If you are shopping for a used guitar, you’re not alone. Every day thousands of people go online scouring the Internet for both used acoustic guitars and used electric guitars. What do you need to keep in mind, though, as you’re buying? Buying a used musical instrument requires that you keep in mind a few important criteria. We’ve listed some of the most important ones below as you begin your search for the perfect used guitar.
Check the Return Policy
If you buy from a dealer online, sometimes they’ll offer a 24-48 hour trial period where you can try out the guitar and make sure it’s what you want. If you purchase used guitars on eBay, check and see if the dealer or individual offers a return policy. If you don’t see one explicitly mentioned, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Investigate the Reason for Selling
Sometimes, people buy guitars and decide that they really don’t want them. Other times, a guitarist will realize that a particular instrument isn’t what he really needed. Don’t assume that a used guitar has problems or issues. Dealers will often take instruments in as part of a trade-in deal, so you can find great bargains with that in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask an individual seller why they’re getting rid of the instrument.
Inspect the Guitar Closely
Most of the time, what you see is what you get with a guitar. If the body looks like it’s in good shape and the pickups and wiring sound clean, chances are the guitar is just fine. However, you’ll want to inspect the neck carefully, since that’s one area on the instrument where damage might not be so apparent. Adjust the truss rod and make sure that the neck reacts appropriately. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or acquaintance who knows more than you do to help you inspect the guitar for you. Offer to buy them lunch or something as a thank you. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
The most important test is how the guitar plays and sounds. If the guitar has action that’s 2″ off the fretboard, it may indicate a problem with the instrument that can’t be easily fixed. Play every single note on the fretboard and check for buzzing or dead spots. However, don’t discount an instrument just because it buzzes or has a dead spot or two. Sometimes, a decent instrument can be made into a great instrument with just a little bit of work.
Used guitars represent a great bargain and a potentially good investment. Hopefully the above advice will serve you well as you search for the perfect used guitar!