Guitar Grading & Inspection
Subtle Signs of a "mint" or "like-new" guitar being well playedMany used (and new) guitar buyers are faced with the same dilema. The task is to determine the exact condition of the guitar you're looking to buy. Overgrading from private sellers and dealers only confuses the matter. For those looking to eliminate surprises or to get guitars in pristine condition, the following tips will help you evaluate the condition of a guitar. Many of these can be ascertained over the phone assuming an honest seller.
- Pickguard scratches - sure fire sign of significant play. Often you'll see light scratches on the pickguard from the picking hand of the previous player.
- Tremolo bridge pitting or wear - can be on the tremolo base or on the actual string saddles. The more wear the more the guitar has been played.
- Tremolo arm discoloration/fade
- Input jack area scratches or worse yet paint chips from sloppy use
- Original reciept missing - likely guitar bought used. The original owner usually has the store receipt, warranty cards, hangtags etc.
- Fretboard wear - seen easily on maple boards the clearcoat is rubbed off from playing and the maple board starts to dirty. Trickier to see on rosewood fretboards.
- Fret wear - a sure sign of significant play. When buying by phone ask about fret-2 on the G-string. This is one of the first frets to wear and is often missed on quick inspection of the fretboard.
- Volume & Tone knobs freely and loosely rotate. These are broken in with the original "stiffness" lost due to regular use.
- Heel plate pitting/wear on the headstock side which tells you the guitar has been played more than advertised
- Rear of neck - discoloration of wood or faded finish
- Rear guitar body superficial scuffs
- Parts replaced/missing - a very obvious one but often the knobs are removed, replaced, etc. Why would you replace parts on a guitar you "never played"
These signs should be evaulated and used to determine the condition of a guitar in exceptional condition. Some or all may be present, each in a varying degree. Use common sense where applicable as this is just a guide. Note that "significant play" does not designate significant wear/damage, as the guitar can be well played but well cared for. It is very possible an older guitar was played regularly for only a short period, with great care being taken to preserve it's original condition.
|Standard Grading TerminologyCommonly used in the classifieds|