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#1
I've been playing for 4+ years, and as a gift to myself I thought I'd save up for a better crafted and better sounding guitar. My question to you folks is this:

When trying out a guitar, whether to buy or out of curiosity, how do you do it?
What do you look for?


I usually play it unplugged first, looking for playability issues. I'll find a quiet spot where I can check the current set-up (which often can be terrible), the intonation, any buzzing issues and what not. Then, if all goes well there, I find an amp and put it through it's paces, from the heaviest I like to play to how well of a clean tone I can get, and everything in between. Then I check the pots for scratchiness or volume roll-off, and the tone knobs just to hear what shaping they do. However, I don't normally try "shredder" or typically "metal" guitars, so that's where the looks department comes in.

tl;dr: what do you do when you first try out a guitar?
#2
On top of what you said, check the body for any finish imperfections.
They may have covered up knots with wood filler and painted over.
My rg has 3 knots/ pitch pockets and it really affects the tone.
Also check to see if the frets were finished well.
#3
Quote by JDizzle787
I've been playing for 4+ years, and as a gift to myself I thought I'd save up for a better crafted and better sounding guitar. My question to you folks is this:

When trying out a guitar, whether to buy or out of curiosity, how do you do it?
What do you look for?



I usually play it unplugged first, looking for playability issues. I'll find a quiet spot where I can check the current set-up (which often can be terrible), the intonation, any buzzing issues and what not. Then, if all goes well there, I find an amp and put it through it's paces, from the heaviest I like to play to how well of a clean tone I can get, and everything in between. Then I check the pots for scratchiness or volume roll-off, and the tone knobs just to hear what shaping they do. However, I don't normally try "shredder" or typically "metal" guitars, so that's where the looks department comes in.


tl;dr: what do you do when you first try out a guitar?

That's basically exactly what I do.
Current Gear:
LTD MH-400
PRS SE Custom 24 (Suhr SSH+/SSV)
Ibanez RG3120 Prestige (Dimarzio Titans)
Squier Vintage Modified 70s Jazz V
Audient iD22 interface
Peavey Revalver 4, UAD Friedman BE100/DS40
Adam S3A monitors
Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#4
Quote by DimebagZappa
On top of what you said, check the body for any finish imperfections.
They may have covered up knots with wood filler and painted over.
My rg has 3 knots/ pitch pockets and it really affects the tone.
Also check to see if the frets were finished well.



Good point, although depending on how old it is (I don't mind used), imperfections can be dealt with. But straight up new, yeah. And that's a good point when considering used to see if it's been damaged heavily.
#5
i play it acoustically, then i check for issues, repairs, signs of abuse, fretwear etc. that is all done in the store.

i don't plug in a guitar in a store, i only test it plugged in through my amp at home later.

store amps won't tell me much about how it will sound through my rig.

if it doesn't pass the test at home, it goes back fast.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#6
from the sticky...

How to try out guitars

Before you select a guitar, there are a few things you need to think over.
-The style of music you play.
-A budget you can live with.
-How long you've been playing. If you've ever owned a guitar before.
We all gravitate towards the guitar that looks the Hawtest, but looks and color, shouldn't be your first concern.
Wood type, bridge type, pickup configuration, guitar weight, brand reputation, and UG member recommendations should all come into play.
You need to have in mind, a few guitars that suit you best, before you even walk into the store.

Walking into The Store:

Wait, you've already blown it! Are you sure you're in the right place? Most of us only have a couple of options.
Ideally you live in an area with large chains, and local shops. Keep in mind that large chains pay their workers with commission. A money driven worker will not be working towards your best interest, no matter how nice he seems. Local shops might be able to offer you a better deal, but they don't carry as large a selection.
It's good to get prices online, some stores will even match competitor's prices, but whenever possible, physically play as many guitars as possible. Keep in mind that in most cases, the recommended list price for a guitar, is about twice its actual selling price.
In addition, when you are trying to get more guitar for the money, It might be worth your time to look into local pawn shops, classified Ads or to check out Ebay. There are some good deals out there, you just need to know where to look.

Take a Friend:

Guitar stores can be overwhelming. When possible, bring a guitar playing friend with you, preferably someone with purchasing experience. You want him to be objective and to run interference for you, if you run into any pushy sales associates.
Start off by finding the models and styles in your price range. If you aren't happy with the choices, at least you'll create a basis for comparison.
If you have a favorite type of pick, make sure you have one in your pocket. You want to feel as comfortable as possible.
There's no reason to call over a sales associate just yet, because you should start off by playing your choices acoustically.

