Buying a Used Guitar: Part1

Some of the best guitars I have had were bought used. You could find a secondhand guitar that is in perfect condition and for a much smaller investment of money get a normally quite expensive guitar. When you are on a budget used guitars may be the way to go but there are a few things to look for in a guitar when you are buying used and you have to watch out for those sellers that may not totally be honest with you about the playing condition of the guitar.

Some great guitars, while expensive when new, are often relatively cheap when you buy them secondhand. Sometimes you can even find a custom or limited edition guitar that someone is selling quickly for the cash and you can sometimes get a real bargain if you know exactly what it is that you are looking for. If you do your research when looking for a used guitar it can really pay off. Some sellers may try to push the price up to cash in. They will especially do this if they know they are selling to a beginner who doesn’t know much about guitars.

What to look for:

Before getting a used guitar you should find out the following:

  • The make and the model of the guitar – By finding this information you can then do research on the guitar model via the internet or other sources and find out what the asking price is for it elsewhere. You can also find reviews of the guitar and whether or not people who own it are having problems with it. In addition to the internet you can always just drop by your local music store and ask them about the guitar. Of course you may want to remember that they may be trying to sell you something too.
  • Condition of the guitar – If the seller is honest they may tell you about any damage that may not be seen upon initial inspection of the guitar. If they don’t tell you about it and you find it you might consider buying elsewhere.
  • How long have they owned the guitar – If they have had the guitar for a long time then they may know some things about the history of its use, repairs, and maintenance. If they don’t give this information upfront then they may be trying to scam you.

When inspecting the guitar you should check the overall condition.You should look over the guitar and make note of any obvious damage.Guitars often have a bit of wear and tear and if its just minor scrapes then it will probably be fine. Also check the parts of the guitar for any rust. Don’t bother buying a guitar that has any signs of rust because it is bound to fall apart eventually. Also, make sure you check the neck of the guitar to make sure it is not warped or out of shape.Check where the neck joins to the body of the guitar and make sure there are no cracks where it may have been previously broken. Also, check where the neck joins the head of the guitar.

Check the action! Action simply describes how close the strings are to the fret board starting at the head of the guitar all the way down to the bridge. You will see to the left a picture of a guitar with poor action. This is because the strings are too far from the fret board. This makes the strings harder to press down and play and also has a negative effect on the sound quality from the guitar. You ideally want the strings to be as close to the fretboard as possible without actually touching the frets. If the string is even barely touching the frets you may get some buzzing when playing it so you want the strings just barely hovering over the fret board as close as possible but not where an open string will hit the frets when played. Action can be adjusted by a guitar technician and typically will cost between $20 and $50.

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