Used Guitars Done Right https://guitarsdoneright.com Used Guitars in Tampa, St Pete, Palm Harbor Mon, 10 Aug 2020 21:21:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://guitarsdoneright.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/cropped-Fender-Guitar-Strat-1-32x32.jpg Used Guitars Done Right https://guitarsdoneright.com 32 32 Guitar Buying Dangers Episode #101 https://guitarsdoneright.com/guitar-buying-dangers-episode-101/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guitar-buying-dangers-episode-101 https://guitarsdoneright.com/guitar-buying-dangers-episode-101/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 21:20:54 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=35432 I love looking at guitar ads. Craigslist, Marketplace, OfferUp, Reverb – all of ’em! But having bought roughly six hundred guitars off these ads in the past three years, I know that dark secrets lurk behind most of them. Please note that I said “..dark secrets lurk behind MOST of them.” I didn’t say “some”. […]]]>

I love looking at guitar ads. Craigslist, Marketplace, OfferUp, Reverb – all of ’em! But having bought roughly six hundred guitars off these ads in the past three years, I know that dark secrets lurk behind most of them.

Please note that I said “..dark secrets lurk behind MOST of them.” I didn’t say “some”. I didn’t say “many”. Most.

So, I’m a guitar tech and I know what to look for. But sometimes – meeting in a dim parking lot at night and under pressure of maskless sellers wanting to peer over my shoulder (heart failure from Agent Orange makes me very nervous about Covid19) – I can fail to catch hidden problems too.

The list of potential hidden problems is so long, I could write an entire book! Rather, I’ll take one of the most common overlooked problems and discuss just this one.

It’s a problem you’re likely to not notice unless you’re an expert, yet it’s a problem that will prevent you from playing accurate notes and open chords. And it’s a problem that over ninety percent of all new guitars on the wall at Guitar Center and other stores have.

Nut slots too high.

The “nut” is that slotted thing up by your headstock, that the strings rest on. (At the other end, by the bridge, they rest on the saddles).

i like to see nut slots for electric guitars, measure at 16 to 20 thousands of an inch when fretted at the highest fret (near the body) and measured between the string bottom and fret top.

if you’re a guitar tech with several sets of nut files (costing about $100 per set!), it’s no big deal. If you’re an individual spending just a hundred or two on a guitar – then having to spend another hundred for nut files may not idea of a “nice surprise”.

File Guitar Nut Slots
Filing guitar nut slots with a Stewmac nut file set

And don’t fall for those cheapo “nut-file” sets on ebay! When I got back into guitar teching, I tried every DIY and cheapo file set out there. You really can save on a lot of tools, but IMHO – not with nut files! You’ve gotta pay Stewmac the ransom money!

Now, it’s a great idea to just plan on getting a professional setup for any guitar you buy – used or new. But these are tough times and I know there are many people who just want to spend a hundred or two for a nice new hobby for their newly-found spare time. A good setup is $60. Some places are a bit less, but not all setups are the same. (Read my June article about not all Setups are equal).

The cost of a setup on top of the cost of the guitar and amp might be a bit much for many people, so it’s best to be wary when guitar shopping and inspect the instrument carefully.

0.040″ is double the recommended height and will prevent accurate playing.

If the nut slots are too high (0.030 to 0.040 is common but way too high), you’ll be playing sharp – especially in the “cowboy frets” (where I play!). Hey – I used to think that all frets past the fifth were spares! LOL!

So this means that no matter how accurate your open-string tuning is, your playing is going to be sharp (notes too high). And the closer you are fretting toward the headstock, the more your tuning will be off.

But even worse, as the frets get much lower than 0.15, then you’ll likely have buzzing on open strings.

Cheap fixes

If all the strings are a bit too low, a cheap fix that often works is to use 0.010″ thick aluminum tape as a shim. But unless you already have a roll on hand, it will cost as much as a nut.

If the slots are high – which is the usual problem, you might be able to get by with filing the nut bottom. You’ll have to remove the nut first. You may need to slice through any clear coat or paint that might be holding the nut. A hair dryer will heat the area enough to loosen the glue. Then tap one end of the nut with a hammer and punch. Obviously, this is a delicate operation that is not without risk of damage to the nut or guitar.

Know that if you purchase a new nut, the odds are that it will need slots filed even after you take some off the bottom. Be aware that nuts come in varying widths and lengths and can be curved or flat bottom. You’ll want to match these characteristics with your current nut (assuming it was the correct one for your guitar). They can also be made of cheap plastic, bone, brass, graphite or high-tech plastic.

