We get an lot of e-mail asking our advice about all sorts of things. Typically, our Tech Support team can handle your technically oriented questions, like “How do I install more RAM in my Akai MPC2500?” Meanwhile our Customer Support staff handle things like, “There’s no tremolo bar in my new guitar’s case. How can I get one?”
But then there are those questions that simply don’t have a cut-and-dried answer. Here’s an example of one we just got in today: “I just saw a 1981 Gibson ES-335 Pro for $1200. Is this a good price?” We believe today’s guitars are the best ever built and our advice would almost always be to buy new, since you get a warranty, all original parts, and there’s no cloud of mystery surrounding the instrument’s past or how it was handled by previous owners. In terms of buying used gear, you have to ask the current owner specific questions so that you can make an informed decision. In this case, there’s a used ’81 Gibson ES-335 Pro. You should ask if the person selling it is the original owner; if there have been any known repairs or modifications done on it. For example, the Pro model came with coverless Gibson Dirty Fingers humbucking pickups. If the guitar has nickel-plated pickup covers, it’s possible that the covers were added or that a different set of pickups were installed at some point. Once you have all this information, ask the all-important question: “What’s it worth to you?” If the guitar plays and sounds great, it’s simply a matter of deciding if the selling price works for your budget. Or you might feel the guitar has a few unanswered questions, in which case you might be willing to pay a lesser amount. The seller may need the money and may accept your offer. The bottom line when buying used gear is this: Be cautious and ask lots of questions, because once you buy a used guitar (or any other instrument), you’re on your own!