In the life of a musician it seems that you never have too many instruments and there is always something new to discover that can give us a new way in our art but … What really matters when buying a new instrument?
Beyond the personal and aesthetic tastes that each person can have is important (or at least for me it is) to have and check specific details that make the functionality and performance of the instrument is correct.
Here are some of them, which I always take into account …
1- The truss rod is a fundamental part. Check that the setting (nut, screw, etc …) is in optimal condition. This point is to keep in mind when one buys a used instrument. Another detail about the truss rod is that the positioning of the same in the assembly has been correct to avoid strange noises and vibrations when it comes to playing. The way we notice it is to tap it gently on the neck. If there are strange noises as something loose, it is very possible that the placement has not been completely correct and later will bring problems.
2- Of course, that does not have major damage such as cracks or fissures in the wood over important parts. In case of being a used instrument keep in mind that the accessories (hardware) can be replaced without problem, like being the bridge, pegs, pickups, etc.
3- It is advisable to test the instrument without plugging in acoustic form, in order to hear and perceive the true sonority of the wood with which it was built. Much of the time, the instruments are tested with an amplifier that tends to color the audio thereof, and in combination with the gear that this brings, it is very possible that the actual sound is camouflaged.
4- Active or Passive? … This is already a matter of taste or in any case, what is intended of the new instrument. Take into account that the passive instruments do not use a battery, and the active ones use, usually 1 or 2 9v / 18v batteries depending on the type of circuit they have. Another fact in this topic is that the active instruments usually come with the possibility of equalizing different frequencies (bass, mid, treble) between the different pots that it owns; unlike the passive instruments that usually bring pots of volume and tone and the result of the audio is but crude or vintage.
5- Another interesting fact although also depends on the personal taste, is the wood or rather, the combination of them. Emphasizing the fretboard, light woods (maple, etc …) tend to have a brighter sound (mid, treble) and dark woods (ebony, rosewood, etc …) a more dark sound (bass, mid).
Other important details that depend strictly on what we are looking for and personal taste are pickups (single coil, dual coil, humbucker, soap bar, etc …), string separation, pegs types, bridges, color, among several more.
See you in the next post!