Of course, a better solution might just be to buy your guitar from a reputable guitar tech (ahem – like me!) Every guitar I sell has already had the nut slots filed down to spec; all frets level; truss rod checked and adjusted; new strings stretched, tuned and intonated; string height (saddle height) set; etc.

Or, spend a tad less on the guitar and leave enough for a good setup, good strings and a new nut, etc. if needed.

Learning guitar is an endeavor you’ll never regret. It’s a lifelong journey that will pay you back many times over for the hours and dollars you invest. For a quick-start on that journey, check out my free beginner guitar tutorial and my “How to Choose Your First Guitar” article.

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Guitar Buying – Nasty Surprises! https://guitarsdoneright.com/guitar-buying-surprises/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guitar-buying-surprises https://guitarsdoneright.com/guitar-buying-surprises/#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:07:25 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=35387 How to Insure Your Guitar Purchase A new customer brought me two guitars to setup. Both were new acquisitions for him. He was happy with his purchases and excited to be getting them setup to play well. Unfortunately, I had to break some very bad news to him. The Fernandes – a beautiful guitar that […]]]>

How to Insure Your Guitar Purchase

A new customer brought me two guitars to setup. Both were new acquisitions for him. He was happy with his purchases and excited to be getting them setup to play well.

Unfortunately, I had to break some very bad news to him. The Fernandes – a beautiful guitar that he’d gotten “a deal” on, had a broken headstock that had been badly repaired. Though the neck had been glued – hopefully with Titebond or hide glue – the headstock still had a 1/16″ crack that would likely compress when strings were tuned and cause tuning issues.

But that wasn’t all. The frets were badly worn, so that no amount of setup would likely let it be played well unless we did a level and crown. Fortunately there was still plenty of fret height for levelling.

But that wasn’t all! The nut was worn so low that two strings were resting on the first fret! Total cost to put this guitar in good playing shape – new nut, level & crown, setup & new strings – and fill the open headstock crack – $150. That Fernandes wasn’t looking like such a great deal any more!

Next up – an Encore 335 clone from the Matsumoku factory in Japan, back in the sixties! These generally go for $300+ and this was a fine-looking guitar. But I must stress the “looking” part!

The frets had been levelled a bit beyond the suggested minimum height of 0.025 inches and it appeared that they forgot to crown the frets after levelling. It also needed a new nut with E and A strings sitting just 0.005″ off the first fret – well within buzzing distance for open strings.

Thankfully, its levelling job looked fairly recent so there wasn’t much wear, because there would be no more levelling for these frets that were barely above the fretboard. Since this guitar’s value wouldn’t justify a refret, I decided to save the customer some money and used an aluminum shim to raise the nut. I prefer metal shims to wood in order to preserve every last bit of tone.

I did have a bit of a scare when I tried to adjust the relief (truss rod). The nut didn’t want to budge and I didn’t want to see the rod break through the fretboard. A bit of heat, tapping and judicious use of strong language finally allowed the nut to turn just enough to get the relief down close to 0.010″. If the neck bows back to 0.020 again, I wouldn’t bet on having enough adjustment left to rectify it.

But with the frets so low, it probably won’t matter. I figure about a year left of fairly heavy use. Maybe three to five years if used more moderately. This is a bolt-on neck, so there is always that option – but then there goes about half your resale value!

This is a cautionary tale. If you are not a knowledgeable, experienced guitar buyer, either buy from a reputable dealer or have a dealer check out your prospective new guitar before reaching for your wallet.

I charge just twenty dollars to inspect a guitar. You can meet the seller here and if you have me do a setup on the guitar, I’ll apply the twenty dollars toward the sixty dollar setup. So that twenty costs you nothing if the guitar turns out to be a good deal and limits your loss to twenty dollars if it’s a lemon.

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Tonewood, Telecasters & Turtles https://guitarsdoneright.com/tonewood-turtles-telecasters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tonewood-turtles-telecasters Fri, 17 Jul 2020 16:01:30 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=35262 Most people seem to agree that nut material influences tone. They may say something like – a brass nut, being a very dense material, gives a bright tone; a bone nut gives a warm tone and a plastic nut gives a muddy tone. Some people, quite a few actually, say that the type of wood […]]]>

Most people seem to agree that nut material influences tone. They may say something like – a brass nut, being a very dense material, gives a bright tone; a bone nut gives a warm tone and a plastic nut gives a muddy tone.

