Guide to Guitar buying: Used Instruments Part 1

Initial feeling 

So you finally found that gem you’ve been looking for, or maybe you just found a good deal on a piece of used gear, either way, we’re here to help.

You should go into this knowing that purchasing used gear takes away some of the safety nets you have when buying new. It’s all going to depend on what verbal or written agreement you made and how reputable the other party is. This makes it very important to verify the gear if you can and validate the other parties reputation if possible.

Don’t worry though, we’re not trying to scare you away from your purchase, and most people aren’t trying to scam you at all, but better to be prepared than to be caught unaware.

We’re going to start this article assuming you have access to the instrument and can inspect it hands on, and we’re going to set this, to “Blaekle Standards“, meaning, we’re going to inspect this guitar, as if I’m purchasing it myself. Right there with ya buddy.

Note: The amount of wear that you determine acceptable on used gear is entirely up to you, cosmetic issues like chips, faded or worn paint, customization, and things that affect only how the guitar looks will are factors you will base standards on for yourself, although, stock options typically have higher resale value and more value in general, please also note that purely cosmetic issues do not warrant the passing up of a good deal, I see fairly often newcomers finding good deals and being worried about chips in the paint on guitars that were 1000 USD or higher they’re finding for much less, so although it is ultimately up to you, a couple of small chips is not a big deal and should not discourage you, it adds character, and possibly presents an opportunity to ask for a better deal if possible, but again, doesn’t warrant the passing up of a used high end guitar that’s selling for 600 or less.

Inspector Gadget

Best case scenario is that the instrument is well kept, clean, in tune, and  ready to play. If it’s not, this is one of those factors that you’ll have to enforce your own standards on. There’s typically no reason a serious seller would be selling dirty or unkept gear, and damages should always be listed, because if one isn’t noted, what else could they be not telling you? You as a consumer have the right to ask for the instrument to be in adequate shape or have the right to haggle if it’s not in proper shape: missing strings and incorrect setups; which obscure the quality of your inspection making it harder to see what, if anything, is or could be wrong with your potential purchase.

Since we’re doing this “Blaekle” style, we’re only looking at instruments that are in playing condition, because one thing you can always do for yourself, is make sure you work less… wait what? Yes, if you have to re-string the guitar, fix the wiring, adjust the truss rod, and intonate it just to test it, you just wasted a lot of time and effort whereas you could have found a working unit and began and completed inspection already. So unless you’re getting a really good deal on a usually expensive guitar or vintage gear that’s only missing one or two parts, let’s keep this moving forward, we’re not trying to do repairs we’re looking to buy an instrument.

We’ll continue this article in part 2.


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