So it's been a while since I've played and I've been having cravings to take it up again. I'm trying to find a guitar right now, either new or used. It's been probably 6-7 years since I've played at all, I don't even know what to look for in a guitar anymore, especially a used guitar... can anybody offer any advice?
dings, straight neck, finish, kind of atmosphere it's been kept it
no warping,clean in shape truss rod,low hum,no rust,no loose major parts,no cracking,clean finish
Well it depends on what you want:

For example if you absolutely must have the sound of a '58 tele, find one with some scratches in the finish or some missing hardware. Check for a straight neck, general playability, etc. You could get a classic you'd just have to put some work into.


Find some rich kid around town whose parents bought him a fancy Jackson or whatever, now he's ditching it for 1/4 of what it's worth...

I don't know, the used market is a complex one, and full of risks. That's what makes it interesting.
"Virtually no one who is taught Relativity continues to read the Bible."

Well what I'm looking for is a Gibson Explorer. I don't think I could justify the money to buy one new, but used I think I can swing it. I found one on my local Craigslist, but it looks like it might be a little worn. He's swapped one of the pickups and it looks like one of the knobs is missing or has been changed. I just want to make sure it hasn't been beat to hell and is worth what I am paying for it.
I'd argue the set neck thinf thou. I think the only improv. you'd hear is if it's played acousticly. Because if you hav a set neck guitar with distortion and a 4 piece band that "extra" sustain would not be heard. So I think the difference from bolt-on to set neck is very little. If anythin the bolt-on is more covinient if you want to replace it.