A Used Acoustic Guitar can be Treasure or Trash

A Great Guide To The Used Acoustic Guitar.

There's always a little bit of mystery about a used acoustic guitar.

The big question is always, treasure or trash?

The answer to that question may be found in a little recent guitar history.

There were't that many guitars made before the 1950's. Especially compared to what's been made since then.

The guitar boom that's currently going on started in the 1950's with the birth of rock and roll. There was suddenly a huge demand and not enough guitars to fill it.

At about the same time there was a growth in folk music. Groups like The Weavers were extremely popular. So you end up with the rock and rollers pushing the popularity of electric guitars and the folkies pushing the popularity of acoustic guitars.

Fast forward 50 years and see what you end up with. A lot of guitars were pushed out to fill the demand for guitars.

Many of these were of so-so quality when they were new. Now they are older, maybe poorly maintained, so-so guitars.

Even many of the guitars made in this time frame by higher quality makers aren't great by today's standards.

There have also been new things done in guitar construction that make more recent guitars better. From a players view point, a recently made used acoustic guitar may be a lot easier to play and maintain than a vintage one.

Why Buy A Used Acoustic Guitar

There is one main reason to buy a used acoustic guitar. That reason; to save money.

If you know what you're looking for you can get a good deal buying used.

What you're buying used is very important. That's why it's important to educate yourself on the guitar market.

If you have $300 or more to spend on a used acoustic guitar, you should get a copy of the Blue Book for guitars. There are a couple available and they should run less than $30.00 each.

Using a Blue Book isn't foolproof. Sometimes there won't be a particular model that you're looking for. However, they do have a ton of info available. It's certainly better than shopping blind.

Here's the reason that $300 should be your cut off point for new or used.

There are a good many good new guitars available for $200-300. If you've got $250 to spend, buy new. You might as well buy new and get the new guitar warranty.

Used acoustic guitars generally sell for 50% of the new guitars selling price depending on condition. So for around $300 you can buy a guitar that sells in the $600 range new.

That's what is hard for many sellers to understand. Guitars depreciate just like cars. The fact that a guitar was bought new for $3500 doesn't mean that it will sell for nearly the same price.

About the only exception to the rule is in the really high end stuff. Popular brands of small-shop, high-end guitars (Collings,Froggy Bottom, etc...) tend to sell used closer to their new price.

What Else Matters?

The other big consideration when buying used is condition.

You want to find something that doesn't need a lot of repairs.

It might be o.k. if you are doing the repairs yourself. If you're having the repairs done professionally, you'll need to figure those costs into the price of the guitar.

Here are some things to look for if you're buying a used acoustic guitar.

  • Do the tuners work?

  • Does the truss rod work? Does it change the curvature of the fingerboard?

  • Are the frets worn? If so, does it cause tuning problems or fret out when played?

  • Are there any cracks where the neck joins the headstock? If so, is the crack only in the finish, or in the wood also?

  • Are the ends of the fretwires sharp? Can you feel the edges when you run your hand along the edge of the neck?

  • Is the neck twisted when you sight down it?

  • Is there a hump where the neck joins the body?

  • Does the fingerboard extension drop where the neck joins the body?

  • Are their any cracks in the top?

  • Are their any cracks in the back and sides?

  • Is the back of the bridge seperating from the top?

Some of these things can be fixed for very little money ( new tuners, re-hydrating the guitar). Others will need the attention of a pro repairman.

Where To Buy

The best place to buy a used guitar depends on how much you know about guitars. For new players, a specialty store is probably best.

Talk to experienced players about which stores they deal with. The staff in a speciaty store probably knows more about guitars than the staff in one of the big box music stores.

They will also be more interested in making sure that you're happy with what you buy and how you're treated. Think about it.

A small store depends a lot more on repeat business than the big boxes.

If you are experienced with guitars, it's different. Anywhere or anyone that is selling a used acoustic guitar is fair game.

The biggest considerations are condition and price. If you're knowlegeable about used acoustic guitars you'll be o.k.

Good deals can be found in pawnshops. You usually won't find very high end instruments, though. Closely check the condition of the guitar that you find.

Also, it's critical to know the market price of used acoustic guitars. The pawnshop is going to have marked the price up. You will have to know what they're really selling for (look in your Blue Book).

Used acoustic guitars can be a great value if you shop carefully. And the hunt for a good deal is a lot of fun.

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