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Old 10-13-2009, 09:03 PM
wood nacho wood nacho is offline
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Default Things to watch for when buying used...

Hi everyone,

I'm going to be taking a look at a used Larrivée L-03 this Thursday and was wondering what sort of things I should be paying special attention to when making sure the guitars in good condition.

Obviously I'm going to check for any fret buzz, dents and whatsoever, but what are some things that often get overlooked?

Also, he says he just strung it up with medium gauge strings, but the
Larrivée site tells me that the guitar has been set up of for light gauge strings, can this harm the guitar? I'll most likely be putting lights on it as soon as I get it so I imagine it shouldn't be much of a problem?
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:05 PM
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Being a Larrivee, check for high/unseated frets...they are epedemic for this.

When you go from mediums back to lights, you may have to back off the truss slightly...

If the seller has had mediums on it for a while, you might want to check the neck angle as well.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:11 PM
Misifus Misifus is offline
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With any used guitar, check for protruding fret ends, this can be an indication of too little humidity. Also, check that there is enough saddle showing above the bridge - that is, check that the guitar doesn't need a neck reset.

-Raf
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:12 PM
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it can be a problem if a guitar is strung with strings that are heavier than recommended. check for bulge around the bridge, and check to make sure the bridge is firmly attached all the way around. when checking used guitars, check for cracks and also feel the sides of the frets - if they are sticking up, it may be a sign that the guitar is dehydrated.

oops - seems some of what i said was just covered. i must have typed this while Misifus was typing.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:19 PM
wood nacho wood nacho is offline
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Thanks for the quick replies! I really appreciate the input.
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:36 PM
lone eskimo lone eskimo is offline
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On Larrivee's website under FAQ's Jean Larrivee says that although light strings are recommended-there's no harm in using medium gauge strings. I still agree with the posters above that you may want to make sure there's no problems that could arise from higher tension. I usually take my new (and used) guitars to a good luthier I trust to do a set-up.

By the way- I purchased a Larrivee 0M-03 in January and still have a crush on her everytime I open the case. Hope you like it!

Mike
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:16 AM
blue-wily-fox blue-wily-fox is offline
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Here's a few things I do, when GAS attacks happens and I'm thinking of buying a new guitar:
1. Bring along your favorite guitar to compare to all potential purchases. If the potential guitar is not as good as the one you own, why get it.
2. Bring along a friend to play the guitar TOWARDS you....so you can hear it's projection. Then you play it towards your friend, and get an unbiased (non-saleman) opinion on the sound of the guitar.
3. If the guitar is not a 10 out of 10, don't buy it. (my personal GAS rev limiter)
4. Try several models of the guitar you want (at other stores, or from the same store, they often have some in back, although they don't want to bring them out until the previous model sells.) All D-28's are NOT created equal. 5. If you find a guitar that you like, play it for at least 1/2 hour. This lets it 'warm up' and you can hear the full potential of the guitar before buying.
6. Do not let your mind play these tricks on you with 'futuring' about what the guitar WILL sound like..... a. This guitar will sound MUCH better with new strings, or Phosphor Bronze strings, or anything like, new nut, new bone saddle. The guitar should sound GOOD period. If not, hoping for improvement is NOT a good reason to get a guitar. b. When this guitar ages 15 years, it will really sound GOOD!!! While guitars do tend to improve over time (marginally) hoping a guitar will be good in the future is just the mind playing tricks on you. IF a guitar sounds like crap now, it will sound like aged crap in 15 years.
7. If you can, bring an electronic tuner so you can easily tune up the guitar (and see if it STAYS in tune) AND check intonation. A guitar with bad intonation is HARD to fix (you can only do so much with compensated nuts and saddles) I have personally seen a new $2.5K guitar at GC with an incorrect scale length!!! I pointed this out to the sales man, and it was still on the wall when I went back 3 weeks later!!!) .
8. Do a quick check on setup. Hold down the E string on the first fret and the 14th fret. About halfway between those two points the space between the bottom of the string and the top of the 7th fret should be enough for a playing card to slip in. If it is greater, you will probably need a setup (adding cost to the guitar) and if it is less or touching, you will probably get some buzzing on some of the frets. Maximum action should be 3/32" from bottom of E strings to top of 12th fret. You should have at LEAST 1/8" of saddle showing above the bridge. High action and low saddle almost always mean neck reset. I have seen name brand new guitars at Guitar Center, that need neck resets already, so it is not that uncommon.
9. Play each string, from fret 1 to the sounhole and see if there is any buzzing on any of the frets. Buzzing can mean as little as a tweak of the truss rod, to major planing of frets to make the guitar sound good. So this adds to your purchase price.
10.Site down the neck. If the neck is bowed up or down, usually this can be adjusted with the neck rod. HOWEVER, if it is over 1 /16" beware. Make sure the store tech adjusts the neck AND that there is more room for adjustment. Beware of this situation. IF the saddle is high on one side and narrow on the other, this is often done to fudge for a twisted neck. Siting down the neck you can see this but if the action is correct and the saddle is lopsided, this could be a problem. I have seen this on one and two year old guitars. A twisted neck is VERY hard to fix. You might get someone to try to STEAM the neck straight (minimal success) or plane the fretboard to compensate (not ideal) or remove the fretboard and try to straighten the neck by regluing, or finally, a new neck. All very expensive alternatives. Best to pass on this type of guitar. I hope this helps.
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:57 AM
emmonsh emmonsh is offline
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a l 03 can handle mediums fine. dont even let that bother you.
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:44 AM
airguitarro airguitarro is offline
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A lot of good advice already.