Some people, quite a few actually, say that the type of wood that the neck and/or body is made of, influences the tone of electric guitars like Stratocasters and Telecasters.

Basswood is a soft wood and is said to give a warm tone. So, your strings are suspended between a nut and saddles. Metal saddles mounted on a metal bridge, screwed into a soft wood.

So if a string is suspended between a brass nut and metal saddle which is mounted onto a metal bridge, screwed into a soft wood – which property takes precedence and what percent of each contributes to the tone?

This is the point where I’m reminded of the story of a scientist who is accosted by a “flat-earth” old lady who proclaims that the earth is flat and rests on the back of a turtle. The scientist politely asks, “And what does the turtle stand on?”. “Another turtle.”, the lady snaps back.

“Well what does that turtle stand on?” “Listen buster, it’s turtles all the way down!”

The tonewood adherents will say that mounting the bridge on a softer wood gives a warmer tone. And, on the surface, that makes sense. But then, what does the basswood body rest on? Your thigh? Then what are you resting on? A chair? Is that chair on carpet, tile or wood flooring?

Where do we stop? At what point can we say that anything past this point is probably irrelevant?

There are (at least) two things we need to consider –

  • Some people’s hearing is much better than others
  • “Hearing” happens in the brain, not in the ears

It’s my belief, that for most of us, “tonewood” is a mythical quality. But, like a placebo, if you believe in it, it may work.

Me, being more of a tech than a player, I don’t like basswood. it’s too soft to firmly hold bridge screws and others, over the long haul. I’ve had to do too much drilling out; filling with hardwood and redrilling to fix loose bridge screws, strap buttons, etc.

All music instruments, including and maybe especially guitars, are meant for human enjoyment. If believing that your guitar has the best “tonewood” makes you (and your pet turtle) happy – I’m all for it.

Thanks to DjentHub.com for the graphic!

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Can We Turn THIS Into a Decent Guitar? https://guitarsdoneright.com/can-we-turn-this-into-a-decent-guitar/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-we-turn-this-into-a-decent-guitar Thu, 09 Jul 2020 21:06:51 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=35145 Here’s a guitar you might’ve seen on Craigslist awhile back. “Rarely played guitar in excellent condition”. The price was right – about $35. I was looking for a nice, but cheap Ibanez Strat, so I brought it home. Did I get a “deal”? The bridge was floated “sky-high”. The action was more than uncomfortable – […]]]>
used guitars in palm harbor
Dirty, rusty, what else?

Here’s a guitar you might’ve seen on Craigslist awhile back. “Rarely played guitar in excellent condition”.

The price was right – about $35. I was looking for a nice, but cheap Ibanez Strat, so I brought it home. Did I get a “deal”?

The bridge was floated “sky-high”. The action was more than uncomfortable – I’d say it was unplayable, with string height two-and-a-half times higher than specs!

The neck had a bit of a bow. The “relief” measured at 0.035 inches (fretted at first and last frets, then measured at seventh fret). But if the truss rod and nut were good, that could be adjusted out.

Distance between the pickup poles and strings was twice as much as it should be, thus robbing those humbuckers of much of their power.

The Nut slots were all good except ‘A’ string was too low and buzzing.

Bridge should float parallel to the body
Rusty pickup poles

A good part of the string height problem was due to the bridge float being ridiculously high. The rusty pickup poles weren’t going to help resale value and the dust and dirt – Oh my! Why don’t people clean their guitars before selling???

First thing I did was tune the strings, then take my measurements – relief, string heights and nut slot heights – in that order. It’s important to tune the strings first so you have the right tension before measuring.

Red shows initial problems, green is the resolutions and blue didn’t need changing. (I forgot to mark changing pickup heights!)

I reset the relief before taking the nut and string height measurements. The four millimeter truss rod nut was in perfect condition and the relief came down to 0.010 nicely, and all nut slots were between .015 and .020 except the A which was about .007 and buzzing.

Actual measurement was worse, but I couldn’t get a capo down to the last fret and needed a hand for the camera

I quickly replaced the nut by filing the bottom of a new nut to where I guessed it would be very close to spec, and it was. I only had to file a few slots to tweak them in.

Knowing I’d need to remove the bridge for cleaning, I didn’t bother with setting string (saddle) height just yet. So, off with the strings; removed tremolo springs and plopped the bridge in my hydrosonic jewelry cleaner (sure beats scrubbing with a toothbrush!).

