In a few hours I'm off to check out a second hand guitar and amp, I'm getting a really good deal on them, but I just wanna know some things I should be looking out for to make sure that everythings in good condition.

It's only my second electric and my second amp, so I have no experience in shopping for guitars really....so what should I be looking out for, and how can I check it? (This applies to the amp as well)


It's a Fender Strat and a Marshall amp, I don't know what kind because the guy selling it never bothered to learn to play
Some people wait a lifetime, some simply accept...

...Some of us crash land, some of us eject...

...Some restore the blood flow, some just let it go and bleed...

...Some of us obsess, some move on to something new
Last edited by whatamidoinhere at Sep 9, 2007,
Firstly have you any idea of what you're buying...manufacturer, model, age etc?
Actually called Mark!

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Fender Strat and Marshall amp. OK...


Look down the neck, from the tuning head works best, and make sure it does not look warped. The neck should have a slight backbow, it should appear to "droop" slightly in the middle. This can be adjusted later, but you don't want it to look like a rocking chair. It should not be twisted though, that can only be repaired by replacing the neck.

Don't worry too much if the action is too low or high, too much backbow or not enough, chips in the nut, those can be repaired fairly easily and won't be too expensive. Watch for a twisted or obviously warped neck.

Look for rust spots on any metal parts, make sure all volume and tone controls work properly. If they sound scratchy, that's an easy fix, squirt in some contact cleaner. If they don't work at all, that's another matter. Volume and tone pots are inexpensive, pickups are not. Make sure the tuners are working properly, and see what kind. Grover or Schaller are much better than no name stock tuners, but the stock ones still work. If they are loose and need a drop of oil, that's not difficult to fix, but gives you another bargaining point.

It's a Strat, make sure you find out if he has the tremolo arm. A lot of people don't, but the seller may not remember to put it with the guitar, or it may be buried in a drawer somewhere since it's never been used.

The obvious is outward appearance - nice finish or worn, chips and scratches, cracks and so forth I'm sure I don't have to explain. But watch for cracks right where the neck joins the body caused by pushing forward on the neck to get a tremolo effect, instead of bothering to learn to use the tremolo arm. I see those cracks on at least 75% of the used Strats in pawn shops and guitar stores. Usually it won't cause any real problem, but if it's bad I'd avoid the guitar. Any breaks or serious cracks anywhere, I'd say forget it. You have no idea who repaired it, if it's repaired, and if they did a decent job. I won't even look twice at a guitar someone else repaired, unless I know the repair guy. I'll grab one that needs repair, I can do it or need to learn it...but I don't want someone else's screw ups.

Make sure both strap pegs are present and tight, knobs are present, back plates, jack housing and all that. Most can be fixed, but anything missing drops the price.

Being able to appear hesitant and go - Hmmm, well, I don't know, it needs a lot of work...has gotten me better deals quite a few times, not only with guitars and amps.


Tube Marshall - if it works at all, speakers aren't blown, grab it if the price is not out of bounds.
Solid State Marshall- The only solid state amps I look at are the small practice amps. Anything else I want tubes, period, I look in the back. If I see no tubes, I move on. I own two solid state amps, one on pawn right now, both practice amps. Rarely use either one. I practice on an all tube Fender Champ. Solid State amps I look at only long enough to see no tubes.

And of course take a look at cosmetics, same as with the guitar. If it has rips and tears in tolex covering or speaker grille cloth, decide if you want to live with that or not, or fix it. I want to see all knobs present, speakers that are not blown or mismatched, (you don't want a 4 or 16 ohm cabinet with an 8 ohm amp) a good full sound, and I want everything to work. I don't like a master volume style amp, some people like them, that's a matter of personal preference.

If it has two channels (probably) make sure both work and controls are not scratchy. Again that's a simple matter, a bit of contact cleaner, but it's a bargaining point. Ask about a footswitch, a lot of people forget about those.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of right now.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Wow, thanks a bunch Paleo Pete...you just made this a whole lot easier!
Some people wait a lifetime, some simply accept...

...Some of us crash land, some of us eject...

...Some restore the blood flow, some just let it go and bleed...

...Some of us obsess, some move on to something new
You're welcome, glad I could help out.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...