I'm looking to get started with an electric guitar.. I really have no idea how to play at this point but want to get started!

I've been to GC and like the Fender Strats, among others.. so I decided to check out craigs list for some used options. I'd like to save some money and hopefully get something a little better quality by buying used.

So what do I look for in a used guitar? I really don't know how to play one, so playing it seems kind of fruitless for me.. are there typical things to look for?

I found someone selling a new 06 fender Strat '60s Reversed headstock for $385.. any opinions on this deal? Seems like it's a pretty good one as they go for $700 new!

I have also been looking at MIM Strats for around $300..

any help would be greatly appreciated!

If you are mainly concerned about playability and not physical outward appearance, look at these things. Do you research about proper neck relief and find out what it looks like. Check for this in a used axe. If the neck is bad, don't bother with in unless your willing to replace the neck, which is pricey. Also, look at the condition of the frets, are they worn out or still have meat left on them. If the neck is not warped the and the frets are good, you will have a nice playing guitar once it's set up properly, provided things aren't cracked and broken. Things like electronics are easily fixed and can let you haggle down a price. But be most concerned with the neck. My best advice is find a buddy who plays well and knows what he's looking at go with you, or do the buying if your not sure.
it all depends on what you plan on playin
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Also, might i suggest that you look at used Ibanez RG, and old roadstar if you like the idea of a Fender Strat. They are very similar, often play and sound better, and you could get a very nice used one for a lot less than a fender strat.
i've bought all of my current gear used off of THE-bay. luckily i haven't been scammed, but i knew (sort of) what i was looking for. and i can't really translate it. do you have a friend who can help you out?

we might be able to help you a little better if you could post links to the craigslist items. but as far as i know, there were no stratocasters with reverse headstocks that were made in the 60s. and i would think that if its a re-issue then it wouldn't have a reversed headstock.

i also think that if you're brand new to playing guitar, then you might just go to a guitar shop. check out what's in your price range. then come back here and ask questions. and remember, the helpful people at GC work on commission, so they will want to sell you the items with the highest mark-up.

oh, and if you want to get and amplifier beware of the Line 6 Spiders, and the Marshall MGs. they may look cool with all their knobs and bells and whistles, but many people here say that they aren't very good.
i would almost recommend an Epiphone Valve Junior, or some other sort of low-wattage tube amp.

oh, one last thing, if you want to play in a band GET A DRUM SET!!!! this world needs more drummers. hahahahahahaha, just kidding... sort of

also, where'bouts do you live? maybe people could direct you to a buyer-friendly shop that's not necessarily a Guitar Center
Last edited by sethp at Feb 27, 2008,
If you don't know how to play it yourself, definitely try to take a friend along that knows how to play.

Other than that, things you want to look for are:

Does it have a straight neck?

Run your fingers up and down the sides of the fret board. Does it feel smooth or like it has little sharp teeth (sharp frets which would need to be filed down)?

Do the frets have any wear on them (little indentations on the fret wires where the strings would hit them, would need to be filed/leveled)?

Are there any cracks in the body, neck, where the body and neck meet?

Do any of the tuners wiggle?

If there are no strings, how long has it been sitting there like that?

Is there any rust on any of the hardware?

Do the knobs turn smoothly? The switch?

Shake it. Does it rattle?

Open the back, does the wiring look neat? Are all the solder points soldered? Any loose wires?

Is the fretboard smooth? Is it dry and/or cracked (Rosewood)?

Plug it into a good amp. Is there any odd buzzing when you're not strumming/touching any of the strings? Does it explode? Does it instantly attract hot groupie chicks to you (just buy it, who cares about the rest of this crap then)?

If you're looking at a particular model, look up it's specs on the internet. Do all the components look original? Were any of the components swapped/upgraded? Are any simply missing?

Does it smell funny (you'd be surprised)?
~We Rock Out With Our Cocks Out!: UG Naked Club.~
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An addendum to the following as the above post covers all the major pertinent points you need to be looking for.

Hold the guitar and put your ear next to the back of the neck (about half way down) and tap with the heel of your hand. There should be no rattles which would indicate a loose or worse broken truss-rod.

If the guitar is equipped with a trem, check that it operates smoothly and it returns the strings to the correct pitch when resting. I cannot stress how important this is when buying a guitar with a floating trem.
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Thanks for the quick responses so far.. I don't have any friends that play.. so it's not really an option for me to drag someone along with me to test it out.

The guitar I am looking at is listed as brand now.. I emailed the guy and he indicated that it's basically brand new.

As for what I'm interested in playing.. well.. I'm not totally sure! I enjoy all kinds of music. I imagine I'll be playing quite a bit of 80's rock that I grew up with.. but I also enjoy current rock as well. I've always enjoyed listening to Santana, Clapton.. who knows.. I could end up wanting to play jazz too.

What I have done so far is gone to GC and fondled a few guitars.. the selection there is overwhelming.. I guess what leads me to a strat is that I really like the looks.. and they are known to be a good guitar.. and versatile. Not knowing much about this stuff yet, I figured it would be safest to buy something that is well known.. and experiment later. Another reason for the strat si that there seems to be alot out there so hopefully I can find a decent deal.

I'm definetly open to suggestions though.. I just personally don't have a clue!

I really liked the couple PSRs they had at GC.. they were very light and felt nice in my hands.. but out of my budget for new.. I was hoping to find something new or used for under $400.

Thanks for the comment abou the spider amp.. that's exactly the amp that the sales guy was steering me towards. I have even less of a clue about amps! Any suggestions there would also be much appreciated!

Any comments on the Strat I listed for $385? Is the Reverse headstock a decent guitar?

here is the link to the listing as requested:

thanks for your time and comments!


Edit: had some replies before I was done editing.. thanks!
Last edited by N2Deep at Feb 27, 2008,