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I want to learn a guitar and being a newbie, I want to purchase a second-hand guitar. How can I filter/verify a guitar on online classified websites?

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To be fair, you probably don't need a great guitar to start with. Buying online instruments might not be a good idea. An instrument will become part of you and you need to feel it in your hands. An easy way and cheapish way to buy a guitar is to look in charity shops. You can usually get a great bar gain and try how it feels. My first piano was free and very old. Once tuned, I used it to death to learn. It was a great first instrument that did its job in helping me learn. Now I have a better more sturdy piano which does what I want it to do. I expect you'll feel the same. Good luck

  • I dislike buying instruments online for that very reason you mention in the third sentence. Not every instrument of the same year/model is exactly the same. You need to feel it in your hands to be able to know if you can live with the instrument. +1 – Neil Meyer Jan 12 '17 at 5:55
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You have a number of things you want to protect against, including...

  • The seller not, in fact, having the instrument they are claiming to be selling, or not intending to post it when payment is received
  • The seller having the instrument they claim (and intending to send it) but that instrument being fake, damaged, or having some other problem (which the seller may or may not be aware of)
  • The seller having the instrument described, but it getting lost or damaged in the post

Some 'weapons' against this are:

  • Many online classified and auction sites have a 'reputation' or 'feedback' system that allows people to rate users' performance in sales transactions. If someone has been honest on a number of occasions in the past, hopefully that's a useful guide.
  • look at listings that have lots of good, clear pictures and detailed information. This is important as unless you've been explicitly shown and told that something is in good cosmetic and operational condition before you buy it, you don't necessarily have any comeback if it isn't. (Also, In my experience, people who are conscientious about the listing are more likely to show the same attitude to other aspects of the sale).
  • Most sellers will be happy to privately send you serial numbers (and pictures thereof) to verify (where possible) with the manufacturer. (They may not want to show them in the public listing to avoid them being misused).
  • Many payment methods will allow you some recourse if you have been sold something that is not as described
  • Insured shipping services are available.

I have bought and sold a lot of equipment online, and in all honesty I can't think of a perfect way to avoid those problems; I go into any transaction thinking "I may lose my money here". Nevertheless, I have still found online trading well worth the risks and occasional hassles, and have had very few problems.

However: Unless you are looking for a very specific instrument (which is perhaps unlikely if you are just looking for something to learn on), or are in a sparsely-populated area, I think there's plenty of wisdom in user33232's advice to see what's available locally. Obviously some of the risks mentioned above are reduced when buying in person, and you also see if you actually like the instrument. You can also perhaps take someone more experienced with you to check it out.

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