Whether you’re looking for guitars online or in your local music store, there is a high chance that at some point you’re going to stumble upon B-stock guitars. I recently bought a Jazzmaster with that label, so I feel like I’m in a good spot to share some of my thoughts with you.
Getting a B-stock model may be a really good idea – they’re always cheaper. But there’s a reason for that. Usually they come from returns or they have some minor imperfections that disqualify them for selling them as ‘brand new’.
I know that a lot of guitarists argue whether you should get these axes or not and it’s totally understandable. Most of us want flawless and new gear. But you know what? I have a strong feeling that guitars with this label are quite underrated.
What are B-stock guitars?
Each music store has a different way of classyfing a guitar as a b-stock. You can call them outlet guitars, clearance guitars or factory seconds. But most of the time these are just axes that were returned to the shop.
We live in a world where anyone can buy a new guitar and then return it within a month or so. Obviously, music shops can’t label these guitars as ‘new’. So they give a discount and try to sell it again.
Here’s an example. I bought a Fender Vintera 60s Jazzmaster a couple of weeks ago and it was around 15-20% cheaper than usual. Why? Well, it has a tiny scratch on the headstock. Have a look at the photo below and think about it – does it really affect playing?
Getting a guitar like that comes with a lot of advantages. Since they’re always more affordable, it’s a great way of saving up some cash.
At the same time, even if you decide that it’s not for you, you can still return it. This is based on my experience with Thomann, the largest music store in Europe. It probably depends on where you get your guitar from, but I’m positive that there’s a 30-day money back guarantee in there.
This is a very important thing, because if the shop allows returns, you’re not risking anything.
Let’s imagine this scenario: you noticed that there’s a Strat with a 20% discount on Thomann and it’s labeled as B-stock. Quick decision and you decided to get it. Once it arrived, it turned out that the factory setup is terrible and it’s generally not a good guitar with a broken pickup switch. So what do you do? You return it and you get your money back.
But what if that guitar would actually be fine and you would get a perfect (10/10) guitar with no imperfections? Maybe someone returned it because they got fired and they needed the money back. You’ll never know why somebody returned it.
The cons of these guitars are pretty obvious. It’s basically a lottery. You just don’t know exactly why was it labeled as b-stock. So the disadvantages include:
- uncertain history of instrument
- limited availability – sometimes it may be hard to find a specific model, so if you want a particular guitar, you’ll have to be lucky
- imperfections and flaws that may require fixing
- inadequate return policies – it depends on the retailer, but some of them have more strict policies in regards to B-stock models. So while Thomann gives you an ability to return it, other shops may not.
But again, every guitar and music store is different. That’s why it’s difficult to clearly determine if these guitars are worth it, because everyone has a different way of looking at it.
Tips For Buying B-Stock Guitars
Throughout my ‘career’ as a blogger, youtuber and guitarist, I bought a lot of gear online – that includes b-stock guitars too. Most of them were completely fine and I returned only one of them. I remember that it was a Squier Stratocaster and it had a problem with electronics.
If I were you, I’d go to Thomann to see what B-stock guitars are they currently offering. Just go on their site (you can use my Thomann affiliate link if you want) and type ‘b-stock’ in the search bar. You’ll notice A LOT of products at discounted prices.
Choose something that you’re interested in and simply buy it. If you won’t like it, you can always return it.
If you want to shop at different music stores, make sure to check the return policies. If you won’t be able to return it, that’s a pretty big risk.
Inspecting B-Stock Guitars
If you decide to get a guitar with that label, just make sure to do a regular inspection once it arrives. Or you can also do it in a shop if you’re getting it in-person.
Here’s what you can do:
- visual inspection – Can you see any blemishes? Is it damaged? Is there something that feels or looks a bit odd?
- hardware and functionality – Are tuners working fine? Can you feel any sharp edges of frets? What about the electronics? Can you hear any strange noises when the guitar is plugged into an amp? Are the pickups and pickup controls fine?
- playability – Is it comfortable? Is the string action too high? Can you hear any buzzing or problems with intonation? Do you enjoy using it?
Just ask yourself some of these questions and you’ll quickly notice if this guitar is worth returning or not. If it has minor issues and you still like it, keep it. But if it’s crap, don’t worry about it and just return it to the seller.
Summing up, getting a b-stock guitar is a pretty good idea but at the same time it can be quite risky.
Personally, I’m a big fan of that stuff. If your seller offers the returns too (just like Thomann), I don’t see why you shouldn’t get a guitar with that label. In the end, it may be a completely fine guitar available at a much lower price.
Yeah, I know that it’s a bit risky. But who cares? As long as you can return it, that’s not a problem.
What’s your experience with guitars with that label? Do you think that they’re worth it? Leave a comment under this post and share some of your thoughts with me and my readers! I’m sure that everyone wants to hear what you think. You can also read more of my gear reviews.