Should I buy this guitar?
July 16, 2009 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Should I buy this used Taylor acoustic guitar? Guitar guru mefites, help me out!

In my local craigslist today I found a 2002 Taylor 414-CE for $800. (It's acoustic electric). I already went to go check it out. The man hasn't played it in three years, literally, and the strings are at least as old, so the tone was rather dull. Also, it was very dusty.

However, it was in amazing condition otherwise. No scratches or blemishes that I noticed whatsoever. It comes with the hard shell case. With a fresh set of strings and a little cleaning, it'd be good as anything. The 414 is typically new for $1600-$1900, from what I understand, so this seems like a rather great deal. I'm 18, and this seems like an acoustic that would carry me for a looong time, if not forever.

Is this as good a deal as I'm thinking, or do they depreciate more than I realize? Would you buy it for $800? Any advice/thoughts appreciated.
posted by Precision to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
Best answer: Sounds high for the age, but $800 bux for a killer accoustic is a pretty good deal.

I tried out dozens before buying a Taylor in 1998 and in feel and sound, it won hands down. New strings will fix it. (Check the battery compartment for corrosion if the fellow left his battery in during its extended sabatical.)
posted by FauxScot at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Taylor's website shows the 414CE MSRP as $2500+, FWIW. I think I paid 1200-1400 for my 410 in 1998.
posted by FauxScot at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: Check that the neck is not warped
posted by canoehead at 3:41 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: That's a great deal.

Just check the soundboard carefully for cracks along the wood grain, or a lifting bridge. Check the neck for warp by looking straight down the fretboard from the headstock down. Those things are value-killers because they are as costly to repair as a guitar is generally worth.

Other than that, it sounds like a steal. Good guitars appreciate with age.
posted by Miko at 3:42 PM on July 16, 2009

Best answer: Seconding that the places to carefully inspect are the soundboard, the bridge (lifting), the neck (transversal warping = torsion along the neck axis) and the neck joint.

Taylors are great guitars, it can last you many, many years and it's only going to get better by playing it and caring for it.

Also, minor repairs generally have a better outcome on high end instruments since materials and woodwork quality have an influence in that (provided you have a good professional do the work), so even a minor blemish - say a hair-thin lifting at the bridge or at the neck, or minor warping on the neck, or a couple scratches - might not need to be a dealbreaker, it can help you haggle the price down by a hundred or so, and can be easily repaired by a luthier for the same amount. A crack in the soundboard could be a dealbreaker, in my opinion, but relate anything and ask for advice to your guitar doctor before the purchase.

If you buy it, I'd suggest taking it to a shop anyway for a thorough cleaning of the fingerboard/fret polishing/neck and bridge setup (which should set you back somewhere around fifty bucks).
posted by _dario at 4:25 PM on July 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buy it on the condition that if you take it to a shop and they find damage, you can return it. Better yet, have the person meet you at a decent guitar shop, have the people give it a quick look over while you both are there, and if they say it doesn't look damaged, buy some new strings and get them on there so that you can play it and see exactly what condition it is in. The cost of a new pair of strings is a small price to pay to really know if you are getting a good guitar or getting a lemon.

If you aren't going to take it into a shop, at least bring a new pair of strings with you and change out the strings before you pay for it. You may find that a problem surfaces once you get some fresh strings on there.
posted by markblasco at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2009

Nthing everyone else...check it out really carefully ($800 is a lot of money), but Taylors are usually pretty amazing guitars.

I also got mine in 1998, a 310 CE, after playing dozens of guitars, both Taylor and other brands, and have never once wished for another steel-stringed acoustic. I love it with all my heart and it's probably what I would grab in a fire.
posted by nosila at 7:05 PM on July 16, 2009

Yep.... sounds great..... strings can (and should be regularly) replaced anyways.... dusty means a good thing... that means it hasn't been played a lot, at least recently..... which is a good thing.....

As long as the neck isn't warped and it was stored decently, that's a great deal.......

The hard shell case alone is worth 2-300 hundred dollars.... I'd say go for it.......
posted by peewinkle at 10:20 PM on July 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys. Marked some best answers.

We don't have a very good music shop in town (I've never been impressed, and always drive to Tucson to have my guitar set-up/repaired/whatever), but I figure I can trust them to at least string a guitar. So I'll ask him to meet me there and I'll pay to have it strung and play it a bit with new strings. I'm really dying to hear it with decent strings!

I'm likely going to buy it, i think, and I'll post back here either way. I'll be sure to look at the neck and such, as well.
posted by Precision at 11:53 PM on July 16, 2009

Response by poster: Well, I bought it yesterday, and 12 hours later I think I noticed an *extremely* slight warp in the neck. Funny how you notice things better when they're yours and in your house. Only notice it when comparing it to my Seagull. I'm going to take it in to my favorite tech in Tucson this week and see what he says. Honestly, if this guitar is not going to be *perfect*, I'll flip it around on eBay for a small profit. At this price range, I want a guitar that makes it worth it, especially since I already have a very nice Seagull acoustic.
posted by Precision at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2009

Hm. Good thought to seek the second opinion. Seagulls are indeed great guitars - the quality for the money is amazing. So you wouldn't need to put up with a seriously flawed Taylor just to have a decent guitar.

But I hope it's something easily remedied. Sometimes they can just heat and clamp a warped neck for a good result.
posted by Miko at 5:58 PM on July 18, 2009

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