I've spent a lot of time these past few years watching how different people use Reverb to buy and sell music gear. I've seen parents buy starter packs for their kids, and I've seen vintage dealers sell rare specimens at prices passing the six digit mark. When it comes to sheer volume of sales, however, what I've seen the most of are flippers: musicians who are serious about their hobby and have learned to fuel their passion through some basic business acumen. I've seen people buy a pedal or two, then three or four, and more and more until they have a shelf in their basement with neatly inventoried rows of stompboxes waiting to ship to new owners.
If you're interested in selling gear at a serious pace, you should look to pedals as your natural starting point. There are several reasons for this. Most obviously, pedals are cheaper than guitars and amps, which means there's a lower entry barrier and you assume less risk when making a purchase. Pedals are also easier to ship and require less maintenance than other types of guitar gear, which removes some of the liability and need for expertise when evaluating and selling your wares. Perhaps most important of all though is that as you flip pedals, you get to experiment with tons of different noise-making tools and technologies. Keep the ones you want and sell them when you get bored. The pedal-playing world is such a topsy-turvy roulette wheel of experimentation that yesterday's news to you is something entirely fresh to another player.
Needless to say, pedal flipping is not new to Reverb, and has been around as long as guitar effects themselves. There are, however, a few key tools and strategies specific to Reverb you can use to follow the market and maximize your gains within it. Here's a look at some basic guidelines and approaches you can take when flipping pedals for profit on Reverb.
Finding Deals You Can Flip at a Profit
Use the Reverb Price Guide
The Reverb Price Guide is a compendious tome of information and data about musical instruments and other gear. We feed streams of transaction figures into our system and create estimate price ranges for individual models to help sellers price their gear and help buyers make informed purchases. On listings, you'll notice the right side Price Guide indicator that shows the current estimate range, and links to additional transactional data. Use this tool to your advantage, and when you see a listing that falls outside the range, snag it up before another flipper gets to it.
Learn the Pedal Landscape and Follow Trends
When starting out, you should take the time to learn what's selling well. Try to get a sense of where the most action lies and start following transactions to see how quickly certain pedals are selling and at what prices. In addition to the Reverb Price Guide, you can also look at listings on Craigslist and Ebay completed sales to supplement your read on a particular pedal. Once you know the market, you'll be able to spot a deal immediately. When a pedal pops up for lower than the going rate, you can pounce and resell for a quick turn.
Generally speaking, you'll find that bread-and-butter classics, if priced fairly, sell quickly and reliably. This class includes any number of Big Muffs and Tubescreamers, along with most of the recognizable Boss pedals and standards like the Line 6 DL4. Currently, we see strong resale value in loop stations, and the constant stream of sales for the TC Electronic Ditto Looper is probably the clearest example of that.
I was recently emailing with SR King, one of the most prolific flippers in Reverb history, and when asked what sells the quickest, he cited: "The Classics: OCD, TS9, Big Muff, Carbon Copy, Holy Grail, and Boss Delays."
When asked the same question, another ultra-successful seller, Kenny Patrick of Pedal-R-Us, pointed to: "Overdrives or Delays. Items like the TS-9 or the Timmy; priced right, they can always flip fast. Analog-made or handmade from a reputable name, also sell very well."
The Pedal Hotness Factor
Beyond the pedal blue chips, it also makes sense to keep an ear to the NAMM news cycle and stream of hot new releases that come out each year. If a limited edition boutique delay pedal comes out, there will be an inevitable next wave of popularity when used examples become available. How long this takes to occur varies considerably and in many cases, truly awesome and original designs tend to stay put on their owners' boards and take longer to fall into a steady resale groove. Take Strymon pedals as an example: there are way fewer used Strymons floating around, and when one gets posted, it almost always sells at near retail prices and in a matter of a couple of days.
