you have to be available.  If you don’t check your messages for  5 hours, 12 hours, a day or two there is a terrific chance that someone else will be working that same seller even better than you are.  Fast and frequent communication is key to getting the deal you want and shutting out the other auction vultures.  Stay up a little later if you have to, you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

7.       Done Deal

Once a seller agrees to your price PAY THEM IMMEDIATELY.  With this last Ibanez someone drove up the bidding from $200 below the agreed upon price to just $25 below what I had agreed to.  This all went down over the course of 30-45 minutes.  There were 8 days left in the auction and the price was already freaking out.  Some sellers would easily pull out of the deal at that point, realizing that it is surely going to go higher.  I frantically logged on, sent payment, and send an email confirming the same along with my shipping address and a very nice thank you.

8.       Commence Bragging

Yea, that was me

Immediately head over to http://LeftyGuitarTrader.com , post pictures and a tell a compelling tale about how you outsmarted the world!

If anyone has any other tips feel free to comment and add to the discussion.   This is hardly an all-encompassing guide and as awesome as I am, I am hardly an expert at this!  What do you do?

One Response to “Jesse’s guide to getting the best deal on your lefty guitar”

  1. danny says:

    I’m left handed, but play righty instruments, although I do use lefty amps ! 🙂

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