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Tips for Buying a Guitar on a Budget

Tips for buying a guitar on a budget

Looking to find a great guitar on a budget?

This post brings you some tips on how to do exactly that.

If you are passionate about learning the guitar but afraid of the price tags, take comfort in the following article. It is full of tips for buying a guitar if you are working on a limited budget. While it is true that you generally get what you pay for in life, there are a few ways to beat the system and get a steal.

New vs. Used

There are benefits to both new and used guitars. The most obvious benefit of going with used is that there is a big reduction in price. There is also a “broken in” quality about these guitars that some people feel more them more playable. On the downside, a used guitar will probably not come with any sort of warranty. Buying used is definitely the biggest way to buy a guitar on a budget.

Be aware that many shops will rate the level of quality of their used guitars as below:

Near Mint:

These are going to be guitars that are still practically perfect. They are usually the only guitars that sometimes have a warranty. Just the fact that they have been taken out of the box and played greatly reduces their price, making these a great value.

Blemished or Floor Models:

A guitar in this condition has been around the block but still has a lot of life left to live. They are going to be even cheaper, but here you have to start being careful that you don’t buy something on its last legs.


Guitars that are still playable but have quite a few cosmetic flaws are often still sold. If you are really counting pennies, going with a used guitar in this condition can get you started until you can save up for something else.

Establish Priorities

When you are shopping on a budget, you need to figure out what is really important to you. You are going to want to make sure that you can easily play the instrument and that you like its sound. When judging playability, consider the following three factors:

  1. Frets: Are the frets a good size for the size of your hands/fingers?
  2. Neck: Is the neck a good width and length for the size of your arms? Can you hold the instrument comfortably?
  3. Action: Although adjustable, if you are not interested in having to tweak your guitar you will want to make sure the distance between the strings and fretboard works with your hands.

As for sound, you will want to play the instrument and check out things like its sustain. If you are not confident in your abilities yet, ask a guitar-playing friend to come shopping with you. You can also ask a store employee to play the instrument for you a bit. Even if you do not know much about guitars yet, you will likely be able to tell if it sounds too heavy, bright, etc. Both playability and sound should be thoroughly checked whether you are buying new or used.

Important Things to Check

There are two things that are more important than anything else when it comes to buying a used guitar. They are:

Does it hold a tune? Bad tuners are bad news. This is why it is important to play the instrument for a few minutes to see how it does.

How does the neck look? Does it look straight and solid? Cheap guitars are sometimes lacking a truss rod, meaning they can warp easily.

Acoustic or Electric?

Your decision on the type of instrument you want to play should come from what type of music you want to play. That being said, know that there are areas you can skimp on a bit for both types of instruments. For acoustic guitars, tonewoods are not always as important as you may be led to believe. This is especially true if you are getting your first guitar that you are going to learn on.

For electric guitars, do not get overly concerned about the quality of your pickups. Even if the guitar has ones made by a company you have never heard of, they may work great. If not, this is something that can be upgraded down the road if you want to stick with your original guitar.

Final Thoughts

By prioritizing and giving serious consideration to used instruments, you can easily buy a guitar on a budget. Just be sure to thoroughly check out the instrument before you buy it. A guitar is something you may want to buy in person, rather than online. If you’re looking for a new guitar why not check out our posts on great electric and acoustic guitars available for under $500.