Most of the time you can assume that if something comes at a low cost it is probably no at the pique of its condition or of the highest quality. Especially when you go to a store’s “bargain section” what you mostly see is a mountain of garbage that companies put out there to induce your impulse buying (hey, why not get that set of ten candles, they are 75% off from $100). Most times those things, be it a book, clothing item, or instrument accessory is pretty bad in quality or of no use to you. But that does not have to be the case all the time, especially if you do your research and take your time to find the right product for a really good price. I know a lot of guitars, especially the one you have been hyped to get for months, are quite expensive but if you want to get a good quality guitar you do not have to go for the most extravagant and exclusive guitar out there. So, let’s talk about some things to keep in mind when you are looking for a guitar at a bargain price.
Essentials That You Cannot Overlook:
There are things in any product, including guitars, that you turn a blind eye on BUT there are certain essentials that should be present and good in any guitar, otherwise, a bargain is just waste of money. Two major things to keep in mind are the sound and playability of a guitar. The guitar should have a sturdy construction and if you are buying a used guitar you should be aware that it might have been used for a while and that its best years might be behind it. Check if the guitar has a truss rod so that the neck does not warp, make sure that there are no cracks or major issues with the construction of the guitar. Do not forget to play it to see how it sounds and whether or not it is comfortable for you.
What You Can Definitely Overlook:
Now that we have gone over some of the essentials that should never be overlooked, let’s discuss things that are nice to have but you do not need. First of all, do not be obsessed with names. Yes, maybe you have heard a lot about a company and it is famed for amazing guitars that your favourite musicians use to gig but that does not mean that all of the company’s products are up to par and it definitely does not mean that you should be spending all your saving on a guitar that you just think is “cool”. There are a lot of underappreciated brands and models that not as many people are talking about that can be a better fit for your style and budget. Point is, do not obsess over the name, at the end of the day it is how good the guitar is and how well you can play it, not brag to your friends that you got the most expensive and popular guitar on the market.
You do not need added features. If you are looking for something cheap you cannot get everything that the most expensive guitars have. For instance, you do not need some newly developed headstock that is smaller than the regular one or looks much cooler, or specially designed pickups. You might want it but it is not really necessary and does not change the sound and playability that much. The other MAJOR thing not to care about is the design. Yeah, yeah… I know that tonewood might look really amazing in your local store that you visit every day to obsess over the guitar but (again) it rarely affects playability and sound of the guitar (unless it is some sort of a newly developed technology that makes your guitar sound something like a melodious gift from heavens). You should be getting something more practical that is also affordable. When you buy it and get more experience and if you are sure that you want something with more features and design, save up and buy the expensive one. But as a starter, these things are not vital to your sound and practice.
Now, if you find a used guitar or a guitar at a lower cost and it had some scratches and blemishes, that is not a big deal. If the damage does not affect the sound and playability of the instrument those are not the things to worry about unless you want the best, most fresh, and cheapest guitars, which is kind of impossible to get.
When you are looking for an affordable guitar you have two options, you buy it secondhand in a store or eBay or somewhere like that or you wait for sales on guitars on the company’s website. In case of the sales, you probably would have to wait for the sales period and even in that case the one that you want might not be there or the ones that are on sale need to be researched and by the time you research the sale will be long gone. In case you are buying second-hand, you will have more time for research but you will have no guarantee if you are buying from, for instance, eBay that it will not be of a low quality. eBay and a lot of big online stores have customer guarantee contracts and you will be able to return it but I doubt you want to spend weeks on research and then delivery only having to return the guitar after it arrives and realizing that it was not what you were told. If you are buying from a store, you can definitely check it out yourself. You can ask the salesperson some questions and play it but make sure that even with a used guitar you have the right to return it just so that you do not buy a guitar and after a week you come to a horrid revelation that the guitar has some major problems and you cannot return it because a store has a no return policy on products that are on sale.
Whether you are buying second hand or a guitar on sale if you are not an experienced player try to take a friend who is more knowledgeable about the instrument. You might see a crack or a guitar might be out of tune but these things might not be as telling to you as for someone who has been playing for years and might have a guitar with cracks that is still fine.
Okay, as much as I can try to give general guides as to what you should do before buying a guitar at a bargain price, there is no clear-cut solution to what you should be looking at. You are the only one who knows the level of comfort they have when playing a guitar or what style they are looking for or what you are willing to compromise for a good price. There are many more details to keep in mind, other requirements that are specific to you. The only thing I can tell you is to be cautious of a “bargain” sign and do not rush into a decision that you might regret. Do your research, just like you would with a new guitar, maybe even more. Moreover, so that you do not have an abstract idea in your head of your requirements, write them all down and as you research always keep it in your mind so that you know that it is not just the price that you are attracted by but the actual guitar specifications.
I hope you find a great guitar that will not scrape out your wallet and GOOD LUCK!