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I'm wondering if guitars (and probably other instruments too) are getting older/worse while in shops and what are the consequences for the buyer?

If it matters I'm talking about an electric guitar.

For example: I want to buy a guitar model that I know was released by producer 10 years ago and it's still available in shops. Should I worry about when it was really produced? It could lay down somewhere in a shop for some years, even in a box, but still I would buy not a brand new guitar.

Is there a way to check the production date? I know that the top models have their serial numbers but I mean some cheaper ones.

I'm from a small town, so the best option for me to buy the model I want is to buy online - therefore I won't be able to play it to test it.

  • Note that the tonal properties of most of the woods used in guitars (and other instruments) improve with age, so in many ways guitars get better as they age. If relative humidity is properly maintained, a guitar can sit on a shelf for a few years without degrading at all. Digital instruments usually do not age well because their features become lobselete. Acoustic pianos also do not age well. – Todd Wilcox Jan 31 '18 at 12:53
  • They do get cheaper, that's something to consider. Even stored in a cold dank basement for years (which it will not be unless it's worthless to begin with), most electric guitars will be fine after some minor tuning and repairs. – Ye Dawg Feb 2 '18 at 5:41
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If properly stored, guitars are not getting worse (obviously they are getting older :)). Note that many famous players play on vintage guitars from 70s, 80s or even 60s. Of course in case of older guitar a new setup may be necessary. Also I would be cautious buying a new guitar which nobody wanted to buy for 10 years (but this has nothing to do with its production date - maybe this model is just not so good).

Edit: In the case of certain models it is possible to determine the approx. production date (or period) based on their specs (pickups, color, neck shape etc.).

  • It's a silly question but I want to be clear as I'm new to english music terms :) By setup you mean adjusting all the things (bridge etc.)? Not changing some hardware? – Tom Jan 31 '18 at 11:53
  • It is correct. There are some manufacturers, who use/used nickel hardware which may become dull even if the guitar is not played, although it does not affect the sound or the playability. – Mat Jan 31 '18 at 12:13
  • Occasionally if a Potentiometer sits in one position for too long it can build up some corrosion at the connection point it is at, and cause some problems. Strings left on an instrument will oxidize and and age also. – Alphonso Balvenie Jan 31 '18 at 19:50

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