Buying An Instrument

I've seen people get ripped off many times while purchasing a guitar or bass. I feel it's required you know what your doing before spending your hard earned cash.

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I've seen people get ripped off many times while purchasing a guitar or bass. I feel it's required you know what your doing before spending your hard earned cash. Here's some general tips about buying a guitar:
  • Take along an experienced player who knows how to select a guitar. I'm serious about this one. Do not buy without someone who can at least play somewhat - preferably a pretty good player - and knows something about how to pick a good guitar. Otherwise you are an absolute babe in the woods.
  • Don't let the salesperson play the guitar for you. This is almost as important as #1. Most salespeople are good players. They can have some stock riffs and they can make a $150 piece of junk guitar strung with barbed wire sound pretty good. This means nothing! Evaluate how the guitar sounds by either strumming a couple chords yourself and by the evaluation of your buddy (see #1).
  • Don't tell them how much you want to spend. If you do you may as well just give them that much in cash and then take whatever they give you. If they push you can either leave or you can answer, "I'm willing to spend as much as I need for a decent set-up - anywhere up to a couple thousand dollars." Say this even if you only want to spend two or three hundred. Saying you want to spend two or three hundred and you'll get directed to the "crap" section.
  • Have someone - anyone show you a couple chords or riffs before you go shopping. Even with a buddy, you'll want to touch the guitar - you'll want to know a couple chords so you don't loo k too much like a newbie. You don't need to know a song or anything ... just a simple D or G chord will suffice.
  • Physically check out the guitar. First, look at the neck like you're checking out a pool cue for straightness. Sight it from the headstock to the bridge and from the bridge to the headstock. Look for anything that may be present. (i.e. bow in, bow out, high frets, twist, humps.) Bow in and bow out can be adjusted by a truss rod. High frets can be reseated. Twist and humps (no adjustment) is a characteristic that if not too bad may be tolerated.
  • If you are truly a beginner, buy a used guitar and have it set up for you at the store. That way you be out as much money if you decide to quit playing.
  • Price and value debate. Basically you have to ask yourself how much can you afford to spend and could you afford to 'upgrade' your guitar sometime down the road if it becomes necessary? For instance most of us get a real clunker for a first car (Yamaha in my case) but later on might get something nicer when we can afford it. Here's some tips for buying an electric guitar:
  • If you're going to buy an inexpensive amp, test guitars through an inexpensive amp. Hey, even a cheap guitar sounds pretty good through a $1,600 amplifier. You want to know what you have.
  • Amps are important! Don't buy one as an after thought. If you can't afford both, consider buying a decent guitar first and an amp later. Yes, you can play an electric guitar without an amplifier. I hope this was helpful in one way or another, be the best you can be! Sincerely, -Chris
  • 99 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      SilentDeftone
      The problem with some smaller stores is that they tend to have less of a selection, if you're looking for that fabulous JEM you might not find it at a small local store?
      spitfire89
      my local store is just recently become a fender supplier so they are getting rid of thier old stock for cheap, should I buy an electric guitar for 200$ cnd ?
      cryan2
      the one's youre talking about are the salespersons in your country...what about in asia..the salespersons in our country dosn't even know how to play a guitar..most of them...
      beatle
      THE SALESPERSONS WHICH UR TALKING ABOUT ARE THE AMERICAN ONES. THE ONES IN EUROPE ARE WHOLE LOTTA DIFFERENT
      Tim_5150
      oh and if anyone's wondering how much the pickups of the EG112 can sell for; they can be sold for roughy around $5 to $12. (second hand)
      Tim_5150
      nice article you got there... but i just wanna clarify one thing: a yamaha is not a clunker! the entry level yamaha EG112 (the one that looks like a fat-strat, and comes with picks, an amp, strap, tuner, cable, and gig bag) actually sounds decent! and in my opinion its worth way more that it does! the EG112's sound and quality are great! i should know! i still play mine (though i did modify it to a single pickup- single volume guitar, with a DiMarzio Super distortion) and its fallen about 10 times, its been used to hit someone around 3 times, and finally i've engraved the name "Flying-V" (since i really wanted one then) on the top and the words: "Axe", "Wyre", and "Burning Axe" in Viking runic in other places; and despite of that it still holds in tune, and plays great!
