The internet has led to changes that would have been impossible to understand just a decade ago. Buying a guitar in Caliente 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 Caliente, 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 Caliente, 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 Fix Acoustic Guitar Buzz
Are you looking to become a guitar reseller or open a guitar store?
I can tell you from experience that selling guitars is a fun and rewarding business to pursue. I love meeting musicians, helping to spread the music, and frankly, I just love being around guitars. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're learning how to sell guitars:
The first thing to keep in mind when selling anything in large quantities is business licensing and taxes. First, make sure you keep a record of everything you've sold. When it comes time to pay taxes, you'll need to know the exact nature of the business you've done. One of the biggest worries with a start-up reselling business is getting audited by the IRS. In the event of an audit, the more information you can provide the better. As you begin to make a modest profit from reselling, make sure to set money aside for taxes. In many states, the buyer is required to pay sales tax for each transaction, and it's the seller's responsibility to set this money aside at the time of the transaction.
You will also need to obtain a business license. These are easy to acquire in most states for a small fee. In many states, a reseller business license will come with a Reseller Permit, with which one is able to purchase in bulk without having to pay a state sales tax. If you start selling a lot of guitars, such as more than 5 per month, then you should seriously consider obtaining a business license. Along with helping your business to be more accountable, it often earns you special rights and tax breaks that will help your business grow.
Finding Your Niche
There are many ways to sell guitars. Websites like Craigslist and eBay are great places to sell guitars, but they often have plenty of competition. Depending on where you're located, Craigslist might be a great way to spread the word locally. There are many people who are good at repairing, modifying, or parting out guitars (taking them apart and selling the parts separately). Your "niche" will depend partially on your location, but mainly it will depend on your passion. If you love talking to people in a private setting, Craigslist might be your best bet. If you love tinkering with and parting out guitars, you could consider selling parts on eBay, or to a local music shop. If you love the idea of opening up a storefront, or augmenting one you may already own with some quality guitars, maybe you're meant to be a guitar salesman. If you don't know which method will work best for you, it can never hurt to try things out. You'll never know if you don't try!
Opening a Guitar Store
Opening a guitar store can be a huge challenge, but it can also be very rewarding. With the recent interest in the internet and online retail, many guitar shops are going out of business. Guitar Center and Musician's Friend, two of the top guitar stores in the country, have grown so large that it's often nearly impossible to compete with them directly. That doesn't mean that it's not possible. When opening a guitar store, make sure you're offering a completely unique service. Whether your store has the perfect location, selection, staff, or pricing, it's imperative that your store has the perfect something. We are living in troubling economic times, but that doesn't mean that stores are closing for no reason. It simply means that, as the times change and technology evolves, so does the public demand for services. One must look at their business and be able to clearly see the areas in which they excel. Find out what makes (or could make) your guitar store great, and keep it up. Publicize your specialty, let everyone know what it is you do and why you're the best for them.
As I said before, there are many ways to sell guitars. One of the best things you can do when creating your guitar business is to think outside the box and be creative. With enough creativity, you can create a whole new way to do business and thus create a whole new market. Regardless of the state of the economy, consumers will always pay for something great, something they believe in. Your customers are people, and they get excited about new things. People love having fun, and they love watching things improve and being a part of the future. It's important to realize that your ideal guitar business model might be something that's never been done before, but also something that there's a huge demand for. Write a list of all the ways that you could sell guitars, then keep going, keep writing. No idea is too crazy. Creative businesses are the way of the future, and there's nothing stopping you from creating the top guitar business in the world.
Shop for Discount/Wholesale Guitars in Bulk
You may have a pretty good idea of what your guitar business will look like and how you will start it up. Now you need the product, and you need it at the right price. How do the big guitar companies do it? Sometimes they have invested millions of dollars in their relationships with major manufacturers, ensuring that they get the best exclusive deal on all the goods. Most of the time, they just have a smart business model. It's easy to get tons of musical equipment to sell, you just have to follow some strict rules, and pay top dollar. Many stores sell new, name brand equipment, and make 0% profit. The new equipment is just a way to get people in the door, and all of the profit is made from selling used equipment. This is just an example, but you should keep in mind that some products are made to attract customers, while others are made to give you the profits you're looking for.
Working With Manufacturers
If you plan on selling refurbished guitars, sometimes it's a great idea to supplement your inventory with new guitars directly from the manufacturers. Sometimes these guitars can be very difficult to acquire, and even more difficult to make a profit from, but they can definitely help get you some foot traffic (or internet traffic). Most manufacturers are more than willing to let you sell their products, assuming you follow their strict guidelines. For example, most will require you to have a storefront (which can't be too close to another authorized dealer), sell a certain amount of guitars per month, purchase a large amount of their products up front (often you will not be able to choose which guitars to purchase), and charge no less than the price they determine. For a small business, it can be rough. But if you know what you're getting into, working with manufacturers can be a great way to increase your business. If someone buys a new guitar from you, they're more likely to come back for another. If someone walks in your door to buy a new guitar, they might be open to getting a refurbished one instead. The more business the better, as long as you can meet all the requirements.
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.