Guitar Condition: The Ding Is in the Details 

 May 28, 2022

By  Cynthia Swearingen

The retail is in the detail.

Shopping for a new guitar is an exciting adventure for any true axe enthusiast. The thought of finding the perfect instrument can drive you from store to store looking for the one which calls to you.

Guitarist knows that getting a new gear has a lot to do with not only how a player connects to the instrument emotionally, but also with how their new guitar functions for their needs.

With so many options available and factors to consider, it’s helpful to understand exactly what a seller, whether it’s Joe Schmo on eBay or Guitar Center, is talking about when they describe a guitar’s condition.

What does mint condition mean anyway?

What Does Each Condition Mean for Guitars?

Condition ratings have unique particularities which will come in handy to understanding a guitar’s value and history. Unless you’re looking at a new axe direct from the factory, knowing a couple of these terms will go a long way in your search for the perfect guitar.

Mint Condition

It doesn’t mean minty fresh.

A guitar in mint condition will be one that is as closest as can be to its original direct from manufacturer glory. This axe will show very little signs of previous ownership and should have its original packaging or case – which should also be almost flawless.

The circumstances of a mint condition guitar can be different. In some cases, it can come from someone who has had it for years but has never really played it. However, even one that was bought, played for a week, and returned, can qualify as mint condition.

No matter how much time has passed since its original retail, a guitar in mint condition should be just shy of brand new. Every imperfection, scratch, dent, crack, is a step closer to excellence.

Excellent Condition

Excellent condition is a rating just below Mint. In some cases, the disparity between the two is just a scratch away, but when taking a closer look, the differences between mint and excellent are clearer than an acrylic guitar.

The primary thing to know about a guitar in excellent condition is that it will be fully functional. Its excellent rating has everything to do with its aesthetics, and an axe that doesn’t play perfectly like the guitar gods (or manufacturers) intended cannot be considered excellent.

So, what are the deciding factors?

Unlike a mint condition guitar, an excellent one will show signs of usage. There will be little to no signs of finish wear, neck wear, and plating deterioration, and at most, it will have some light scratches. This is a guitar which is close to new.

However, given that the slightest ding can alter a guitar’s condition rating, it’s possible to have different levels of excellent conditions. Axe Central goes as far as to distinguish between “Excellent Plus” and “Excellent”.

Excellent Plus is a guitar that is 95% near its factory quality. No dents. No dings. No Problem.

Excellent is a condition that is 90% of a guitar’s newness which will show minor dings, normal scratches, neck wear, and even light oxidation.

No matter if you’re being nitpicky about axe excellence, a guitar in excellent condition will be fully functional as if it was just purchased.

How Good is Good?

The reasons for purchasing a guitar in mint or excellent condition go beyond just having a guitar with scratches. The further away from brand new you get increases the possibility of a guitar that has performance issues.

A guitar with a very good rating is still one that you would be worth testing out because despite having more cosmetic damage than an excellent condition guitar, they’re still performance ready. Even a guitar with a good rating will be playable but will have a very noticeable damage throughout its body.

It’s not until getting to the fair and poor condition ratings that you’ll see how wear and tear has begun to affect the instrument’s playability. Unless you know how to repair, this could add up to costing as much as a new guitar would cost, to begin with.

Details for Sale – Make Sure You’re Aware Too

Understanding these rating puts the meaning of “mint condition” into an entirely different light.

Small details make all the difference when classifying a guitar as being in mint or excellent condition, and this isn’t even considering very good, good, fair, and poor condition ratings.

A mint condition guitar can look exactly like an excellent one to the untrained and be priced for hundreds more.

Knowing a bit about guitar condition will not only help you find your dream machine but will also make sure that you get what you pay for.

Cynthia Swearingen

Your Signature

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