Pretty often, people ask me what to check out when buying a guitar. The answer can be pretty complex and it depends on what kind of guitar you want to buy and how much you want to spend.
The most important rule to keep in mind is, that there are no two equal guitars in this world. Do not buy a guitar that you have not played before. If you have played an equal, but not the same guitar insist in playing the guitar you want to buy. Actually it is a pretty subjective thing to buy a guitar. What you like might not be good for somebody else and vice versa.
The most important part to check is the neck. It should not be bent too much. At least it should be possible to adjust the trus rod. I usually hold the guitar and look over the bridge to teh headstock like over the sight of a gun. The frets should look some kind of regular. There shouldn't be low or high frets. This would make the guitar unplayable. Another knock out for a guitar is a twisted neck. This cannot be adjusted and a replacement neck is required.
Then I play the guitar a little, the neck has to feel well to you. Slight fret buzzing can be corrected, the action of the strings is usually not very well adjusted in the factory. Usually it is pretty high. It is an advatage to be able to adjust the necka nd the bridge of a guitar. Even a cheap guitar can maybe be a guitar that plays well, if it is adjusted right. I wouldn't buy a guitar, that is really badly adjusted, though.
Check for neck and body damages or signs of repair. The neck should be firmly attached to the body. The headstock has to be joined firmly to the neck. Check for signs of repair where both parts a joined.
The tuners shouldn't be lose and shouldn't slip.
A new guitar must not have dents or scratches... if so, try to get a better price. A used guitar will probably have scratches, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem as long as they don't influendce the playability or the sound.
Check if you like the sound. Cheap guitars will not sound like top notch guitars. More money buys better pickups.
Inspect the headstock. A headstock that has broken from the neck and glued back on the guitar is a bad thing. I wouldn't buy a repaired guitar. The tunesr should be
Check the input jack and the controls. Slightly jiggle the cable, that shouldn't cause any scratching sound. Turn the controls up and down - this shouldn't produce and scratching noise either. A guitar is never completely quiet, but it shoudln't be too noisy. It is a good idea to knock on the body to find out if it makes some unusual noise.
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Last modified on Friday, 2. January 2009