Testing a Guitar:

Once you're certain about the model, you're ready to test some guitars. Don't be afraid to ask for one off the wall. When they don't want one played, they will usually tag it, but it's a good idea to leave the top shelf guitars alone unless they are in your price range. Let the sales staff know you're serious and they will be more willing to work with you on a good deal.
To make things simple, I've made a checklist.
Before playing...
-Sit down in a quiet area and feel the guitars weight. Make sure it's balanced, and suited to your size.
-Move the knobs and switch. Make sure they are tight.
-Go to the input jack, see if it wiggles.
-Lift the guitar to your face. Check the headstock and neck joint for small cracks or chips.
-See if the neck looks straight.
-Shake the guitar. Listen for loose parts.
-Look at the fretboard. Make sure there are no wood imperfections, raised or crooked frets. Make sure the frets don't poke through the side of the board.
Before plugging in....
-Strum and fret each string. You're listening for fret buzz.
Keep in mind, guitars aren't always set up prior to placement on the selling floor.
Sometimes they aren't even tuned. Action and fret buzz are USUALLY adjustable, but the guitar shouldn't buzz and rattle everywhere.
-Check the guitar's harmonics. Compare tones at the 12th. See if the guitar is intonated.
-Make sure the board isn't too wide for you. See if you can reach the higher frets.
-Make sure the bridge saddles are level, with no sharp points.
-Make sure the tuners don't feel loose.
Amp it up...
-Ok, find the pain in the ass sales guy. You'll need a guitar cable, and an amp,
JUST LIKE THE ONE YOU HAVE AT HOME!!!!
Don't Let him plug you into a $1,000 amp. You're testing the guitar not the amp.
-If possible, have a riff ready. If you're tagged as a complete noob, you'll get less respect.
-Use the switch. Select the neck pickup. Select the bridge. Listen for crackling noises.
Roll the knobs and listen for noise. Touch and lift your hand off the bridge, listen for buzzing that stops when you ground it. If you're into Metal, and are looking at a humbucker guitar, expect to hear less noise than if you were testing a single-coil guitar.
-Check the pickups with the amp on clean and with gain.

Questions to Ask...
-Hopefully you already know the wood type of your choice guitar. You need to make sure the salesman knows that you've done your homework.
"Do you have any other Mahogany guitars in this price range, you could recommend?"
-Let the salesman know that you've noticed any imperfections.
"I like this ibanez, but I'm picking up fretbuzz through the amp. Do your guitars come
setup?"
-Spend a while playing the guitar. Look upset even if you like the guitar.
"What can I get this guitar for?" "Does this guitar come with a case?"
You want to walk out of there, with as many free extras as possible. Especially if you've found anything wrong with the guitar. Any minor flaw, might work as a bargaining chip.
- "What's your return policy?"
Final thoughts...
IF YOU LIKE THE GUITAR ON THE SALES FLOOR, TAKE THAT GUITAR, NOT ONE FROM THE STOCKROOM. Unless it's a floor model, you should still get a box for it. You just don't want to take the time to find the perfect guitar, only to end up with a lemon in the end.
Also keep in mind, stores make a lot of money off of purchase insurance. In almost every case, it's not worth it to buy protection on a guitar. Except for the neck, every part is easily replaced. In addition, any flaws would be apparent within the usual 30 day return time frame.

Good Luck, Jenny
__________________
Jenneh

Quote by TNfootballfan62
Jenny needs to sow her wild oats with random Gibsons and Taylors she picks up in bars before she settles down with a PRS.


Set up Questions? ...Q & A Thread

Recognised by the Official EG/GG&A/GB&C WTLT Lists 2011
#8
Heh, I appreciate that, but this was also just a curiosity of mine. Maybe some just go out there, and if it sounds good, they get it no matter what, or looks are everything, etc. Everyone I know guitar-wise who I trust agrees with the way I do it, but sometimes I just think about less intensive ways.
#9
Quote by jj1565
You'll need a guitar cable, and an amp,
JUST LIKE THE ONE YOU HAVE AT HOME!!!!
Don't Let him plug you into a $1,000 amp. You're testing the guitar not the amp.


very important. play trough the amp you own or are planning to buy.

this might be tempting if you play a little piece of shit amp and there is a marshall full stack sitting next to it in the store but... ah forget it test on the biggest most expensive amp possible. but make shure you also try it on the amp you own for at least a minute so you know if it's the sound you want with YOUR set up
#10
Quote by vince1991
very important. play trough the amp you own or are planning to buy.

this might be tempting if you play a little piece of shit amp and there is a marshall full stack sitting next to it in the store but... ah forget it test on the biggest most expensive amp possible. but make shure you also try it on the amp you own for at least a minute so you know if it's the sound you want with YOUR set up


I understand this, but isn't that a little out of the way to go?

