Why should you buy from me? After all, you can buy from the same people on Craigslist, etc. that I do. So, is there an advantage buying from me, other than the convenience of being able to compare from a selection of a few dozen guitars and having a guarantee?
Buying a Used Guitar – Price Difference
When I come across a used guitar ad that is reasonably priced, I’ll explain that I can give them the advantage of cash right now without the concerns of a disgruntled buyer, especially if the guitar developed a problem shortly after the sale. But that advantage comes with a price – I pay a lower price.
Like a guitar I bought yesterday. He had it priced at $135. I explained that in the condition it was in (the seller hadn’t even realized the multiple problems this instrument had!), it should probably bring about $90, and that I would only pay him $70 for it. He accepted my offer.
Check the Action
Once home, I quickly tuned the guitar and checked the action, adjusting the truss rod as needed. I checked that the nut and saddle radii match the fretboard radius and then set all heights and clearances to factory settings.
I removed the lightly corroded strings. The guitar looked pretty good until you looked closer. Bridge and saddles had gunk and some corrosion. Saddle height set screws were rusted. So I released the three tremolo springs and totally disassembled the bridge and each saddle. I cleaned everything with WD-40 and a toothbrush and replaced the rusted set screws.
Volume and tone switches (pots) are so frequently “scratchy” that I just automatically clean them all when processing a new guitar. This means unscrewing the pickguard and cleaning each pot. While I’m at it, I inspect each solder joint – especially the grounding wires because these often cause humms and static. I’ll resolder any cold solder or bad connections I see.
I’ll run my fingers up and down the fretboard feeling for sharp edges or extended frets and, using my special fret file, I’ll take care of those. I rarely buy guitars that require fret levelling but if this one needs it, it gets it, which then requires recrowning the frets – a job that can easily take me a few hours.
I’ll tape off the fretboard and pickups then polish the frets using 0000 steel wool, then I remove the tape and rub lemon oil into the rosewood fretboard.
I inspect the nut and replace it if it’s worn or made of cheap plastic. I’ll usually replace the string trees with roller trees to make the guitar hold its tuning better.
I check each tuner for wear, looseness or bad gear teeth, replacing as needed. If I was going to do serious upgrades on this guitar, I’d probably install locking tuners.
Re-String the Guitar
I then restring the guitar with lightly oiled brand-new D’Addario #9’s, stretch the strings, tune and set intonation. At this point I’ll play the guitar a bit (very poorly!) and make sure everything is right.
Polish & Sell the Guitar
Now it’s time to polish the entire guitar and put it up for sale – photos, etc. At what price? $119 for this one. That’s about fifteen bucks cheaper than the original seller’s ad! After paying sales tax, I’ll make less than $40 for my time, know-how and labor. But I’ll know I’ve added more than that to the value of this guitar.