Buying a guitar can be a fun, yet complicated journey! There are acoustic guitars, electric guitars, acoustic-electric guitars (so many others), and it’s up to only you what is best for you.
However to add to that, you then have to decide if you should buy a used, or stick with buying a new guitar! I believe used guitars are a great way to buy, and have bought many of them over the years. Things like cost, ability to buy locally, and even having a guitar with a story can be great reasons to buy a used guitar.
- Here’s why you should buy a used guitar
- Why you should NOT buy a used guitar
- How to know how much a used guitar is worth
- Places to buy a used guitar
Here’s why you should buy a used guitar
There are plenty of reasons you will probably want to at least consider buying a used guitar! Here are those reasons.
Used guitars are less expensive
Obviously, this is the first reason most anyone will consider buying a used guitar! Used guitars will (almost) always be cheaper.
This is due to usage, wear, and just the fact that they are no longer new anymore. Just like anything else in life, things devalue, the more they are used.
For those looking for a deal, you can find used guitars to be a great value!
While these guitars may be used, most all of them will have years of life left in them, and many guitars will last you your lifetime.
Side Note: I say almost always these guitars will be cheaper, because just like cars, when there are items that are low production and rare, they will show up considerably more expensive than when new.
Used guitars have a story to them
This is one of the major reasons that I like used guitars, especially older used guitars. It probably shouldn’t be this high on the list for most people for reasons to buy a used guitar, but for me personally, it really is a deciding factor.
Each guitar has its own backstory, and thankfully for the most part they get better with age!
I have seen custom guitars made from old school house chalkboards, and guitars with lifetimes of backstory. One of my guitars was bought new back in the 60s by my Grandmother, and was passed down to me.
Guitars have cool stories, and used ones have more!
You can get a better guitar for less
Not only are used guitars less expensive, but it also means you can get an awesome bang for your buck! Guitars you never thought could be affordable, now have a lower price tag.
Want a Gibson or a Fender, but are having a hard time budgeting that? Find one second hand, and you might be able to make it work.
Make sure to read to the end of the article, as I will detail some great places to find a used guitar.
Because of the quality vs price, used guitars are awesome to use for learning how to play guitar for those beginners just starting out.
Ability to buy a used guitar locally
Unfortunately music stores are getting more and more rare, as everything starts to move online!
However if you can’t wait a couple days to get your guitar to your home, buying used might be a great option, when you may not have a local music shop!
There are some great sources out there to find a guitar second hand locally in your area. Just make sure to stay safe!
You don’t have to worry about wear
Have you ever bought something brand new, and you worried for months about adding that first scratch to it? Guitars are no different!
Buying a guitar used, means that you don’t have this pressure, as someone else has already gone through that phase of ownership.
Now you get to save money, and stress!
Used guitars hold their value
That line of going from a new guitar, to a used guitar goes as quickly as walking out of a store after buying a new one.
After that a guitar quickly devalues.
If you buy a used guitar, you have allowed someone else to take that initial hit in value, and it devalues much slower after that, meaning you lose less money over time.
You can negotiate
This is the final, but not least important aspect of buying a used guitar!
Many people just need to get their guitar sold, and are willing to negotiate on the price, meaning you have the ability to save even more money.
Like any negotiations though, you have to be willing to walk away from the sale if you can’t get the price that you want.
Why you should NOT buy a used guitar
Now, of course there are many reasons to buy a used guitar, but you should also be aware of the few reasons that exist that may mean you shouldn’t buy a used guitar.
They can have hidden damage
New guitars tend to never have damage to them! They are brand new, and haven’t seen the abuse that guitars can get over time.
It’s also difficult, because that used guitar you are looking at may have hidden damage that you may not even be aware of when you are inspecting it for purchase.
This is definitely a risk you will have to take whenever buying used!
Smaller selection of guitars
Used guitars only come up for sale whenever someone is ready to part with a guitar that they currently own!
This means that every guitar is 1-of-1, and there isn’t an unlimited supply of guitars on the market like new guitars would.
If you are looking for an extremely specific guitar, with a specific spec, you likely will have a really hard time finding it on the used market.
While used guitars really should have more information disclosed like condition, modifications, and more, in the realy world they tend to have less information than when you buy one new!
This means you are going to be buying a guitar that you don’t really know about, and can lead to you possibly buying the wrong guitar for what you need.
Make sure to do as much research as you can before buying a used guitar!
May need maintenance
I was given my current acoustic guitar as a used guitar, and after 30+ years of use it needed maintenance really badly.
While it was bought for a decent amount of money, I then had to turn around and take it to a guitar shop, to have it completely cleaned up and overhauled, making it just that more expensive.
Thankfully it turned out awesome! However that may not always be the case.
Buying used is less safe for you
Buying a used item, regardless of what it is, adds that fear factor to it.
Meeting someone you don’t know, in a parking lot with cash in hand may never be something people get used to, and for good reason.
If you are buying like this, make sure to always meet in a public setting in daylight hours, and take any necessary precaution.
Alternatively, as we will talk about a little bit later, there are some other great ways to buy used guitars today that don’t give you this risk.
How to know how much a used guitar is worth
Buying a used guitar can be a lot of fun, and an exciting adventure. However settling on a price becomes difficult, especially when a guitar is no longer made new, and finding the original price is no longer a possibility.
The best ways I have found to figure out what a guitar is worth are the following.
Find a new version of that guitar
This is probably the easiest way to find what price you should be paying for that used guitar. Go online, and if that guitar you wanting to buy is no longer made, see if it was replaced by a different line of guitars and go based on that price.
See if you can find it used elsewhere
Say you are buying a guitar locally, but don’t know what you should pay. Jump onto different websites that may be selling the guitar in used condition.
Make sure to offer less than that though, as many of those guitars on the websites have gone through maintenance before ever leaving the company.
The guitar you are looking at there, hasn’t had that.
Check for quality
Can’t find anything online about your guitar you want to buy used? Then you are going to want to base the price on quality.
Things like types of metal, wood, and finish can all let you in on how much that guitar is worth.
Negotiate accordingly, and if the seller isn’t willing to budge, be willing to walk away.
Figure out what it is worth to you
Is this the one guitar you want, you have been looking for weeks, and this used guitar is the only one you want? That ups the value of the guitar.
In the end, the value of something, is based on what someone is willing to pay.
There isn’t anything wrong with that either!
Places to buy a used guitar
There are a surprising amount of places that you can buy a used acoustic or electric guitar.
If you are looking to be able to negotiate with an individual person the two main places that come to mind are Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.
These two places allow you to talk directly to the person looking to sell a guitar, and gives you all of the benefits we talked about earlier in this article.
If you are not too interested in meeting with an individual for a private party sale though, you have some other great options as well!
Ebay immediately comes to mind. However I personally would prefer retailers like Musician’s Friend, and Guitar Center. With these options, you won’t really be able to negotiate, but you can still get an awesome price.
I personally have purchased an acoustic guitar from Musician’s Friend in the past and was extremely impressed.
Buying a used guitar doesn’t have to be a daugnting, or difficult experience. You also don’t have to worry about the downsides of a used guitar all that much.
As long as you are fully aware of the pros and cons of a used guitar, and the best ways to go about buying one you should be just fine!