I mean, no I don't have a shitty amp, that's not the issue. It just throws a huge wrench in the process since it's time consuming to not play it through an amp until you get home, or to compare between guitars.
#11
I feel it, run my hand over the neck and body. I'll plug it in and check out the tone.

Playability is all in the setup so anything else generally doesn't matter.
1978 Peavey T-40 -> Ampeg Micro-VR - > Ampeg SVT210AV + Ampeg SVT-15E
#12
I ask the sales guy to grab me a couple options based on what I think I want. I make sure they are all in my budget and I give them a quick play through an amp as similar to mine as possible.

from there, based on what I liked and didn't like about the guitars that I tried quickly, I make a more educated guitar selection, giving a couple of guitars relatively thorough tests both plugged in and unplugged. Once its really narrowed down, I try playing the guitars through a couple other amps (amps I own, have owned or think there is a remote chance I will own) so that I can get a feel for how the guitar reacts to different amps.
#13
Quote by gregs1020
tl;dr



!!!


the other way to do it,
is to see a steal on cl and to run over to get it
before he changes his mind.
Jenneh

Quote by TNfootballfan62
Jenny needs to sow her wild oats with random Gibsons and Taylors she picks up in bars before she settles down with a PRS.


Set up Questions? ...Q & A Thread

Recognised by the Official EG/GG&A/GB&C WTLT Lists 2011
#14
Quote by jj1565
!!!


the other way to do it,
is to see a steal on cl and to run over to get it
before he changes his mind.

been there and soooo done that.


i took the OP as "how do you try out guitars?"

how i do it, is certainly not the answer to, "what's the best way to try out guitars?"


i mean, the way i do it you wouldn't even know if the electronics actually work.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#15
playability, feel and how it sounds acoustically(unplugged). look for flaws and as was said, I wait till I get home to plug in to MY amps
R.I.P. Randy Rhoads
#16
Quote by jj1565
from the sticky...

How to try out guitars

Before you select a guitar, there are a few things you need to think over.
-The style of music you play.
-A budget you can live with.
-How long you've been playing. If you've ever owned a guitar before.
We all gravitate towards the guitar that looks the Hawtest, but looks and color, shouldn't be your first concern.
Wood type, bridge type, pickup configuration, guitar weight, brand reputation, and UG member recommendations should all come into play.
You need to have in mind, a few guitars that suit you best, before you even walk into the store.

That's a really important one to consider, perhaps more than you would expect. It can be better going for a less know company with a great reputation than for a major brand with hordes of biased fanboys and an otherwise tarnished reputation. (Gibson)
#17
Quote by Butt Rayge
That's a really important one to consider, perhaps more than you would expect. It can be better going for a less know company with a great reputation than for a major brand with hordes of biased fanboys and an otherwise tarnished reputation. (Gibson)


I think that comes with experience though. I'd only think about brand reputation when it comes to customer support or overall quality control. That may seem like much, but it doesn't keep me from trying out different brands. I'd still try a new Gibson, even though through both experience and hearing about it on UG, I know their current quality standards aren't great.

Another thing I was wondering about was checking playability. Not every guitar in the store is set up to what I'd want to play, and that may affect whether I want it or not. I know I can change that with a fitting set-up, but around where I live, I don't know of many places that I'd be willing to shell out for it. Not many guitar experts in these parts.
#18
Quote by JDizzle787
I understand this, but isn't that a little out of the way to go?

I mean, no I don't have a shitty amp, that's not the issue. It just throws a huge wrench in the process since it's time consuming to not play it through an amp until you get home, or to compare between guitars.


None of that matters. Pushy salesmen and 'wrenches? pfft. You need to be happy with your purchase. If it's sounds like crap at home youre going to resent the purchase.

If I'm paying big bucks for an instrument I'm ultimately selfish to the highest degree. The sales guys opinions don't matter, if they are pushy, I'll tell them to leave me alone for a bit, how it sounds in store doesn't matter, bells and whistles and getting free straps, picks and stuff doesn't matter, if the guitar is flawed, i'll point it out, if the set up isn't right, if its crackly, you name it, I'm onto it, and so should you be.