I will add one left-field thing that almost never gets mentioned ...

Make sure you smell the guitar and case first!

I have bought gear over the net (not from anyone on this forum of course) before that when I got it, it smelt of cigarette smoke/mustiness that was not declared earlier. Very disappointing if that happens.
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:06 AM
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Just to prioritize some of the excellent suggestions, I'd be most concerned about bad neck alignment or a failing top.

For the former, sighting down the fingerboard to see where your line of sight falls on the bridge is a good quick check. (First, make sure that the instrument is tuned up to pitch. Slack strings can hide a multitude of issues.) Ideally, when you line up the two ends of the fingerboard in your line of sight, the top edge of the bridge should be visible beyond them, in the same line of sight. If your line of sight falls just a bit below the top edge, probably not too big a deal. If it's well below the top edge, the neck will need a reset. It's also worth checking the saddle height to see if the action has already been lowered by shaving the saddle. A neck reset is roughly a few hundred dollars, depending on the guitar.

For the top, look at the bridge area, glancing along the guitar top from the side. A slight bit of raising behind and dipping in front of the bridge is normal but it should be very subtle. If it's pronounced, that could be a problem. Braces could be loose or some larger structural issue might be at play. Not only is this a structural issue (i.e., the strength of the sound box may be compromised) but it will mess up the guitar's action. The remedy might be minor but it could also be pretty substantial. Not a good gamble to take, in my estimation.

Either of those two issues will potentially involve a fairly extensive amount of work to correct. Most other things are also worth checking but may be acceptable if the price is right and you don't mind the time and cost of a good setup (which is often a good investment even if there are no obvious issues). Dressing frets, getting the relief and action optimized, and other such adjustments are important but shouldn't be too costly or involved. Figure the added expense in when assessing value, but none of this should break the bank (or the deal) on an otherwise sturdy and desirable instrument. Just my point of view, of course.
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:15 AM
ewalling ewalling is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devellis View Post
For the former, sighting down the fingerboard to see where your line of sight falls on the bridge is a good quick check. (First, make sure that the instrument is tuned up to pitch. Slack strings can hide a multitude of issues.) Ideally, when you line up the two ends of the fingerboard in your line of sight, the top edge of the bridge should be visible beyond them, in the same line of sight. If your line of sight falls just a bit below the top edge, probably not too big a deal. If it's well below the top edge, the neck will need a reset. It's also worth checking the saddle height to see if the action has already been lowered by shaving the saddle. A neck reset is roughly a few hundred dollars, depending on the guitar.
+1. You can adjust the action, dress the frets, have a set-up, but if you have to reset the neck you're talking big bucks. I recently nearly bought a guitar whose neck had been pulled forward so that no amount of truss rod adjustment or saddle shaving could have saved it. Just run a staright edge along the frets towards the saddle. If the straight edge hits below the top of the black saddle, it needs a reset (unless it hits the black part just a tiny fraction below).
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:16 AM
disguiseglasses disguiseglasses is offline
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Excellent advice, Blue-Wily-Fox.
I've tricked myself more than once
with the "oh, this guitar will sound better with __________."

Discretion and restraint are often the best allies
when buying anything, doubly so in matters of high dollar purchases.

Good luck!
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:40 AM
Steve Christens Steve Christens is offline
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Not sure if you can find it on YouTube, but Dan Erlewine has a nice video on one of his DVDs where he walks you through the evaluation of a used acoustic, and shows the tools he always brings with him to a guitar store.

For example, he brings a mirror to check inside for damage to the bridge plate, and for lose braces. He brings a fret rocker (three sided ruler) to look for high frets. A ruler to check action height, and a longer one to check for neck alignment. He said he also brings tools to check the truss rod, and to be sure that it even can be adjusted. I think he may have brought an electronic tuner to check intonation - and probably several other things I am forgetting.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:08 AM
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Try this.
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:33 PM
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Ted @ LA Guitar Sales Ted @ LA Guitar Sales is offline
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Here is my checklist:

Lifting bridge (any gap what so ever)
Condition of bridge (cracks, repairs, modified)
Flat soundboard (especially behind the bridge)
Neck angle (neck should line up with top of bridge should not have the slightest twist)
Fret lifting
Fret wear
Neck binding cracks
Condition of fretboard
Gaps between neck heel and body
Any repairs or touch-ups

This is a very common model so unless it's perfect or priced very low, keep looking.

Ted
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