How do you test your guitars?


Dr. Stratster
Dec 4, 2013
i'm set up crazy guy so after a few chords and a widdly widdly or 2 i check the neck relief and nut slot heights.

i figure if i like the guitar and those things are off, (which they usually are) then i know i will like the guitar more when better set up.

unless it sounds cheap, thin or splinky thru my amp i do not change electronic parts.


Most Honored Senior Member
Dec 17, 2019
Mean Streets
You got me! Yes that is my #4 criteria. What a memory you have!! :thumb:

Bottom line though, if you don't get a good vibe at the store why even buy it?

Online is a take a chance deal though.

I hear, that for sure, but the only guitar i ever tired i ended up selling it, the other 4 bought untried and it worked out perfect, but then again im one of those odd people who marches to the beat of a different drum :sneaky:


Senior Stratmaster
Jun 5, 2021
Palm Coast, FL
Really a series of tests, for the electronics, I use a multimeter and check the DCR for the switch positions. The amp plug in & play will sound normal (test as good) or microphonic (if something is wrong with it). If you're buying a guitar in a parking lot, just bring a battery powered 3W mini amp & instrument cord. I actually have a small Skull Candy BT speaker that I can hear the guitar thru. One seller said I was the first person that ever bothered to test one that way.

Then there's the credit card test for fret level, eyeballing the neck & running your hand along the fret edges. Action test is eyeballing the string depression for 1st & last frets in playing position. The smart phone apps and you can test intonation in the field as well. I've usually bought every guitar I was really serious about going to consider with cash in hand. It would have to be something that was seriously broken.

One way of spotting an issue guitar, everything has been relaxed for tension neck & strings. That hides potential cracks in the neck pocket. The 2005 Squier Bullet that I bought for $ 25 was that guitar, $ 60 asking, the relief was elf slipper and the screws were loose, neck bolts, pickguard & output jack. The truss rod was to hide a dent & ripple at the skunk stripe & around the 6th fret. I bought it because I figured it was a higher risk instrument that I would end up with something that was falling apart & wouldn't ever tighten up to being in tolerance. The hardware was worth about that as used and I could learn how to do a full on set up, luthier skills for repairs. Odd that the frets were really clean with little or no wear. So some wood glue & toothpicks later it's quite playable, it has some life left in it.
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Mar 15, 2021
Multiple choice followed by an essay.

What is testing a guitar? I play them.
As other users have suggested... it would be better opening a discussion about what testing actually is, what do we are looking for? The purpose of the guitar...

I appreciate all that points of view


Mar 15, 2021
My approach is totally unscientific, vague, and a bit hand-wavy. I play it thru whatever amp is available for a clean amplified tone. If it sounds good clean then it'll sound good cranked. Not necessarily the other way around.

Then I check to see if it plays well and are there any physical issues with frets, neck, etc? Then, the most important test: does it sing? This is the hand-wavy bit. Maybe it's just me, but I find that sometimes a guitar will sing when you play it. Some will fight you and others are unresponsive duds.

When I was looking for a vintage, I tried a dozen old strats in the shop before I bought my '62. It was the most beat up, rode-hard-and-put-up-wet looking guitar of the bunch. But that was the one that sang to me. I never regretted buying that one, it was the best player of the bunch and served me well on gigs. A pristine strat would have been better today for resale value, but that was and is a kick-A player.
Another good point here: playability... one guitar can make a guiarist play better than others, so that eventually the final tone will be better


Mar 15, 2021
I don’t really understand the question. I test or play my guitars through my amps. I get the sound I want. If I go to my brothers place I can pretty much dial the sound I’m after through his amp as well.

A crappy guitar or amp can sound good depending on who’s playing and or setting up the gear.
You are answering the question, just want to know other people approaches ;) so you perfectly understood it


Scream for me Strat-Talk!
Silver Member
Feb 21, 2014
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
I recently met up with a guy from CL to possibly trade guitars. Neither of us did any thing out of the ordinary with each other's guitar:
- Looked them over for physical defects (cracks, fret divots, etc)
- Plugged them into a practice amp, made sure all the electronics worked as they should, noodled around to make sure they felt good.


May 9, 2020
Peculiar. Missouri
At a guitar store:

1) how does it feel in my hands.
2) how does it play acoustically.
3) how does it sound through an amp.

I'm absolutely with Antstrat on this. The color may grab my eye, but if these three criteria aren't met, it's a no go.

There is one other factor for me. I like a guitar that has resonance to it, so there is a certain song that I play that has a G6/E chord in it. That may sound exotic to some, but it is simply an open E chord played at the 4th fret. If the guitar is resonant, that chord will bloom beautifully. If it doesn't bloom, it just sounds flat to my ears, and the guitar is a no go.
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