Thursday, November 5, 2009

Buying A Used Guitar

Here are some tips you have to consider on buying used but still in good condition guitar.

1. The wood ages and the sound matures, bringing out overtones you never knew existed.
When you buy a new acoustic guitar you need to be very careful the first several years that they don’t dry out or get too much humidity. Why? The wood hasn’t settled into its cured state yet. Curing of wood is so very important that done right the wood goes for a pretty penny. The old forest wood that is being pulled up from the bottom of the Great Lakes is prohibitively expensive. Some believe that Stradivarius aged his wood under water so that the cells would lose moisture slower and also be affected by anaerobic bacteria. Personally I haven’t got time to wait, so I’ll go with a used guitar. Now maybe you can’t tell the difference, but you will be able to tell the difference in the next item.

2. Used guitars are generally a lot cheaper, 50% less than what they retail for isn’t uncommon. That brings up an interesting point; I classify “used guitars” into four categories: old used, new used, refurbished, and needs work to play.
Here is how I break them down:

Old used guitar is at least 10 years old. These guitars have a history. They weren’t turned over just because a new model came out. Most have been gently played or played and forgotten.
New used guitar is less than five years old. Generally these are low to mid range guitars.

Refurbished guitars are factory seconds or used trade in guitars that have been fixed by a reputable dealer they also call this as Class A.

3. Most guitars don’t get used that much in the first place. More people give up rather than stick to playing. I have no idea what the actual numbers are, but I’m sure there are more guitars in basements, under beds, in attics that aren’t being played than there are guitars being played.

4. The design of the guitar hasn’t changed much, if at all, in the past years.

5. There is something satisfying about bringing the guitar home, taking off the strings, vacuuming out the inside, cleaning the body, restringing with fresh new strings and hearing that first chord.

6. Used guitars are not like used cars. Used guitars are like vintage wine or cigars, they get better with age.

7. There are woods available in older guitars that are no longer available. Brazilian Rosewood for example, is only available now in three piece backs. Why? Because all that can be logged now are Brazilian Rosewood stumps. True you can find really high end guitars that have solid Brazilian backs, but if you are reading this article you probably aren’t looking to spend six grand for a guitar.

8. Older guitars are often handmade. Why is that better? Because each individual unit was examined by hand every step of the way. Sometimes cutting to laser precision doesn’t make the best sound out of a naturally grown piece of wood.


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