Buying a guitar, whether new or used, can be a thrilling experience, but it can also be overwhelming, especially for beginners. There are numerous factors to consider when purchasing, including the type of guitar you want, your budget, and your skill level.
This blog post will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of buying new and used guitars and what to look for when purchasing each type.
As someone who has bought and sold many guitars, it’s essential to research before purchasing. Browse forums and keep up-to-date with sales to understand what’s available and what prices to expect. While buying used can often save you money, it’s essential to be cautious. I have been burned a few times on the used market and invested more money than planned to get the guitar to where I wanted it in terms of playability.
I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon an American-made Fender Highway One Telecaster at a Goodwill store. It was hidden away in a soft case and cost only $199. It is without a doubt, my best guitar find yet and meets all of my expectations. It goes to show that keeping an eye out can lead to unexpected discoveries.
When purchasing a guitar, it’s generally safer to buy from a local guitar shop. This allows you to inspect the guitar, play it, and ask any questions you may have before making a decision. Furthermore, if you purchase a guitar from a local shop and something goes wrong, most stores have a policy period during which you can return the instrument if needed.
Pros and Cons of Buying a New or Us Guitar
Buying a new vs. used guitar is a common dilemma for many guitar players. Both options have pros and cons; the best choice depends on your preferences, budget, and goals. Here are some benefits and potential pitfalls of buying a new vs. used guitar.
Benefits of buying a new guitar
- You get a brand-new instrument without wear and tear, damage, or defects. You can enjoy your guitar’s fresh look and feel and customize it to your liking.
- You get a warranty and customer service from the manufacturer or seller. If anything goes wrong with your guitar, you can get it fixed or replaced for free or cheaply.
- You get the latest features and technology that may improve the sound and performance of your guitar. You can also choose from various models and styles that suit your taste and needs.
Potential pitfalls of buying a new guitar:
- You pay a higher price than buying a used guitar. You may also have to pay extra for accessories like a case, strap, tuner, etc.
- You may not get the best value for your money. Some new guitars may be overpriced or overhyped and may not meet your expectations or standards.
- You may get a different character and vibe than some used guitars have. Some guitars may sound better or have more personality after being played for a while.
Benefits of buying a used guitar:
- You pay a lower price than buying a new guitar. You can save money or get more bang for your buck by buying a used guitar with the same or better quality and features as a new one.
- You can find rare or vintage guitars that are no longer in production or hard to find. You can also find guitars modified or customized by previous owners, which may add to their uniqueness and appeal.
- You can get a guitar that has already been broken in and has a rich tone and feel. Some guitars may improve with age and use and may have more character and history than new ones.
Potential pitfalls of buying a used guitar:
- You may not get a warranty or customer service from the manufacturer or seller. If anything goes wrong with your guitar, you may have to deal with it or find a reliable repair shop.
- You may not get the exact guitar that you want. You may have to compromise on some features or specifications that are unavailable or compatible with the used guitar.
As you can see, buying a new vs. used guitar has advantages and disadvantages. The best way to decide is to research, compare your options, and try out different guitars before purchasing. Ultimately, finding a guitar you love and enjoy playing is the most important thing.
Purchasing through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace
If you plan to buy a used guitar from someone on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, there are a few additional factors to consider.
Firstly, being cautious when buying from an unknown seller is vital. Make sure you meet in public and bring a friend or family member. Additionally, you should scrutinize the guitar and test it before purchasing.
Tips to follow when dealing with sellers
- Research the Guitar: Before meeting with the seller, research the make and model of the guitar you are interested in. This will help you understand the guitar’s features and what to look for when inspecting it.
- Ask Questions: When you meet with the seller, ask them questions about the guitar’s history, including how long they’ve owned it, how often they played it, and if they experienced any issues with it. This can help you determine if the guitar has been well-maintained.
- Inspect the Guitar: Inspect the guitar carefully for any signs of wear and tear, such as dents, scratches, or cracks. Check the neck for any warping or bending, and make sure the tuning pegs and frets are in good condition.
- Test the Guitar: Play the guitar to ensure it sounds good and plays well. Check for any buzzing or dead spots on the fretboard, and ensure the strings are easy to press down.
- Negotiate the Price: If you find any issues with the guitar during the inspection or testing, use this as leverage to negotiate the price with the seller. It would help if you also researched the market value of the guitar beforehand to ensure that you are paying a fair price.
Overall, buying a used guitar from someone on Craigslist can be a great way to save money, but taking the necessary precautions to ensure you get a quality instrument is essential. By researching the guitar, asking questions, inspecting and testing the instrument, and negotiating the price, you can increase your chances of making a successful purchase.
