THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!! ARGH!!!!!
There are many sources
for buying instruments these days. The Home Shopping Network sells a
$ 99.00 guitar created with the help of Estabon, their very own Troubador.
I have no experience with it. I will unhappily say that the little Roy
Clark Guitar that was being marketed awhile back wasn't a favorite of
mine (I say unhappily because Roy is a great guy and fine musician.).
Even Wal Mart has guitar packages. Now, here is where
I have one slight exception to my belief in the cheaper instruments
being well built. I HAVE played the Wal Mart guitar and amp packages.
My response was mixed. I was very impressed with the tone of the electric
guitar. It had a very nice Fender Stratocaster sound. BUT, both on an
experiential as well as intuitive level, I felt they were assembled
just a little sloppy (Action a tad high, frets sticking out the side
of the neck. Just not a smooth set up or feel.). Once again however,
I admit that they were better than the instruments I had when I was
13. And well, I guess I have to admit that I hate Wal Marts corporate
policy of taking over the world. When is enough money, enough money??
Oh well :)
We can't avoid EBAY.
I have bought a number of instruments there. Because of my experience
building and repairing, I can buy with a bit of confidence. If there
is a major problem with the instrument I can usually fix it (I wish
I could say the same about my car!!). If you know how to buy on EBAY
you are fairly safe. Make sure that the person you do business with
has a good track record. Right next to their screen name, is a number
that indicates the amount of transactions this person has accomplished.
You can then check his "feedback" and see if positive comments
were left by other folks he's done business with. A few negative comments
can really ruin a persons ability to continue to do business on Ebay.
Although there are a few bad apples, the Ebay experience is built on
the need for a seller to maintain a positive experience rating. He does
NOT want unhappy folks in the world.
When buying a used
instrument from an individual you go by three main
1. How does the
guitar, look structurally (See important structural points below).
2. How does the
guitar play in your hands? Is it comfortable? Is it easy to play?
3. How do you feel
intuitively about the person you are doing business with? Does he or
she feel like a straight shooter??
When buying from
a music store, you ask the same questions as if you
are buying from an individual. Now, providing the store operates honestly
(and most do. After all, they don't want to make people mad.), they
can offer a bit more professional advice.
While the stores
don't have the depth of knowledge that an instrument builder has, they
know what instruments are right for a particular individual based on
their size, their musical interest,
their budget, and the instruments resale value
should you decide to trade to a better instrument or sell this one.
Furthermore, most reputable stores can assist in minor adjustments in
setting up an instrument to an individuals needs. They can also show
you how to restring the instrument as well as provide information about
So, you need to
weigh the options, and travel the path that seems best to you. I wish
there was a way I could download myself to a potential buyers house
and go with them to offer advice in making a choice -especially in purchasing
a used instrument. BUT, I'm afraid technology hasn't gotten that far
yet - thank God!
If you are buying
a used instrument from an individual, perhaps if you leave a deposit,
they will allow you to take the instrument to a person who is more knowledgeable.
It is really a lot to ask, but maybe some of you are bold?? And again,
the market is very much a buyers market. Today's starter guitars are
generally pretty good and you can't go too wrong. The most important
thing is to find an instrument you can "connect" with. There
is a magic to some instruments. One that "fits" a particular
person can encourage the him to continue to practice, and more easily
see the victories rather than the struggles and defeat.
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