Buying a used guitar, be sure to take hidden costs into consideration !
Should You Buy a New Guitar or Bass ? Things to consider when comparing new vs. used guitars and basses.
For this discussion we will examine things to be aware of when considering buying a used guitar vs. a new guitar. We will also assume you are thinking about buying a good used player's guitar or bass and not a collectable vintage instrument. There are many reasons to buy a used guitar but the most obvious is price. Most new guitars will depreciate over time so buying a used guitar might save you money. In general the better the condition the higher the price. If you are considering a used guitar there are a number of things you should consider.
New guitars look great but realistically unless you leave them in the case and hide them under your bed sooner or later you are going to get a few scratches and dings and even if you are lucky enough to avoid damage you will still accumulate normal play wear over time. Many players even consider normal play wear desirable as it can add "character" to a guitar. In our opinion the important thing when considering a used guitar is to recognize the difference between a worn guitar and an abused guitar. An abused guitar will have wear and damage in unexpected places. Signs of abuse include chips, multiple deep dings, glue, pickup routing, cigarette burns and spot refinishing. It's best to stick with good clean guitars with normal play wear if you're considering a used guitar. If you don't mind paying a bit more and you want the look an feel of a new guitar then by all means go for it.
When considering a used guitar take possible repair costs into consideration. You should buy from a reputable dealer who can accurately evaluate the overall guitar condition. Things to look for include fret wear, neck condition (some guitars are know for having neck problems) and cracks (particularly in acoustic guitars). You may need to have a guitar setup to evaluate the overall playability of a guitar. Knowing if repairs are needed and what the will cost will help you determine if it's worth putting money into a guitar or you're better off buying a new guitar. A used guitar should play like a new guitar but be sure to take repair costs into consideration before making your decision.
Many players make changes to their guitars. Changes are not necessarily bad (unless you have a vintage guitar). Often pickups, tailpieces, tuners and bridges are replaced with better quality components to improve playability and tone. Just make sure changes were done correctly. Tuners should not have stripped gears, screws should be in straight and tight, there should not be places that have so many screw holes pickups should work properly and all controls should work as expected. A reputable dealer or Luthier can evaluate modifications.
In summary when evaluating buying a new guitar or bass vs. a used guitar or bass there are a number of things to consider. New instruments will be in great cosmetic shape and have no play wear however they may be significantly more expensive. If you do not want to pay for a new guitar or bass then consider a good clean used guitar or bass, buy your instrument from a reputable dealer or individual and be sure to factor in condition and repair costs when you buy your guitar. Have fun with you new guitar.
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This article on used guitars is copyright 2010 by Rock N Roll Vintage Inc.
Buying and Selling Used Guitars and Vintage Guitars in Chicago