Guitars stamped USED

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I'm seeing more and more of these up for auction and that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as you know what you're buying. Many manufacturers stamp their guitars that don't pass quality inspection "Used" on the back of the headstock. Some, like Alvarez, put a sticker inside the guitar. The instrument is then sold to a dealer in the secondary market at a steep discount. As many of these dealers will tell you, the defect could be a minor finish flaw that you hardly notice. It may also be a bad neck angle or something else seriously affecting tone or playability. As long as you know what you're getting into and ask enough questions of a reliable seller to make sure you're getting a decent guitar, that's fine and good. A real problem is the individual that doesn't reveal this in the description or attempts to misrepresent it.

Here's an example;  "The only abnormality is the back of the headstock had "used" stamped on it by the previous owner. So I had it filled with wood filler and stained with wood stain. You can see in the pictures. It is much improved. I don't know why someone would do such a thing on such a beauty." OK I thought, this guy doesn't know what the "USED" stamp is all about. I contacted this seller, explained the factory second process and recommended he change his description since he is misrepresenting the condition of the guitar. He didn't, to me that means he's a crook.

My experience; I've bought a factory second on two occasions. One was a beautiful Alvarez that I believed only had a finish flaw. It also had a bad neck angle giving it a fret buzz I could never correct. The other was a Guild with a bad finish, lots of orange peel. I knew I could fix this with wet sanding and buffing. It turned out to be beautiful with only a little work .It will take a lot more work though to fix the uneven saddle slot in the bridge causing two of the strings to sound dead. Live and learn!

One other thing to consider is resale. It will not be good.

Ask a lot of questions and make sure the seller has a good return policy....and hope you're lucky or at least not too unlucky.
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