Used Electro-Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

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Used Electro-Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

An Electro-Acoustic Guitar combines the sound and feel of an acoustic guitar with the amplification convenience of an electric guitar. Choosing a good used instrument will require the prospective buyer to locate a suitable model and be able to correctly assess its value. Before making a purchase, the musician should research the different brands and variations in the guitars on offer to ensure they choose the most suitable instrument for them.

About Electro-Acoustic Guitars

An electro-acoustic guitar is basically just an acoustic guitar fitted with a built-in pickup or microphone to allow the instrument to be easily amplified. It should not be confused with a semi-acoustic guitar, which is an electric guitar with additional sound chambers contained within it. In an electro-acoustic instrument, in addition to the sound input device, the instrument will usually have additional controls for tone and volume, and also a jack socket fitted, through which the sound is output. The guitar may also contain a pre-amplifier and battery power source to increase the strength of the output signal.

Conversion of an Acoustic Guitar

Almost any acoustic guitar can be converted to an electro-acoustic instrument by fitting the additional components required afterward. As this will inevitably involve cutting away part of the body of the guitar, it should only be attempted by a suitably competent person and only on a guitar where it will not adversely affect its value. The components to effect such a conversion can be purchased individually or together as a kit.

Choosing an Electro-Acoustic Guitar

It is important to bear in mind the following factors when purchasing an electro-acoustic guitar.

The Right Tonewood

Perhaps the most important influence on the tone of the guitar will be in the choice of wood used to make the top. The other components of the guitar all influence the tone, as does the skill of the guitar maker and the quality of the components. However, it is the tonewood of the top which will largely define the sound of the instrument. Therefore, this should be a prime consideration when choosing a guitar that must suits a particular style of music. The different qualities of the most popular woods used are outlined in the table below.

Tonewood

Description

Spruce

A very common choice for guitar top wood. It is rigid softwood with a good clear sound, even when played forcefully.

Mahogany

Offers a dense punchy sound with low overtones.

Cedar

Gives a quick response with a warm sound. Well suited to a finger-picking style of play.

Rosewood

Another wood with a quick response. Complex, sometimes dark, overtones complement a rich upper register tone.

Maple

Natural damping characteristics of this wood give a clear, transparent tone.

Advantages of Buying a Used Guitar

There are several advantages in buying a used electro-acoustic guitar. The most obvious of these is that the buyer will be able to afford a better quality guitar than if buying new. Perhaps not so obvious an advantage is that a good wooden acoustic instrument will often have improved with the passing years. As the wood from which the instrument is constructed cures, the sound it produces matures, often bringing forth new overtones.
New acoustic guitars need protecting for the first few years from situations where there is elevated or lowered humidity. During this time the wood is going through the curing process which, if not allowed to happen naturally, can adversely affect the quality of the instrument. Buying a good used guitar which is already cured means less worrying about whether environmental conditions are ideal for the instrument.
A really old guitar may well be handmade from woods which are no longer used or available and therefore offer an esoteric sound which cannot be obtained from a modern instrument.

What Age and Condition to Buy

The term ‘used guitar’ covers instruments of a variety of ages and conditions. When looking for a used guitar, it is important that the buyer chooses only from instruments which are in good working order or have problems which they know will be easy to put right. The basic categories of used instrument are as shown below.

Age and Condition

Description

Manufacturer Refurbished

These are instruments which have been returned to the manufacturer, usually while under warranty. There may be a reasonable discount over the same model new and sometimes also come with a warranty.

Refurbished

A refurbished guitar may have been restored by an enthusiast, or a dealer, and can be of any age and price.

New Used

A good way to pick up a bargain, particularly with guitars aimed at beginners, is to look for a guitar which was bought by a novice and little used.

Old Used

This is where the real gems can be found. Anything over 10 years old will have well matured wood. Good condition can be a result of either being cherished or correctly stored.

Needs Work

Those with the right skills and experience can gain the greatest value for money by choosing a guitar which needs work, but is still eminently fixable.

Assessing a Used Electro-acoustic Guitar

Once a suitable electro-acoustic guitar has been located, it is important to carefully assess the condition of the instrument. If the guitar is being sold locally, then these checks can be made in person. If the instrument is being bought remotely, perhaps from a dealer or over the Internet, the same assessments can be made by carefully checking the listing information for the instrument. If more information is required in order to fully assess the instrument on any of the following points, the seller should be asked for further details, including additional photographs if necessary.

Check list

Description

Neck

From the base of the guitar, look along the neck to check it is straight. Also, the player should check the neck size is a good match for their hand size.

Fretboard

The evenness of the fretboard should be checked by running a hand up and down the fretboard.

Action

The distance of the strings from the fretboard should be inspected to determine they are not too far or too close. Both are relatively easy to fix.

Tuners

If possible, the guitar should be played for a while to check whether it stays in tune. If not, it may need new strings, new tuners, or both.

Bridge

The position of the bridge should be checked. It should be sitting flush with the top of the guitar and not cracked or lifting up.

Controls

The tone and volume controls should be tested to ensure they are working correctly. The overall sound of the instrument should be assessed when it is played both acoustically and amplified.

Overall

The condition of the guitar should broadly fall into the expected group from the table above. Scratches and scuffs are one thing, cracks are quite another.

It is just as important for the buyer and seller to understand and agree on the condition of the instrument as it is for them to understand and agree on the price. Whatever its condition, a guitar will have some value to someone. It is really just a question of making sure the expectations of the buyer and the seller match on both the condition and price of the instrument.

Find Electro-Acoustic Guitars on eBay

To buy an electro-acoustic guitar, go to the eBay homepage. Begin by opening the All Categories tab and then clicking on the link for Musical Instruments followed by Guitars, and then Electro-Acoustic Guitar. To further refine the search to show only used guitars, scroll down to the Condition criteria and click on this to reveal the Used option. Clicking this will narrow the search to display only the used electro-acoustic guitars. The search can be further refined using any of the additional options on the left of the page. It is possible, for example, to view only those used instruments which fall within your particular budget. Another alternative is to enter specific terms into the search bar at the top of any eBay page to locate a particular instrument or brand of interest. For example, used electro-acoustic guitars can also be found by simply typing “electro-acoustic guitar used” into the search field.

Conclusion

An electro-acoustic guitar is a versatile instrument. A beginner might use the same basic instrument for some quiet practice that a professional plays to accompany a live band. With care, an acoustic guitar can be converted to be semi-acoustic if required. When buying a semi-acoustic guitar, the tonewood is a primary consideration as it has such a significant influence on the overall sound of the guitar. The buyer must ensure that they choose a guitar of a suitable age and condition. If it is not possible to examine the instrument in person, then they should request enough detail from the seller to ensure that the guitar is right for them. With a little care and some careful research, it should be possible to get a used electro-acoustic guitar that offers a better sound and playing experience than a new one at the same price.

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