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One of the greatest thrills for any guitarist, beginner or pro, is purchasing a new guitar. However, if you’re a beginner and it’s your first purchase it can be pretty rough. The best route is to go to a reputable music store and buy a new one. But what are the options for those that can’t afford a new guitar? Buy a used one. But if you don’t know what to look for you could end up bringing home a clunker. So, here are a few guidelines that should help you navigate your way through the guitar maze.

* Most of the lower end, foreign guitars are glued together with epoxy, polyvinyl or similar products. This can be a problem when it comes time for repair, because the glue doesn’t soften easily and cannot be taken apart without risk.

* The next thing to look for is the condition of the neck, checking to see if it’s warped. You can do this by looking down the neck of the guitar as if it were a gun sight. Another method is to hold down the first string on the first and twelfth fret. You can see if the neck is warped easily this way because the string should be parallel with the neck. It’s best to buy a guitar with an adjustable truss rod especially if you want to be able to set up your own guitar. A trussrod is a metal bar that runs through the center of the neck. You can adjust the guitar neck by either loosening or tightening the truss rod.

* Now check to see if the neck is properly fused to the body. You do this by grabbing the neck and the body of the guitar and then twist the opposite direction to see if there’s any play at the joint. If you're looking at an acoustic guitar and it has play in the neck, put it back on the shelf. The cost of repair is probably not worth it. Most electric guitars have bolt-on necks and can easily be fixed by a guitar technician. But be sure to have this checked out before buying. The next thing you want to make sure of is that the acoustic guitar has a perfectly straight top. If there are bulges or the wood is shrunken in, this is a sign that the bracing is bad. Put the guitar up. It’s not worth the hassle.

* Of course, if you’re checking out an electric guitar and everything to this point looks good, plug it in and play it. Adjust the volume controls and check for popping and scratching sounds. This will let you know if there are shorts in the connections. Although shorts can be repaired fairly easily, you will need it checked out by a guitar technician or a friend who knows his stuff.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what to look for in a used guitar get out there and start hunting. Who knows, maybe you’ll run across that rare gem that all guitarists hope to find. After all, it’s only rock and roll but I like it.