How to Buy Used Guitar Parts

Views 2 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
How to Buy Used Guitar Parts

Replacing parts on a guitar can be an expensive task, and it is easy to get caught out by a great buy that turns out to be a worthless part. Since there are so many different customisable and replaceable guitar parts available, this guide will discuss one specific part in each section after first providing some general advice about what to expect.

Choosing the Right Used Guitar Parts

Because of the nature of buying used parts, it is important to do thorough and in depth research into the seller, as well as into the type of part being sold. For those who are looking to upgrade an existing component of a guitar, making sure to thoroughly investigate the specifications of the existing part is a must. It is also important to remember that upgrading just one part of a guitar while paying no attention to the rest will not increase sound quality overall, and may put strain on existing components while they struggle to keep up with the most high-powered part. Rather than investing in one premium-quality part while not attending to the others, giving all of a guitar's parts a small boost in quality each time when choosing to upgrade is the best way to achieve an overall increase in performance.

Guitar Pickups

The pickup is the part of the guitar designed to pick up the sounds made by the guitar's strings and convert them to electrical signals to allow amplification. There are several types of pickups available, and the vast majority can be divided into two main categories.

Electric guitar pickup

The majority of pickups available are for electric guitars as the pickup is the main way in which an electric guitar is able to transmit sound, since it lacks a sound hole.

Acoustic guitar pickup

Although acoustic guitars are capable of producing sound even in the absence of a pickup, some pickups can be attached across the sound hole just below the strings in order to facilitate electrical amplification or modification of the sound produced.


A guitar pickup is essentially a coil of copper wrapped around a magnetic. As the steel strings vibrate above the magnet, the magnetic field changes and induces a small current in the copper wire, thereby giving a signal to be amplified. Due to the large number of variables complicating the design of a component of this type, such as the strength of the magnet used, number of coils, coil spacing, gauge of wire used etc., several quite distinct designs exist. The two most important styles of pickup, single coil and Humbucker.

Single coil

Single coil pickups are well known for their distinctive hum, known as the 60 cycle hum. Modern advances have largely eliminated this hum, though, while trying hard to retain the sound of the originals.

Humbucker

Humbucker pickups boast a dual coil system in which the coils positioned in such a way as to cancel out the hum that plagues the single coil systems. They are likely more expensive than their single coil counterparts, but offer a much cleaner sound.

Guitar Body

While it is unusual to replace an acoustic guitar body since it is made up of multiple precisely aligned pieces of wood firmly attached together, many players choose to replace their electric guitar body to alter the tone and feel of the instrument. This section will focus on electric guitar bodies, which are often made from hardwoods such as alder, ash, basswood, mahogany, maple, or rosewood. Personal preference comes into play here since each of the woods gives a slightly different tone, and, therefore, will appeal to different individuals in different ways. These types of wood can even be combined to further enhance the dynamics and the tone of the guitar. There are three major constructions of electric guitar bodies.

Solid body

Solid body guitars are constructed of either a single piece of solid wood or of multiple pieces of wood fastened together with wood glue. These guitars are popular due to their ability to maintain a clear sound even with large amplification and various effects. Solid body guitars are typically finished with a veneer of other material to add extra aesthetic appeal to the guitar.

Hollow body

Hollow body guitars (also known as jazz guitars) are popular due to the similarity of their sound to that of an acoustic guitar, although they do have a particular susceptibility to feedback when the sound is amplified to a large degree.

Semi-hollow body

Semi-hollow guitars combine the advantages of both the previous types by adopting the design of the hollow body guitars, but with an extra strip of wood through the centre to increase the proportion of wood within the body. This modification results in an electric guitar which retains the sound of an acoustic guitar, but also gains an enhanced ability to tolerate high amplification.

Guitar Neck

The neck of a guitar is an important feature for any player, and should facilitate easy access for all the fingers of the left hand while playing. Because of this, the design of the guitar neck must be accurately suited to the style and anatomy of the player. Guitar necks can be C shaped, oval shaped, U shaped or V shaped. The method of attachment of the neck to the body also varies with guitar type and price.

Set-In

Set-in guitar necks are produced by carving a dovetail joint in the guitar neck and body, slotting the two pieces together, and gluing them in place. While these guitars offer a large degree of stability, and some players affirm that set-in necks offer a greater degree of sustain compared to other designs, they are also notoriously difficult to repair and replace due to their heavy reliance on a tight fitting joint, and on glue to hold them in place.

Bolt-on

Bolt-on necks are likely the easiest type to repair and replace since the neck is simply connected to the body using a steel bolt or wood screws. Due to the strength of a connection of this type, solid-body guitars often have bolt-on necks.

Neck-Through-Body

The neck-through-body guitar neck design involves a piece of wood continuous with the neck running the length of the guitar's solid body, and often involves the neck being fixed in place with glue.


Because there is such considerable variation in guitar necks on the market, it is important to research which of the necks suits the body of the guitar before committing to a purchase.
The fingerboard is a thin veneer of hardwood such as ebony or rosewood placed over the mahogany or rosewood neck to deal with the pressure applied to the surface when playing. The frets may also be embedded in this veneer. While largely a matter of aesthetics, attention should be given to this particular aspect of the guitar neck finish when investigating this part.

Buying Used Guitar Parts on eBay

Looking for used guitar parts on eBay requires special care and attention due to the possibility of accidentally buying sub-standard or incorrect equipment. Knowing how best to narrow down eBay's vast abundance of search results to find just the right product is one of the best ways to ensure the correct purchase, so this section is dedicated to helping any potential buyers navigate to the most appropriate category and select the most relevant search results. Begin by selecting Musical Instruments under the All Categories list on the eBay homepage. Within this category, click Accessories under the Guitars section. The categories on the left now allow further refinement of the results, by selecting Pickups and searching for 'Humbucker', for instance, which gives a set of results which can be refined even further using the checkboxes on the left hand side of the page, such as Electric Guitar or Bass Guitar.

Conclusion

When shopping for second-hand guitar parts, it pays to take a little extra time and read up on the components required, and then compare this new-found knowledge to what is being displayed on the site advertising the component. As with any purchase, some thorough research into what is required, as well as the expected price of typical components, can prove invaluable when looking for the best deal.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides