I'll disagree on 1 and 2. #1 really depends on intent and expectation. For newbies hoping to buy into acceptable/excellent sound - as a shortcut to learning and experience - I would agree. For experienced players who know exactly what specific tones they're interested in, things get different. Example: the sound of a Franz p/u in a vintage Guild archtop is (to me) unique. And varies from guitar to guitar, depending on woods, construction, dimensions. Sorta P90, not quite. If that's what you're looking for, then you look for specific guitars/models/years. And those tones, you can buy. Here's a case where "as good as" is not the measure of success. Yes, I can sound as good on a tele as I do on my '62 Guild X50. But "as good' is not what I'm looking for. #2 is a useful general rule. But maybe not for everyone. For a long time I actually had much better luck buying sight unseen than in person. Strange, but true. It really is luck, and that's a personal thing. Example: Only one of my 4 or 5 favorite teles was an in person sale. The others ... something about the pics was compelling enough that I thought they'd be right. And so it was. Not every guitar that comes to me sight unseen is that way, but more often than not. That's just me. YMMV.