Buying Guitars Online


Well-Known Member
So I'm getting back into guitar after a 15-20 year layoff (and being a drummer for 10 of those years). When I started out, you had to play an instrument before you bought it because there was so much variance between them even in the same model line. I'm assuming now all of these are machine cut and computer guided now so that's no longer the case. Are people now more comfortable just buying a guitar without ever playing it? It's kind of hard to wrap my head around, but after playing a bunch of entry level guitars for the last two months, it's insane how much more consistent gear is now. The quality is light years ahead of where it was in the 1990s. It used to be if you wanted a quality guitar in the $200-$300 range you had to play a ton of guitars and find a needle in a haystack. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

Alex Theory

Northern Monkey
Well with new stuff and the distance selling regulations you're pretty well covered if it turns up and plays like a bag of spanners.
Just send it back.

With second hand stuff it's more of a risk and experience is always worth a lot being able to see the tell tale signs of a bad guitar or misuse but it's definitely better than it used to be.


The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
What are the distances selling regulations? I'm American so I'm assuming that's England only?
Sweetwater and Musician's Friend both have very good return policies, though the former's does not apply to special orders. You should probably start a thread in the Gear section wherein your describe your budget and what you want in a guitar.
I think that *most* companies' guitars are consistent enough that you can buy online and know that you're unlikely to get a turkey. However, I always think it's best to go into a shop and at least try out the model before you buy one, to see if it feels comfortable and you like the neck in particular.

This may depend on the brand that you're thinking of buying, some are probably still better than others. Do you have any ideas already?


Well-Known Member
Well, I'd love to try out a Chapman V when it is released but the nearest vendor of Chapman guitars is a couple hundred miles from me (and I live in a major city). The US is just so freakin' enormous that it's hard for a small company like Chapman to be everywhere. When there are items like that I'm interested in (not just musical instruments) I watch a ton of youtube videos about them, but instruments are different. The feel factor is big in this arena.


The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
When there are items like that I'm interested in (not just musical instruments) I watch a ton of youtube videos about them, but instruments are different. The feel factor is big in this arena.
This is why it is useful to quantify your previous experience, such as finding the measurements of the neck and nut.

Art G

Well-Known Member
Most brand name guitars (and a few others as well) are pretty well made these days. Most guitars will need some work regardless of their country-of-origin. At least some setting up. You might never know which one will be the best fit for you until you play it. I don't know if I would buy another guitar over the web. The one I have purchased through Reverb worked out well. I expect to have to do more work to used instruments than to new ones. Be sure that whoever you buy from has a return/satisfaction policy that you can live with.

Dead Circuits

Well-Known Member
Its difficult to say really. The guitar I bought in my avatar was purchased without trying it, but I knew I wanted a Classic Series '60s Lacquer and I'd already got a Strat so I knew the sound and the general feel of it. When I clicked and bought it I knew I wanted it, so I consequently didn't regret it.

If I was going to buy something I'd not tried and wasn't sure if I wanted I might be a bit more cautious. Especially if it wasn't returnable for whatever reason. If you know you want it, and you just feel inspired by the idea of a certain guitar, the chances are you will love it, but if you can try it you might as well. The only reason I bought the aforementioned guitar without trying it is because it seems quite rare in the UK, if they had it in any of my local guitar shops I'd have gone in and tried it there.