An Australian’s Guide to Shopping Online for Used Guitars

Acoustic and electric guitars are some of the most popular instruments played by children and adults alike. Buying cheap guitars has never been easier with all the classifieds websites built for consumers in Australia. Check out the helpful tips below to make sure you get the best price possible when shopping online for a used guitar.

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Expert Tips for Purchasing a Pre-owned Guitar Online

Learn the Age and Condition: If the seller does not list the age and condition of the guitar alongside the make and model, be sure to ask. A guitar owned by one person and kept in a climate-controlled environment is sure to be in much better condition than one owned by multiple people with unknown care. The seller should be honest with you and you should avoid sellers that refuse to provide this information.

Choose an Appropriate Size: Guitars come in a variety of sizes and shapes with different neck widths and depths. In order to play correctly, you must be able to place your hands and arms in the correct positions without overreaching or feeling crowded. Playing the guitar should not cause finger strain or fatigue, nor should the fretboard be so big that your fingers must stretch to the point of being uncomfortable as this could lead to tendonitis.

Consider the Cost: Most pre-owned guitars for sale require a least a little setup or repair after purchase. This only becomes a problem when the cost of repair exceeds the purchase price and that cheap, used guitar ends up costing you as much as a new one. Price may be an important factor when you decide what to buy, but do not let what seems like a great deal sway you unless you know for certain it will not cost you on the other side.

Test it in Person, if Possible: A seller may live close enough to you that you can give the guitar a once-over before you hand over any money. Look at the outside aesthetics and play the instrument. Bend the strings and listen to the sounds. Be on the lookout for strings that rattle or ring, this could indicate problems with the windings, the fretboard, or the bridge.

Inspect the Finish: Most used guitars come with some minor flaws within the finish. Small ones do not take away from the instrument’s value, but discolorations, stains, and cracks can significantly lower it. Thoroughly inspect the lacquer or paint for damage caused by chemicals or synthetic guitar straps. Although you can refinish the guitar, doing so ends up cutting the instrument’s value by half. You should never purchase a guitar with an obviously deep crack since it costs more than the guitar is worth to fix that kind of structural damage.

Examine the Head: Take a look at the space where the headstock and the neck meet. Damage often occurs here after the guitar is dropped since it is very vulnerable to damage. Check for ridges or wrinkles that could indicate a previous repair job. Even when well repaired, a guitar with a once broken headstock loses half its value.

Check the Fretboard: Carefully go over each individual fret to check for divots or dents worn down by the strings. Check the end of the neck, around the last five to eight frets, for a ramp or kick-up that indicates the fretboard is warped. Repairing these imperfections is expensive, about $150 for a single fret level and between $350 and $650 for a full fret replacement.

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Look at the Neck: The neck should be consistent from the first fret to the last one and the truss rod should allow for adjustments. If you notice the neck looks wavy or uneven, like a roller coaster, you can pretty much guarantee it will need a lot of work. The excessive backward or forward bowing usually indicates the truss rod is not in the right place, but it could also mean it is broken or stripped.

View the Neck Angle: One of the most overlooked issues that affects a guitar’s playability is the angle the neck attaches to the body. If the bridge saddles sit as low as they possibly can, but the instrument’s action is too high, the guitar likely has too low a neck angle. The inverse indicates the guitar has too high a neck angle. In either case, the neck must be reset. Check with your local musical instrument store.

Go over the Hardware (Electric Guitar): Inspecting the hardware should not take long if you know where to look. The plating should be fairly obvious and you need to more closely view the washers and nuts on the knobs, the adjustment screws on the bridge, neck mounting materials, and the nuts, washers, and screws that hold the tuning keys in place. Double check for missing screws, stripped threads, and rounded nuts. Rust is another big issue with hardware, but it can be removed with some effort.

Test the Electronics (Electric Guitar): Plug in the guitar and rotate the tone and volume knobs while listening attentively for any scratchy spots. The switches should all turn easily and the cable should enter and exit the output jack without getting stuck. Jiggle the cable a little to see if the signal continues to come out the amp clearly. If not, it may require additional testing or repair.

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