Should I Buy a New or Used Guitar?
Whether you are a seasoned guitar player or just starting out, choosing which guitar to buy is a big decision. You may know you want an acoustic or electric guitar, and you may even know the exact brand and model you are looking for. Buying new could allow you to select the precise model you are looking for, while buying used may allow you to find a higher-end brand at a price within your budget.
If you are stuck trying to decide between buying a new or used guitar, these tips on what to consider before buying can help you find just the right one for you.
What to Ask When Buying a Guitar
Remember that the "right" guitar will be different for each person, depending on skill level, needs and preferences. Before diving into the pros and cons of buying a new or used guitar, know what you are looking for in your next — or first — guitar.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you begin shopping:
- What is my budget? Knowing how much you want to spend on a guitar is essential to narrow down the model and brand you want. However, your budget is also important when debating between a new or used guitar. You can often find a higher-end model at a lower price when buying a used acoustic or electric guitar. If you are willing to pay more, though, a new guitar can provide the exact body style or features you're dying to have.
- Am I investing or experimenting? If you already play guitar and know you will continue jamming for years to come, it may be time to invest. Be it a new model or a rare pre-owned vintage, experienced players can invest in a more expensive instrument with the knowledge that it will last. But maybe you are just getting started or are an acoustic guitar player who wants to experiment with an electric. Buying used can be an affordable choice you won't regret if you end up selling your guitar after a few months.
- Where will I be playing? While it may seem odd to reflect on where you play your guitar, it may make a difference in the quality of guitar you want to buy. You will most likely not want to take your brand new, fresh-out-of-the-box guitar to the beach or to a friend's bonfire where it is likely to get sandy or dirty. If you play primarily at home or in a studio, your new guitar will stay safe and clean without a worry.
- How much will I play my guitar? The more often you play your guitar, the more quickly the strings and frets will wear out. A higher quality guitar will better endure regular wear and tear if you play frequently. However, if you take good care of your guitar and perform regular maintenance, both new and used guitars can stay in good condition for a long time.
Reasons You Should Buy a Used Guitar
One of the most compelling reasons to buy a used guitar rather than a new one is to get a higher quality guitar at a lower cost. The minute a new guitar is taken out of the box and strummed, it loses value. This means pre-owned guitars will cost less than their counterparts straight from the factory, even if they are in excellent condition. When shopping on a budget, you can find the brand you want — be it Gibson, Martin or Taylor — at a fraction of the cost when buying used. You may also uncover a rare or vintage model that is no longer made, possibly even priced below its value.
As you grow as a guitarist, you will refine a taste and preference for what you like in an instrument, meaning brand and model may be more influential in your next guitar purchase. However, because good brands produce high-quality guitars, your used instrument will also age well and provide reliable performance for a long time.
Below are some other great reasons to buy a used guitar:
- You can find rare or unique guitars: If you are willing to spend the time searching, you can find extremely rare or even discontinued models for sale. You may stumble on unique designs, models or colors that are no longer available new. Finding a "gem" is one of the main reasons to shop for a used guitar.
- You have a wide variety to choose from: When buying used, you can find guitars made across decades with a multitude of designs and styles to choose from for both acoustic and electric guitars. If you are looking for a vintage style, you can find used guitars with an old-school flair of decades past — along with all the mojo of whoever played it before you.
Some used guitars retain or increase in value: While some guitars lose value when you take it out of the box. Some guitars actually appreciate in value and will be worth more down the road.
- There's less worry about dents and scratches: While you should always try to take good care of your guitar, buying a guitar that already has a few dings or scratches can provide peace of mind if you happen to dent or scratch it yourself. When you aren't worried about banging up your guitar, you can focus more on making music.
- You can modify your guitar freely: If you plan to try some new mods, buying a used guitar allows you to experiment with your instrument without the risk of breaking a warranty. With an inexpensive, used guitar, you have less to lose if the modifications do not turn out as you hoped.
- Buying used is buying sustainably: When you buy used, you save a good guitar from going to waste and prevent it from heading to a landfill.
- You might find a guitar with a story: Another more sentimental reason to buy a used guitar is the story or legacy it holds in its strings. Your used guitar may have shared the stage with a celebrity or traveled to cities you have only dreamed of seeing. Maybe it took the lead in a metal band or strummed back-up for a country singer. At Bananas we regularly sell equipment previously owned by the greats such as Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Sanatana and more. These back stories can create a strong connection between you and your instrument.