While that was going, I cleaned the fretboard (0000 steel wool and Naptha) then checked fret ends (they were smooth!) and checked all frets for level, from E to e. Found five high frets – a couple were high between G and e, one was high from E to D and one was high all over.

High frets are “buzz makers”. You’re not going to have a decent playing guitar until all frets are level and nicely crowned. A fretboard protector and some #600 sandpaper got those frets level quickly. I polished them up with some #2500 sandpaper and another go with #0000 steel wool and Naptha.

Then I conditioned the fretboard with a good furniture polish oil, let it set twenty minutes and buffed it out.

I checked all screws and bolts for proper tightness and found that all the tuner key 10mm nuts were loose (common problem), and I tightened them.

Plastic covers to dress up the pickups
Hot glue holds the cover to the pickup

I used naval jelly to remove the rust but the plating was gone, so after a light coat of WD40, I gave them covers to hide behind.

Hot glue holds the covers in place yet allows them to be removed later, if needed.

I removed the control cavity cover and used electrical contact cleaner to clean the volume and tone pots and the switch. After giving the entire guitar a good cleaning and polishing, it was time to reassemble the bridge/tremolo system and string her up!

Before placing the guitar string-side down, protect the frets to prevent “string dents”

I start stringing with the E (lowest) string and bring each within about two tones of tuning. Then I stretch them all and begin tuning with “e” (highest), then B, G, etc. This is the UK system. In the US, it seems to be more popular to tune strings from E to e. The problem is that as you tune each string, you change the dynamics of the neck and change the tension on all the other five strings, and the heavier strings change the most.

Therefore, you’ll achieve your goal much faster by tuning from e to E. After you tune the sixth string, stretch them all again and start over, tuning at the highest string that changed tuning. Rinse and repeat until no strings change more than a tiny bit.

If you don’t properly stretch your strings, they’ll go flat as you play and do bends, whammys, etc.

Finally it was “intonation time”. Although the saddles looked like they might be at the right positions, the guitar was badly out of tune when fretted. Happily, it behaved well and intonation took just a few minutes.

The “End Result”

The guitar looks great now and it plays great. With the right tools, some know-how and a few hours, you can turn a dumpster-destined guitar into a great axe too! But if you don’t have the time, tools, etc. – you can get an excellent playing guitar for under a hundred bucks from me at GuitarsDoneRight.com !

This one is currently for sale on our website. Click for info and more pix.

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Cheap Online Guitars – GlarryMusic.com https://guitarsdoneright.com/cheap-online-guitars-glarrymusic-com/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cheap-online-guitars-glarrymusic-com Fri, 03 Jul 2020 15:55:57 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=35111 You’ve probably seen these guitars – from about $79 to just a tad over $100. They look beautiful! But are they any good? If you check out the YouTube channels, you’ll find several “guitar gurus”, who unbox these, squint and look closely; pronounce something about the finish not being great – but then proceed to […]]]>

You’ve probably seen these guitars – from about $79 to just a tad over $100. They look beautiful! But are they any good?

If you check out the YouTube channels, you’ll find several “guitar gurus”, who unbox these, squint and look closely; pronounce something about the finish not being great – but then proceed to lay on the props for how well it plays “for the money”.

We don’t really know if these people are paid, and we don’t know how truly knowledgeable they are about guitars – BUT.. I can give you a clue. You don’t just squint at a guitar, play a riff or two then make pronouncements as to its quality. NOT if you really know what you’re doing.

I went beyond the “squint and riff” inspection level and actually analyzed this guitar – as I do with every guitar I go through and setup.

But at our nightly jam session, just the night before – and just hours after we unboxed it – my wife said the guitar was very uncomfortable to play. It was rather “noisy” also, with some sort of interference coming through the amplifier. The E string wasn’t sounding out clearly and we could hear some buzzing.

glarry bass guitar

She’s only been playing bass for a year or so, but she has the callouses and I think she plays pretty well. So, the next morning, I put the guitar on the bench for one of my thorough setups. Here’s what I found (see whiteboard photo above)..

Before starting, I stretched and tuned the strings.

I immediately saw why the E string didn’t sound clear – by coming off the top, rather than the bottom of the tuner key post, it wasn’t providing the downward pressure against the nut, that is needed for a clear tone.

