The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Boulevard without hearing it is one such change. But keep a few things in mind when you do it and it can be a convenient way to score a good instrument at a good price.
There’s really two kinds of people who should be buying their guitars in Boulevard, experts or really serious guitar players and beginners. The first group knows exactly what kind of guitar they want, and at that level of price and quality they can be assured that that particular guitar will be terrific. Beginners don’t really care as much, so long as it has six strings and can play. The truth is each guitar is unique as its made out of a particular sheet of wood that experiences conditions unlike any of its fellow models at the factory. Each sheet is alive, and guitars can age with grace or misery depending on how they’re maintained. This needs to be kept in mind when looking at a store in Boulevard, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
There is something about pawn shops. In fact, some people recorded whole albums about them. As a man, I think it's the smell. Seriously. Next time you walk past a pawn shop, walk in and take a big huge sniff. It's the smell of a potential bargain, a possible rip off. Pawn shop hunting is the modern day civilized hunting expedition.
On a recent hunting trip I managed to trap a PRS SE Single Cut Soap bar Model. It's an SE, so it's a Korean model. I had a look online and it lists for about 700 pounds, so it's still a bargain.
Basically, I was looking for a cheap guitar case at the pawn brokers because I'm one case short these days, and as I was leaving I saw it in the window. I came home, asked the better half if I can get guitar number seven and she said ok, because she knows how much I want a PRS, and [suck up mode] because she is the most lovely person in the word [/suck up mode].
I went back up to the pawn broker, and asked for a play. It was awful. Absolutely unplayable. He said he had it in there for a while and that it had been reduced because for some reason he can't sell it. All the problem was is that the bass side of the bridge was WAAAYYY to low. I pulled out a ten cent coin, four turns of the bridge bolt, BINGO, perfect playability.
Yeah, the tone control will likely need replacing, but big whoop. It sounds beautiful, even with the dead strings on it. I even got him to throw in a case for $0. Bargain and a half.
How much I hear you all ask.
$499 Australian Dollars. Go do the math! I can't wait to finish paying this off in the next few weeks and going wild. It just seems to be that every guitar I want is falling right in front of me. I few months ago, I was really wanting an S-S-S Strat. Then I get a phone call from someone I had not seen in two years offering me her partner's guitar that he does not play. It was an S-S-S Strat. $100 later and it was mine. Now I get the PRS I've been wanting for years.
So here are my rules for pawn shop guitaring.
1. Never impulse buy
You see something you like, don't just grab it and run (unless you think you can get away without getting caught). Play the guitar for a while. Put it down and come back in the next few days. See if it still feels the same and has the same appeal as that initial reaction. The last thing that you want to do is to buy a guitar that you loved at the time only to take back to the same pawn shop a few weeks later.
2. Have a goal
This follows on from tip number one. Have a goal as to what type of guitar you are after. By that I mean you should a clear definition of what you want to buy. This will help you avoid the impulse buy, and focus your attention so you don't get distracted by all the shiny things in the shop. Going back to my PRS example, I've been looking for a nice guitar with soap bar style pickups now to round out my collection. I wasn't necessarily after a PRS, but that came as a giant bonus. It was the only guitar that had the features I was after, and as such was the only guitar I picked up and tried. Don't by a guitar that you don't need, unless of course it is something exceptional.
3. Play with the knobs and know how a guitar works
The ones on the guitar you dirty fiends. Turn all the knobs, waggle the lead, and flick all the switches. Make sure they all work, and if not, have a rough idea if you can fix it yourself or how much it may cost you. You don't want to spend $100 on a guitar and then have to do $300 worth of work on it. The PRS has a busted tone pot, and I can most likely fix that myself, and at worse, I no someone who will fix it for a few beers. You also need to know a little about the setup of guitars. The PRS again is a great example. The strings were to low, and after looking down the neck I could tell the issue was just the bridge height. Simple things like that can get you a bargain. This guitar had been ignored my who knows how many people before me because they did not know how to correct that simple problem. A little knowledge is your friend here.
4. Try some different amps
This is very important. The person running the pawn shop will always plug you into a small Fender combo and crank the reverb. I honestly think that those small combos were designed by Fender exclusively for the pawn shop industry because they make every guitar sound great. So try the guitar with that crappy 15W no name amp as well. It will give you a much better idea on the true sound quality.
5. Don't pay for the case
From my experience, the person who pawns off any decent guitar will have had it in a case, and the case will likely be out the back of the shop. Ask about the case, ask if it is included in the price, and if not ask why not. 75% you'll get the case for free, 20% heavily discounted, and the remaining 5% involves you walking out of the store. They want the sale just a bad as you want to buy the guitar so let them chase you.
Well, I've got a few weeks until I get my new pawn shop beauty. I'll make sure to let you know how she settles in.
All Amped About Guitar Amps - Which One Goes Where?
When I started to play the guitar, I did things the hard way, trying to play chords and play songs. It was frustrating because my fingers just couldn't find the right position to make the guitar sound good.
Since then, I've learned how to get started playing the guitar that's much faster and much easier and I'm going to show you how you can play the guitar right away.