There are no 'wrenches'. If you're planning on spending the big bucks you should treat yourself like you're in the drivers seat. You need to be happy. If it sounds like ass when you take it home, and you know you have a good rig to plug it into, take it back immediately . The longer you keep it the more reason it will be for the store not to help you out without you shelling out more cash.

The more you pay, the better quality product is a fair expectation. And always shop around. Give yourself the best opportunity for the best deal on your terms.
Last edited by Phoenix V at Sep 11, 2011,
#19
I pick up the guitar, sit down, listen to its acoustic sound, look how it feels playing riffs, chords, and higher up the fretboard, how easy it is to do slides and bends, check for flaws like sharp fret ends etc.
Imperfections like little flaws in the finish are something I actually don't care about.

After playing it unplugged and liking it, I go and try it through an amp, play some clean, some crunch and some high gain.
#22
Pick it up, feel its weight.
Plug it in, if it feels good, sounds good and smells good, I'll consider it.
-------------------------------------------
Gear:

Guitar(s): .Shecter Tempest EXTREMEEEEEE
--------------Maton CW-80

Amplification: Randall RG75 G3
#23
I do pretty much all of the above. I'll add that I have a few, select riffs and tunes I play as a comparator. I *know* how these sound in my head and on guitars that I like. This not only lets me evaluate sound and tone; but playability and "feel" of the guitar.

I'm an inveterate browser; but the guys at the local GC know that BY now, most know my tastes and competence. They know I'm not gonna finger-fugk every new piece that comes in, blow speakers outta the huge stack in the corner or ding-up that $2500 Gibby... as if I even wanna play it!

Be respectful and receive respect in return.
#24
Quote by GuitarTom1995
Don't play Stairway to Heaven.

Most important advice.

I tend to get on with sales guys. They aren't all corporate sales-monsters, and tend to have a whole lot of experience. When they say 'I played this yesterday' or 'my mate owns one', they're not lying- you could see right through it if they were. Walk in, have a chat, get some recomendations, then do what you do. Play stuff you play, with amp/settings you would use. Is it comfortable, does it resonate? Always have a handy comparison. When I was trying fenders, though I had £600ish, I had them get an american standard strat down to compare. Set a benchmark and see how different things stack up.

Lastly, learn Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others by The Smiths. Sales people who know it will love you because its not usually played. Those who don't just assume you're a melodic guitar genius.
Dude, where's my band?
#25
1. look over the guitar, check the finish and hardware
2. check all the frets, make sure intonation is good.
3. just have a bit of a play.
4. do some heavy bending to check tuning stability.

I wish I did that when I was starting out I could have saved myself a lot of troubles.
Praise the Z-Dog, my DADDY
#26
Quote by Phoenix V
None of that matters. Pushy salesmen and 'wrenches? pfft. You need to be happy with your purchase. If it's sounds like crap at home youre going to resent the purchase.

If I'm paying big bucks for an instrument I'm ultimately selfish to the highest degree. The sales guys opinions don't matter, if they are pushy, I'll tell them to leave me alone for a bit, how it sounds in store doesn't matter, bells and whistles and getting free straps, picks and stuff doesn't matter, if the guitar is flawed, i'll point it out, if the set up isn't right, if its crackly, you name it, I'm onto it, and so should you be.

There are no 'wrenches'. If you're planning on spending the big bucks you should treat yourself like you're in the drivers seat. You need to be happy. If it sounds like ass when you take it home, and you know you have a good rig to plug it into, take it back immediately . The longer you keep it the more reason it will be for the store not to help you out without you shelling out more cash.

The more you pay, the better quality product is a fair expectation. And always shop around. Give yourself the best opportunity for the best deal on your terms.


I do plan on shopping around. I was initially going to go to NYC for a day or two to try out everything I could get my hands on, but I may go in the opposite direction and head to Boston since I have (music) friends there I could stay with and chill on my birthday.

I guess another point is that I've tried out a lot of guitars, and very, very few have stood out enough for me to want them. Hell, I can even count: a 1980 Explorer in the Vintage room in the Hollywood GC, a MIM tele at the GC near me, a higher end LP at the Boston GC, and a Hagstrom Super Swede, which I would have bought if I didn't have to get a good amp.