Notice E string comes off the top, rather than bottom of the key

Neck Relief

You’ll often hear people talking about a guitar neck needing to be “straight”. But that’s not exactly right. Great action means low string height without fret buzzing.

(It’s worth noting that getting the right string height depends on the player, style of music and other factors, but in general, most players want it low as possible without buzzing.)

So picture some kids playing “jump rope”. One kid at each end of the rope and one jumping in the center. At what point does the string swing widest? In the center.

If we want our guitar strings low and close as possible to the fret tops, as we lower our saddles we can expect the strings to first contact frets in the center (while being strummed). That’s why we want just a little bit – around 0.010 inch, or a quarter of a millimeter – of extra room between the string bottoms and fret tops at the seventh fret (strats & teles) when fretted at the first (capo) and last fret.

This allows us to nudge our saddles just a bit lower for more comfortable playing.

Fender specs call for .010 relief for neck radius greater than 12″ and .012 for 9.5 radius frets.

Well, this Glarry jazz bass had 0.025″ relief. That’s more than double the prescribed amount!

String Height

Wound strings were 0.12 inch when measured at fret 17 and capo’d at 1st fret. That’s quite a bit higher than the 0.095 for E and 0.08 at G that I generally shoot for on bass guitars. You don’t have to be a good guitar player to instantly feel the difference and appreciate how much more comfortable the lower setting is.

Nut Slot Heights

Nut slots were twice as high as they should have been. I like to keep the bottom of E and A a hair under 0.020″ from the top of the first fret when fretted at the highest fret (near the body) and I shoot for about 0.015″ for D and G, but I don’t ever want to get near 0.010″.

Pickup Pole Heights

The pickups were too low which would likely lead to a muddy, less-distinct sound.

Frets Level?

I found five frets sticking up too high (using my fret rocker tool) and stopped checking after finding fret #13 high when I realized that it needed fret levelling/crowning work.

The frets were quite high and I spent more time than I’d hoped, at leveling frets.

Before levelling, I filed the sharp fret ends, to make for more comfortable playing.

Other Problems

Sawdust prevented good contact with the ground wire and guitar body

As you can see from my white board (and above photo), there were also problems with the bridge ground and intonation. By the way, on my white boards, red ink indicates problems. Green ink shows the resolution of those issues. Blue ink indicates that no work was needed.

When you don’t have a good bridge ground, you’ll get noise (interference) through your guitar amp. You can’t really play this way – the ground has to be working.

What I discovered is that they’d left a lot of sawdust from drilling the bridge screw holes, under the bridge. The ground wire lays on top of the body, under the bridge.

Well, the sawdust was taller than the wire which created two problems –

  • Tonal quality was greatly diminished because the sawdust acted a bit like shock absorbers, impeding the transfer of vibrations from the strings.
  • And of course, the sawdust prevented a solid ground connection to the bridge bottom, resulting in noise coming through the amplifier.

The last step – well, next to last step, since a final polishing is my actual last step – is intonation. This brand-new guitar was badly out of intonation before I started setting it up and wasn’t much better now – 15 cents was the average or about one sixth of the way to the next semi-tone.

Conclusion

Obviously, I can’t recommend these guitars as shipped by Glarry. However, after a thorough setup, the guitar feels good and plays nicely.

In my opinion, there’s little point in talking about the sound or tonal quality of the pickups, etc. Of course they’re cheap pickups. But cheap pickups often vary in quality, meaning you definitely can come across good-sounding, cheap pickups.

But only your ears can define what is meant by good-sounding!

If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a video comparision of one of these Glarry bass guitars and an American Fender bass guitar. I’ll even compare and mix & match with a 20 watt Glarry bass amp and a 100 watt Fender bass amp.

Any interest???

BTW

This guitar and one that is similar, is for sale for $119 with my one year electrical warranty and thirty days of free setup adjustments (if you can come to me). Comes with gig bag (very thin one). 20 watt bass amp, also brand-new, is just $49

ADDED:

We jammed a bit last night. Wife played this bass. It sounded good and she said it played nicely too!