      diego224
      uhhhh yeah, i was woundering how good a fender telecaster is, a slaes person said its great, my freind said its alright, i dont trust neither of them, so im counting on good feedback
      ebashnitzil
      pretty good and for a gigging band amps are the thing you need to worry about most - you could play a pacifica that cost you 150 bucks through a proffessional quality amp and the crowd wouldn't know the difference of that and a priceless rig
      VR05
      Amps are important! Don't buy one as an after thought. If you can't afford both, consider buying a decent guitar first and an amp later. Yes, you can play an electric guitar without an amplifier. there is a cable you can get they sell them at like radio shack electronics stores etc and u plug into the mic jack on ur computer and plug it into ur guitar, and it sends the sounds through the speakers. works great, thats what i did, u can also use it for recording
      bob45132
      ok well i guess that was good... well ibought a $100.00 of carlo robelli bass for$130.00 from samashand it's fine...o yea its my first one and i just wanted to see if i liked bass...o yah that's it
      ms_melancholy
      this was pretty interesting to read... next time I get the money to buy a new guitar (in, maybe, 17 years) i'll have to remember all of this information. but really... cool.
      AxlSlash
      You are twats. Clapton owns Page any day of the week. Just listen to Cream do Crossraods Blues live. That solo does jimi page right in da bumhole.
      nirvana138
      ^im so sick of seeing les pauls everywhere everyone seems thinks they can be slash or jimmy page for some reason. and i dont think even half the people who are starting out on guitar or thinking of buying one go too this website so i dont think this will help many beginers, not saying none of them will but most of them probably dont.
      solojoshlopez
      Jabomonk: Any body that says FEnder is better than a LES PAUL is a dumbass in every possible aspect of being a dumbass. ALSO!!! anyone who doesnt know who the hell les paul is....is a dumbass
      bigal
      Pretty good article, however its pretty obvious for anyone with the slightest bit of experience. Anyway I got my axe n amp for a cutdown price and they threw in a lead and strap, and i was an extreme newbie.
      gangster-dolly
      Yeah, dude, you can't play an electric without an amp. Trust me. Sure, buy one later but an electric sounds so fake without an amplifier. Just get a cheapo amp first.
      earlswoll
      never ever ever buy from musicians friend, or from a magazine. THEY ARE KILLING MUSIC
      Dogwillhunt
      solojoshlopez... you my friend are a dumbass. I've owned a Gibson Les Paul as well as a Fender Strat. The Les Paul wouldn't stay in tune and it didn't have that good of sound to begin with. When I say I've owned a Gibson, I mean I got rid of it. I also still own the Strat, and I love it. I've got an Epiphone as well which I plan on fixing up and selling as well.
      metal_moshpit
      i got my first guitar in the biggest shop in belfast and the guys there didnt try to rip me off or push me into buying something i didnt want. in fact the guy there even offered free stuff without me asking such a great place ahhh.....
      skasolo
      I agree with lanky, The guys in smaller stores are usually a lot more helpful. Also ask if they can throw in some picks, strings, leads, etc. They often will.
      punkrockdude2
      great wish this came around last june when my friend bought him a guitar hes got a "j. reynolds" cheapo thingy and the f@ing whammy bar broke aint that some shit?
      Fozz!
      I'm not sure I agree with all of that, particually the bit about not letting the salesman play it. You didn't even mention haggling over the price, and claiming free stuff...
      LankyNewb
      one small addendum, it often helps to shop at smaller guitar shops where the sales people tend to be more laid back and less like your typical salesman than say Guitar Center. I always feel like the guitar center ppl are trying to push me into a decision where the smaller store give you more freedom.
      darkstar9814
      good article. i was at sam ash and i told the guy i didnt want to spend more than $500 and he tried to sell me a $600 or $700 geddy lee bass.
