The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Irvine 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 Irvine, 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 Irvine, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
There are many bits on an acoustic guitar that can rattle against each other to make a buzzing noise. Most can be easily fixed once you become aware of them but tracking that guitar buzz down can be a problem if you don't know where to look.
The first place to look for the cause of buzzing guitar is the guitar player. If you are not pressing down on the strings with the correct amount of pressure, the strings will buzz or sound muffled. This might not be entirely your fault if the guitar's action is too low. If the strings are too close to the frets you will get a buzz that no amount of pressure on the strings will fix.
To fix low action on an acoustic guitar is a matter of going to a guitar store and getting a bridge bone that will lift the strings higher. If the notches in the guitar nut are too deep this will also cause buzzing but that is the least likely cause unless someone deliberately cut the notches deeper. If the slots in the nut are too wide, this will also cause a buzz. A quick fix for low action is a match stick slipped under the bridge bone. If you find the guitar too hard to play now, it's because you have made the action too high.
If the guitar is old, you may have frets that are too worn. This will make the strings buzz against the higher frets. All the frets on the guitar need to be the same height.
If you are using strings that have balls on the ends, check that the balls are tight up against the bridge. If you find one that is not, unwind the string and reset the ball so it is snug. The loose ends of nylon strings can also buzz against the bridge so if you have a classical style guitar, check the ends of the strings lying against the bridge.
The machine heads - the tuners at the top of the neck - can become loose with age, rattle around. It is probably best to not get involved in repairing them. Just buy a new set.
If you have checked all these parts without identifying the cause of the buzz, take your guitar to a luthier or a local guitar dealer to get it checked out. Sometimes there can be loose parts on an acoustic guitar that are not readily accessible that might need some guitar surgery to fix.
How to Get the Perfect Electric Guitar Sound and Tone
When it comes to buying a used electric guitar, you want to find the guitar that is right for you in terms of look, sound, price, ease of play, and comfort, just as you would shopping for a new electric guitar. The main difference is that used guitars come with a past, and if you aren't careful your future might include a junk guitar.
Experienced guitar players know what to look for when buying a used guitar, but first time guitar buyers run the risk of making a bad purchase if they aren't prepared.
Used guitars for sale at a local music store tend to be far less risky than buying a used guitar from a stranger, especially if the store that has established as a fair and honest business. If a business has spent years of hard work building up trust and good reputation with its customers, it isn't likely to be selling them second-hand electric guitars that are in poor condition.
With strangers, there is no pre-existing trust. While there are many honest people out there selling used electric guitars in good condition, there are many who aren't honest. That's why power and protection come with knowledge. If you are buying a used electric guitar for the first time - from a stranger, a music store or wherever, -- prepare yourself ahead of time with the following tips and decrease the chances you walk away with a bad purchase.
As you read the tips below, keep in mind that some problems like intonation or slight bowing occur in virtually every guitar at some point. Fortunately getting an electric guitar serviced is usually under $50 and includes minor adjustments to the neck, frets, action, and intonation if needed. As a rule of thumb, any time you buy a used electric guitar, it's a good idea to have it serviced, whether you get it from a store or a stranger.
That said, the tips.
1. Check the guitar for cracks, especially along the neck and the area between the neck and the head, which is the weakest spot on an electric guitar. Cracks in the finish are cosmetic and aside from their unsightliness, not a big concern. Structural cracks could result in the neck completely breaking. Finish cracks can run in any direction, but structural cracks tend to follow the grain of the wood and may fissure.
Scratches, dents and wear to the finish are normal: the guitar is used after all. Just take a look at the finish on Bruce Springsteen's Fender Telecaster or Stevie Ray Vaughn's Fender Stratocaster. Or should I say what finish? Unless such flaws bother you aesthetically, they don't pose a problem.
2. Sight check the guitar's neck to make sure it isn't warped or bowed. The quickest way to do this is to hold the guitar at eye-level, once with the guitar's body closest to you and again with the neck head closest to you, and look down either side of the neck. It should be straight. If the guitar neck is slightly bowed or warped, adjusting the truss rod should fix the problem and absent any other problems, isn't a major concern. In fact, it's a common problem. If the warping or bowing is pronounced and has been that way for some time, the neck may need to be replaced.
