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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Buy new vs old acoustics

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by uriah1, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    What are your ideas. Pro for old are aged woods and frets make for comfortable good playing. New ones you are the first owner and get to see get old. Parts are new. Problem good old guitars not vintage , may be thousands of miles away and can't hear and play yourself. Gamble or rely on dealer policies.

  2. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    New guitars are all arguments about tone woods on backs and sides and tops.

    Old guitars are all about neck resets, warped tops, dished frets, broken truss rods, lifting bridges, cracked bracing, and .... aged tone woods on backs and sides and tops.

    Willie Nelson's Trigger...
    Ripradiant, DonM, Tony Done and 2 others like this.

  3. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Jan 14, 2017
    If the dealer is far away, best to travel there to try out the guitars for yourself. Look for good neck angle sighting from the top of the bridge to the nut. Bad: warp of neck or cracks in body, deformed top or worn frets. Have an experienced luthier do a set up for you if you purchase anything; often guitars benefit from filing of the nut. I wouldn't buy any acoustic online. Try before you buy.

  4. wayloncash

    wayloncash Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 7, 2012
    Houston, TX
    Very risky, IMO, to but used/vintage acoustics unless it is more as a collectors item. Now I will buy a used acoustic, for a good deal, as a beater. Something I don't mind out in the heat/cold, humidity, or other potentially dangerous situations. But they are generally on the lower or middle end, takamine, Washburn, epiphone, not Gibson or martin.
    But I found a 2014 Gibson country western once for $1700. I would have got it if I could have gathered up the money before it got sold.
    uriah1 likes this.

  5. Chick-N-Picker

    Chick-N-Picker Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 26, 2015
    North Carolina
    I agree with Route67. I wouldn't but an acoustic I haven't played.

    I personally "usually" like older acoustics better. Doesn't have to be real old 15 years or older.

    But there is two big problems with used acoustics (If your talking descent quality Martin/Guild/Gibson/etc)

    1. You have no warrenty. So if you buy it. It may need a neck reset or work. Or it could go forever and be fine. Play it and check it good first.

    2. People, in my opinion, want too much for used acoustics. Yes I know it's a d-28 by it's made in 1990. It's not a prewar vintage Martin. It's a lot of them out there. I mean a d-35 in 90 was $1600. So I'm not paying $2500+ for a used 1990 d-28. And if you think about #1. It being used, it could need a reset and work done to it. So that's another $700-$900.

    I know something is worth what people will pay but I think it's from years of marketing. People think that if it says Martin/Gibson/etc then it's worth a fortune.
    You can find reasonable prices on martins/Gibsons from 1970-2000 if you look around and wait for a reasonable price and seller. It can take some time, though.
    Route67 likes this.

  6. TigerG

    TigerG Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Aug 14, 2015
    Manufacturer's warranty is one thing a new acoustic has going for it over a used guitar. It has come to the rescue big time more than once for my Gibson J-200 Studio.
    uriah1 likes this.

  7. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Jan 14, 2017
    Re: for sure used prices on modern Martins are too high. Guitar buying public is a very traditional bunch (paying for the name). Maybe similar with used Gibsons. Used Guilds can be killer in my limited experience. Worth high price if it's a special one. All depends on the particular guitar, but across the board used Martins continue to list for inflated prices. Tradition, nostalgia or whatever.

  8. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jan 22, 2007
    I quit a long time ago but used to buy and sell a lotta guitars. I'd guess they were at least 90% used, and many of them very well used = old. I rarely made a mistake but it helps to know your way around the stuff.

    I've now got three main flattops and two main Fenders and I bought only one new, and that's because I couldn't find a good one used. I've got no problem buying new or used. You do save some serious $ buying used in most cases if you know what you're doing.
    uriah1, Charlie Bernstein and Route67 like this.

  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    I'm another one who would never buy a used acoustic without getting my hands on it first, unless it was a SCREAMIN deal. So many things can be wrong that might not show up in typical web photos.
    uriah1 likes this.

  10. jackal

    jackal Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jun 14, 2010
    mojave desert
    Acoustics I would only buy new and in-store. Tele's I'll buy used because I can replace/swap parts until I get it where I want it. Not so with acoustics.
    4 Cat Slim and uriah1 like this.

  11. cabra velha

    cabra velha Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Jan 21, 2016
    estados unidos
    Buying new or used without being able to play it is always a risk. If you like the way it feels and sounds there should be no hesitation to buy used. There is also a philosophy that new wood things move around more dimensionally than older wood things, which seems to me like a more valid discussion than the magic of certain "tone woods".

  12. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

    Dec 3, 2014
    Toowoomba, Australia
    Old, because you know what you are getting in terms of both structure and tone. New guitars can change a lot over the first few years, not always for the best, eg my Martin J-40. The four flattops I have now were all bought used, two by mail order, two locally. One of the mail order ones, bought 25 years ago, has had a lot of work done on it to bring it up to speed, the other one is an absolute killer for its intended use.
    uriah1, Charlie Bernstein and Route67 like this.

  13. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2014
    Buying instruments to be played by their brand or age without trying them out goes against all my personal ideas.

