How To Buy a Used Acoustic Guitar

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Purchasing a used acoustic guitar is a great way to get a quality instrument without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist in search of a unique sound or a beginner looking to dip your toes into the soothing rhythms of the instrument, Los Angeles offers a multitude of options. This guide will provide you with valuable advice and tips on buying a used acoustic guitar, ensuring you find a quality instrument that resonates with your musical style and budget.

Why Buy a Used Acoustic Guitar?

Man playing acoustic guitar with capo

Choosing a used acoustic guitar over a new one has its own unique advantages. Older guitars have often had time to ‘open up’, their tone improving and deepening over the years. It’s a bit like a fine wine; the passage of time can enhance the sound. In addition, buying a used guitar can be a smarter financial move. The initial depreciation has already occurred, meaning if you decide to sell the guitar down the line, you’re likely to get a similar amount to what you paid.

Where to Buy Used Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic Guitars at music store

There are a variety of places, both online and offline, where you can find used acoustic guitars for sale. Here are a few recommended places to start your search:

  • Music Stores: Traditional brick-and-mortar music stores are often a reliable source of used instruments. Employees at these stores typically have expertise in different instruments and can be a valuable resource for advice and guidance. Stores such as Adam’s Music in Los Angeles often have a section dedicated to used instruments.
  • Online Platforms: Websites like eBay, Reverb, and Guitar Center’s online store offer a wide selection of used guitars. These platforms often have detailed descriptions and photos of each instrument, giving you a good idea of what you’re buying, even from afar. When buying online, it’s essential to check the seller’s ratings and reviews to ensure they are reputable.
  • Local Classifieds: Websites like Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace can be useful for finding used acoustic guitars in Los Angeles. These platforms allow you to meet the seller and test the guitar before buying. However, be cautious of scams and always meet in a public place for safety.
  • Pawn Shops: While it may be hit or miss, pawn shops can sometimes have gems hidden amongst their stock. It’s crucial to know what you’re looking for, as staff may not always be knowledgeable about guitars.
  • Guitar Shows or Swaps: These events can be a goldmine for used instruments. You can not only find a wide array of guitars but also get a chance to try them out.

Remember, wherever you decide to buy, always ensure the dealer is reputable. Conduct adequate due diligence, especially when buying online, to avoid falling victim to scams or purchasing a substandard instrument.

What to Look for in a Used Acoustic Guitar

fretted strings - man holding guitar - sales page

When inspecting a used acoustic guitar, there are several key aspects to consider to ensure you’re getting a quality instrument:

  • Sound Quality: The sound of the guitar is the most crucial factor. The guitar should resonate well and produce clear, rich tones. Try playing the same note on different strings and frets to test for consistency. Listen for any buzzing, which could indicate a problem with the frets or neck.
  • Body Condition: Look over the body carefully for any cracks, especially near the bridge. Although small surface scratches shouldn’t affect the sound, deeper cracks can alter the sound and might require expensive repairs.
  • Neck Condition: Check the neck to ensure it’s straight. Look down the length of the neck from both ends to ensure there’s no warping. Feel the back of the neck to make sure it’s smooth and comfortable to grip.
  • Strings: Although strings on a used guitar will likely need to be replaced, their condition can indicate how well the guitar was cared for. Rusty or overly worn strings might suggest the guitar wasn’t properly maintained.
  • Frets: Frets should be even and free of any significant wear. Deep grooves in the frets can impact playability and may require repair.
  • Tuning Pegs: Turn the tuning pegs to see if they move smoothly and hold the tension well. Sticky or loose pegs could indicate a need for replacement or repair.
  • Bridge and Saddle: Check for any signs of cracking or lifting on the bridge and saddle. These could adversely affect the sound and might be expensive to fix.
  • Intonation: Play an open string and then the same string fretted at the 12th fret. These two notes should be the same, an octave apart. If they are not, the guitar’s intonation is off and might need professional adjustment.

When buying a used acoustic guitar in Los Angeles, or anywhere else, taking the time to thoroughly inspect these areas will help ensure your purchase is a wise one. Remember, don’t rush—take your time to find a guitar that will serve you well for years to come.

Price Range and Negotiating Tips

Used acoustic guitars can vary significantly in price depending on brand, age, condition, and rarity. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 for a beginner’s model to several thousands of dollars for a vintage or high-end used guitar. In Los Angeles, popular brands like Fender, Gibson, and Martin may command higher prices due to their reputation for quality.

When it comes to negotiation, here are some tips to ensure that you’re securing a fair deal:

  1. Research: Before starting negotiations, do your homework. Check the average price for the specific brand and model in used condition online so you know what’s fair.
  2. Inspect Carefully: Use your observations from the inspection to negotiate the price down. If the guitar needs repairs or new strings, use these points to argue for a lower price.
  3. Be Patient: Don’t be in a rush to close the deal. If the seller doesn’t accept your offer, don’t be afraid to walk away. They might come back to you with a better offer.
  4. Bundle: If you are buying accessories like a case or amplifier along with the guitar, try to negotiate a bundle deal.
  5. Cash is King: Many private sellers prefer cash and might be willing to give a discount for a cash transaction.

Remember, the goal of negotiation is to reach a win-win situation where both you and the seller feel the deal is fair. Always be respectful and open-minded during the process.

Caring for Your Used Acoustic Guitar

Caring for your used acoustic guitar is crucial to ensure its longevity and maintain its sound quality. Here are some tips to help your guitar perform at its best for years to come:

  • Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your acoustic guitar after each use to remove any oils or sweat from your hands that may have transferred to the instrument. Use a soft, lint-free cloth, and ensure you clean the fretboard, strings, and body of the guitar.
  • HumiControl: Acoustic guitars are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Maintain your guitar in a controlled environment, ideally at a relative humidity level between 45%-55%. A dehumidifier or humidifier can help maintain these conditions, and a hard-shell case can offer protection from external changes.
  • Change Strings Regularly: Strings should be replaced every three months, or sooner if you play frequently. Old strings can affect the sound quality and playability of your guitar.
  • Tune Regularly: Keeping your guitar in tune is essential not just for playing, but also for maintaining the correct tension on the neck.
  • Proper Storage: When not in use, store your guitar in its case to protect it from dust, temperature changes, and any accidental damage. Never leave your guitar in a vehicle overnight.
  • Checkups: Just like you would take a car for regular servicing, taking your guitar for professional checkups can help maintain its health. A professional can spot and fix potential issues before they become major problems.
  • Protect the Finish: Avoid using furniture polish or other harsh chemicals on your guitar as they can damage the finish. Instead, use guitar polish and a soft cloth to clean and maintain the finish.

With these tips, you can keep your used acoustic guitar in Los Angeles, or anywhere else, sounding and playing as good as new for many years.

Looking For A Used Acoustic Guitar In Los Angeles?

With a little research and careful inspection, you can find an amazing used acoustic guitar in Los Angeles. Adam’s Music has all of the tips and advice you need so that you can buy with confidence. Visit our friendly-neighborhood music shop in West Los Angeles for all your musical needs!

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