3. Check the intonation. This is problematic for beginner guitar players who haven't yet learned how to play harmonics. Just play a harmonic at the 12 fret and then on the same string, play the note at the 12 fret and compare. If one sounds higher or lower than the other, the intonation is off. Do this for every string. For accuracy, it's best to use a guitar tuner to compare.
4. Check the action. A guitar's action is measured from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret. For electric guitar, standard action is 6/64 in. on the sixth string and 4/64 in. on the first string You won't be able to judge this with your eye, so just be aware the strings should not touch the frets, nor should they be so high it hurts your hand to fret the notes.
5. The strings should not rattle, buzz, or mute when played, no matter if the guitar is plugged or unplugged. Make sure none of the frets are loose.
6. Plug in the guitar to test the pick-ups and the pick-up selector switch as well as the tone and volume knobs. There shouldn't be any pops or humming, nor should the sound cut in and out.
7. Ask the seller how long he's owned the guitar and if he bought it new or used.
8. Ask if the guitar is still under warranty, and if so, is that warranty transferable.
9. Ask the seller if any work has been done on the guitar, and if so, why.
10. After you've arranged to see the guitar, research the make and model. Is it still available or has it been discontinued? Check out customer reviews. Search e-bay, Craigslist, and other classified venues to see if anyone else is selling the same make and model and for how much. This will help you determine if the seller's asking price is too much (time to negotiate), too little (it does happen) or at market value.
11. Finally, remember what I said in the first tip. Used electric guitars are going to show varying degrees of wear and tear and may require minor adjustments. If you find a used electric guitar that has no major problems and feels and plays like it belongs in your hands, buy it!
By far, the most important thing you can do to protect your
acoustic guitar is to control the humidity of its environment. Ask
any guitar repair person. They are the ones who see, time and time
again, the damage done to guitars and other fretted instruments by
humidity levels which are too low.
Most acoustic guitars are the happiest in a relative humidity (RH)
above 40%. In fact, most acoustic guitars are built in a relative
humidity range of 45%-50%. The greatest danger to your guitar
occurs during the fall, winter and early spring. In cold
temperatures you need to heat your home; and when you heat your
home, the air in your home becomes drier. It can often drop to less
than half of the RH of the factory in which your guitar was built!
When the RH of your (and your guitar's) home descends to lower than
35%, all kinds of terrible things can happen. Cracks can occur in
the top, the bridge can lift from the top and the neck angle can
change. The warranties of most guitar manufacturers will exclude
guitars that have been stored in an inappropriate humidity. The
necessary repairs can be quite pricey.
The good news in all of this is that the solution is quite simple.
Store you guitar in a hardshell case and keep and maintain an
in-case humidifier. There are a number of different brands and
types of humidifiers on the market, in prices ranging from about
$12-$20. Check with your music dealer for the best one for you.
Don't forget to check and add water as often as necessary. If you
really want to keep on top of things, purchase a hygrometer (a
humidity meter). These can cost anywhere from $50 to $150, but an
economy model will be accurate enough.
Another important factor in caring for your instrument is, don't
use strings that are too heavy (thick). Most manufactures suggest
that you use light gauge strings, not mediums. Some players balk at
this, but the fact is, volume and tone are often more a matter of
playing technique than of string gauge. If you have a vintage
guitar, you might want to consider extra-lights. Another route you
can go (which I do with most of my vintage instruments), is to use
"silk and steel" strings. I think these are just wonderful, for a
number of reasons: but one is, they put much less stress on your
guitar. Read my article, "Acoustic Guitar Strings--The Merits of
Silk & Steel" at:
One other important caution regarding the care of your guitar: If
you use a capo, do not leave the capo on the instrument when you're
not playing it. The capo, when clamped on the neck, holds the
strings down on the fretboard and creates extra tension on the neck
and the top of the guitar. All acoustic guitars are destined, at
some point in time, to have problems due to the tension of the
strings. Why hasten the process by leaving a capo clamped on your
Taking these steps to care for your acoustic guitar may seem a bit
burdensome, at first. But if you start applying these principles
now, your guitar will give you many years of playing pleasure.
Copyright © 2007 Lee Griffith. All rights reserved.