Playing before you buy?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by pancake81, Jul 9, 2018.

?

Would you buy a Guitar without playing

  1. Yes I have and would again

  2. Yes I have and never again

  3. No, too risky. I always play the guitar

  4. No, but I would for the right guitar

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    The only drawback to ordering a guitar online that I can think of is opening the case and discovering that it was damaged during the shipping process. I have purchased a few guitars online in the past and fortunately all arrived perfectly intact, including the ones in gig bags and cardboard boxes.

    However, this one had an accident locally many years ago.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  2. pancake81

    pancake81 Well-Known Member

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  3. lawrev

    lawrev Active Member

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    The majority of my electrics (SGs and Les Pauls) were bought without playing them first. Of course, I ask the normal questions plus any guitar specific questions.

    Took delivery of the 2017 SG Standard T in Pelham Blue today. A beauty and sounds great unplugged! Plays great, though I will have 9s installed on it. It has none of the pick scratches the Guitar Center location told me it had. It is in mint condition. I'll post pictures in the next few days.
     
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  4. pancake81

    pancake81 Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to it
     
  5. Dale

    Dale Active Member

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    The thing with used, and not playing before I buy, is that I can't tell the issues. There is a 2014 LP that is a "nice" price nearby. It looks great in the picture. When you look at it up close and personal there are neck issues. The initial clue was the set-up which was used to compensate for the slight twist, and slight
     
  6. Daniel.S

    Daniel.S Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely! The ones on the floor would be a good starting point to help decide on what you want.
    If you like everything on that particular guitar, buy the one that hasn’t been played by hundreds of people.
    Get the guy/girl to get you a brand newy of that model from out the back!
     
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  7. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Interesting, how did they compensate?
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I'm one of those members who will always say:
    PLAY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT...

    Because it makes so much sense. I say this to guitarists who obviously expect
    way too much
    from an online purchase. So I'll say it again before I tell y'all how
    I voted. I'll modify the ETSG proverb:

    If you are picky about neck shape, or finish, and if you expect a guitar you bought
    unseen and unplayed to be perfect
    right out of the box, then you'd be an idiot if you didn't
    PLAY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT. You'd be just asking for trouble... no, begging for it.


    But I voted that I've bought guitars online without playing them and that I'd do it again.
    Here's why:

    I don't expect a guitar I buy to be perfect. I actually don't believe in perfection, so
    it's a non issue with me. All my guitars have dings and scratches, except my brand
    new Gibson J-45 AG that I've had for only a few months. Oh and except for my Epiphone
    ES-339 that is finished in Polyurethane, so it seems bulletproof and doesn't get scratched easily.
    I can happily buy an instrument online, and take it to my luthier for inspection and setup,
    and then have no problems, but take it home and play the hell out of it.
    I regard the trip to the luthier as part of the purchase price. Once I get that done
    I can keep my guitars in good playing condition with my own tools and judgement.

    +1 on a previous post that stressed the importance of setup.
    A well setup Epiphone is a much more useful guitar than a $4000 Gibson that needs attention
    and hasn't received any.

    When I buy a used guitar, the first thing I do is remove the strings and clean it well.
    As I'm doing that, and getting all the old dead punk skin off the fretboard and the slime and rust
    off the bridge, I look to see if I can perceive why the previous owner sold it. Often it's just
    lack of setup (again) that made the previous owner unhappy with his guitar. Sometimes there's
    a screw loose, or a bad solder joint, or a disconnected ground wire, or a tight nut slot... If so I
    or my stalwart luthier can find and fix it, and make music. That's why the pro setup is part
    of the price.

    I've bought a number of new guitars from Sweetwater, and paid a little extra to have their
    guys set the instrument up. I'll tell you right now that it's worth it. They don't charge for it
    if the guitar is worth more than $1000, or some figure... I don't know the exact point.
    But I asked for and received a setup job on my J-45 that I just bought, and they did me well.
    The guitar was perfect right out of the box. They're close, so the shipping didn't take more than
    a couple days. So I'll recommend Sweetwater for those who must buy a guitar without inspecting
    it. Sweet water actually does inspect what they sell, and sends back any dogs. That's been my
    experience anyway. Musician's Friend, not so much.

    But to me that doesn't matter. I've bought two guitars from Musician's Friend for the same
    reason: I wanted that instrument, and I wanted that price, and I was prepared to take responsibility
    for making the instrument playable.
    And I did just that. I'm very happy with both of my online
    purchases because I am what has to be called an educated buyer. I know exactly what I want and
    why, and I know how to get it. So I don't care if it isn't perfect right out of the box, because I intend
    to make it so. I want the tone from that instrument, and I want that price, so I'm willing to take
    what they send me and make it my own, and at my own expense.

    That's why I've ordered online, and that's why I'd do it again. Except that I'm now blessed with
    fine instruments and I'm not buying any more. Some of mine are for sale... the oldest and most
    valuable ones.
     
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  9. Worblehat

    Worblehat Active Member

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    Well, that is quite a clear voting result so far. Wouldn't expect that, as you read "play before you buy" very often.

    I bought my SG online and would do it again if there is no local store nearby. If there is a local store that has the guitar on stock I would always prefer that even if the price is a bit higher. But often you don't have the choice.

    At the time I bought my Iommi SG there was only on shop in Germany with new ones in stock. I ordered one which turned out to have some really minor flaws in the finish. I got a good discount afterwards and it did not bother me ever since.

