Buying musical instruments such as guitars, keyboards, microphones etc has been an expensive task if you're living outside of the USA. Often local music stores inflate their prices and they end up costing you up to THREE TIMES what you'd pay for a local USA shop. An extreme example of this can be found in New Zealand where that John Mayer Stratocaster costs $ 999 USD in the United States, but by the time it's shipped to New Zealand with staff costs, rent costs, inflation, markup and taxes – you'll be paying three times more! For this very reason many musicians worldwide choose to purchase from USA stores who ship internationally.
Though they must advertise their products as non-international, a simple phone call to any of these companies can have your item shipped internationally. Most retailers offer DHL, USPS and FEDEX.
For piece of mind you can ship DHL / FEDEX but will be paying twice as much as USPS rates. USPS have more common occurrences of goods being damaged in transit, or being lost altogether while FEDEX / DHL are very diligent most of the time. Google the above business names and I'm sure you'll find a shipper who can deliver musical instruments to your international location for a fraction of the price you may buy at locally. Although do bear in mind currency conversions and 110VOLT / 240VOLT adapter differences as you wouldn't want to plugin your new item only to have it explode because you didn't take the time to check this minor detail.
Other things to consider when buying online are:
* Power supplies – do they match your local voltage?
* Warranty – what support will you receive in your country?
* Currency conversions – check your bank rates before buying online!
* PayPal protection – Always shop using PayPal so you can be covered in the event of problems.
* Import taxes / duties – currently Hong Kong is the only country which will not charge you additional taxes when importing gear from overseas. Some countries such as Australia have a threshold so any value under $ 1000 will not incur import tax / duty.
As to the question of why American listed prices are generally much lower than their retail counterparts in the UK, Australia, NZ, etc. This question has many answers:
For the last 30-40 years the American Musical Instrument industry and their retailers have been battling it out, trying to beat each other on price – as the years have gone by, these price pressures have forced prices down very low while this competitive market is still in its infancy in other countries. A common explanation given by retailers in other countries as to why their prices are so much higher comes down to their insistence on consumer warranties – they may argue that their Fender John Mayer guitar costs $ 500 more because they offer local warranty and repair if required. This is absolutely true and in many cases you'll be better of buying a guitar, microphone or piece of DJ gear for that little bit more knowing you'll be covered should you face any problems. The complication arises for high ticket items, such as John Mayer Signature Fender Guitar – where the savings can get into the thousands and the selling point of local warranty becomes less attractive. Some of the largest Music Stores in America such as Guitar Center and Musician's Friend retail most of their items online which reduces operating costs while many bricks and mortar stores throughout the world must pay a large percentage of their revenue towards rent, tax, staff etc.
In conclusion, I would say for items valued under $ 1500 you'd be better off buying locally, assuming the price is right. If your next guitar is going to cost more than this, it may well pay to phone an American retailer and haggle with price and pay close attention to the unit's voltage (110VOLT or 240VOLT) and request they declare the value low so you won't get stung by customs on tax and / or GST. Australia, for example, will not charge you any import tax / duty for items DECLARED at under $ 1000 Australian dollars. For this reason it maybe beneficial to ask the USA shipper to declare your shipment at a low value. However, if the unit sustains damage in transit – you'll only be covered under this declared value.