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If you’re in the market for an inexpensive guitar, you’ve probably noticed there are many, many used guitars for sale. How do you find a great guitar and avoid the lemons? Follow this guide from guitar teacher James W. and you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect new-used guitar…
Looking for the perfect guitar to add to your collection? Or perhaps you’re just getting started as a musician and need a reliable instrument to practice with. You may be wnodering, “should I buy a used guitar?”
Whatever your reason, buying a used guitar can be an excellent way to get what you need without breaking the bank.
However, there are some things you should know before taking the plunge. Read on for our top five tips for buying a used guitar!
Is it Okay to Buy an Old Guitar?
Buying an old guitar can be a great long-term investment, as long as you take the time to make sure the guitar is of good quality and won’t break down on you after you buy it:
- With proper care and maintenance, an old guitar can have a long life and offer its owner years of joy.
- It’s important to inspect the guitar before purchasing, however; if there are signs of excessive wear then it may not be worth the purchase.
- If you go for an old one, it’s important to factor in any potential repairs depending on their condition – from new strings to replacing a pot or pickup – which can help keep your older guitar in top shape for years to come.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to look for when buying a used guitar, but it never hurts to ask your guitar teacher for advice. Not signed up for guitar lessons yet? Check out the benefits of doing so below:
How to Buy a Used Guitar: Helpful Tips
Buying a used guitar can be a fun and rewarding experience if you know what to look for and what to avoid. Let’s delve into the details in a step-by-step way that makes sense. First off, what kind of guitar do you wish to own? Since buying is the pain and owning is the pleasure, it is good to know what to look for.
1. Let Me Give You A Hand
Are your hands big or small? I recommend that you choose a guitar based on your ability to wrap your hand all the way around the neck. This is not just personal taste, it’s a physical thing. There’s no point in making things harder by picking a neck that is too big to play comfortably, with strings too high off the fretboard to play a chord or two.
Search for the kind of guitar you love to play and check it to see if the setup was done recently. If you are not sure, ask the owner. Chances are they bought this guitar used or new and had to have the strings lowered and the intonation set for it to play in tune. Are the tuners looking new? Were they an upgrade? Good tuners will keep the strings in tune longer, and a good setup means the guitar will be easier for you to play.
Mahogany, maple, rosewood, spruce, alder, ash, and basswood. Ah the wonderful phrase: “That guitar has good tonewoods.” Most good acoustics have a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Some use maple for the top or other laminated woods for the back and sides of the guitar. I do not recommend buying a guitar with laminated back and sides. Laminate guitars can be too easily damaged and dinged or dented. Stick with quality solid woods. Something else to consider: Tonewoods have warm aural qualities and improve in sound with age.
Look for guitars for sale with stock pickups by Fender,Fishman, Gibson, Godin, Dimarzio, EMG, or Seymour Duncan, as these are all quality makers. Today there are as many types of guitar pickups as there are musical genres. If you listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn play blues you may say single coil is the way to go. Both single coil and humbuckers are passive and rely on magnets to work. Listen to them and compare the tone of each one through a good amp like a Marshall all tube( valve) amp or a Fender Champ Amp. Then decide what you prefer. Remember to keep it simple and put good strings on that guitar once you get it home. Ernie Ball Slinkys (0.10’s) for electric guitars and Elxirs for acoustic guitars are good choices. I also like EVH Premium electric guitar strings.
4. To Coil Tap or Not to Coil Tap
Coil tapping is simply rewiring the guitar tone and volume knobs (a.k.a. pots) to “push and pull” so you can get more variety of sounds out of one guitar. In the case of my Telecaster, coil tapping has given me the sound of up to 7 guitars in one. If you see an electric guitar with this built into it and everything else looks good including the price then you may have found your prize. Snap it up!
5. Invest in a Hard Shell Case
A hard shell case can keep your pride and joy safe from just about every calamity known to man. It may be a used guitar but you still invested your hard earned dollars in it, so it’s wise to protect it. A hard shell case will cost more than a gig bag, but it will pay for itself in peace of mind. Trust me on this. I cannot express the trauma you feel when a baggage handler at the airport throws your guitar on the conveyer belt!
More Tips on What to Look For When Buying a Used Guitar
Buying a used guitar can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But, it can also be intimidating if you don’t know what to look for.
Check All Accessories
You should also make sure that any accessories included with the guitar are in good working order. This includes everything from strings and straps to picks and tuners. If you’re buying online, ask the seller if they have any pictures of the accessories so you can get an idea of their condition before making your purchase.
