Can't buy on line?


Silver Supporting Member
Can't bring yourself to buy a guitar on line? No places nearby to go look at lots of great guitars so you can select one in person? Ever just take a few days, hit the road or jump on a flight and go somewhere to try everything you can? Where did you go? How did you make out?


Senior Member
I have not bought a new guitar in person since 1999. If I'm buying something like a Fender I know how to set a guitar up, so I just don't get the 'play a bunch' thing. I think it's psychological.

In my experience the one I like the best is the one that is closest to being setup. The one that sounds "magic" just has the pickups adjusted.

A friend of mine swears that he can hear the difference. So we went to GC and I brought a screwdriver and little metal ruler. When he found 'the one' I measured and set the pickups on another just like them. He turned around and I played both and he couldn't tell. I swear if I could have taken the time to setup each he wouldn't have been able to either.

That's just me. I do think it's cool when people go and do that, as it makes them happier with their purchase. I just don't have time. Plus 9/10 I buy used. Most of my guitars come from estate sales or flea markets so everything is as is and there are not a lot of choices.

Tone Disciple

Platinum Supporting Member
I both agree and disagree with the above post. I have played many nice high end guitars and I think the wood makes a difference.

He is right about setup, and too many people go for the right feel that is based on the setup. But the sustain and overall brightness of the instrument is a function of wood and construction and not setup. There are many manufacturer's guitars that I would (and have) made high end purchases on sight unseen (Collings, many PRS, Santa Cruz, Taylor, Gibson, etc) But given the chance I would always prefer to try out a guitar before purchasing. Unfortuneately that is often just not possible.

To the OP's question. I travel extensively for a living and I always go to music stores in the cities I am in to try out guitars. It pays off in many ways.
  • If you are looking for a particular instrument shop online to see who has the best selection of the guitar you want and pay them a visit to try it out. I did this with Wildowood when they had about 6 Johnny A guitars in transparent black with nice tops. Recommendation # 1 - Wildwood Guitars in Littleton, CO -
  • Visit places when you just happen to be in town. You might be surprised what you will find. Recommendation # 2 - Eddie's Guitars in St Louis.
  • Recommendation # 3 - Make'n Music - Chicago -
  • Recommendation # 4 - Willcutt Guitars - Lexington, KY
  • recommendation #5 - Buffalo Bros. - Carlsbad, CA
Others include Elderly Instuments, Fat Sound, McCabe's in LA, Guitar Resurrection in Austin, Hill Country Guitars in Wimberly and so on. In many cases visiting a store and playing the instrument you are looking for will give you the confidence you need to purchase online.

Of course it can go the other way as well. Either way it is a good thing.
You are lucky to get to sample widely from these prime retailers.

Just a minor correction: Wildwood is in Louisville, Co. which, incedentally is pronounced locally as "Loo-iss-ville", and referred to by nearby, high-toned Boulderites as Looserville. Other than Wildwood, not exactly a bastion of high culture! Back in the early seventies, I used to drink at a bar in Louisville (can't recall the name) that had a killer shuffleboard table!


Platinum Supporting Member
This thread is exactly what I was searching for. I'm seriously considering buying a Gibson acoustic from Wildwood but have never bought one without playing it. It looks gorgeous though and there aren't any locally for sale. I could always have GC order me one but I'd much rather be able to see what I'm getting at the least.

Wildwood always seems to be among the top choices here on TGP. I might just have to give them a call later today...

And I mostly agree with the setup being a huge part of how a guitar sounds, plays, and performs. I learned early on how to do my own setups and what I like. When you're familiar enough with tonewoods, neck shapes, and what works for the sound you're after, buying a new guitar can be a bit easier. When it comes to used guitars though, you just never know what kind of mojo or greasy paws have been on it or in it!

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