There are lots of things that are almost inarguably at their best when brand new; Cars, houses, mattresses, and clothes are all things that we’d much rather be the first owner than the second or third. But an instrument is definitely something that, like wine, can get better with age, and so it’s easy to find a great deal buying a used instrument. Here are some tips for buying a used instrument at your local pawnshop.

1) Get Some History

A used instrument could have dozens of owners before it reaches the pawnshop. This means that the guitar could have modifications and alterations that make it distinct from a brand-new item. For example, if you’re buying a Fender Jaguar because you like the sound of the brand new one that you played at a music store, you’ll want to make sure that the used one still has its dynamic vibrato installed. But a used model may not, as putting in a hard bridge is a very common modification. Knowing your ideal vision of an instrument will make your experience much more pleasant.

2) Know What It’s Worth

As the quality of a used instrument can vary greatly due to condition, availability, rarity, and demand, it’s always worth doing your research beforehand. Make sure that you’re talking to other players you know. Read and post on forums, check online auctions and second-hand sites for price comparisons, and even see what a brand new instrument would cost. This will help you know for sure that the price you’re paying at the pawn shop is fair.

3) Try It Out

This is possibly the most important step in purchasing a used instrument. Even brand new guitars will feel different from each other, but that difference in feel continues to widen as they are played. On stringed instruments and pianos, you’ll want to take particular note of the action and intonation of the instrument. Is it too loose? Too tight? Does it sound a bit off on certain frets/keys? All of these things can be adjusted, but you also don’t want to spend more than the cost of the instrument making it playable. Not to mention that all of that time could be spent playing!

A used instrument comes with a story and soul. Come down and try out a few at McBrides! You’re sure to find one that you like.

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