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Guitar Shopping on the Internet
by Denny Eschrich © 2006

After relying on my trusty Alvarez RD-10 and Takamine EG451c for all of my live performance and recording needs for quite some time (and after building up a fair-sized warchest of equipment money,) I went on a guitar buying spree from September 2005 to March 2006. I bought six guitars over this period of time. (This was fun!)

I purchased these guitars at Music 123 and Musicianís Friend. I placed my orders using their toll-free ordering phone numbers. Although I have not used them, I feel confident their online ordering processes are simple and efficient. I had to send one of the guitars back for a replacement, but there was no additional cost to do this. I did not have to pay any extra shipping charges. I received a return authorization, and got a replacement, which was satisfactory.

I don't think this is the only way to go about buying guitars. If you can find a better way, go for it. But I really liked getting the absolute best price on the guitars I bought. Some of them were closeouts. Both of the web sites let you search by price, and identify price drops and closeouts. Extensive customer reviews (by amateurs and professionals) are posted with the product, and you can view multiple pictures and close-ups of the products you are buying.

Five of the guitars were made in China, one was made in Indonesia. Don't get me wrong, I believe in buying products made in the good old USA, or America for that matter. I own three vehicles manufactured by General Motors. I had reservations about buying guitars made in China. My old trusty units were made in Indonesia (Alvarez) and Korea (Takamine). But let me tell you, I no longer have those reservations. The guitars I bought are very nice, and all of them are exceptional values. Get over the made in China marking. These companies have to control quality, or they are out of business, it's that simple.

I have briefly played Taylor guitars and Martin guitars. I do believe they are fine instruments. But please add up what I paid for six guitars. I am happy with them, and they fit my skill level. I am NOT a great guitarist. But expensive guitars, regardless of their quality, will not make me a great guitarist. I strongly believe a professional musician would be happy to own any of these guitars as a backup unit, and happy to play them when their first choice failed on stage or in a studio setting. The bottom line is you can easily pay for one guitar what I paid for all six...about 1,600 bucks. Your choice, my friend!

Without further yammering, here's the list:

  1. Washburn WD21 KOA - A superb acoustic guitar, made in Indonesia. Delivered to my house for 165 bucks. Get one before they are gone. If I was smart, I would have bought a couple and fitted electronics into one myself.

  2. Wechter Pathmaker Acoustic-Electric Guitar - This baby feels just as good as the Taylors and Martins. Three pickups!!! Internal microphone, bridge piezo, and neck single coil. Came with a nice gig bag. A TOTAL SLEEPER THAT GETS RAVE REVIEWS. Under 500 bucks. My first choice for live acoustic or acoustic-electric performance.

  3. Washburn D10SCE- A very nice acoustic-electric. Came with a hard case, total damage was 299.99. I took it to the Lewisburg, PA Singer-Songwriter Festival, and played the open mike stage. I have brass string pegs on this guitar, and they really brighten it up. The guys running the main stage got irritated, because they could hear me a couple of blocks away! Just a great unit for primary or backup, with an onboard tuner. Best Christmas present I ever got.

  4. Ibanez AF75-TBS Artcore - Hollow body Jazz electric with two humbucker pickups. A very comfortable neck. How do they make it feel that comfortable? I paid $319.00, but the price has since gone up. This guitar made me realize what the rave about the humbucker pickups was about. It also made me realize that the humbucker right at the bottom of the neck is the one you need. I will never again buy an electric guitar that doesn't have two humbuckers.

  5. Washburn X-8 Electric- These babies are closing out. I got the X-8 for 79 bucks plus 16 dollars shipping, total 95 bucks to the door. I had to do some setup on intonation and action on the one I got, but not worth sending it back. X-9 and X-10 models are also available for peanuts. The X-8 I bought is a great student electric or backup for a performer. I don't know how you can go wrong.

  6. Washburn WG-587 seven string electric - Currently available at closeout prices. I paid 199 bucks. Low end seventh string is a strange animal. Two humbucker pickups. I did this just for fun and did not regret it. Getting used to seven strings is easier than you might think, and you can make some new noises. I recently saw this baby for $179.00.

There you have it, my friends. Don't ever believe you can't buy an inexpensive guitar that won't be quite useful for a long time. My old 200 dollar Alvarez is still in the corner, begging me to fit her with a new set of strings and play her. She is nine years old, but sounds great when I fit the new strings. The other musical projects have not allowed lately, but I'll get there.


Dennisio (Denny Eschrich) is a songwriter, occasional performer, and basement recording studio hack. He has self-produced three CD's of original music, with no intentions of quitting soon. Visit him at http://www.onlinerock.com/musicians/misterdenny.

You can find some programs and packages to help improve your guitar playing (and songwriting!) at these locations (click the links to check them out):

Find Schools Online - Music Degrees | You Can Play Guitar | Berkleemusic.com | SongU.com

And below is some further information on the history of the guitar, along with suggested links to get the best deals on brand name guitars such as Taylor, Fender, Dean, Ibanez, Takamine, Ovation, Martin, Peavey, Jackson, Hamer and more.

Musician's Friend has a fantastic selection of both electric and acoustic guitars:

The Musicianís Friend: Clearance center is also a great place to check for deals (including far more than just guitars!). And you can shop by brand by clicking here:
Musicianís Friend: Shop by Brand
Besides that, they offer Free Shipping on Most Orders Over $99! What have you got to lose?

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