      Traitor_99
      good article! but you forgot one thing This happened to me when I got my guitar: if you're gonna get a guitar with a whammy bar that slides in instead of the 'screw-in' type then make sure that the guy gives you the small sort of wedging tool. Slide in Whammy bars will at one point become loose and you always have to tighten them, but if you don't have the tool, your screwed. Also always test out the jack, I have a friend who had to replace a jack the store gave that was supposedly 'brand new'. Turned out it was this old spare cable the store kept in stock.
      r_lightning
      its an alright article for me.. I dont think its gonna help people that much.. when I first bought my bass guitar, I knew NOTHING about music.. I was a fricking newbie. The time I bought my bass I bought a Louder Bass, and thats not the greatest bass guitar ever known though but it was cheap and not that crap.. And when we're talking bout crap guitars, which guitars do you think of then? anyway, all i wanna say, is that you really can trust the salesperson if you're buying it from the store. I'm from Norway, and believe me, the persons here are to trust;
      Pennyroyal Tea
      Pretty good article. Guitars in my country (Malta) a puny island of 400k people are pretty expensive. I had to wait a few months and by my lefty mexican strat from Belgium in august. I managed to get 20% of the original price chopped off, considering it was the only lefty guitar in the shop. I got a 30watt Laney amp a month later, for pretty cheap.... my effects pedal i got from my cousin at knockoff price (who has tonnes). All in all i think i spent too much time actually comparing prices, but i got a good deal overall.
      TheI7ark
      You contradicted yourself on the amp thing. "Don't buy one as an afterthought, buy one later." other than that it was just extremely obvious.
      SocialismCross
      well does this article mean that i can't get a guitar from an online store ? (I've been playing for almost 5 years, and more than 4 years playing an electric guitar ) but i've never gotten a guitar from an online store.. So i need some1 to tell me if that's a good idea
      Swinger
      Great article.That was very helpful considering that I'm a newbie.I admire your info.Thanks!
      Sundancekid
      boght a crappy encore with one cheap humbucker and 5 watt amp that broke in a week have not had a amp since that were three years ago looking for epiphone les paul good post worth a read
      Sundancekid
      i bought a encore in one of those crappy starter packs with a 5 watt amp which i broke within a week ive played without an amp since due to lack of funds that was about 3 years ago and im trying to get hold of a decent epiphone les paul good article worth a read
      lazyrob
      *another thing to watch out for is the "action". basically this is how high above the fret board + frets the strings lie. too low and the strings will buzz (vibrating on the frets). too high will make it harder to hold down the strings and so make it tricky for soloing etc. check the strings are at a gud hight by looking across the fret board horizontally. the string height shouldnt vary too much as u look bottom to top. *another thing: whilest testing the guitar, try sliding your hand up and the neck (u dont ahv to be playing anythin). for a learner (in my opinion) you shud try to avoid guitars with necks with that laminated effect. - this tends to grip to your hands, making the learning of hand movement up and down the neck very difficult. a good example is an encore kc3 (got a nice smooth, low grip neck). im not trying to persuade any1 into buyin it, but if u feel the neck, its a good indicator as to wot to look for in other guitars! thanx rob
      [FrozEn]
      Pretty useful article, as are the rest of yours. My first guitar (and still is my current guitar) is the basic, beginners Ibanez GRX20. Nice and basic, only A$150 and has plenty of room for improvement. Keep up the good articles.
      amy182
      can any1 tell me where i can get a decent bass for a decent price around hasting/eastbounre? that would b a real help
      hardcore_mike
      Jimmy page tears ERic clapton up with that starbust les paul, nothin against ERIc
      AMEN!!!.. and i have every thing agenst eric
      Jabomonk
      Jimmy page tears ERic clapton up with that starbust les paul, nothin against ERIc