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How To Buy A Guitar


Used and Vintage Guitar Buying Tips



How To Buy A Guitar | Used Guitar Buyer Tips

Page Update 3/7/2016


There are a number of questions to ask yourself when looking to buy a Guitar.   

Is this guitar for a beginner or a more advanced guitarist?

If you are looking for a beginner guitar you may want to start with a less expensive starter guitar.  Many guitar stores and even some department stores carry starter guitars or starter guitar kits.  These starter guitars are usually foreign made guitars that are less expensive.  This being said, expect a lower quality guitar that may not stay in tune or work as well as a better made guitar.  But, the upside of buying a starter guitar or starter guitar kit is that you don't spend a lot on something your not sure a beginner will stay with in the future.  Expect to pay around $100 and up for a starter guitar or kit.  Some examples may include Fender Squire, OLP, Epiphone, Austin, First Act, and Ibanez.  All these brands and more carry guitars at the starter level for a beginner. 

Some guitar brands also offer scaled down versions for younger players.  These mini starter guitars offer a young kid the opportunity to start playing with a guitar that is more his or her size.  They may be able to get their hands and fingers around the neck and fret board a little easier with these mini guitars. The scaled down guitars are harder to find but they are out there. 

How to Buy a Starter Guitar Kit?  How to Buy a Beginners Guitar Kit? You may also want to find guitar beginners kit or guitar starters kit.  These guitar beginners kits usually come with a number of accessories you may need to play the guitar.  (For example, some beginners kits come with a starter electric guitar, small practice amp, picks, guitar strap, cord, guitar bag / case, etc. The lInk below may help you to find some starter guitar kits.

What type of guitar sound do I want in a new or used guitar?

There are a number of guitars on the market today that offer some different options and sounds.  Think about the guitar players and music that you may want to learn or emulate.  This may help you decide what type of guitar you may want to purchase.  For the most part the bands listed below may have used the following types of guitars:

  1. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn (SRV), Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) - These bands have used Fender Stratocasters with single coil pickups on some of their material.
  2. Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page) , Guns N Roses (Slash), Tool (Adam Jones)- These guitarists have used Gibson Les Paul's with Humbucker Pickups in the past.
  3. Eddie Van Halen - Eddie has used modified Stratocasters in the past with Humbucker pickups (Ex: Striped Frankenstein Guitar), also has his own Signature Wolfgang Guitars, and now works with Fender and Charvel Guitar Companies.
  4. Bruce Springsteen and Prince - Fender Telecasters
  5. Korn and Joe Satriani - Ibanez
  6. Days of the New (Travis Meeks) - Takamine Acoustics

These are just some examples of what guitar some of these guitarists have played in the past.  Of course, they may play other guitars as well, but what is listed tends to be what they are known to play.  Also, think about the type of pickup sound you may want in a guitar.  Single coil pickups tend to have a thinner sound, while humbucker pickups do well with heavier and more distortion type amps or sounds.  Other guitars have both Single Coils and Humbuckers.  They may be configured in a HSS (Hum, Single, Single) format or a HSH (Hum, Single, Hum) Format.  There is usually a pickup switch that lets you use the pickup of choice or a combination of pickups. 

Do I want a new or a used guitar?

Most guitar shops sell both used and new guitars.  New guitars usually offer warranties and sometimes a guitar shop will set up (tune and intonate) the guitar for you before you leave the shop.  Usually, the American made guitars tend to be more expensive than the foreign made ones.   There is a perception that USA made guitars are of better quality than foreign models as well.  While the perception is changing a bit in some circles, this still seems to be the case.  American made guitars tend to be more expensive as well.  For Example, a Gibson Les Paul Standard (American Made) could run you thousands of dollars, while its foreign counterpart the Epiphone Les Paul (Owned by Gibson) may cost in the hundreds.  Also, Some guitars appreciate over time as well.  Check out the Blue Book Of Electric Guitars to see some blue book values of vintage guitars. 

How much should I spend on a guitar?

Of course Ebay has used and new guitars as well.  Some guitar models get discontinued and you may only be able to find them used.  For Example (Peavey Wolfgang, Fender Roadhouse, and the G&L Rampage).  So if your a more experienced guitarist and know a specific guitar you want may be discontinued etc. you will either have to luck into one at a used guitar shop or find it on ebay or guitar trader etc. The moral of the story is to look around and find the best price for the guitar.  Check online music instrument store prices, ebay, and your local guitar shops.  You may find deals on new or used guitars.  Guitars can run from cheaper starter guitars in the hundreds of dollars, to the insanely expensive guitars in the thousands.  Alot of what you want to spend on a guitar depends on how long you have been playing and what type of sound you need for your music.  Again, do a lot of comparison shopping because prices tend to fluctuate from place to place.  Also, feel free to haggle a bit when your shopping for guitars at a guitar shop.  Some guitar shops will negotiate prices on music equipment.  It can't hurt to ask for a better price.

What is the best fret size to look for in a guitar? 

Fret size is a matter of preference to most guitarists.  Generally, a beginner would enjoy smaller frets because it's easier to learn and finger guitar chords.  More experience players may lean towards bigger fret sizes for a few reasons.  Bigger frets allow you to bend your notes more easily, and feel better to some guitarists.  Smaller frets may fret out as they call it when bending a note.  Basically it means you can only go so far when bending a note with smaller frets.


What's the best Guitar Neck Size?

Guitar neck size is also a matter of preference to the guitarist.  The thicker or more meaty the neck is, the harder it may be for a beginner to finger chords or play notes.  Some people lead towards thicker guitar necks as they mature in their music careers.  It's a matter of feel and preference.  Guitar necks can range from Thin, Thick, C Shape, V Shape, Boat Shape, and more.  Check the guitars description on the neck when looking to buy a guitar and play the guitar to see if the guitar feels right to you. 

What type of guitar related accessories will I need?

If you are a beginning guitarist, a starter kit should get you what you need to play an electric guitar.  When buying an electric guitar you will need some or all of these options:

  1. Beginners Guitar Kit Find Fender beginners guitar kits.
  2. Guitar Cord The guitar cord hooks the guitar to the amp.
  3. Guitar Strap The Strap hooks onto the guitar and goes over the shoulder of the guitarist.
  4. Guitar Strings Most guitars come with strings but you should buy some extra packs because strings can and will break.  Ask your guitar shop what gauge of strings are on the guitar.  You may need lighter gauge strings for a less experienced guitarists.  Try 8's or 9's for more bend on the strings for beginners.  10's or higher for more experience guitarists who want a heavier string sound.
  5. Starter Guitar Amplifier Guitar Amplifiers come in many sizes and wattage.  Starter amps come in smaller wattages For Ex:  10W o 15 W.  While, if you will be playing shows with your amp, you may need 100W amp or higher to fill the room with sound.  It just depends on the need of the amp.
  6. Guitar Picks Guitar picks come in different thicknesses as well.  An acoustic player or starter may want a thinner pick.  You will need a thicker pick for larger stings especially on bass guitars.
  7. Guitar Tuner It's a good idea to pick up a guitar tuner.  Most run on batteries and make it a lot easier for a beginner to tune their guitar.
  8. Guitar Case or Gig Bag Cases and Gig Bags protect the guitar in transportation.
  9. Guitar Stand - A guitar stand holds the guitar when you not playing it, while on stage or at home.   

Above are a few questions to ask yourself when thinking about purchasing a new or used guitar.  Hopefully, these tips will help in your new or used guitar search.