I'm planning to buy a second-handed guitar from my friend, and I really don't know how many years has it being played by how many players, etc. etc.

The only thing I know is that it's a Yamaha F310 TBS, made in Indonesia, and nothing more.

So, I went on searching in Google trying to find some advises on what notes should I bear in mind to buy a second-handed guitar.

But to my surprise, I didn't find quality knowledge on it. I mean, I thought it should have been discussed much more than that.

Are there any criteria to consider while buying a second-handed guitar? I'm trying to find things like:

  1. No bending in the body wood
  2. Lesser fingerprints on the fingerboard
  3. Sound volume test using a tool (I don't know)
  4. ...

Do we have such a list?

2 Answers 2

  1. Check that the neck is straight, or nearly straight. Look down it and see if the fingerboard follows the straight strings, and is parallel to them. If it's banana shaped, there may be the facility to put it right with adjustment of the truss rod.At the same time, push and pull the neck against the body, seeing if it's still the tight fit it would have been when new. If not, probably forget it.

2.On an acoustic, tap the body all over. If there's a 'ring' rather than a clunk, it's not split. Sometimes, you can see a split.In fact, any split, anywhere - Not good.

  1. Look at the fretwires, they should be unworn- not have grooves.If they have - often on 2nd fret, they can be replaced, but it's hardly a DIY job.

4.Check the machine heads - are they smooth,when turned, bent,etc?. It's a DIY job to replace, but you'll end up buying a set probably.

5.Intonation (check elsewhere on this site) needs to be good - often on acoustics there is no adjustment, so if it's out, leave the guitar, unless you're a complete beginner and it's only a temporary till you get better.

6.The strings are probably going to need a change, anyway, so factor a new set into the price.

7.Varnish ,or lack of it in places, is not a big deal,it's patina, and even cracks in that varnish are not necessarily going to be a problem, providing they are in the varnish, not the wood.

8.The strap knobs loose or missing shouldn't put you off.

The number system is rubbish, and it's not my doing !!


Things to check

  1. That there is no lateral twisting of the neck. The neck should be ever so slightly bowed upwards (a few mm at most), without any lateral twisting.
  2. That the truss rod actually works. Never turn more than a quarter of a rotation at once. Ensure that it is possible to tighten and loosen the truss rod. It should be secure and not freely rotating/rattling.
  3. Visually check the frets to ensure there are no grooves or excessive wear. Frets should be consistently shaped. With acoustics, pay attention to the first few frets especially.
  4. Run your fingers along the neck touching the edge of the frets, none of the frets should feel sharp to the touch.
  5. Fret each note on each string to see if any notes do not ring out. This indicates that either the setup is incorrect, or there is a high fret.
  6. Tune the guitar with a tuner, then play the 12th fret, and its harmonic. Check both those notes with a tuner. Acoustic guitars are tricky to intonate, so be careful of excessively bad intonation. Also visually inspect the bridge to ensure that it is not lifting away from the top of the guitar as this can considerably effect intonation. Pay attention to the tuners while tuning as well.
  7. Visually inspect the nut, ensure that the grooves are not excessively worn.
  8. Turn the guitar over and inspect the neck, particularly the area near the nut. Check for any repair work which may have happened if the head stock was knocked off, or any cracks caused by dropping the guitar.
  9. Inspect the neck join carefully. There should be no surrounding cracks, or gaps between the neck and the body of the guitar.
  10. Inspect the area where the fretboard joins the top of the guitar, there should be no gaps or cracks between the top and the fretboard.
  11. Inspect the rear of the guitar where the strap pin is, ensure that the wood is not splitting along the join between the two pieces of wood which make up the sides of the guitar.
  12. Inspect the join between the sides and the top/bottom. There should be no splitting, lifting, or gaps.
  13. Finally, strum the guitar. there should be no rattling or wood noise.

If the guitar is nicely setup, dont forget to ask what gauge strings the current owner is using, so you can get the same gauge! changing the gauge will change the tension and may require setup tweaking.

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