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Where to buy a classical guitar – with or without setup

Lutherie - FontevraudLast week I wrote about how to buy a classical guitar for under $1000. I neglected to include which online merchants provide setups when you purchase from them. When I was researching buying ukuleles last year I recommended specialty stores as perhaps the best compromise for buying a reasonably priced instrument that played well when you received it. Specialty stores are passionate about their market and want their customers to have the best experience. They therefore go out of their way to make sure your new instrument is setup properly. The same is true with classical guitars. Here’s some help of where to buy. It’s not all inclusive and I haven’t dealt with all of them. These are just ones who I’ve found online and who describe their policies and practices.

Online merchants specializing in classical guitars.

The Classical Guitar Store

  • Selection includes student classical guitars in the under $1000 price range from Fracisco Esteve, Francisco Navarro, Kenny Hill and Orpheus Valley (Kremona). 1
  • Description of their Setup practices.
  • Return policy (3 days)

Savage Classical Guitar

  • Selection includes a large selection of luthiers and price ranges. Among the under $1000 price range makers include Esteve and Kenny Hill.
  • Setup practices
  • Return policy (3 days)

Fernandez Music

  • No online ordering. You must phone to order.
  • Setup practices
  • Return policy not given.

Non-specialty stores

MIRECOURT une industrie du Pays - La lutherie 1920These are large stores with a wide selection of a variety of acoustic and electric guitars and other instruments and include setups with some instruments.


  • Selection includes 2 classical guitars by Cordoba; acoustic guitars from Gibson, Martin, Taylor; Electric guitars from Epiphone, Gibson, Gretsch, Guild, Ibanez.
  • Return policy (30 days)
  • Extended 2 yr warranty
  • 55-Point Evaluation (check for problems, minor setup to factory specs)
  • Guitar Gallery (pictures of the actual guitar you will buy – not generic photos)

Elderly Instruments

  • Selection includes classical guitars by Cordoba; Acoustic guitars by Martin, Blueridge, Breedlove, Collings, Taylor, Rainsong. 3
  • Inspection and Setup on most instruments
  • Return Policy (notify within 48 hours)

Online merchants with no setup

These are online stores that provide a 30 day return period or longer. No setup or inspection before shipping but you have ample time to return the instrument for any reason if you aren’t satisfied.

AmazonReturn policy (30 days).

Musician’s Friend Guitars. Return policy (45 days). Return Policy (30 days).

Music123.comReturn policy (45 days).

Sam Ash Return policy (45 days).

A note about returns.

UPS Truck LineFirst, please remember that policies as well as the links I’ve provided can be changed without notice. The links and information I’ve provided, to the best of my knowledge, were current as of September 2013. Please check the links, email, write or call the merchant in question to verify their policies.

One thing to be aware of is that if you return a guitar (after getting authorization from the company so they know it’s coming) you’ll more than likely have to pay for the return shipping. You could also have to pay for shipping if you then take a replacement (exchange) guitar. If your original purchase included free shipping, you may have to pay for that too. It was free only if you kept the item. The one exception, mentioned in my previous article, is that the Guitar Center website allows you to return purchases to a local Guitar Center and thus avoid return shipping charges.

Shipping isn’t the only fee you may be responsible for if you return a guitar. There may be a restocking fee. You’ll have to check the stores policy for when this does or does not apply. Also, some smaller merchants may charge a fee for credit card fees they are charged to refund your money. Although some of these fees may seem unfair – I’d advise some understanding. Small merchants are working hard to give good service and compete against the larger “big-box” stores. It isn’t easy. I wouldn’t be happy about extra fees to return a guitar but I would be sympathetic.

You must return the guitar in the condition it was received – new with no signs of wear and no damages. You must include all original tags and packing material and pack the instrument with the care used when it was sent to you. If you think you might need to return the instrument, save everything and take extra care not to scratch or ding it until you’ve made your decision.


  1. Other “student” quality guitars are also carried as well as more expensive concert guitars.
  2. guitar selection listed is a partical list – other brands are also carried
  3. other instruments and brands are also carried – this is a partial list

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