Even if you’re buying from a store, it’s always a good idea to double-check all accessories included with the instrument just in case something has been overlooked or replaced since it was listed for sale.
Re Inspect the Condition
The most important thing to consider when buying a used guitar is its condition. Look the instrument over carefully and make sure that everything appears to be in working order.
Check all of the keys, knobs, and switches; these should move smoothly and not stick. If they do stick, there could be something wrong with them or they could have been tampered with by amateur repair work.
Also check that all of the electronics are in good shape and that there are no loose wires or broken components. Any wiring issues should be taken care of by an experienced technician before using the instrument again.
Buying a Used Acoustic Guitar
Before you make the purchase, it’s important to evaluate your needs as a musician to ensure that you are selecting the right instrument for you.
First and foremost, inspect the neck of the guitar by checking its alignment with your eyes or using a steel straight edge. Also, examine the soundboard for any splits or cracks and make sure there is no visible swelling; if either of these areas appear damaged then this could mean bad news for the longevity and tone of your instrument.
Finally, test out several models and brands to find what bass and treble response works best for you, as different guitars have unique sounds to match different playing styles.
How to Buy a Used Electric Guitar
When looking for a used electric guitar, it’s important to research the model and manufacturer beforehand. Doing some online research can help you find long-life models of electric guitar that stood up well against common wear and tear.
Don’t be afraid to go into the shop yourself; try out several different models and get comfortable with your purchase.
Make sure you check for any signs of damage or crackling in the pickups as these could indicate long-term issues with the instrument. Even when you buy from a trusted seller, always ask what kind of guarantee they offer on the instrument and do a visual inspection before you buy eliminating long-term problems down the line.
What is the Average Life Span of a Guitar?
The life span of a guitar is largely dependent on many individual factors, such as the build quality and type of materials used. On average, a well-maintained, properly constructed guitar can last long into the tens of years.
Makers are more aware than ever before of the long life they want their guitars to have and create models that are designed to last long if taken care of properly.
In addition, technological advances in lutherie have enabled manufacturers to construct models with improved playability and long-term durability. With proper maintenance and construction, there is no doubt that guitars can be proudly enjoyed for decades without issue.
What Time of Year is Best to Buy Used Guitar?
Buying a used guitar can seem like a long, daunting task. But there are many benefits that come with opting for a pre-owned instrument, some of which include the ability to acquire high quality at an affordable price.
Therefore, it’s important to consider the best time of year to purchase a secondhand guitar and ensure long-life of your instrument. In general, autumn is typically the most ideal period to buy used guitars since older models tend to drop in value and supply increases at this time of year due to changing seasons.
Furthermore, when purchasing pre-owned guitars it is important to inspect every inch on the instrument carefully beforehand and also try it out if possible, as this will help you decide if it is right for you before you make the purchase.
How Much Should I Spend for a Decent Guitar?
When it comes to buying a guitar, you want it to be long-lasting and reliable. While price should be a consideration when purchasing an instrument, spending too much or too little may both lead to long-term dissatisfaction.
You don’t want a guitar that will break after only a few months, but at the same time you don’t need the most expensive option either.
To be certain you’re getting something of quality, set aside enough money for a decent starter guitar that is long in life and easy on the wallet. A solid investment upwards of $200-$250 is a good long-term value and should provide ample musical satisfaction!
Is Buying a Used Guitar a Good Idea?
Buying a used guitar is an excellent way to get exactly what you want without having to pay full price—but there are still some risks involved if you don’t know what you’re looking for. By following these five tips, however, anyone can find themselves a great deal on their next used instrument purchase!
So if you’re asking yourself, “should I buy a used guitar?” know that there’s no straightforward, single answer to this question. It’s all about what’s right for you.
It’s good to understand the choices and maybe even be a bit picky. Educate yourself by going into your local guitar store and trying out several of their guitars for sale to see what makes you smile- “I like that one but I don’t like that one” and so on. Always buy trusted brands like Fender and Gibson and Martin with quality parts built right in. Look for a guitar that has been maintained in good shape by the previous owner. Guitars are like cars; they must be maintained and cared for. And remember, if you have any questions along the way, your guitar teacher will be happy to help!
James W. teaches guitar, singing, and acting lessons in Jacksonville, FL. He specializes in teaching pop, rock, and modern country styles. James has been teaching for 10 years and joined the TakeLessons in 2010. Learn more about James here!
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