    So when buying new I don't see a reason not to buy online, especially because most online shops here have a free 30-day-return-policy.
     
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  10. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Active Member

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    It is funny you should mention this. In the forty-eight years I've been playing I've only bought two guitars long-distance; one was a Les Paul Studio now gone, Ironically the other is my '61 SG Standard Reissue Limited Edition that is still with me. I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Martin Mull: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." It is just so hard to get an idea of the sound and feel and, dare I say, the soul of an instrument, in pictures and a written description.

    Okay, they are just wood, metal, and wires; I don't over-romanticize. But there appears to be more to an instrument than its wood, metal, and wires, and the relationship between some musicians and their instruments. Robert Heinlein created the term "grok" to describe what I prefer to do with an instrument. To "grok" something is to understand it profoundly and intuitively. Another way of stating is that means to empathize or communicate sympathetically; establish a rapport. That can't happen until it is before you, until you can handle it, feel it, listen to it, visually take it in. Like Vizzini in The Princess Bride, you say, "So, it is down to you. And it is down to me."

    With the SG mentioned above I had to wait until it arrived to grok it. I bought a Les Paul from a dealer last Sunday. I had gone in the day before and seen it. I took it down, plugged it into a little Princeton Reverb amp, and spent an hour grokking it. Then I took a picture, went home, and spent the night mulling it over, before I made up my mind to buy it. More about that over HERE.

    So I've bought long distance, but prefer to experience an instrument before I buy.

    Bob
     
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  11. Dale

    Dale Active Member

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    They raised the action. Small twists, for me, are hard to spot. What has work well for me is to I look at the amount of relief on the high E side and compare it to the low E side. No twist and it is the same amount on both sides. So the amount of difference between them gives me some clue that there is an issue. This one also has a slight hump at the end of fretboard closest to the body. Sighting down neck also gives a sense of bends in the neck side to side, and the hump issue.
     
  12. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Actually it's normal to have more relief on the bass side, in fact it's preferable because a low E string needs more room to vibrate than a high e.

    As far as humps, they are unfortunately common. Only one of my guitars has no hump at the high end, my Custom Shop SG. I hear it's almost a guarantee with Les Pauls. IDK why they haven't just started building in falloff, it should be standard industry practice at this point IMO.
     
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  13. Neil from Ottawa Canada

    Neil from Ottawa Canada New Member

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    Play before buying if you can. Thought I loved '57 classics until I played an LP in a shop...nothing special and the price tag was over 3 grand Canadian. Then I tried an SG with same pickups and it sounded so much better. I've also regretted buying a MIM Telecaster and MIM Stratocaster without really trying them out.
     
  14. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Active Member

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    I will always say "Play before buying." That being said, I have had some wonderful experiences with feebay and Rondo, and wouldn't hesitate to do so again. (But I am a tech, so issues that others see as deal breakers, I repair, if the price is right.)
     
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  15. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    Conceptually, I agree that trying before buying is the wisest course of action.

    But, I’ve never done it!

    In many cases, checking out the guitar first isn’t feasible, as others have mentioned.

    I have seven electrics and two acoustics.
    Most were new and some were used. One is a guitar I built up from a husk I bought on eBay.

    I’ve had very good success and no disappointments.

    For me, I first determine the type of guitar I want and the feature set. Then I think about color and aesthetics.

    If there are no structural issues, the frets look good, the guitar has the features I want, and it looks good to me, I’m usually pretty comfortable with it.

    I do my own setups, so worrying about that doesn’t enter the equation. I just assume I’ll have to do a setup, even on a brand new guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  16. Dale

    Dale Active Member

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    Lets just leave it with I am not on the same page here.
     
  17. Dale

    Dale Active Member

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    I think I need to clarify here. The action (height of the string to the fret) should be higher on the low E side, but the amount of curve (relief) should be the same from my perspective. There is one truss rod that adjust relief for the whole neck. It cannot differentially straighten one side relative to the other. The "hump" may be common, but is not something I would adopt readily. It comes up more, in my experience, with used because the previous own could not get something to play they way she/he wanted.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
  18. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    That's actually the idea behind Rickenbacker's dual truss rods. But yes, with most guitars it's not adjustable by the truss rod, it is built into the neck from the factory, to accommodate the higher amplitude of the lower strings. And even a perfectly straight neck will not be perfectly equal in relief because the lower strings have somewhat higher tension. Almost every guitar I've encountered had more relief on the bass side.
     
  19. Dale

    Dale Active Member

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    I am not really in agreement there. None of work I seen or had done, texts on guitar building, etc. I have used such as Hiscock, Dan E's stuff etc. seem to support that as I read them. The relief figure quoted are always a single number not one for each side of the neck.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  20. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    These are very good guidelines for buying without playing the guitar first.
    Smitty is what I would consider to be a knowledgable buyer. When you know
    what you want, and are not fazed by the assumption that setup will be part of
    the purchase cost (whether in labor or cash)...

    Then you can go ahead and buy a guitar from a reputable dealer, knowing that only
    major structural flaws or damage will botch the transaction.

    Knowledgable buyers can do well online... I have, and Smitty has, and others who frequent these
    boards know how to do it.

    But I will very likely continue to caution everyone:

    PLAY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT
    (unless you're knowledgable and self reliant).
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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