Am I being too choosy or not enough?
#28
Maybe this is just the local GC, but I don't see how you can productively test guitars at the store when their setups are so horrible. Nothing is tuned, none of the necks are straight, the strings are rusty, the action is all over the place, etc. About all I can test is weight and fret access.
#29
Well I bought a PRS SE Custom 24 at GC and learned the hard way on how to check a guitar before buying it. I played it in the store (mind you this was the first time I was buying a guitar after buying a squire starter pack so I really just played it to test how I liked the neck and whatknot) and loved it so I bought it. I came home with it and was eager to play it only to discover the back of the neck had a big chip it in and that an area along the fretboard was stripped of finish. I called GC and they exchanged it for me, took about a week, they shipped me a new one, gave me a case, an extra whammy bar and some other PRS goodies that I didn't get when I bought it the first time.

When I went to look for my 2nd guitar, the Paul Allender SE, I examined that thing from head to toe to make sure there was not anything wrong with playability but there were no imperfections.
Guitar/bass/mandolin stuff:
PRS SE Custom 24
PRS SE Paul Allender
Martin DCX1E
Squire Start
Memphis Bass
Johnson Savannah mando

Amp/effects/misc:
Digitech RP1000
Line 6 Spider Valve 212
Toneport Studio KB37


check out my last.fm!
#30
my regime is pretty similar to many listed here. i strum a couple of open chords unplugged but even if the guitar doesn't ring out a lot that doesn't disqualify it. if possible i play it through a VK as that is what i have at home. if i don't like the neck then it's done no matter how good it sounds. we're talking feel and not action. if it sounds good through the VK then i'll play it through the best amp i can find. if the guitar really sings through a top of the line amp then i know it's a keeper. of course a visual inspection is also done. personally if there is a small imperfection in the finish i don't care as long as the guitar plays and feels great that is more important. the last thing is something that really can't be put inot words. the guitar has to have that special something (mojo if you like) for me to buy it. when i bought my Squier Esprit i plugged it into a Mesa Lonestar and just played a couple of basic blues licks. one of the other customers there came over and asked me how i got that gary moore blues sound. suffice to say i bought the guitar.
#31
Quote by JDizzle787
I do plan on shopping around. I was initially going to go to NYC for a day or two to try out everything I could get my hands on, but I may go in the opposite direction and head to Boston since I have (music) friends there I could stay with and chill on my birthday.

I guess another point is that I've tried out a lot of guitars, and very, very few have stood out enough for me to want them. Hell, I can even count: a 1980 Explorer in the Vintage room in the Hollywood GC, a MIM tele at the GC near me, a higher end LP at the Boston GC, and a Hagstrom Super Swede, which I would have bought if I didn't have to get a good amp.

Am I being too choosy or not enough?


Choosiness escalates with price.

If youre buying a budget guitar or an Epi, youre going to expect some flaws

If youre prepared to shell out 5 grand for the real deal then no, you're not being overly choosy. Theres nothing wrong with taking your time to find what you really really want. Ultimately the right choice is going to leave you satisfied
#34
Pretty much what you do, although when I put it back if I don't like it, I always wipe it off. It's a habit of mine, and I always do it with my guitars.
Join the 7 String Legion!

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#35
JJ1565 is too good for EG.

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
2016 SE Holcolmb
#36
Quote by JDizzle787
I think that comes with experience though. I'd only think about brand reputation when it comes to customer support or overall quality control. That may seem like much, but it doesn't keep me from trying out different brands. I'd still try a new Gibson, even though through both experience and hearing about it on UG, I know their current quality standards aren't great.

I'd love to own a Gibson V one day, and/or an Explorer. I'd never totally ignore a brand based on a bit of bad press, but it is something to consider.
#37
Quote by Tom 1.0
JJ1565 is too good for EG.



!

oh shucks.

i'm just glad there are still a lot of nice guys posting in eg to off-set
all the kids coming in.
Jenneh

Quote by TNfootballfan62
Jenny needs to sow her wild oats with random Gibsons and Taylors she picks up in bars before she settles down with a PRS.


Set up Questions? ...Q & A Thread

Recognised by the Official EG/GG&A/GB&C WTLT Lists 2011
#38
I play it and see if i like how it plays.


Really is that simple.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#39
Disagree with me, but I say looks and playability are more important then sound, as a good guitar player can make a bad guitar sound good. And sound can also be fixed by pickup changes, effects pedals ect...
#40
first thing i do is see how it feels both standing up and sitting..., second how is plays and sounds... if all that is good then i will buy it.. i dont worry to much about looks of the guitar.... then again to me all guitars look nice...
Guitars: IBANEZ RGA42FM
Strings: Elixir Nanoweb 9-42
AMP'S: Peavey Vyper
Effects: Zoom G3
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