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Why Your Guitar Won’t Sell https://guitarsdoneright.com/why-your-guitar-wont-sell/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-your-guitar-wont-sell Tue, 09 Jun 2020 02:29:35 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=34838 I buy guitars. I refurbish, setup and resell them. So this morning, I got an email – I have a very nice guitar you may want. It is essentually new, almost unused, a couple years old, Black, Hard Rock, model, Fender Strat, with case. I don’t play, I got it for a friend, but they […]]]>

I buy guitars. I refurbish, setup and resell them. So this morning, I got an email –

I have a very nice guitar you may want. It is essentually new, almost unused, a couple years old, Black, Hard Rock, model, Fender Strat, with case. I don’t play, I got it for a friend, but they changed their mind. I believe the $300 new receipt is with it, in the case. I am hoping for $150.00, it is in perfect condition.

– email from seller

Well, of course the “Fender Strat” is a Squier Affinity, which until recently, sold for $199 brand-new. They’re up to $229, new now. I sell them, unmodified, with new strings and a professional setup for $99. The “case” the seller refers to is a gig bag. I sell them for ten bucks used.

So, this seller was asking me to pay $150 for a guitar and bag that, after cleaning, polishing, filing fret ends smooth, filing nut slots down so it’ll intonate properly, new strings, pro-setup, intonation, etc., I’ll be able to resell fo $99 plus $10 for the bag.

I told him I could pay sixty…maayybee seventy at tops. Of course, he thinks I’m a crook! I can understand that he paid two hundred plus tax for the guitar and maybe thirty plus tax for the bag. He may have bought an amp and cord and everything rang up to three hundred bucks.

So, of course he should be able to get half his money back, yes? Well, besides the fact that he wasn’t offering an amp for the $150, even $115 – half price of the guitar and bag, discounting sales tax, is about the limit.

And why do electric guitars lose so much value, even if you haven’t put much “mileage” on them?

Think about it this way – guitar factories in China, Indonesia and wherever, all over the world, crank out millions of guitars every year.

Electric guitars last forever. I think the half-life of a Stratocaster is five million years! So we’ve got nearly a century’s worth of electric guitars on the market – with the supply growing at a current rate of just over one percent per year.

That’s the supply side. Now, what’s happening to the demand side? Just how many great and popular guitarists have there been in the past ten years? Nothing to compare to earlier generations, right?

From the fifties through the seventies, we didn’t have electronic games; we didn’t have personal computers. We didn’t have all the entertainment opportunities that we have today.

So the used guitar market is hit from three sides –

  • An ever-growing supply
  • A diminishing demand
  • Growing entertainment competition

Compare that to the used car market –

  • A steady supply, since automobiles have a lifespan
  • Without the public transportation that other countries have, demand is steady and growing
  • There really is no competition to automobiles except maybe motorcycles, bikes and skateboards.

So yeah, you can get half price or more for your three-year-old Yugo (maybe), but maybe not for your Fender Squier.

The other issue with used guitars is that many people tend to think of them as commodities. i.e.: One three-year-old Squier Strat is the same as any other.

That is no more true with guitars as it is with cars. You probably wouldn’t buy a used car without checking it out, test driving it and maybe having your mechanic take a look.

Yet, people buy used guitars by meeting sellers in a parking lot and not even trying them out. I buy and sell about two hundred guitars each year. I never – let me repeat that – I never get a guitar that doesn’t need a setup (brand-new guitars need a setup!) and often at least a minor repair or two.

And the issues are rarely noticeable. It takes a trained eye to find many of the problems and even then, a lot of them get past me until I have the guitar on the bench.

So as a seller, realize that you’re selling a less than perfect guitar (unless you’ve just had it professionally setup), in a flooded market with diminished demand.

Consider trading with another player, instead of selling for cash. If this is your only guitar and you don’t play – consider…and I mean really consider – keeping the guitar and learning how to play.

It’s a very rewarding pasttime. If you’re in your senior years, it’s good for keeping your brain young and for getting to hear your old favorites whenever you like. If you’re a youngster, you’ve got plenty of time to get good and I promise you’ll never regret learning to play.

You don’t have to have money for an instructor – there are plenty of YouTube channels to help you. That may not be the ideal way to learn, but it does work and it’s free.

So, if that “Fender Strat” (comeon – be honest and tell the people it’s a Squier!), won’t sell for $150 and you don’t want to learn to play, you may have to get reasonable with your price.

Sure people are running Squier ads for $125 to $150, but they’re not selling for that amount. Depending on condition and color, most sell for $50 to $110. With the median average between $75 and $100.

