Whether you've played guitar for years, or you're purchasing your first guitar, a pawn shop is a great place to shop for your "new" used instrument. Here are three tips to help you select a suitable guitar.
Budget for a Bit More Guitar Than You Need
Used guitars—like brand new ones—come in all price ranges. Low-end acoustic and electric guitars can range from $50 to $300. High-end instruments and collector guitars can range in cost from $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Very rarely, you can find a great deal on a well-made, cheaper guitar, but don't count on it.
For a beginner, it may seem smart to get the least expensive starter guitar you can find until you know if you want to keep learning. However, a super-cheap guitar will not be satisfying, even for a beginner. Cheap guitars are made of inferior wood, wonky tuning heads, and warped necks that will never produce a superior sound.
Plan to spend at least $200 to $500 for a suitable guitar that will stay in tune and stand up to years of playing. What happens if you lose interest in the guitar when you've invested so much? You end up with an asset that you can sell instead of owning a budget piece of junk nobody wants to buy. You can also hang onto the guitar and pass it on to a child or friend who plays or wants to play.
You'll make more progress with a quality instrument because the sound improves the more you learn. A cheaper guitar may never sound right, no matter how much you practice. The feeling of "not making progress" on their guitars is a big factor in students quitting lessons. Invest for success from the beginning.
Understand That Each Guitar Is an Individual
Perhaps you've played a friend's Telecaster or Martin acoustic, and you sounded awesome. Now you're committed to having a guitar of the same brand and model. Not so fast.
The Fender or Martin you buy may sound substantially different from the one your friend has. Each guitar is made from wood, composites, and metal components that are unique to that guitar. The slightest variations in wood species, tuning heads, sound pickups, and joinery methods can make two identical guitars sound completely different.
In the same way, an old and a brand-new guitar of identical design will not sound the same. The more the wood on a guitar ages, the more it mellows and creates its own unique undertones. Professional and experienced players often prefer older, well-played instruments for this very reason.
Owners of guitars also make modifications to their guitars. You can outfit an electric guitar with specialty pickups that are more powerful or nuanced than the original pickups. Modifications to the bridge and nut will create an entirely new sound when compared to the sound created when the instrument was fresh out of the factory. The lesson here is to judge each guitar on its own merits rather than its manufacturer or reputation.
Bring Someone Along Who Knows Guitars
If you're entirely new to guitars, and you're afraid to shop on your own, bring along a person who plays guitar. Let the experienced player strum and finger riffs on the various guitars while you listen to each one. Your expert checks out how well the strings respond, the loudness produced by the guitar and any problems a beginner doesn't need.
Many pawn-shop guitars have old strings that sound dull or buzz when played. An experienced player looks past that minor issue and knows a new set of strings will transform the tones of the instrument.
A knowledgeable player notices fatal flaws in unsuitable guitars and helps you find the best deals. You'll also get valuable advice about the best strings, amps and other accessories you need to get the best start to your playing career.
Call or stop by Gardena Jewelry & Loan Company to check out our collection of quality instruments. We're here to serve musicians, and we buy and sell both string and woodwind instruments of all types.