What to Look for When Buying a Used Acoustic Guitar


You might want to buy an acoustic guitar, but you’re short on cash. You’re therefore left with one option, to purchase a second-hand acoustic guitar. One thing to know is that the quality of a second-hand guitar will not be in par with a new one, but it can be almost as good if the right factors are considered. Before going to grab a used guitar instead of a new one, you should know what to look for when buying a used acoustic guitar.

10 Things to Look for When Buying a Used Acoustic Guitar

If you don’t know what to look for in a second-hand guitar, worry not. We’ve got you covered. Our article looks at what to look for when buying best-used guitars. Here are the guidelines to follow when buying a used guitar:

1. Age and condition of the guitar

The first thing to check out the age and condition of the guitar. Inquire whether the guitar has had any repairs of late. The seller should be honest with you and reveal any maintenance or problems the acoustic guitar has had of late. By doing so, you should be aware of any problems likely to be faced by the guitar in the future.

2. Testing the Guitar

Back in the days, you would only find guitars in music stores or flea markets or from people who were in search of quick cash. Nowadays, there are online sites coming with the option of buying a used guitar online. Such sites include Amazon, eBay, and Craiglist. Whereas from the music stores you can test them out, this isn’t the case with online buying sites.

If it is possible, you should avail yourself to the store and test the guitar out yourself. This will give you a good knowledge of what you are looking for and settling for.

3. Giving the guitar a once-over

We all fall in love with what we see. The appearance of the guitar will tell if it has been taken good care of. Ensure that the guitar is in good shape.

Since it is used, it will probably show some little signs of wear and tear or small scratches and scrapes. The performance should, however, be relatively good. A used guitar that is well cared for is easily noticeable.

4. Playing it

Try to play the acoustic guitar. Bend the strings and check out the sound. Listen to the spectrum of sounds produced. Try out and pay attention to all the frets and not just the ones you are playing, especially the ones at the hole end of the fret. Disregard these strings as they’re probably older than you. Listen for the rattling and ringing of the strings.

The advantage of playing the guitar is that it gives you a clue about the performance of the guitar. The fact that it is a used acoustic guitar doesn’t mean that its performance should be compromised.

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5. The Comfort of the Guitar

Guitars come in different shapes and sizes and also vary in neck widths and depths. A good guitar gives you the privilege of holding it properly in that each hand and arm can perform the required movement comfortably and correctly. The guitar should ‘fit’ you.

When testing it out, look for signs of finger strains and hand fatigue. Guitars that come with very wide fretboards will be too wide for your hand. This will lead to extra stretching leading to tendinitis. It goes without saying that comfort is essential.

6. Dings and Cracks

Ensure that you check for any cracks, chips, and scratches that come off the guitar. Since the guitar is second hand, there is no problem if it comes with little cracks.

The problem lies with deep cracks that go down the wood through the finish. Such a crack is a sign of separating seams. Avoid such guitars at all costs. It can be very expensive to fix a guitar with structural damages.

7. Rust

Another thing to look out for in your guitar is rusts. Check if there are any rusts, not necessarily on the fret bars and strings, but mostly on the hardware holding the pickups and strings.

Rusts on the stings and frets are easily remedied, but this isn’t the case with those on the hardware. If such rust is present, you should reconsider buying the acoustic guitar.

8. Checking the Action

The action of the guitar is the distance between the strings and the fretboard, from the head down to the bridge. High actions make the guitar more difficult to play. The vice versa is also true. Lower actions are very easy on the hands and don’t sound very meaty.

Good action comes with consistency in the gap between the strings and fretboard. Music stores offer services for adjusting the guitar’s action.

9. Neck Test

The neck is important in maintaining the tension for playing the sounds in tune. First, visually inspect it. It should be vertically straight, although some normally come when a little bowed. The neck joint attaching the body of the guitar ought to be flush. The saddle and bridge should show signs of a damaged neck.

10. Cost

It is highly likely that your used guitar will require some setup and repairs. After knowing the price of the guitar, have a rough estimate of the cost for all the repair costs.

Do not let the low price of a guitar seduce you, as you might end up spending even more on the repairs. Remember, if the deal is too sweet, think over again. Cheap pricing should not be a deciding factor for your guitar.

If you are interested to look into new acoustic guitar then check our article on good acoustic guitar cost.


There you have it- the factors to consider when purchasing a second-hand acoustic guitar. The fact that we don’t have enough cash doesn’t imply that we can’t enjoy our guitars. Used and second-hand guitars are also a good option, but only if you consider the above points.

Ensure you test the strings and look for the physical condition of the guitar. You don’t want to spend even more on the repairs than what you spend buying the guitar. Also, look for reviews on the best-used guitars.

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