I’m modifying most Squiers to “Super Squiers” nowadays, to make them better instruments and get a few more dollars for them. But I sold a beautiful Silvertone Strat today for $79. It had new strings, stretched, tuned and intonated; a professional setup with sweet low action; level frets with smooth fret ends, cleaned electronics, a cleaned and conditioned fretboard, polished frets and a polished, shiny body. I guaranteed the electronics for one year and offered free setup adjustments for thirty days, if needed.

And I have more where that came from! So before you go to set a price on your guitar ad, think twice about it. If it’s your only guitar, maybe you should hang onto it. It’d look nice on a wall and you could practice a little each day.

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A Setup Is Not A Setup! https://guitarsdoneright.com/a-setup-is-not-a-setup/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-setup-is-not-a-setup https://guitarsdoneright.com/a-setup-is-not-a-setup/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2020 13:18:18 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=34790 People often talk like a guitar “setup” is almost a commodity. Like a setup at “Bubba’s Guitar Shop” is the same as a guitar setup at “Hank’s Guitar Shop” or any other place. Yesterday, a customer brought me a guitar saying he’d just paid for a setup at another Tampa/St Pete area shop. When he […]]]>

People often talk like a guitar “setup” is almost a commodity. Like a setup at “Bubba’s Guitar Shop” is the same as a guitar setup at “Hank’s Guitar Shop” or any other place.

Yesterday, a customer brought me a guitar saying he’d just paid for a setup at another Tampa/St Pete area shop. When he got it back, it was worse than before, so he brought it back to them again and asked them to make it right. Long story short, he was told that was as good as it gets. No refund. No satisfaction.

Not all setups are the same. They don’t all include the same services and the guitar techs who’ll potentially be working on your guitar, don’t all have the same experience, know-how or dedication to quality – not by a long shot!

I was aware that not all shops in my area bothered with filing nut slots down to spec (they’re almost always high from the factory). And at least several don’t bother to check frets for levelness up and down the fretboard, unless the player mentions buzzing at a certain fret. Intonation is another step that’s often skipped.

And then, there is the “know-how” issue. I’ve heard stories of customers bringing a guitar into a shop for buzzing issues, and without measuring anything, the tech (seemingly randomly) starts twisting the truss rod this way or that – hands back the guitar and asks, “is that better?” !!!

The customer handed me the guitar, and after about a minute of looking it over (and taking a couple measurements), I told him that three nut slots were too low – the B string was nearly touching the first fret. The neck had a backbow from the truss rod being over adjusted. Also, string heights went from 0.10 to 0.055 with a sort of random “up-down” sequence.

(Please see the whiteboard that shows exact measurements and issues.)

It would have been more believable if he’d told me the guitar had been setup by a blind person who’d never held a guitar before, than that he’d just returned from a guitar shop where a supposedly experienced guitar tech had done the work!

I also had some minor issues with the work – the frets were dull and showing some corrosion; the fretboard was very dirty; the guitar, saddles, bridge, etc. had not been cleaned. When dirt and dust collect around saddles, they attract and retain moisture which causes corrosion – which is not good for tuning stability nor for the life of your guitar.

Frets should be polished to help delay fret wear. The smoother the frets, the less friction you have, therefore less fret wear. And fretboards should be cleaned..well, just because “eww”! And also because your fretboard will last longer when it’s periodically cleaned and conditioned.

I’m sure most guitar techs will get your guitar working better than before you’d brought it, and that this case is an extreme one. Yet, this was done at a well-known shop that was thought of as having a decent reputation. Since this is not the first time I’ve had their dissatisfied customers come to me, I felt it was time to speak out.

Your guitars do need periodic setups. They’ll play better and last longer. But when you bring your guitar to a shop – ask them, “What happens if I’m not satisfied with the service?” If you’re not comfortable with their answer, leave.

I always like to have customers play their guitar when they come to pick it up. Take all the time they need. If they notice any issues, I have my toolbox right there and take care of things. Customers don’t pay until they pick up their guitar and they’re satisfied.

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A Sour Note https://guitarsdoneright.com/a-sour-note/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-sour-note Sun, 31 May 2020 14:49:20 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=34767 I got a customer’s guitar the other day, for a setup. Can you tell from this photo, one of the likely problems you’d encounter while playing this guitar? No fair reading further until you study the photo!) Well, here’s another “clue” – G sounded dull. Got it now? That’s right – there is insufficient downward […]]]>

I got a customer’s guitar the other day, for a setup. Can you tell from this photo, one of the likely problems you’d encounter while playing this guitar?

No fair reading further until you study the photo!)

Other than looking a bit loose, can you spot a problem with the strings?

