Thursday, September 23, 2010

Testing the Prime Directive, or Patience, Grasshopper

Yesterday I was at a local shop, and saw that they had the new Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar bass. I was have heard good things about it, so I tried it out. The bass was well put together, and was well balanced. Compared to other basses, it was rather light, but not too light. Once I plugged it in, and played it a few minutes, I was impressed with the varying tones I could achieve. It felt right too. I really WANTED this bass. It was a good deal at $299. I even had the cash in my pocket to get it right then and there. Not credit, but cold hard cash. 

So why didn't I buy it? Because it would have violated the Prime Directive of ¢heapo guitars: Never, EVER buy a new guitar. Why? Because once you buy a new guitar, it is USED. Even if it is in perfect, flawless shape. Even if you babied it and polished it every time you played it. Even if you stored it in the best conditions possible, and never even played it. A USED guitar is worth about 30% less than a new one, simply because it is used. So, why would you pay an extra 30%?

A few pegs down from the Squier Jag bass was a great case in point: a USED Classic Vibe 50's Precision bass. I took it down and tried it out. The first thing I noticed was that the bass was perfectly set up, with nice, low action and no buzz. It was "Like New" with no dings, bings, scratches or, well, anything. It looked new. When new, this bass has a list price of $549, and is available for $349 nationwide. The "Like New", well set up but USED bass I held in my hands was marked $199. This is actually 43% less than the new price. No one ever actually pays list price, but why would anyone pay $349 when you could just buy a used one and pay $199?

The answer is simply a lack of patience. In order to get the best value when buying guitars, it is important to not succumb to GAS or hype about the newest model. If you are patient, someone else will get bored with their new toy, and you will be able to snap it up for a fraction of the original cost.

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