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What does B-Stock, Pre-Loved, Refurbished and Ex-Display mean?

What does B-Stock, Pre-Loved, Refurbished and Ex-Display mean?

What does B-Stock, Pre-Loved, Refurbished and
Ex-Display mean?

When searching for gear to buy online or in-store you may often find a stone cold bargain, to then find that your ‘almost too good to be true’ dream piece of kit is listed as B-Stock, Pre-loved, Refurbished or Ex-Display. 

But what do all those terms mean? What are the pros and cons of buying Pre-Loved, Refurbished or Ex-Display items, and even more importantly, is B-Stock legit? 

In this guide we will clarify the terminology to help you make the right choice.

Vintage Violin

What does Second Hand, Pre-Loved and Vintage mean?

Items listed as Second Hand, Used, Pre-owned, Pre-Loved and Vintage pretty much mean the same thing. Someone else has previously owned the product, and decided that they no longer need it or want it.

Often the original owner will approach a music shop and see if they can sell it to them or use it as a part exchange. This is a great way to get a rare model that is no longer made, or a current model at a reduced price.

Whilst there is no fixed rule on the different terms for second hand items, many retailers tend to follow that:

  • Second Hand / Pre-loved: An item that was previously owned, and generally manufactured in the past 20 years from the current date.
  • Vintage: An item that was previously owned, and manufactured 20 - 99 years ago. Sometimes the term ‘True Vintage’ is used to describe items made over 50 years before the current date.
  • Antique: An item that was previously owned and manufactured over 100 years ago from the current date.

The PROS of buying Second Hand, Pre-Loved and Vintage Music Equipment:

  • This is a great way to get a rare model that is no longer made. Buying vintage equipment can help you achieve a unique or specific sound that is hard to recreate in modern music. 
  • Many vintage instruments have designs or finishes that make them stand out from the crowd. Some models from specific eras in history often have a cult like following, and command respect and admiration from other musicians.
  • Buying Pre-Loved and Vintage instruments is generally good for the environment. By giving an item a new life it reduces waste, and many items will increase in value over the years if they are well maintained and cared for.
  • Buying a Pre-Loved current model can help you purchase a piece of contemporary kit at a much reduced price, and broaden your available options when looking for a new instrument.

The CONS of buying Second Hand, Pre-Loved and Vintage Music Equipment:

  • When you come to buy a second hand item, always check with the retailer as to what the warranty is, as this may vary from shop to shop, and with the age of the instrument. 
  • As your instrument had a previous life, some items may show slight wear, or have a dink or scratch.With Vintage and Antique items however, this can often add character and personality to the instrument. When buying in store, ask the sales team to point out any damage, and check online listings carefully before you buy.
  • Be aware that if item was bundled with free bonus software the product code/s may have already been redeemed. Some manufacturers and brands may allow you to re-register the software in your name, or transfer the license if you contact them.
  • Occasionally items may not still have the original packaging or manual, but for modern items many manuals can be found online to download. In the case of vintage or older instruments, manuals are occasionally shared by other musicians on internet forums and advice can be sought on set-up and operation if required. 
Guitar with amp


What does B-Stock mean?

B-stock is genuine and authentic brand stock, usually created when a manufacturer has an instrument that has been on display at a trade show or previously loaned to an artist. Generally the item will be in perfect condition, but will have been unboxed before being put back in its original packaging. 

The retailer will now offer this item at a discount, but most will still have at least a one year warranty. If the item has no packaging or printed manual, a further discount may be available. 

Sometimes if a new item such as a guitar has a flaw in the finish this may also be classed as B-Stock and sold at a discount, with the retailer passing on the discount to the end user. This means that if you don't mind your guitar with a few imperfections in the finish, you can bag a seriously fair deal (Ahem!).

The PROS of buying B-Stock

  • A fantastic way to buy a ‘new’ item at a reduced cost.
  • The item will still have a manufacturer's warranty.
  • The chance to buy a ‘one off’ new item that might be finished slightly differently to other models of the same product.
  • The item may have had light demo use at a trade show, but generally will be in perfect condition. 

The CONS of buying B-Stock

  • Seals may have been broken on packaging, and may not contain the original manual. However, most manuals for contemporary items can be found online to download from the manufacturer. Packaging may be missing, but if bought online, the item will be well packaged in the retailers own packaging.

Close up of a man playing guitar


What does Refurbished mean?

Refurbished items are usually electronic goods that have gone back to the manufacturer with a fault. 

The manufacturer will fix the fault and sell it on to the retailer at a lower price which again will be passed on to the buyer. Refurbished items will usually have at least one year warranty, and can also be a great way to buy a current model at a reduced price.

Man sat at a vintage piano


What does Ex-Display mean?

Ex-Display is simply that. Something that has been on show and usually available to try in the retailer’s shop.  

Retail stores often need to rotate stock to keep showroom displays fresh and to make space for new product ranges. This creates a new selection of Ex-Display items available for sale at a discounted price. 

Some items may have gained a few minor scratches whilst they were on display, but will be fully working with a complete manufacturer's warranty. When buying in store, ask the sales team to point out any damage, and check online listings carefully before you buy.

Girl holding a Fender guitar

We hope that this guide has helped you understand the different terms used for items that are often sold at a discount, as this can be a great way to find a cheap instrument or a rare model.

Visit our Birmingham flagship store to try out our Pre-Loved, Vintage, B-Stock, Ex-Display and Refurbished instruments, or search our store and find some hidden gems:

Article by Woz & Rae