The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Chester 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 Chester, 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 Chester, 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.
Guitars and Weather - Preventing Damage to Your Guitar
The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a musical instrument 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 online, 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 online, but even still it's possible to buy.
Let's say you're looking for a vintage guitar. You know what an old Gibson ES125 will sound and play like because presumably you've played one before or you have a particular interest in that guitar. There is variety in each instrument, this truth can't be said nor emphasized enough, but you can count on quality guitar makers to make reliably good instruments. Most sellers are very upfront and compile a list of the defects, repairs, problems with the instrument. Typically they'll have close up shots of the damaged parts. This will convince you they're being pretty honest. It'd take a cynic to believe that they're listing the minor defects so to appear honest only so they can get away with a big, big problem. Check the seller's history on eBay. Many reputable music shops sell on eBay too, so if you can find out where they're located and learn more about their business this should help.
If you are a beginner looking for your first guitar the internet is useful too. Perhaps you want the bottom of the line guitar to experiment on to see if you might actually seriously take it up. Or maybe you want to find a good guitar at bargain prices. In this case, look for a company you trust and a guitar model you've played before or you know is really decent. There's no shortage of companies: Norman, Simon and Patrick, Art and Lutherie, Seagull. You don't want to buy a no-name guitar nobody's ever heard of without playing it, but the internet is full of people moving and desperate to get rid of what they can for a penny or people who don't know the value of what they have, and tapping into that is a good idea. Look to see if there's a way you can get your money back or some type of assurance that you'll be fully satisfied with your purchase.
Anyone who's owned a guitar that they wanted to protect knows that weather can be the enemy. Extreme hot and cold conditions can damage your guitar or your amp or any of your equipment. Professionals take certain precautions when they travel to ensure that their equipment survives the trip, along with the performers.
If you live in an area that gets severe weather, be it hot or cold, you need to know what to look out for to make sure that you don't ruin your favorite guitar or amp. It's possible for your guitar or amp to survive extreme conditions. I've seen guitars go through freezing conditions and still perform well. Let me give you a little info so that you know exactly what causes the damage.
In the case of your guitar or bass, the damage is going to come in the form of warping. Because our instruments are made of wood, they're susceptible to warping due to the qualities of the wood. When a piece of wood heats up and cools down, the wood expands and contracts with the heating and the cooling. What's liable to happen to your guitar is that it could heat up and cool down and warp. This is because the material will bend and flex as the guitar heats and cools and will become set in this new shape.
Guitars and basses have truss rods built into the neck for this very reason. It's expected that over the lifetime of a guitar, some degree of warping is going to occur. Unfortunately we live on Earth, and Earth has weather. But you can take certain precautions when handling your gear to make sure this doesn't happen to any extreme extent.
The one thing that is going to ensure damage is heating and cooling quickly. When the heating and cooling process happens quickly, the warping effect is magnified, as the instrument will no have time to adjust and retain its original shape over the change. For people who live in extreme weather, you'll want to note this and make sure that the environment that you store your guitar is generally statically maintained. If you're going to run the AC, then run it. If you're not, then don't. It's best to keep things as uniform as possible.
It's completely possible for you to live in extreme weather, and not heat or cool your instrument and not sustain any severe damage. Another trick is to keep your guitar in a case if you're going to store it for long periods of time or travel with it. If you store it or travel, just make sure that when you pull your guitar out to play, that it's had time to adjust to the environment and change temperatures before you pull it out of the case. By storing it in the case and allowing it to change temperatures inside the case, you're controlling the temperature change. It's going to take much longer for the outside temperatures to warm up the exterior of the case and penetrate all the way to the guitar or bass. The reverse is also true. If the entire case is one uniform temperature, heat is going to be gradually expelled from the inside out. The outermost areas of the case will cool first, followed by the loss of heat from the middle of the case where the guitar is. This will happen gradually and help protect your guitar.
As for your other equipment, the electronics in your amp and boards, the damage is more likely to come from condensation and things like that that can damage the circuitry. You also have a concern about cracking and breaking of the internal component due to extreme weather. This is avoided much in the same way as with your guitar. Make sure that it's stored in a place that's going to receive the same treatment throughout the day, whether cooled or not. Storage in a case or protective cover will help protect the equipment, and there are some storage containers you can find that will keep moisture out, helping to prevent it from damaging your electronics.
While weather can be the enemy, knowing how to deal with it will help to protect your valuable instruments for years to come. It's not difficult and using a little common sense, you can ensure your guitar will play the same throughout your lifetime.