Buying used is the cheapest way to get a high quality guitar, but many
people don't know how to buy a used guitar safely and effectively. Ebay
isn't the be all and end all!
get me wrong, Ebay is great, but there's a whole world of bargains out
there that don't end up under the virtual hammer. There are often
unbelievable deals occuring in your local area you can take immediate
This article will hopefully open your eyes to the many ways in which
you can acquire used gear and give you all the tips and bookmarks
you need to start bargain hunting properly
Now, buying used gear is not risk free, but as long as you go
through the right channels (which I'll show you), and you
do your homework, your
transaction should be smooth and pleasant, and you'll bag yourself a
right bargain in the process.
Buying a used guitar on Ebay and Amazon
Ebay is probably the first place people think of to buy a used guitar
A word (well, several hundred of them) of warning
If you're planning to buy through an auction site, where the seller
will likely courier the guitar rather than you collecting it in person,
crucial that you know exactly
what you're buying and that you can sniff out disingenuous and
Here are some key points to remember when buying a second hand guitar
auction sites. The higher the value of the guitar, the more
likely there are to be fakes out there and the more scrutiny is
required on your behalf.
Research the guitar (the specific model) you're
thinking of buying - KNOW your instrument well.
Check the seller's feedback rating. I usually
disregard any seller with less than 95%
positive feedback, and always check any negative comments to see the
seller's response (sometimes there has been a genuine misunderstanding).
Ask the seller as many questions as it takes
for you to feel satisfied they are genuine.
Do not fulfill the transaction outside Ebay,
for example through Western Union, wire transfer or other 3rd party
at least has a basic buyer protection policy and dispute center if
things go tits up.
Ask for more pictures of the listed guitar if
necessary - closeups of the headstock, bridge, pickups... if the seller
won't provide them, walk away, it's not worth it. Post the pictures on
a reliable guitarist forum for experienced scrutiny if unsure. This is
more relevant for guitars that aren't mass produced today and carry
a higher value.
Ask for a serial number if applicable and
verify it with the manufacturer and even the police (again, this might
not be so important for a 2010 Squier Bullet!)
Take your time to get as much info as you can.
Don't rush because you "have to have it" or you're worried someone will
snap it up before you.
Look for features that confirm the original
guitar's spec. For example, if you're eyeing up a used American
Standard Strat, look for a brushed
steel bridge as opposed to shiny chrome (Mexican and Japanese Strats
tend to use chrome).
Higher priced guitars will have sealed tuners
as opposed to cheap, chrome covered tuners.
Professional looking logos are not a reliable
indicator of a genuine guitar because it's easy enough to print
a logo on a headstock!
Get a second opinion, ideally from a
professional luthier or guitar trader (I know that's easier said than
done, but many local store owners will be happy to help you with the
prospect of future business, e.g. a setup, strings, picks etc.)
Don't be put off by this advised cautiousness. You just need to learn
about whatever instrument you have your eye on before you hand over the
the guitar and speaking to the seller in person is generally a less
risky way to buy a used guitar than basing your decision on pictures
Ebay guitar buying tips
When you've searched for the guitar you want, sort the listings by
"Time: ending soonest". This way, you can see the listings that are
ending in the next few hours or minutes that have fallen under the
bidding radar (it's rare, but it happens!).
Filter your listings by auction as Buy it Now tends to be brand new
items and/or at an inflated price.
to find listings with misspellings and other poorly listed items. Of
course, this doesn't mean the item itself is poor, just that the seller
hasn't taken the time to make their listing as visible as it could be
to regular searchers.
Visit Amazon and search for any
product. There will be a "new" and "used" link underneath the price of
each listing. Clicking on "used" will take you to a marketplace of
sellers, similar to Ebay (i.e. sellers are rated by previous buyers),
but with each product sold at a fixed price.
The same cautiousness should be applied to buying used guitars through
Amazon as with Ebay, but there are buyer protection measures in place
for peace of mind.
Used guitars on classified listings and forums
Definitely my preferred way of buying a used guitar. This way, you get
to meet the seller in person, inspect and play the guitar and save on
shipping costs. Plus there's more room for haggling!
Remember, the further afield you're willing to travel, the better, as
there may be few or no listings in your immediate area at that time.
Start at the Craigslist homepage and choose
your region. On your city's page, search for your guitar using the box
in the top left
If you're a US resident, start searching on the Yakaz
homepage, or for residents in other parts of the world,
scroll to the bottom and choose your country.
Some more, busy classified ads sites to get you started...
Some people prefer to check the musicians forums because you can get to
know and trust the sellers more personally through their posts and
profile. You will need to sign up to each forum to become a member and
be able to message the sellers.
Many cities/states host their own online discussion forums that also
buying and selling items. Use Google to search "your city forum".
Check the used sections of online stores
Many online stores sell used and refurbished gear. The advantage of
buying through a reputable dealer over a seller in a classified ad is
that the store might offer warranties and free setups on the used item.
There's also the piece of mind that the store would certainly not want
to risk tarnishing its reputation, as a registered business, by selling
Some good online stores that stock used/refurbished gear...
With the convenience and reach of the internet, it's easy to
that you might have some amazing bargains sitting in one of your local
music stores or pawn shops.
Maps to locate the nearest stores. In the search box type
"guitar store near" and then start typing your city or town, the
auto-suggestion should then kick in and you can select your region from
The great thing about buying in store is you get to play before you
buy. You can also try and haggle some free strings and picks with your
used guitar purchase. Guitars are typically checked over and even set
in store if the facilities are available, so there's more assurance
that the guitars on display will have passed both the sellers and your
If you're looking for a specific model of guitar, it's probably best to
call the store before you visit to see if they've got it and at what
Condition of used guitars
Obviously a used guitar won't be quite as immaculate as a brand new,
fresh axe. However, whether you're buying online or in store,
information on the condition of the instrument should be readily
The guitar may just have a few scratches, dings or
blemishes. It may have purely cosmetic defects, which will still knock
hefty sum off the RRP but will not affect playability or tone.
For guitars that are significantly reduced in price, be sure to
check exactly what defects it has or any repairs needed. These should
be written down and declared by the seller before you hand over your
hard earned. If buying online, the condition of the item should be
clearly marked and described in detail. If not, give them a call to
confirm this information.
Some used guitars may be sold "as
seen", so spend good time playing and looking over the guitar to make
sure you're happy with it. Bring a (ideally more experienced) friend
along with you as they may spot things you don't. A second opinion
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