I was mooching about e-bay the other evening with nothing much to do when I came across the forums. Looking through the various options I came across the music forum. M mm, a subject close to my heart I thought so in I went expecting some stimulating type discussion to be happening.
Oh my god! was the first thought to cross my mind, what the hell is going on here? I was welcomed to the forum by the first post which almost knocked me over the lettering was that big. Jeez that guy has got to be seriously frustrated using type that big. By all means make a point,sure if you have a gripe over something then get it off your chest, but no, there's no need to type in 76 pt bold is there?
Once I'd got over the shock I read on and discovered it was some comic complaining over the bogus musical instruments that you can be landed with on e-bay. I use the word "comic" because I'm not convinced the guy didn't have an whole host of hidden agendas. There was lots of "advice" from him intended to keep the poor buyer safe and free from suspect gear. But yet!!
Let me lay down my credentials for writing the following 'Guide' on how not to be foolish enough to acquire a guitar strung with chicken wire. I have played guitar now for more years than I care to recall, Starting when I was still in short pants.Some 40 something years later I have many recordings behind me, I play numerous instruments, guitar, clarinet, banjo, sax, badly and I blow a mean harp so I'm told. Apart from that I hold my own on a keyboard or piano I read music and can do arrangements with the best of them.
O.k. With that out of the way lets get on with How NOT to get dumped with a pig in a poke! Expectations would be a good place to start I guess. If you expect to acquire a top class guitar for under £10 then boy are you going to be disappointed ! At the present time a good serviceable guitar that wouldn't be out of place in the studio would set you back £400 or more. Sure there are exceptions and over the years I've come across quite a few, but on the whole if you want quality it comes at a price.
I should say straight off that I am certainly no purist when it comes to guitars and guitar manufacturers. At present this country is been inundated with cheap badly made instruments from China and Korea to name just two, but it goes an whole lot deeper than that. The cause of the increase in "crap" that we are faced with at present is not the Chinese or other Eastern countries simply out to make wads of money from copying well known brand names, oh no far from it . The root cause is the well known brand names out sourcing the manufacture of their guitars in eastern countries where the labour costs are extremely low and the basic material costs are even lower.
Talk about maximizing profit margins, ye gods, most of them are taking the P**s out of the industry. There was a time when you could walk into any music shop anywhere in the world,purchase a well known brand of guitar and walk out certain that you had top value for your hard earned cash, Those days are gone for good. All of the top manufacturers in the music world have sought out this lucrative avenue of riches and none of them strange has it may be, have ever for a second considered adjusting their prices or taking T.V adds to tell us that their helping the development of the "third " world, helping their selves is all they are doing!
Just recall the extreme lengths that the recording music industry went to, defending their copyright material from been freely downloaded or shared on the internet. Then ask yourself why it is that the big players in the musical instrument industry have seemingly done bugger all to stop these eastern based guitar cloners from producing exact copies of their beloved guitars. Truth is that the brand manufacturers of these products are the very ones that supplied them with the means to make the copies in the first place.
So, no, it's no use anyone bleating on about how they bought a bad or suspect guitar here on e-bay, they should be thankful in the first instance that they probably only paid a pittance for it. So there went the first lesson, don't expect to receive what you are not prepared to pay or.
Most ordinary people who look to buy a guitar from e-bay stores or indeed music stores in the outside e-bay world are not looking for a concert standard guitar that will sound stunning in all situations. Most guitarists or about to be guitarists are looking for a reasonably priced instrument that won't rip their fingers apart the first time they play it. Lets be honest if its a three thousand pound Gibson your after ,then what the hell are you doing looking at e-bay for?
The "comic" I referred to earlier advised asking the seller of any guitar you might well be interested in to give you the serial number from the guitar, yeah, right, unless the guitar is up for sale at a couple of hundred pounds or more the likely hood of it having a serial number is nil. He also advised that you should ask the seller to give you the number of the factory that made it, just in case you need spare parts for it at some point in the future, get real, surprising thing is that you would certainly need to learn Chinese to call the manufacturer no matter what well known name it had on the headstock.
Common sense is the best application at your command when it comes to avoiding been disappointed, that and dealing with someone you can trust. I only ever used three suppliers for my guitars in the past, I got to know all of them very well and I could be confident that nothing I ever purchased from them would disappoint. Its the kind of relationship that back in the fifty's people would have with their butcher, it sort of guaranteed that you wouldn't get the fatty cuts or that he wouldn't keep a finger on the scales when he was weighing it.
The second thing that needs a mention is "Pretense". It is of no use to yourself or the person you are buying a guitar from if you pretend to have knowledge that in reality you don't possess. The very reason you are buying from someone should be that you want advice and or help in your choice of purchase. Please don't take this comment wrong, but in general terms unless your in your late twenties or early thirties then in musical circles trust me,you know nothing. Most guitars that I have seen here on e-bay are playable, serviceable and on the whole value for the money been asked. Some may be talked up a little in the sellers search for a sale but even then I've seen nothing has bad has what you see on television during the breaks, just look at the calgon ad, wow that women should move!!
So , yes contact the seller if you have any concerns but tell him the truth, if your in a band and want a guitar for gigging then let him know. Chances are he will go out of his way to be helpful and maybe even put you onto a bargain.If you are just starting down the rock road, again don't be afraid to say so, man we've all been on that spot. I've seen plenty of folk go to a main street dealer for their guitar, they don't give a blue about the suitability of what your buying for the purpose you want it. The prime concern to them will be that they manage to flog you some worthless insurance with it, good for their commission pay, far more than they get for selling the instrument.
So to revise those points again,
don't expect something for nothing,99 times out of a hundred you will be disappointed.
Be honest about the purpose of your purchase whether it be for learning , jamming or the more serious end of the business.
Don't pretend to have knowledge in advance of your years, very few people have.
Contact the seller and
ask any questions you want, if he is genuine then he will gladly answer them, just remember that it is also possible he won't be sitting there waiting for e-mails, you may need to
patience. Just because he hasn't answered you within an hour doesn't mean he is a con man!
Do expect that when you receive your guitar to see the words
China on it. This doesn't always mean that its
recycled chicken wire!
Well I hope that in some small way I have light heartedly helped you along the path to rock stardom, if I have then send me some tickets for your first gig! Your always welcome to drop into my shop here at e-bay world. Alfs guitar store, I can say for sure I'll look after you, no chicken wire.
Bye for now, Alf says, Rock On!