The advantages of buying a new guitar are many.
Most new guitars carry some sort of a warranty to the original owner. And if the guitar
does not, most stores will warrant their merchandise for some amount of time. You can
shop around to get a good price on a new guitar.
There are many new guitars to choose from, most companies come out with new and
sometimes interesting models every year. You can by a new guitar today, or wait, and
still be able to buy it next week, usually.
There tend to be less surprises with a new guitar, you wont need to change the tuners,
or fuss with electronics in most cases. It should be noted, though, that most new guitars
still need a proper "set up " once you've bought it. Factory set ups usually don't fine
tune the string adjustments and neck curvature. The reason for this is that once a guitar is
adjusted to close tolerances it's fluctuation due to seasonal enviromental changes will
be much more noticable. The fact is, most new guitars off the rack have high action. It is
much easier to sell a guitar with slightly high action than with action so low that it
buzzes. Stores don't want to spend time adjusting all their guitars as the seasons change (and
most stores aren't climate controlled, though many are). So don't be surprised if your
new guitar needs a set up. Some stores will provide this service if you buy new, but not
all. Particularly if you get a really discounted price.
Finally, when you buy a new guitar you get to bestow it with its initial character, a
character which you may not notice for years or maybe ever, but never the less yours.
The advantages of buying used are also many.
As with anything you buy , a new guitar generally loses at least 25% of its value the
minute you take possession of it. Hence, if someone else bought new and then decides it
doesn't suit their needs you can usually buy it for less than new even if it is in very
good condition. Of course you don't get the luxury of shopping around and you may wait quite
a while for the guitar you are interested in.
Used guitars often need work, particularly if they are old. Some problems such as
curvature of the neck (forward or back), cracks, and set up problems can be detected by
a careful eye. But other problems may need to be diagnosed by a professional. A pickup
that is not working could be a $20.00 switch or a bad coil (replace the pickup). High
action could indicate the need for a neck adjustment and set up ($45.00 or so) , or it
could necessitate a neck re-set ($280.00 or so).
There is no easy way out of this conundrum except to be very careful when buy a used
instrument that isn't in excellent condition. And be prepared to spend a little more than
On the other hand, a used guitar has often "settled in", the neck has been under tension
for a while and if it is a good neck it will feel great. All acoustic guitars benefit from
played a lot and when you buy new you often get that certain tonal and visual quality that
comes with time
And many used guitars have character. There is nothing like playing a well cared for old
Gibson , Martin, or Fender (just to mention a few big names)
New or used is a tough question, but it is worth considering the factors before you make
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When buying any guitar, the strings should be set at a height that feels comfortable.
Playing a guitar will give you an instant reflection of either how well it is set up, or
how out of wack it is.
While height preferences vary with the player, there is a general range that most of us
would agree on. If the strings seem high or too low, check the saddles to see that an
adjustment can be made in the direction you want to go.
You need twice as much movement on your saddle as you want to lose in height at the
twelfth fret (as measured from the bottom of the string to the top of the fret).Compare
the height of the strings to the height of the saddle, or saddles. Ideally, you should be
able to raise or lower the string height to suit your playing style. Electric guitars with
bolt on necks, are most easily adjustable in this regard because a bad neck angle can be
adjusted. Set neck electrics and acoustic guitars should be scrutinized most closely in
With electric guitars, turn every volume and tone control, flip every switch, and make
sure they do something, and do it without static. Used guitars often need the to have the
controls and switches cleaned, so calculate the cost into this in deciding what a guitar is
worth to you.
Check to see if the frets are pitted and worn. Look at the first five frets in particular.
Turn the tuners to see that move smoothly.
LOOK AT THE GUITAR. With used guitars turn it over,Iook behind the headstock for
repaired cracks. Make sure that seams and joints are tight.