The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in La Mirada 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 La Mirada, 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 La Mirada, but even still it’s possible to find great sale.
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!
How to Buy a Pawn Shop Guitar the Safe Way
There are many things to consider when buying your first guitar. However, if you do your research you can come away with an instrument that will be a solid tool for starting your lifelong relationship with guitar music.
One of the first things to consider when buying your first guitar is whether you want an electric or an acoustic guitar. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and a large part of the decision comes down to personal taste and the type of music you want to play. First answer that question. What do the musicians you usually listen to play? Is that what you want to sound like? Pricing is not that much different between the two when you consider just the guitar. However, an electric guitar typically requires many more accessories (more on that later) which can rack up the price.
A second key issue to consider when buying your first guitar is whether to buy online or in a music store. I will say that each guitar is different and individual and this makes buying a guitar online a risky proposition. You have never gotten to touch or hold that guitar and there is no guarantee that you will like it. However, you cannot deny that the internet has become a great resource for comparison shopping and you can find some pretty great deals online. This is my "happy median" advice. Go into a local guitar store and play a bunch of different guitars.
Make a note of the model and brands of the ones that you like. Then go do a search online and see if you can get a better deal. Chances are, you will be able to. You can now order online with some degree of confidence that they guitar that will be sent to you is similar to the one that you played in the store. Sure, I may be talking about minute differences, but chances are you are going to spend a lot of time with this thing. So, you should like it.
Price range is a big factor to consider when buying your first guitar. This is largely a matter of the commitment that you plan to make to the instrument. If you are setting yourself up for a lifelong relationship, then invest and break the bank. You may never buy another guitar again. However, if you are wishy washy about whether you even want to play guitar, then don't sell the farm for the first one. You can get a good "intermediate" quality guitar for a few hundred dollars. I would not recommend going any lower in quality. Some of the guitars that you can get for $40 dollars in Wal*Mart are only appropriate for the most uncommitted individuals or for young children.
Another comment about pricing and budgeting: don't forget the accessories! These can add up. If you are buying an electric guitar you have to buy an amp. These can run you as much as the guitar itself. My advice on this is to always barter. Ask the shop owner if you can get free cords or tuners thrown in if you buy a package deal. This will be more difficult if you buy online, but you may be saving a substantial amount of money already anyway.
Finally, should you buy used or new? This question is akin to buying a car. You can get a great used car that will be reliable and will run for years because it is a decent car and the owner took care of it, but these take research and time. You can also get a vintage used classic that will run forever. This will break your bank. Don't buy any used guitar that is beat up or broken. Always be sure to buy from a reputable source if you go the used route.
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.