Hey guys, had a which guitar thread and I'm trying out a 1999/2000 MIA HSS Strat tomorrow about an hour away. What things should I look for? I got a tip about how to check the guitar's resonance, what else in general?
Quote by Duv

Oh, and for resonance . . . smack an open A chord and hold the body and see if it vibrates like a middle-aged woman's best friend.
Ask the owner some specific questions about the instrument, just to check him out (was this instrument ever damaged, did you have to take it to a pro, were any parts replaced, etc.)

If he doesn't even know what string brand or gauge is on there (not kidding, this has happened to me) you probably shouldn't trust the stuff he says to you 'cos chances are it's all made up (which doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it)... Also, if you like the way it's set up, you might wanna stick to these kind of strings, so ask about the setup anyway

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The same stuff you'd look for when buying a used car:
- Does it drive (play) well?
- Maintenance and repair history
- Past ownership
- Mileage (well, usage)
- Is there more wear and tear than "expected" wear and tear?

That sort of stuff
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Naturally you should focus on playability and on the way it sounds when plugged in. You don't wanna be stuck with a strat that has badly wired pickups or rusty potmeters/pickup selectors or something. If you find any type of defect be sure to go "hmmm, I don't know man, this is kind of an issue for me, blablabla" and see if you can get a discount. Hell, if you can think of ANY reason to complain (the finish looked nicer on photo, the neck just doesn't "feel right"...), don't hesitate to do so, even if it's all bs. You don't know how eager he is to get rid of the thing. I bet this person has an amp available to try it out on the spot, but if he/she doesn't that's one more reason to insinuate that you're not all that sure about this deal, so...)

If, however, some of these remarks are genuine (like: the guitar in not set up properly, so there's no way for you to tell how well it plays) don't be afraid to blow off the deal. There's no point in buying an instrument you don't like just because it looks like a total bargain or 'cos you already had your mind set on getting one of those -> unless this person is a huge junk in need of a hit and is willing to sell you this thing for $100 there will be other deals if you decide to keep looking

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Try and find out the original specs of the instrument first, so regardless of what the owner says you should be able to spot if anything has been changed on the outside and you should know roughly what to expect out of the tone and how the controls work. It wouldn't hurt to look up some pictures of similar guitars of the same kind from the same sort of time so you can see what it should actually look like - handy if knobs were changed or tuners were changed yet the owner says they're original.

There's not much to look for that isn't obvious though. If the guitar is half burnt and falling apart, don't buy it. You should be able to tell for yourself if a guitar is in good condition or not. That's the main thing with used guitars. 1 is it in good condition and 2 has it been modded.
I have 36 electric guitars, I've only ever bought one of them 'new'. Buying a new guitar is for turkeys.

Don't sweat it. If it plays nicely and you like it and it's a a good price then get it. If you don't over pay for a used guitar, then you can sell it a used guitar and you can resell it for more or less what you paid for it.

My first question before I even look at a guitar is 'is it all original'...when you buy a Fender or Gibson your DO NOT WANT UPGRADES...period...no exceptions!!! They decrease the value of the guitar and make it harder for you to sell in future. I have a dozen Fenders and they are ALL original parts....

I also want to know the serial number ahead of time so I can check it out against the Fender serial number data base. the seller might think it is a 1999 model but he has no way of knowing that unless he bought it new at a guitar store in that year.

I also want to know where this person got the guitar and how long they have had it. I don't want to plunk good money down on stolen property. you can never be sure but you can get a feel for a person's story.

Price for a 1999 MIA Stratocaster in used but decent condition...$700-$775...note...that's with case. This guitar came originally with a case...do not buy it without a case. It is one of the warning signs of a few parts put together to make it look like an MIA Strat and it is also a warning sign of a fake.
Check that the tuning machines ar not loose and wobly. Use the tremilo (don't abuse it its not a Floyd) and see if it stays in tune when you retun it to normal. Check that the tremilo sits level on the body. Sight the neck to look for warping.
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Test. Every. Fret.

While testing each fret, do a bend and release. Did it return to the original pitch? Was there a sudden jump in pitch (signs of an uneven or chipped fret)?
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I think the guys above me have all come up with good suggestions.

The main thing is to sit down with the guitar and play the thing. Does it sound right, feel right, are the frets level (and not excessively worn), do all the electronics work, does all the hardware work fine. Is the neck warped etc. All of that business.

Then you start talking. Ask them all about the history. You want to know everything about the guitar. Where they got it from, how long ago etc. All the stuff people have suggested above.

If you don't feel quite right about the guitar, or, just anyway, start talking about gear/guitars/playing. See if the guy knows his stuff. If he doesn't and you're already shaky on the deal then back away. It could be a sign that he's a cowboy.

Always take someone with you, and never rush/allow yourself to be rushed.

Be polite, but firm.

Oh, and for resonance just play unplugged and see if it's loud. And smack an open A chord and hold the body and see if it vibrates like a middle-aged woman's best friend.
Last edited by Duv at Jul 3, 2011,
Quote by Duv
And smack an open A chord and hold the body and see if it vibrates like a middle-aged woman's best friend.

Alright thanks a lot guys! This was very helpful and I'm confident with all this knowledge.

And I'm sigging Duv
Quote by Duv

Oh, and for resonance . . . smack an open A chord and hold the body and see if it vibrates like a middle-aged woman's best friend.