I love playing the guitar! I'm self-taught until a few years ago when I started working a music teacher. I bought my first guitar in 1989. But it's only been in the past five years that I've really focused on playing the guitar well. And now, I'm pretty good. I can jam with good musicians and I can sit down and entertain myself for hours with my guitar.
Today, I'd rather play guitar than watch TV. Here's why: after watching TV, I'm relaxed and I've wasted an hour. After playing guitar, I'm relaxed and I'm an improved guitar player.
A DIFFERENT WAY: FORGET THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR
How I got to play today was a different route from the way most guitar teachers teach guitar. Most guitarists start out with an inexpensive acoustic guitar and immediately try to play songs with chords.
Here's the problem: cheap acoustic guitars are very hard for a first time guitarist to play. The strings are too thick. The neck is too big. Your fingers don't have the strength to get a good sound.
The truth is, most beginning guitar players have a cheap acoustic guitar lying around somewhere in the house. And that inexpensive guitar is keeping them from being a guitar player.
So don't start off with a cheap acoustic guitar, take a different approach.
ELECTRIC GUITAR TO THE RESCUE
It's better to start playing with a good electric guitar. This will get you going quickly and comfortably to inspire you to keep practicing until you're good enough to play with other musicians.
Go to a guitar store, such as Guitar Center and pick up a used electric guitar for about $300. That's the price where you can get a decent guitar that that will play well and sound good. A professional guitar shop will make sure the guitar "action" is adjusted to play easily. I suggest you forget about the "starter guitars" because they're usually not easy to play.
I don't recommend buying a used guitar from anyone other than a professional guitar shop. You don't know enough about guitars to be able to pick one out that you can play well. The guitar shop wants your business for the rest of your life as a musician, so they'll make sure you get what you need.
Most people start with an acoustic guitar because they don't need a guitar amplifier to play. Because electric guitars need a guitar amplifier that doubles the cost of getting started.
That's not a problem today because you can run your electric guitar through your iPhone, iTouch, or iPad and get guitar effects worth thousands of dollars for $30 (more about this in another post). You can even get a guitar tuner ap for your mobile device for a dollar.
You'll pay more for a cheap guitar tuner for your acoustic guitar then for the cool guitar applications. Just plug in your headphones and you'll think that you're playing in front of a cranked Marshall stack.
FORGET THE CHORDS
Before you try to make her fingers contort into positions called guitar chords, get your hands strong.
Strengthen your hands by just playing scales. I know, that sounds boring! Yet if you will sit down with your guitar for 15 minutes a day and teach your fingers how to move, in two weeks you'll have much more finger strength, dexterity, and control to easily form guitar chords. If you don't do this, you're going to be frustrated and stop playing the guitar. This is what it takes to play guitar fast.
STRONG FINGERS FROM SCALES
You don't have to play standard scales, all you have to do is move your fingers to make them respond to your mental commands, getting stronger in the process.
Start with your hand at the neck of the guitar and your fingers on the biggest string (that's the E string), and pluck the string while pushing down on the string with your finger, but only hard enough to get a clean sound. This is called fretting the string and it does cause many new guitarists to "fret" about playing the guitar.
With your thumb behind the guitar neck about in the position where it is behind your middle finger, clamped down on the string. You don't have to squeeze the neck, only press hard enough so that the string rests on the metal fret and makes a nice clean sound when you pick it lightly.
Start with your index finger, then to your middle finger, then to your ring finger, then to your pinky, and reverse the direction. Go slowly, making sure that you have a nice clean tone for each string.
Then move to the next string, and repeat. Move to the next string and repeat until you've gotten to the smallest string.
Then starting with your pinky, moved to your ring finger, and so forth so that you practice moving your fingers up and down, and down and up. Work your way back down to the big string.
Move your hand up a fret and repeat the process until you get all the way up to the 12th fret, that's where there usually is a double dot as a fret market.
Now reverse the direction and go back down until you go to the get to the first fret.
That's enough for the first round of exercises.
Do this for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. Over two weeks your fingers will gain strength and you'll increase the dexterity so your brain will know how to move each finger. Now you can start to comfortably form chords. (More on that in another article.)
This is why a lot of people tend to invest a little bit of money into some decent learn electric guitar software. The learn electric guitar software that is able to help you could very well be found in your local major electronics store but you probably will only have a few to pick from. But if you are really wanting to pick yourself up this type of software program then something is better then nothing. Just be sure to try to read reviews on the various products before you spend your money on something that turns out to be nothing but a waste.
There are a few places that you can shop on the Internet for your electric guitar software. The various web stores that you will come across can offer you some pretty decent deals but you have to watch for inflated shipping costs. That is the one way that companies like to grab more money off of people and make it seem innocent enough. Of course, there are the online auction sites where you might be able to find a decent deal on learn electric guitar software. All you have to do is keep your eyes open is all.
Also, another thing to consider is that there are some sites were you can simply download the how to play guitar software. These sites will allow you instant access to the software that you need without having to wait for the mail system and without having to pay all of those shipping fees. The way you decide to get your software to learn electric guitar is completely up to you just as long as you eventually find exactly what it is that you are looking for. In the end you will soon be able to show people how you have mastered the skill you learned.