Do I need to play the guitar first?
It is generally not recommended to purchase a guitar sight unseen, especially if you are a beginner or if you are not familiar with the particular make and model of the guitar.
When buying a guitar, it is essential to physically inspect the instrument, play it, and get a sense of its sound, feel, and overall quality. This can be not easy if you cannot physically see and touch the guitar.
Additionally, photos and descriptions of guitars listed online may only sometimes provide a complete picture of the instrument’s condition and sound. The guitar may have hidden defects, such as cracks, warping, or wiring issues, that are not visible in photos.
However, there are some situations where purchasing a guitar sight unseen may be the only option. For example, if you buy a vintage guitar from somewhere, such as Reverb, you may have to purchase it online without seeing it in person.
When Purchasing a Guitar Sight-Unseen
Research the seller: Make sure the seller has a good reputation and positive feedback from previous buyers. Check online reviews and forums to see if there are any complaints or red flags.
- Ask for detailed photos and descriptions: Ask the seller to provide clear pictures of the guitar from all angles, including imperfections or defects. Ask for a detailed description of the guitar’s condition, including any repairs or modifications.
- Request a video demo: Ask the seller to provide a video of them playing the guitar so that you can get a sense of its sound and feel.
- Check the return policy: Ensure the seller has a clear return policy if the guitar differs from what is described or does not meet your expectations.
Unless it is impossible, you should play the guitar before laying out your cash. However, if you do decide to go this route, make sure to follow these suggestions.
What brands should I consider?
When it comes to buying a guitar, there are many reputable brands that you can choose from.
The Big Brands
- Fender: Fender is one of the most well-known guitar brands, especially in electric guitars. They offer various models, including the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, and cater to players of all levels.
- Gibson: Gibson is another iconic guitar brand known for their Les Paul and SG models. They are also well-regarded for their acoustic guitars, such as the J-45 and the Hummingbird.
- Martin: Martin is a renowned acoustic guitar brand that has existed since the 1800s. They are known for their high-quality craftsmanship and offer various models, including the D-28 and the OM-28.
- Taylor: Taylor is another famous acoustic guitar brand known for its innovative design and attention to detail. They offer many models, including the 214ce, 814ce, and others.
- Ibanez: Ibanez is a famous guitar brand known for their electric guitars, particularly their RG and S series models. They also offer a range of acoustic guitars, including the Artwood and the Talman.
Other Great Brands to Consider
- Charvel: Charvel is a guitar brand specializing in high-performance guitars for rock and metal players. Their guitars are known for their fast playability, high-quality components, and aggressive tone.
- Reverend: Reverend is a guitar brand that offers unique and innovative designs for players of all genres. Playability and quality are what stand out here.
- Ernie Ball: Ernie Ball is a guitar brand known for its electric guitars, basses, and strings. Their guitars are known for their playability and versatility and are favored by many professional musicians.
- Yamaha: Yamaha is a highly respected guitar brand that offers quality acoustic guitars for players of all levels. Their guitars are known for their value, playability, and durability and are often recommended for beginners and intermediate players.
- Harley Benton: Harley Benton is a guitar brand that offers affordable instruments popular among beginner and intermediate players. Value and playability are some words to describe their guitars.
These are just a few examples of reputable guitar brands that offer quality instruments for players of all levels. When choosing a guitar, it is essential to consider your playing style, musical preferences, and budget and try out different models before purchasing.
What is best for my level of play?
Some specific models are better suited for different levels of players. Here are some general guidelines:
- Beginner: For beginner players, it is often recommended to start with a budget-friendly model that is easy to play and maintain. Some popular options include the Fender Squier series, the Epiphone Les Paul Special II, and the Yamaha FG800 acoustic.
- Intermediate: Intermediate players may want to invest in a higher-quality guitar with more features and versatility. Some popular options include the Fender Player series, the Gibson SG Standard, and the Taylor 214ce acoustic.
- Advanced: Advanced players may want a premium guitar with top-of-the-line features and craftsmanship. Some popular options include the Fender American Professional series, the Gibson Custom Shop Les Paul, and the Martin D-45 acoustic.
Throughout my musical journey, I have bought many new and used guitars. It’s always fun to experiment with different types of guitars and determine which ones to keep, sell or customize. When selecting a guitar, it’s crucial to consider your playing style, taste in music, and budget. It’s advisable to test different models before purchasing, especially if you’re a beginner or aiming to invest in a top-notch instrument.
Let me know if this advice is helpful as you look for your next guitar. If you’ve stumbled upon some great deals, we’d love to hear about it!
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