Other Reverb Deal-Spotting Tricks
On Reverb, you'll find what we call Comparative Shopping Pages for many of the most popular pedals out there. These pages can be found via search and will also be called out with a banner at the bottom of many pedal listings. These pages are a quick way to get a read on the current lay of what's for sale on Reverb and see the current market for a given pedal. Often the used pedal on this list with the lowest price tag will be a reliable, flippable deal.
Pro-pedal jockey SR King pointed to a listing's watch count as a barometer for general interest: "you'll usually notice a high number of watchers on really good deals."
Making Offers and Negotiating Pedal Prices
No one likes to get a low-ball offer on something they're selling especially after they've researched their price, but that doesn't mean you can't aim to get a better deal. On Reverb, it's extremely easy to make an offer on a listing and carry out a negotiation. If you've researched the market, you should be confident making an offer that falls in the lower end of what the pedal has sold for recently. Generally speaking, I recommend never making an offer at less than 60% of the asking price, and even that might be pushing it. Simply aim for a price where you feel confident you could eventually resell it with a slightly higher price tag.
Buying low and selling high might be totally self-evident, but perhaps even more basic than that is the power of making offers. Spread your chips around the table and see where you hit. Again, you don't want to be insulting with waves of lowballs, but you never know when a seller might just be desperate for funds to pick up something new. This urgency felt by other gearheads might be the difference between a 5% and 25% margin on your next sale.
The Reverb Price Drops Page
Another strategy when finding motivated sellers is to peruse the Price Drops section. When a seller drops the price on their listing, it automatically gets added to this page which displays the freshest price drops at the top of the list. Not only is this a great place to spot deals, but in many cases, if a seller slashed their price a little, they may be willing to go even lower. With pro and semi-pro sellers, the longer something's been sitting, the higher the chances they'll be willing to take a cut to their cost. Once you've been selling for awhile, you'll come to recognize that you're not always going to break even on every item and sometimes it's better to get what you can and move on to the next deal.
Using the Reverb Feed to Your Advantage
The Reverb Feed is a simple way to keep tabs on new listings that match search criteria that you set up. To add something to your feed, just do a search on the site, add whatever search filters you want such as brand or year range, and click the button in the top right corner to add incoming matches to your Feed. When doing so, you'll also have the option to set up an email alert when new items get posted that match your parameters.
To use the feed to your flipping advantage, you should rely on price filters and your knowledge of the market. If you know, for example, that a used Fulltone OCD priced below $70 is a steal, you can set up an alert to get emailed anytime someone posts an OCD for under $70. Keep an eye out for updates, and you'll be the first in line to land that deal.
Building a Shop on Reverb
Once you've used the tips above to gather some choice deals on pedals, the next step is, of course, selling them to someone else. The most important step is to stop thinking of your buying and selling as just an extension of your own personal budget, and start thinking of it as a business. With this perspective in mind, you can work to build a presence in the community and a reputation as a reliable and professional seller. From the point of creating a listing to when you ship the pedal out, think of your operation as a business.
Making Stellar Listings on Reverb
I frequently get asked what the best way to sell gear quickly is, and I cannot overstate the importance of making a detailed listing with great photography and a compelling description. Not only do high-quality listings stand out in a sea of other gear, they also communicate to all potential buyers that you're a seller who cares about gear and will stand by their sales.
To make a listing on Reverb, simply click on this link or on the button at the top of the site that says "Sell." You can also use our iPhone and Android apps to quickly take photos of your gear and transform them into live Reverb listings.
Product photography is an art form where pros invest thousands of dollars in equipment to get truly amazing results. That said, if all you have is a smartphone, you can still take perfectly quality shots that show each and every detail of a pedal. Use a natural background such as a sheet or wood floor, and rely on natural light sources through a window if you're not familiar with the basics of photo lighting techniques. For Reverb listings, we do not allow excessive watermarking, but keeping your photography clean and consistent is an excellent way to build your reputation and create a brand around your listings.
