Authors Note:This is the second part on my How to buy a second-hand guitar series of articles.

As the second installation of my second-hand guitar buying guide series, I’ll be writing about what things to ask a seller about his/her second-hand guitar that’s on sale.I’d be discussing other things like where to buy, things to examine and look at, and other considerations in future articles.

So you’ve come across a seller. Perhaps on an online ad or at eBay. Or the newspaper’s classified ads. Best of all, you can afford it! But before you come all too excited about making the purchase, it’s better to clarify a few things before proceeding. You’d want to ask the seller a few questions first.

Things to ask the seller

  • Make, Model, and Year

    Yup. It sounds like something out of a car registration. Like cars, guitars too have their make models, and manufacturing year. Like for example, Gibson (make) Les Paul Deluxe (model) 1971. It’d be great if you ask for the serial number too.

    This way you could do some background research on a guitar’s particular make and model. There are lots of information on the Net about reviews of particular guitar models. Having the serial number would also help you check with the manufacturer’s website if the serial number match with the make and model. It’s also easy to mistake a cheap knock-off for the real thing if only by its appearance.

  • Features

    Based on the make and model, you can also survey the guitar’s features. It can also help you weed out dubious sellers as well. Like finding a Fender Stratocaster Vintage ’57with dual humbucking pickups will be a bit dubious since ’57 Strats are designed to have three single-coil pickups (edited for clarification to point raised by Jorge).

    Former owners may have already done modifications on the guitar such as replacement of parts. You might want to check out what those are.

  • Condition

    Some guitar online communities (which are good places to scout for second-hand guitars) have ranking systems where they’d have a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) of what’s the condition of the guitar. I know Philmusic‘s classifieds board rank guitar conditions by two categories – paint/appearance and playability. So it’s quite common to see rankings like Paint: 10/10 Playability: 10/10. Now that ranks as mint-condition with absolutely no scratches or rust and is in tip-top condition. Most sellers would be pretty much honest with these things.

    It’s also wise to ask the seller of any other work that have been done on the guitar such as repainting, refretting, and electronics replacement. Guitars with rust on the hardware (the tuners, bridge, and strap nuts; rusty strings are quite common) should be avoided. You’ll be spending more to have those fixed than the guitar’s value.

That’s all for now for the quick interview with the seller. If you think that it’s worth giving a shot. Ask if you could actually check out the guitar in person. If the seller gives demanding terms on meet-ups or is uncooperative to your questions, better save your money first. Jerks don’t deserve your money at all. And you don’t want to own a guitar that came from a jerk.

Part I | Part II | Part III

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