Buy A Used Guitar

How to buy a used guitar and what to look for.

One of the greatest thrills for any guitarist is purchasing a new guitar, but if you're a beginner and it's your first purchase it can be pretty rough. Obviously, the best route is to go to a reputable music store and buy a new one. But what are the options for the musician that can't afford a new guitar? Buy a used one of course. However, if you don't know what to look for you could end up bringing home a clunker and that would be no way to start a musical your musical journey. So, with that in mind, here are a few guidelines that should help you navigate your way through the guitar maze.

First, let's examine the differences between the top of the line models and the entry-level guitars. Most of the lower end, foreign guitars use laminated rather than solid wood and are glued together with epoxy, polyvinyl or similar products. This can be a problem when it comes time for repair because the glue doesn't soften easily and cannot be taken apart without risk. On the other hand, laminated wood stands up to the elements and takes abuse better than the solid wood guitar. This could be a major factor in your purchase if you plan on taking your instrument on vacation or to the family picnic.

Solid wood instruments, on the other hand, though not the first choice for family outings will with each passing year retain there value and even sound better. This is due to the natural expanding and shrinking of the wood. So before you even darken the door of the pawnshop make sure you know what you want and need out of your instrument. If you're the type of person that likes to travel, and will be taking your instrument with you, a laminated top will probably be your best bet. But, If you want an instrument that will possibly go up in value, and you don't plan on taking it with you on your world tour than a solid top may be the instrument for you.



So, after visiting a thousand pawnshops and music stores you finally find a likely canidate. The first thing to look at is the condition of the neck checking to see if it's warped. You can do this by looking down the neck of the guitar as if it were a gun sight. Another method is to hold down the first string on the first and twelfth fret. You can see if the neck is warped easily this way because the string should be parallel with the neck. If there is any bowing of the neck it is best to put the guitar down and continue your search.

However, if everything else looks good you may be able to make the necessary adjustments. Look inside the guitar where the neck connects to the body to see if it is equipped with a truss rod. A truss rod is a metal bar that runs through the center of the neck. You can make adjustments to the neck by either loosening or tightening the truss rod. At this point however, I would recommend having a qualified technician look at the instrument to see if it can be properly adjusted.

Now check to see if the neck is properly fused to the body. You do this by grabbing the neck and the body of the guitar and then twist the opposite direction to see if there's any play at the joint. If your looking at an acoustic guitar and it has play in the neck, your best bet is to put it back on the shelf. However, this too can be fixed by a qualified technician. Just make sure the guitar is worth the cost of the needed repairs before purchasing. Most electric guitars have bolt on necks and can easily be fixed by a guitar technician. But be sure to have this checked out before buying.

The next thing you want to make sure of is that the acoustic guitar has a perfectly straight top. If there are bulges or the wood is shrunken in this is a sign that the bracing is bad. Put the guitar up. It's not worth the hassle.

Of course, if you're checking out an electric guitar and everything to this point looks good plug it in and play it, or if you can't play have a friend that can check it out. Adjust the volume controls and check for popping and scratching sounds. This will let you know if there are shorts in the connections. Although shorts can be repaired fairly easily you will need to have a solder iron and a place to work.

The last and possibly the most important thing is will the guitar fit your style of playing? Obviously, If you are into heavy metal it would do you no good to be looking at a classical guitar. On the other hand, a classical guitar would be perfect if you were into the flamenco style of playing. Your basic country crooner will use either an electric or an acoustic guitar depending on his personal preference. It's all up to you and your personal style of playing.

Although this article was not intended to make you a guitar guru or a musical virtuoso, it will give you the basic skills and knowledge needed to approach your purchase with confidence. There are also a number of books on the market that can teach you everything from the basics all the way up to the advanced skills needed to do your own setup and repair. So, now that you have the basic understanding of what to look for in a used guitar get out there and start hunting. Who knows, maybe you will find that rare gem all of us hope to find. Music is a great hobby and a wonderful stress reliever, and by using the simple guidelines laid out in this article you will be off to a wonderful start.

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