We hear the phrases “refurbished”, “refurb”, “factory seconds”, “B-Stock”, “blem” in conjunction with other similar terms when shopping for products, but depending on the industry and also the company selling the items, these terms can often mean a number of things. This is quite trying throughout the online marketplace where you cannot hold the merchandise and try it out before selecting it. Most of the time seeing these words beside merchandise for sale correlates to a more affordable price on the item, but what exactly are you getting when you purchase a refurbished or factory second item?
In order to help quell the confusion and misconceptions (at least in the guitar world), my goal is to explain a few of the more significant points and show you how knowing the differences is definitely the secret to BIG savings when purchasing your next guitar.
1) Refurbished Guitars (refurb): Guitars which had some type of structural flaw, playability issue, damage, etc that needed repair, or possibly even closeout or overstocked items. The guitars are then sold to a certified repair facility where they’ve been repaired (if needed) by a skilled luthier (fancy word for guitar builder or technician) and brought back into perfect structural and cosmetic condition and playability.
2) Factory Second (B Stock) Guitars: Guitars that upon final inspection by quality control at the manufacturer were found to have some minor non-structural flaw (most always cosmetic in nature only and not requiring repair). The guitars are marked as a “second” and sold to dealers and distributors at a discount. Since a refurbished guitar is actually professionally repaired and restored you’re acquiring a guitar that has been put back to a condition that is mostly indistinguishable from an absolutely new guitar and will look and play like new. There are few things on a guitar that can’t be repaired and brought back to perfect working order, and that means you are certainly not getting a lesser guitar by any means when acquiring a refurbished guitar.
Here’s a good example. I have a 1963 Gibson Hummingbird that belonged to my grandfather. The guitar was in pretty rough shape after several decades of use. The bridge was lifting from the top, the frets were worn and it was unplayable. I took the guitar to Gibson Guitar’s Repair and Restoration shop and had it “refurbished”. The outcome: an incredible vintage guitar that plays and sounds better than brand new. Yes, it’s technically a “refurbished guitar”. Does that fact make it somehow less desirable? By no means. It just means the guitar is like new again.
A factory second is a guitar that will not have structural or playability issues when going through quality control at the manufacturer, but could possibly possess some type of minor cosmetic flaw that will keep it from passing the rigorous inspection process put in place by the guitar manufacturer. Does this imply you’ll be buying a beat up, scratched up instrument, which has a bad paint job? Simple answer: Certainly not! Most people are amazed at how minor a flaw can fail a guitar at inspection.
In the guitar business, quality and reputation are everything. The industry is hyper competitive and this creates extreme measures within the quality control area. Even very minor finish flaws can fail a guitar during inspection and make it become a second. Most of the factory seconds I’ve come across exhibited finish flaws so minor they could barely (oftentimes not even at all) be detected, and several could be simply buffed out with polish (dependent upon the flaw). Many out of the box “firsts” originating from a guitar dealer’s showroom may possibly have a lot more dents, dings and bangs than a good factory second straight from the maker that has never been road tested by the public.
If you are like the average person you will probably be surprised at the amazing quality of a good refurbished or factory second guitar. Buying refurbished guitars or factory seconds is a very good way to get a guitar at a huge fraction of the cost of a completely new one, and something that few could tell from a brand new piece off the dealer floor.
Find a good reputable dealer like Braw Bridge Guitars that will always let you know if a repair was completed or if there’s a visible flaw. With a 100% money-back guarantee, caring customer support and free delivery in the continental U.S. you can’t go wrong.