Buying a guitar through online sites such as Ebay or Gumtree can result in significant savings for those prepared to do a little research and have the patience to wait for that special buy.
Here are some tips that will help you in your search for that special guitar.
Tip 1. Check out a variety of guitars at a music store that has a large range of stock.
Once you have a particular type of instrument in mind and an idea of the price range you can then start looking on-line.
Tip 2. Allow some of your budget for a setup.
Always factor in the cost of a setup in your budget.
A neck setup ensures that the height of the strings above the fingerboard are at optimum level for ease of fingering. The nut is also adjusted for correct height so that fretting at the first fret is not a problem. String length is also adjusted at the bridge so that the guitar plays in tune across the whole fingerboard.
Having your guitar action set up by a good guitar tech can make a huge difference to your guitar's playability. You will find an amazing difference when you play a guitar set up correctly. Most guitar students that struggle, particularly with barre chords, can probably trace their problem to a high action.
A regular setup is a must even for a new guitar. Professional players will normally have their favourite guitar tech and have their instruments setup frequently. For a beginner it is just as important that their instrument is setup correctly so that they are not fighting against a high string action and incorrect nut height which is a sure way to invite failure in their practice efforts. Expect to page around $100 for professional neck setup.
Tip 3. Test that all pickups and electrical components are working correctly.
If you are buying an electric or acoustic electric guitar, check that all pickups are working and that volume and tone control pots are free from any crackle and noise.
Tip 4. Try and view the guitar in person and do the following 5 point check.
If you don’t feel qualified yourself then see if you can have a knowledgeable guitar playing friend with you.
A slightly high string height is not normally a concern unless it is excessive, which could indicate major structural problems.
The top of an acoustic guitar is strengthened by a series of struts on the underside of the soundboard. If they become loose they will create a buzz when playing. Do a check by tapping on the top of the soundboard and listening for any vibration that may suggest a loose strut.
Start from the first fret and play each note up the fingerboard as far as you can go. Listen for any buzzing or strange sounds that could mean a high fret. This will mean extra work and cost with your setup.
A little bulge in the top around the bridge area is normal in an acoustic guitar because of the tension from the strings but check that this is not excessive or that the bridge itself is not lifting. Again this will cost you big $ to fix.
Conclusion: A high string action is not a problem because it will be fixed with a good setup, but if the instrument fails the other checks then it is better that you pass on this one and keep searching.