Guitar Buying 101 – Try Everything!
Did you ever buy a guitar that was not what you usually go for and it ended up being much better than you expected? I had this happen to me a while back and thought I’d share some thoughts about this.
Ok, so I finish a gig, pack up all the gear and drive home. Hit the shower and pour a half-a-glass of wine to chill me out. I fire up the ol’ laptop and start to cruise ebay looking for what else….guitars! Now I have to confess that I am kinda set in my ways and know what I like after 35 years of playing and 25 years of being a tech. I have had the very good fortune of owning and working with some really great guitars over the years and have come to the conclusion after trying many different guitars that I love Telecasters. Not just any Telecaster I am very specific when it comes to my Teles. I like light ash bodies (under 4 lbs but no lighter than 3.5lbs), maple one-piece necks that have a larger profile, string-through 3-saddle ash tray bridge, Kluson tuners, 4-bolt neck plate and have a thin nitro finish that lets the guitar breath. This combination works very well for me and it is a no-brainer at this point in my life.
So, back to my story. I am cruising ebay and come across a G&L ASAT that looked interesting. It had a BIN of $375.00 if I remember correctly, no case plus shipping. I don’t know if it was the wine talking or something but for some reason I hit the panic button and became the proud owner of an ASAT. It’s close to a Tele right? The Hellecasters play them right? How bad could it be…..?
A few days later the ASAT is at my door and I break out the razor knife and open it up. I love that feeling just before you open the box and the guitar emerges from the messy packing peanuts…call me crazy, everybody does! First things first, let’s get a good look at this guitar and get some fresh strings on it.
This particular ASAT is everything and I mean everything opposite of what I usually go for in a guitar (reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George is doing everything opposite). It is alder and a little on the heavy side, rosewood board, top-loader bridge with 6-saddles, modern tuners, bullet truss rod adjustment, 3-bolt neck plate with a thicker poly finish plus it has black hardware. If that’s not opposite then I don’t know what is. But here is the kicker…..the guitar ROCKS!!! I was totally floored when I plugged it in and started to play it. This guitar had tone to the bone, played really easy, was comfortable to wear on a strap and just exceeded my expectations especially for a late-night impulse buy by fueled by G.A.S. and some Merlot.
In the end the moral of this guitar buying rant is you have to try everything! Don’t look at a guitar that isn’t what you typically like and write it off. You may be surprised to find a gem at a really good price that you would have passed on if you didn’t give it a shot. Since that day I have always kept a more open mind about buying guitars and scored a few unlikely candidates that turned out to be real winners. Same goes for amps and pedals too. Always keep your guitar-mania eyes and ears open when you are out in the guitar buying trenches. Try everything!