Golden Pickups LLC Research Why and How to Buy Your Second Guitar + Tips!

Why and How to Buy Your Second Guitar + Tips!

Why and How to Buy Your Second Guitar + Tips! post thumbnail image

So, you already have a guitar… maybe you’ve had it for years, and you’re ready to step it up and get another one. Why get another guitar? There are plenty of reasons why you should get that second guitar. Once you’ve made that decision, what should you look out for? (I’ll cover vintage guitars in another article.)

How to justify that second guitar

Many people buy their first guitar without knowing too much about guitars, which means the guitar you currently have may not be the ideal instrument for you. Now that you have been playing for a while, you likely have a good idea of what you like and don’t like. What feels good and doesn’t. Is your gut telling you that a specific guitar might be better for you than the one you have now? Go with your gut, but also be informed about your decision.

Is it higher quality you are looking for?

It’s important to consider whether your enthusiasm, learning, and joy will benefit from having a higher-quality instrument to play on. It’s true that a good musician can play on just about anything and make it sound good. However, if you are in the development stages of playing (beginner or intermediate levels) there is nothing more frustrating or limiting than playing on a guitar that either sounds terrible or is difficult to play on. Improving on these problems will actually increase your likelihood of practicing more and it will more than likely help your creative process as well.

Something different may help your creativity

Buying another guitar may help expand your skills and open a new door for creativity. For example, I buy and sell guitars and whenever a new one comes through, I usually get a feeling from that instrument, which makes me hear and feel the music differently.

The little tonal differences between guitars, the way they feel, their weight, their action, all affects how you hear and feel music. All of these things are subtle, but your mind will sense them before you consciously do. That will affect how you play.

Quality is better than looks, but looks matter too

If you buy your second guitar in person or online, there are a few things you may want to consider when making that decision. This is what I think about:

#1 – Why do I want this guitar?

It’s important to have a good reason to invest in your next guitar. Looking for a new sound, a new look, or playing something with higher quality are all good reasons.

#2 – Does this guitar speak to me?

I personally cannot ignore the fact that I am attracted visually to some instruments over others. It’s hard to ignore a beautiful guitar. When the wood is perfect, the color is just right, it’s got the right vibe, it literally seems like the guitar is calling my name.

When buying a guitar online, I try to hear what it sounds like before making the purchase. Either I will search for a video of it being played or ask the seller to supply one. If you are pretty sure about it’s sound, then this may be an unnecessary step.

When I have a guitar in my hands that I think is beautiful in some way (maybe because of it’s unique character, even it’s flaws, or it’s obvious beauty), I naturally want to play it. Maybe that’s just me, but that’s how I feel.

Research the parts that are important to you, for example, sound, action, pickups, etc. As long as you do a little bit of homework, you are going to get the right guitar. The reason I started Golden Pickups is because I love guitars, I love talking to people about them, and I love being a musician. My suggestions in this article are not 100% foolproof, but they may help you feel more comfortable.

When I was looking to buy my second electric guitar, I was a little unsure of making the purchase. I saw a guitar I instantly loved, and did research on it. It was a Gibson Les Paul Standard from the 90s. I was admittedly nervous about spending the money, but in the end I couldn’t be more happy. That’s because I did the research. When it arrived by UPS, I picked it up and plugged it in, and it was like I found a missing part of the equation for me. It was perfect.

If you’re reading this, I can relate. By the way, I keep buying guitars and continue to use the same approaches I discuss here, each and every time.

#3 – Is this a quality instrument?

Quality, doesn’t always mean it will be expensive. There are plenty of inexpensive guitars that will give you very high quality performance and sound. If you’re not sure, look at reviews from other players.

Tips on buying a used guitar

Most used guitars online are  perfectly fine and will not give you any issues.

Remember, that sellers want to sell their guitars, so many will be happy to provide additional information if asked. But, to be sure that your next guitar will be issue free, here are some tips to consider:

Most Important Tips:

    • How straight is the neck? – if the neck has issues like warping or curving, than this will make it very difficult to play on. Most guitars do not have these issues and simple adjustments on the truss rod will often correct them. Simply ask the seller how straight the neck is and if possible try to get clear pictures of it from both the side and lengthwise. Sometimes seller will place a straightedge ruler on top of the frets in a picture to showcase how straight it is.
    • How is the action? – Action is the height of the strings above the frets. Action affects how easy it is to play and how it sounds/tone. On electric guitars, usually the lower the action is, or closer the strings are, the better the playing experience is. That being said, action is a personal preference in some ways. Your personal style of playing will also affect what action feels right for you.

      Acoustic and electric guitars have different normal ranges for action. Within the acoustic guitar range there are even more variations in acceptability for action height. 

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Less Important Tips:
    • Are the frets in good shape? – although frets can be replaced, it is something you probably want to avoid. There are plenty of guitars out there that will have frets with plenty of life left in them. So what do you look for as a buyer? Look at the pictures. If there aren’t pictures of the frets, it’s OK to ask for some. Some marks or depressions in the frets aren’t show-stoppers, but it is important to find out if they affect playing at all. Buzzing sounds will come from action that is too low or from frets that are higher than others. All of these things can be corrected, but depending on the guitar, it’s best to try and find one that has good to excellent fret condition.
    • Does it make any noise while plugged in? – Most electric guitars have some humming or very low-level buzzing. Usually this disappears as soon as you touch the strings, which re-grounds the guitar with your body. Some have no sound at all, which is great. It’s best to avoid guitars that have a loud humming or buzzing with or without your hands on the strings. This will likely indicate that there is a grounding or wiring issue. If there isn’t a mention of this in the listing, simply ask the seller.
    • Does it smell bad? – This is a strange thing to think about, but recently I bought a guitar online that had a very strong odor from past, heavy exposure to cigarette smoke. Depending on the type of guitar it is, this is either an easy fix or a difficult one. For electric guitars, a good wipe down with a light cleaner and some wax usually does the trick. If it’s an acoustic or archtop with f-holes, the smell is likely inside the guitar. Carbon packs and baking soda may need to be used to absorb the smell. Once again, it’s OK to ask the seller if the guitar has any of these odors. Out of all of the guitars I have bought, this has only been an issue once.
    • If it’s an electric guitar, what kind of pickups? – The pickups can make quite a bit of difference in the way your guitar sounds. Single coil vs. humbuckers? P90s? One pickup? Two pickups? Bridge or neck position? There are many choices. Do you like a bluesy sound or something more edgy? Your sound and tone preferences could affect what pickup type you get and configuration. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to spend a little time researching this.

You read this article because you love guitars too. I hope there was something in here that helps you with picking up your next guitar! Even though buying a guitar sometimes feels like a big decision, just remember you don’t have to keep it forever… you can always sell it or trade it in.


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