    Everything that is potentially unique or special bought that way just becomes disposable, commoditised, devalued & simply collected. I believe in finding instruments I connect with. It's all part of the hunt for me.

    I am reminded of my daughter sat in a room a long way from home with a dozen various violins - none remotely cheap & few modern, to pick her current one. One immediately stood out, the next couple of hours simply confirmed it. It's voice was special and the songs she played came alive every time she picked it up. 130 odd year old woods may play a part but other violins she tried were older. It's also highly unlikely it would have been the one we would have picked from a list online.

    To buy by age or brand name on headstock is to potentially miss everything that is special and motivating about finding that one instrument that truly inspires.

    A road trip to try nice instruments out is all part of it for me. Lot more adventure than trying to interpret pictures and words online designed to suck you into pressing 'Buy Now'. Where is the inspiration in that? Where is the story to tell your kids when you pass it on?

    With electrics, I agree, the ability to set them up well and modify them to suit is much greater and can be done easily by the amateur. An old acoustic, as others have said, could be a pit full of expensive problems requiring an expert to fix.

    A change of string brand or gauge can also have more impact on an acoustic tone than many years of playing and wearing in in my experience too.

    Ultimately only you can know how much $$$ and risk you are prepared to take. I just like to think the best old instruments find you when you meet them in real life. Like getting a rescue dog from a shelter.

  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    With only one exception, my favorite guitars have been used guitars I've bought in person. Hate the look and feel of a new guitar. No personality. (New relicked guitars are the worst. They scream "Phony! Phony! Phony!" - like stone-washed or pre-ripped jeans. Why pay someone extra to make it look like the guitar is experienced?)

    Then there are the purely economic arguments.

    Like a good used car, a good used guitar costs so much less than a new one that there's simply no economic sense in paying a surcharge for the word "new." In support of this, AAA recommends buying cars that are two or three years old - just enough to make the sticker price someone else's grim memory.

    And in reselling a used guitar, it's not hard to break even or come out ahead. There's no chance of breaking even with a guitar you bought new unless (a) you get Marty Stuart to record a song with it or (b) you wait twenty or thirty years to sell it.

    My D-28 was $2k used, my Guild D-35 was $700. Assuming I don't damage them (a problem new guitars face, too), making my money back will be easy if and when I ever do sell them - after years of great fun playing them.

    Talk about getting your money's worth!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
    Route67 and uriah1 like this.

  15. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 26, 2003
    Augusta, Maine
    I once read that the reason Martin started creating so many new models, styles, and "price points" was that the company's worst competition was its own used guitars.

  16. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Holic

    Jul 31, 2014
    Alberta Canada
    I have absolutely no issues with buying a used can get great guitars at far less than retail. there are no "mysteries" to solve - what you see is what you get: the guitar is structurally sound or its not. you have to figure that out - which is pretty straightforward.
    Charlie Bernstein and Route67 like this.

  17. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2011
    The price variance can be rather large between new and old too.

    Also, certain production runs may never be repeated (Ie redwood top or koa or bubinga, etc) version, or whatever.
    In other words (they may never come this way again) ..

    However, new..yea that darn warranty is nice....

    Too bad you can't break in a new guitar like a speaker...put it in a box and run it continuously over
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.

  18. Flat6Driver

    Flat6Driver Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2013
    DC Burbs
    I have a Yamaha that's really nothing special but I bought it new 20 years ago and played it a lot, kept it in its hard case but the environment has taken it's toll and it has the dead spot at the 14th fret on the high strings. I just bought a new Martin to replace it for most (but not all duties) and bought a humidification pack for it. The guy at GC said that he turns away 7 of 10 acoustics brought in for sale as they have some issue with drying out or whacked necks or whatever. (Yeah, yeah GC...but he was one of the most knowledgeable guys I have dealt with there). So, not playing it first would be a major concern for me which is why I went new. Plus, I learned a lot about tonewoods in the process and how different woods react/sound. I'll buy Strats and Telecasters off Reverb no problem and make them what I want, but an acoustic is something different and I really sweat the decision.
    Charlie Bernstein and uriah1 like this.

  19. Route67

    Route67 Tele-Meister

    Jan 14, 2017
    Yep. I lost a fair bit of money buying all new, then selling what didn't work out for a loss. Live and learn I guess
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.

  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    As a rule I don't want to buy guitars new, and especially acoustic guitars.
    Musical instruments made from wood: 1) can last for hundreds of years, and 2) change in the first couple of years as the wood reacts to environment and string tension, as well as the wood simply settling after initially being dried, milled and finished.
    If you leave a pile of straight lumber,some pieces will stay fairly straight while others will warp a lot.
    While more expensive acoustic guitars will get better seasoning of the wood, the days of acoustic instrument lumber being seasoned for 400 years are long past.

    If nothing else we pretty much know that the voice changes in the first couple of years, so buying used means you hear what you will keep, and don't have to guess at how the sound will season.

    I agree that it's worth traveling to play numerous acoustics before buying.
    Given the prices and variation of high end acoustic guitars I can't imagine buying without playing first, even with a return policy.
    Charlie Bernstein and Route67 like this.

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