The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Dobbins 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 Dobbins, 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 Dobbins, 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.
Learning to Play the Electric Guitar With Software
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.)
The most obvious advantage the guitar has over other instruments is its portability. Unlike a baby grand piano, you can easily pack your guitar around on your shoulder in a carrying case. I bought my first guitar when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a Stella, purchased for twenty-nine dollars from George Porcella, the proprietor of Porcella's Music Store in Gilroy, California. Since then, I have owned, sold, traded, pawned or lost a dozen or so more.
My love for the guitar soared in 1978 when I first heard world-renown classical guitar master Andres Segovia's The Intimate Guitar album. I listened to it on the recommendation of a teacher I had just begun taking classical lessons from in Santa Cruz. Capitalizing on the guitar's ability to produce both melodic and harmonic sound, Segovia was able to make his guitar sound like two separate instruments. In addition to being the world's most recognized classical performer, Segovia did much throughout his life to increase the popularity of his beloved instrument. He produced instruction books and materials, transcribed classical music to fit the guitar and held concerts, seminars and workshops throughout the world.
Prior to that time I began studying classical guitar, I had been able to play folk and country songs in the style of Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson using three simple chords. My newly learned music theory, coupled with a more developed ear, opened up a new world of learning and enjoyment for me. The right and left hand techniques used in guitar playing gave my body a better sense of balance and integration than playing a wind or brass instrument.
The guitar offers players the opportunity to experiment with techniques and create different styles and picking patterns, from Flamingo to Travis picking. Likewise, you can change and invent new musical styles by changing the type or thickness of your strings. You can also change guitar types from a classical nylon string, to a steel string acoustic. Electric pick-ups as well as electric guitars with amps and foot pedal attachments allow the player to increase volume and add special sound effects. Guitars can be played with a pick or with a variety of finger-pickings styles.
Still, the guitar has other has advantages too. Unlike most brass and wind instruments, you can play complex four, five and six note chords on a guitar. Although the use of a capo is frowned on by classical players, its use in other styles gives players the unique ability to quickly change keys to adjust to a singers vocal range or preferences.
This versatile instrument is also one of the few you hold over your heart. To the serious player like myself, this not only enhances the tone you produce from the strings, but makes your playing one with your voice.