So you want to buy a used acoustic guitar?  Awesome!

Used instruments are an awesome way to save money on great instruments, or even just start playing guitar on the cheap.

I personally have taken advantage of the used guitar market… Case in point:

All of my acoustic guitars...

Some of my acoustic guitars  (most bought used)…. I have a problem.


If you’re looking for a cheap guitar, you may first want to consider these online options.  You can get some pretty decent acoustic guitars for $100 or less.   My favorite is probably the Jasmine cutaway.

If you’re willing to do some work – you can probably get an even better deal on a used guitar.

It’s actually not that difficult.  Here’s how…

You need to be informed if you’re going to buy a used guitar.

Decide what you want. 

Determine your budget and (roughly) what kind of guitar you want purchase.    In other words, don’t go in totally blind.

If you’re in the market for a guitar, decide what kind of guitar you want (and how much you’re willing to spend).

Once you have an idea, do some online research (Amazon) or in-person (local music store).

For example:  Let’s say you’re looking for a beginner acoustic guitar and you’re not interested in spending more than $150.  After a little research you land on something like this Fender FA-100.

Currently, the FA-100 is running about $120.  Awesome, it already fits our budget, we could just buy it now.

But we may be able to do a little better.

Time to….

Search Craigslist.

A quick search on my local craigslist for “Fender acoustic” yields a good amount of results.  I settle on a Fender GDC 100 SCE.

It looks like this:

Fender  GDC 100 SCE... not too shabby.

Fender GDC 100 SCE… not too shabby.

They’re listing it as used (with a few nicks/bumps).  This guitar also has a pickup installed (so I can plug it in if I want).  Their asking price:  $150.  

Ok… so it’s at the top of my price range (ok).

It has a few nicks/bumps and is used (meh).

It has a pickup installed (nice!).

So should I get it… not yet. First I need to….

Do more research. 

I do a google search for “Fender GDC 100 SCE”.  I find a few other sellers asking $200 to buy it used online.  I find original listing price to be around $299.

If I can get this guitar for $150 or less, I’d be happy.

Next I reach out to the seller and make an offer at $120.

I always ask for a lower price than what is listed (even if they say the price is firm).  The worst thing that will happen is that they say no…. what have you got to lose?

It takes a few hours, but I hear back and the seller counters my offer with $140.  Find with me.

We’ve settled on a price. 

We decide on a time and place to meet.

Since it has a pickup in it I bring a small amp and cable to test out the pickup.

We meet up, I try it out, pickup works, guitar looks ok.  The action seems a little high, but I’m pretty sure that this can be easily fixed by taking it to the guitar store and having the tech set it up.

So now I have a new guitar!

Super easy.  Low stress.

Heres a recap of what you need to do:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Decide what kind of guitar you want to buy.
  3. Do more research.
  4. Search Craigslist.
  5. Do more research.
  6. Make an offer.
  7. Decide on a price.
  8. Arrange a place to meet.
  9. Make an assessment.
  10. Either buy or walk away.

You can walk away any time.

If you have doubts, walk away.

If it’s too expensive, walk away.

There are other guitars out there.

Speaking of other guitars… if you’re in the market for something that is more niche or unique, but if you’re not that knowledgeable, here are somethings you can do:

  • Research before you buy
  • Take someone more knowledgable with you.
  • Before you buy, try to share some photos with local guitar store personnel, or even share them on facebook or online guitar forums.

After you buy a guitar, you probably want to clean it up and change the strings.  I usually taken mine to the music store to have a guitar tech set it up.

That’s it.  If you have any tips, please share them below!