Are you in the market to buy a new or used guitar? If so, it is better to go armed with a little knowledge about guitars so that you can make a wise purchase. If you are purchasing online you won’t be able to do many of these checks. That’s why you should only purchase from someone who guarantees the workmanship and quality of the instrument. Whether you’re buying on eBay or from a large retail store always check out their return policy. If they do not allow returns … move on. There’s lots of guitars for sale.
1. Before you buy a used guitar, cost-compare against the price of a new one, unless the guitar is quite old. You could also compare its used price to other used prices by going to an online auction and either searching for the same or a similar guitar.
2. Check the overall condition of the wood for cracks, scratches, splits, dents, chips, etc.
Also check the lacquer finish for cracks and splits.
3. Check the neck/fret board for warping and twisting. You can do this by holding the guitar flat on its back, with the sound hole facing upward. Bring the guitar up to eye-level, with the neck running away from you and the edge of the body almost touching your face.
4. Let your eyesight skim across the front of the body and down the fret board. You should be able to see if the neck is twisted or bowing.
5. Tune the guitar, or have the seller tune it for you.
6. If you know how to play about five or six chords then play them. If you don’t know how to play, ask the seller to play them for you. This check ensures that the neck of the guitar is not warped, even though you couldn’t physically see it. If the neck is warped, and the guitar is properly tuned, then some of the chords will sound good, but others will sound as though the guitar is not tuned. If this happens, check the tuning again. If it persists, then don’t buy the guitar.
7. Check the bridge of the guitar. If it’s made out of wood or plastic, make sure it’s not cracked or splitting. The bridge needs to be rock-solid, as a lot of pressure is exerted on the bridge by the strings.
8. Check the tuning heads. Do they turn easily, or are they very stiff and hard to turn. Even with the high tension of the strings, a quality guitar will have tuning heads that are fairly easy to turn.
9. Check the ‘action’ of the guitar. Are the strings a fair distance from the fret board? Are they easy or hard to press down at various points on the fret board? If you are buying the guitar for yourself, and you know how to play, even if you’re a beginner, then play the guitar. How does it feel? Is it easy or hard to play? Can you fit your hand around the neck/fret board comfortably to play chords? Is the guitar a comfortable size and shape for your body? Is it easy to hold?
If you are unsure of your own judgment, take along a friend who plays guitar really well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!