Cons of Buying a Used Guitar
Used guitars offer many benefits when it comes to value, choice and style. However, there are a few potential risks of buying a used guitar, such as:
- It may need work: If you are confident in your ability to repair your used guitar on your own, this may not be a concern for you. But for the average guitarist, buying a guitar that already needs work means investing money in professional repairs or replacements of parts. The work your used guitar needs may end up costing more than the instrument is really worth. Before committing to a used guitar, be sure to inspect the guitar thoroughly for damage or wear. If you decide to buy a used guitar in need of work, Bananas offers guitar repair services.
- You might encounter some unexpected issues: Anyone who has bought a used car that was a dud is familiar with the distress of a perfect test-drive followed by a vehicle malfunction within the first few weeks you own it. While issues with your used guitar are not likely to be as severe as they can be with a car, you may encounter problems with a used guitar that you did not anticipate when you tested it in the store. Cracks or scratches could lead to more serious structural damage, and you'll also want to pay attention to the frets — dented frets may need to be replaced, which can be costly. Be prepared for the possibility that your used guitar will need unexpected repairs or adjustments.
- There could be modifications you didn't know about: If you order a used guitar online or purchase it from an unreliable source, there may have been modifications made to the original guitar that you did not know about before you purchased it. Some modifications decrease the value of a guitar, so be sure you know exactly what you're getting when you buy used.
If you purchase a used guitar from a reputable supplier like Bananas at Large, you should not have to worry about these risks. A good seller will carefully examine each used guitar and perform any necessary repairs before putting it on their shelves. Some shops even offer warranties on their used instruments that cover these unexpected problems.
Reasons You Should Buy a New Guitar
If you buy a new guitar fresh from the factory, you can find the exact guitar you want and know it will sound good as new. While buying a new guitar can be expensive, it offers an assurance of quality you might not have when you buy used.
Here are a few more reasons why opting for a new guitar may be the right choice for you:
- You'll get the look you want: When buying a new guitar, you can find your exact choice for color, finish and model without having to wait around for someone else to turn in an old guitar that suits your needs. New guitars are available in a wide selection at any price range, so you can explore many more options than when you shop used.
- There's likely a warranty and protection plan: Your new guitar will most likely come with a warranty and protection plan that keeps your instrument safe if something goes wrong. Your warranty allows you to have any issues fixed or faulty parts replaced at no additional charge to you.
- There's no wear and tear: When your new guitar arrives, it will be in mint condition without any wear and tear on the frets, strings or body. This means you get a clean and sleek look and do not have to worry about cracks or structural damage. A pristine new guitar will also produce a high-quality sound.
- You can add accessories and swag: Buying a new guitar from a store can come with perks of added accessories like a cool case, strap or cables.
- You can still find a deal: When a new guitar body style is released, models from in previous years will often go on sale. By shopping smart and doing your research, you can find great deals and discounts on new guitars. Even if you do not catch a sale, many good quality new guitars are available for under $200.
- You know its history: As the first owner of a new guitar, you know exactly where the guitar has been and what has happened to it. The guitar will respond to the way you play it and will not have any hidden surprises from previous owners who may not have treated it as well as you do. From day one, your new guitar will become part of your story and journey as a musician.
Buying Your First Guitar: New or Used?
If you are buying a guitar for the very first time, it may be difficult to know exactly what to look for. While used guitars can offer a good deal, an inexperienced buyer may be safer with a reliable new guitar. As you are learning guitar, you can focus on perfecting your skills rather than maintaining and repairing a used guitar that may have unexpected issues. A new player may also be less skilled at noticing these issues when they arise, which could lead to further damage to the guitar. In addition, beginner models for both acoustic and electric guitars are typically very affordable and available in dependable brands such as Yamaha, Ibanez, Squier and Epiphone.
Buying a new beginner guitar provides a reliable instrument to get started on without spending too much. Once you know you are a guitarist at heart, you can upgrade to a higher quality new or used guitar for your next guitar purchase.
Buy a New or Used Guitar From Bananas at Large
Choosing between a new or used guitar comes down to your personal preference and budget. Whether you are looking for specific features offered by a new model or want to score a deal with a name brand used guitar, Bananas at Large can help you find the perfect guitar for you.
Our knowledgeable staff can guide you through our vast inventory of acoustic, acoustic-electric and electric guitars until you fall in love with your next purchase. We offer high-quality brands in a variety of body shapes, colors and finishes to match your style. You can also browse our large selection of guitar pedals, amps and accessories for everything you need to get started with your new guitar.
Bananas at Large offers free shipping on many of our products, or you can order your guitar online and pick it up in one of our two convenient California locations. If you order your new or used guitar online and are not satisfied, you can return it within 14 days, no questions asked.
Still have questions about finding the best new or used guitar for you? Give us a call or stop by a Bananas at Large store today!