Well, here’s another “clue” – G sounded dull. Got it now?

That’s right – there is insufficient downward pull on ‘G’ – ‘D’ and ‘A’ too. We can fix ‘A’ just by winding the string onto the post properly with at least three windings working their way downward toward the bushing.

Tone was diminished on ‘A’ through ‘G’ but ‘G’ was especially dead.

tone killer

Further inspection showed that these weren’t the only culprits in the “tone murders”! A cardboard shim had been placed under the nut, presumably to keep from having to replace it after slots were filed or worn too low.
But cardboard under a nut works like the springs in your car’s suspension system – good for your car, bad for your guitar!
To cut costs a bit for the customer, rather than remove the shim and replace the nut, I replaced the cardboard shim with an aluminum shim and was able to keep the nut.

But ‘G’ and ‘D’ should really get a second string guide. I have to chuckle sometimes at those people who spend good money for “nut grease” to help strings slide through an already smooth nut slot (it can’t hurt, if you don’t over do it and if you keep it clean, but IMHO, Chapstick works just as well!), yet they don’t give a second thought to the string guides that are wider than most nut slots and much less smooth.

Now, strings have downward pull and friction minimized via roller guides

For the minimal cost involved, my customer agreed that roller string guides were an excellent investment.

I was ready to remove the old strings (above pic was taken after the setup), when I got one more “shocker”..

How Knot To String a Guitar
How NOT to String a Guitar

Want another view?..

Forehead Slapper!

I’m told there is a YouTube video somewhere out there that actually preaches this type of “Tone-icide”!

The purpose of the saddles is to give a clean, sudden break to the string and allow smooth, easy sliding as notes are fretted and strings are bent, etc.

By having the wrapped string ends at the saddle groove, you undermine both main purposes of the saddle. It no longer has that clean break where strings can vibrate cl early, nor can they easily slide along the saddles.

If changing strings is causing sweats, nightmares and procrastination, I charge only $20 for the service, which includes cleaning your fretboard, stretching and tuning. Add $6 for #9 or #10 strings (electric) unless you supply your own. String prices for bass and acoustics vary, so please bring your own or check with me first.

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Dean’s “Colt Bigsby” Is Worth A Look! https://guitarsdoneright.com/deans-colt-bigsby-is-worth-a-look/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=deans-colt-bigsby-is-worth-a-look Sun, 24 May 2020 12:03:30 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=34738 Even if it weren’t so beautiful, the Colt Bigsby would be worth trying out just to see how those magnetic pickups sound with the piezo kicked in, through the dual output jacks! Three knobs give you separate volumes for piezo and magnetic (passive) and apparently a master tone. The Colt has a set neck; a […]]]>

Even if it weren’t so beautiful, the Colt Bigsby would be worth trying out just to see how those magnetic pickups sound with the piezo kicked in, through the dual output jacks!

Three knobs give you separate volumes for piezo and magnetic (passive) and apparently a master tone. The Colt has a set neck; a scale length of 25.5 and comes with Grover tuners and #10 D’Addarios.

More info on the Dean site – Colt Bigsby w/piezo and on Premier Guitar

BTW – if you get one of these and don’t like it, I’ve got a Squier I’ll trade you! 🙂

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$71 Glarry Telecaster Setup & Compare to Fender https://guitarsdoneright.com/71-glarry-telecaster-setup-compare-to-fender/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=71-glarry-telecaster-setup-compare-to-fender Wed, 29 Apr 2020 21:30:58 +0000 https://guitarsdoneright.com/?p=34573 It’s not often I get asked to do a $60 setup on a $70 guitar. Most of what this guitar needed, could have been done by any DIY-er with a bit of know-how. While I like getting guitar setup and repair business, i really hate to see people spend their hard-earned money when they may […]]]>

It’s not often I get asked to do a $60 setup on a $70 guitar. Most of what this guitar needed, could have been done by any DIY-er with a bit of know-how.

While I like getting guitar setup and repair business, i really hate to see people spend their hard-earned money when they may not really need to.

So, I video’d the setup process, detailing every step and making a sort of “How-To Setup a Guitar” type video. But then, for fun – I did a bit of a comparision of the Glarry Telecaster versus a Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster guitar (as much as possible with my very limited playing “skills”!)

You’ll find this video interesting if you’re interested in learning how to do your own setups or considering getting a Glarry guitar.

What kind of video would you like to see next?

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