Description and Listing Details
Just like photos for your listings, your descriptions and titles should be as straightforward and clear as possible. It's important to describe how the pedal sounds and how it stands out from other options. As our pal SR King put it: "Just because you and your friends know all about a certain pedal doesn't mean the person checking out your ad does."
Beyond just describing the effect, be sure to disclose all known issues or imperfections with the pedal as this will go a long way to avoid potential disputes and returns. Even the smallest ding deserves disclosure.
When coming up with titles and entering info into the required Make, Model, Finish and Year fields, try to keep it as simple as possible. A listing like "Boss DD-7 Digital Delay" is much more effective than something like "USED BOSS DD-7 Delay Great DEAL!!!" Not only does this language come off as spammy and obtrusive, it will also almost certainly block your listing from getting any special promotion or advertising from the Reverb staff.
One element to the Reverb listing process many sellers seem to skip is the drop down selection of categories on the listing page. Our system allows the selection of two pedal categories including things like "boutique" and "delay." Selecting these categories on your listing is the only way to get your pedals to show up on the relevant pages and searches for these terms in the marketplace.
Become a Reverb Preferred Seller
Once you've notched some good sales on Reverb, you are eligible to become a Reverb Preferred Seller. This program gives you a few advantages including a discounted rate on Reverb Bumps and Direct Checkout Processing, the ability for buyers to finance purchases of your gear via Affirm, as well as a nifty Preferred Seller badge that instills confidence in anyone considering buying one of your items. This program is a great way to build your reputation and communicate to potential buyers that they're in good hands when making an offer on one of your listings.
Reverb Direct Checkout and Reverb Bucks
Anyone selling on Reverb including first time sellers can use our direct checkout payment system. If you elect to have your funds paid out in the form of Reverb Bucks, the balance will be available on your account immediately. Also, the next time you make a purchase using direct checkout you'll receive a 1% discount on the Reverb Bucks used. If you're a regular buyer racking up pedal after pedal, this discount will start to add up and increase your margins over time.
Pedal Shipping Best Practices
Shipping a pedal is very easy, especially when compared to shipping a guitar or amp. The principals are all basically the same: protect moving parts and fill in negative space. For pedals, just find a box that's at least a couple inches bigger than the pedal on all sides, throw in some packing material like peanuts or bunched up newspaper, toss the pedal in and fill around the sides.
In terms of paying for shipping, you can actually do that directly on Reverb as part of the sales process. We offer labels from UPS and USPS at slightly discounted rates. Buy one, print it out, tape it to the sealed box, and take to any drop off point. When buying a label through Reverb, you will have the option to buy insurance through one of our partners which we always recommend.
Beyond that, just try to have some fun with it. Print out some business cards or stickers and throw them in the box like you would to promote your band. Have some music online somewhere? Include a link! This may not be critically important for the sale, but a little flair will help you stand out to others in the Reverb community and lead to future positive exchanges.Reverb Boxes
Customer Service: Be Nice to People
I would expect this goes without saying, but when interacting with other people over a platform with very open communication, remaining as gracious and generous as possible goes a long way. This is how I recommend approaching customer service when you're starting out: Give people the benefit of the doubt in most cases, stand by your products, and if there's a situation you truly feel isn't fair, alert the Reverb Customer Engagement team. We are experienced gear mediators, and will find a solution for everyone involved.
As your business expands, you'll be able to develop a return policy that fits your exact expectations, but don't underestimate the power of a flexible policy in earning more sales. At the very least, I endorse offering returns for a brief period and offer to pay for return shipping if there's anything wrong with the item. We've all heard horror stories about buyers taking advantage of people through Paypal, and many of us have experienced this in some form. In a vast majority of cases, however, people just want what they expected to get when making the purchase. Pedals are light and cheap enough to ship that offering to cover return shipping when there's any grey area is certainly a worthy investment in keeping your customers happy and your business thriving.