Ok, so yesterday, I wrote out the experience I had recently but when I checked it over today, I felt it was too long winded. I wanted to change things by removing the personal experience that motivated this post. I also wanted to remove the specific companies and sellers involved.
B-Stock instruments can be really attractive for players on a budget. They are basically brand new guitars with a cosmetic blemish that are sold at a solid discount. B-Stocks should NOT involve structural blemishes, cracks or anything that affects the way the instrument plays. No instrument with a structural issue should ever leave the factory apart from maybe a fret issue. B-stocks are either a great deal or a trap, we want to help you avoid the traps and find the hidden gems.
When looking at B-Stock models, sellers have to disclose damage but they often just put up a stock photo then simply note that there’s a paint blemish or something vague like that. They do this because they have likely purchased several of the same guitar in B-Stock form but they are being lazy with the listing/ad for the instrument. Before you buy any B-stock, ask to see the detailed photos of all blemishes and if the seller isn’t willing to send them, there’s a reason and you should look elsewhere. Many gear sites let top sellers operate this way so you can’t always assume they will have your back if something goes wrong. Stock photos should only be allowed when it comes to brand new non-blemished items.
As a general rule, we would suggest never buying any instrument with a crack in it. If there’s a crack in anything but the paint, keep searching no matter how good the price is. Some sellers will also try and pass off a crack in the guitar as a just crack in the paint. If there’s a crack in the paint without a dent nearby, you should be wary and move on. I can’t tell you how many times I have read “there’s a crack, but it doesn’t affect the guitar at all” and that is exactly what it sounds like; complete bulls–t. I tried to use a more professional term there but it really is BS.
ANY crack in the body or neck of an instrument can go from being no big deal to a huge deal in no time, especially if that guitar is going from one climate extreme to another ex: California to Canada. I saw a simple crack at the heel joint turn into the bottom of the body falling right off the guitar onto the floor 5 months after I dropped the guitar creating the crack. This is just another factor to consider.
The world of B-stocks can be a murky one. You can have guitar companies maybe being a little to relaxed on what leaves the factory being bought up by the discount sellers and then being sold with stock photos and vague explanations of the factors that make the instrument a B-stock in the first place.
Something else to consider is how the instrument became a B-stock. Was it dropped on the floor in the factory? Maybe it fell off the finishing table? Perhaps the box fell off a shelf in the warehouse? What other issues could have been created by the incidents that could affect the guitar down the road? What appears to be a little dent on the surface could be a bigger deal depending on how the guitar landed. Whenever I see a B-stock with a dent or blemish on the headstock, I keep on searching because that means the guitar fell on the neck. The impact from that fall could have damaged the neck in tons of ways that can’t be seen at first glance.
There are however many sellers and companies that have a very solid B-Stock game. They fully document and detail every single thing that makes it a B-stock, they offer seamless returns and they show you the exact instrument you will be purchasing rather than a stock photo with a listing that simply notes a blemish.
Protect yourself folks because the places you buy from don’t always have your back, especially when the sellers in question make those services a ton of money. We recommend buying used over buying B-Stock but that also brings us to the next subject.