Believe it or not, you can boost the value of your instrument by making everyone's life a little easier … and cleaner!
There's an overwhelming amount of activity in the guitar market these days, and the sheer amount of demand has left some manufacturers struggling to keep up. But rather than wait around for stores to re-stock, more and more customers are shopping for used and vintage guitars. You might wonder, where do all those used guitars come from?
A simple explanation is that the pandemic taught everyone that if they haven't been playing a particular instrument in the last 18 months, they probably never will, so it goes on the market. But making the transition from guitar buyer to guitar seller is difficult for some people to navigate, and sellers frequently ask me how they can get the most for their guitar. Whether it's a year-old budget model or a classic reissue they've had for a decade or more, my answer is usually the same. And it doesn't matter if you're selling a guitar privately or trading it to a guitar shop to get something else. You'd be surprised what you can do to maximize your return, often in as little as 15 minutes.
So, here's the tip: Clean up your guitar. Use some guitar polish and fretboard cleaner, and put on a fresh set of strings. Voilà!
The steady demand for new instruments with a distressed finish might convince you that people don't care about the grunge on the neck of the guitar you're about to sell or trade, but you'd be wrong. Think of it this way: People buy new jeans with holes in the knees, but they don't buy jeans that somebody wore holes through and never washed. Wear is one thing—lots of us like the broken-in look. In fact, new violins finished to look like they were old were popular over a century ago. But wear from use isn't the same as dirt—especially personal dirt.
The steady demand for new instruments with a distressed finish might convince you that people don't care about the grunge on the neck of the guitar you're about to sell or trade, but you'd be wrong.
Guitars get handled, no doubt about it, and if you're playing one a fair amount, you've probably left some "signs of use" on the neck that aren't just fret wear. How about the pickguard, and where your right arm goes over the top? Those practice sessions on the patio last summer were a lot of fun, and it was too hot to wear a long-sleeve shirt. But when you were finished, you took a shower and the sunscreen and sweat went down the drain. Too bad your guitar didn't have that option!
When a salesperson sees a potential trade-in with a clean fretboard, a fresh set of strings, and the finish has at least been wiped down, they get a far better first impression that's to your advantage.
Hot tip: If your guitar looks like this, clean it up before selling it.
As a seller, you want your potential buyer to concentrate on sound and playability, and not be distracted by the tell-tale signs of a previous owner. And while trading an instrument in may not feel the same as selling it, that's still what you're doing. Don't assume the shop doesn't mind cleaning your personal dirt off the instrument you're trading in. Most guitar shops are stretched to the limit in terms of staff, and the time they will have to spend cleaning up a trade-in is time that could be spent doing something more profitable. Plus, catching up on someone else's deferred guitar maintenance isn't a very rewarding task.
And what about the case? Don't forget that it's part of the package! It might have been humorous and touching when your favorite cat curled up in your open guitar case—and the photo garnered lots of likes on Instagram—but get out the vacuum and clean up the cat hair before you head to the guitar store hoping for a good trade-in.
A hard-travellin' image may be what you strive for when playing the blues onstage, but a squeaky-clean impression will probably result in more money in your pocket when it's trade-in time.
How jangle, glam, punk, shoegaze, and more blended to create a worldwide phenomenon. Just don’t forget your tambourine.
- Learn genre-defining elements of Britpop guitar.
- Use the various elements to create your own Britpop songs.
- Discover how “borrowing” from the best can enrich your own playing.
When considering the many bands that fall under the term “Britpop”–Oasis, Blur, Suede, Elastica, Radiohead’s early work, and more–it’s clear that the genre is more an attitude than a specific musical style. Still, there are a few guitar techniques and approaches that abound in the genre, many of which have been “borrowed” (the British music press’ friendly way of saying “appropriated”) from earlier British bands of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.
It’s difficult to say when Britpop started, the term was bandied about in the British press in the early 1990s to label such bands as Suede and Blur. You can argue the Stone Roses created the template in 1989 with their self-titled debut album. But I think you can hear the sound of Britpop much earlier, 1970 in fact, on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. Harrison’s bright rhythm guitar, wah-wah lead, and drum groove on “Wah-Wah” all fit the template for 1990s Britpop. Ex. 1 emulates these three characteristics of that proto-Britpop recording.
Wah-Wah (Remastered 2014)
Ex. 2 jumps ahead two decades with a specimen Britpop fans will be more familiar with as it pays homage to both the Stone Roses’ “Fools Gold” and Suede’s “The Drowners.” Once again, the wah-wah pedal is employed. In the first section, the wah-wah is engaged primarily on the muted strums to generate a funky rhythmic pattern. In the second section it’s used for texture. The strum is basic, playing four, quarter-note down strums, but the wah-wah is rocked back and forth creating the illusion of eighth- and 16th-notes. This could take more practice than you might imagine, but you should think like a drummer. Note the Bb major chord in the first section and the B major chord in the second section. These are non-diatonic chords (meaning not in the key), giving the progression a slightly more sophisticated, or at least unexpected, sound.
The Stone Roses - Fools Gold (Official Video)
Yet another two-guitar-wah-wah groove, inspired by Pulp’s “Lipgloss” is shown in Ex. 3. Guitar one features cowboy chords strummed with a busy rhythmic pattern–a hallmark of Britpop–while guitar two plays a motif (a short melodic pattern), with the wah-wah on, though not moving much. It’s more for tone and texture.
Pulp - Lipgloss
As seen in two of the previous examples, dual guitars are a big part of the Britpop sound, no doubt inspired by the likes of the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones. Ex. 4, based on Blur’s “Coffee and TV,” features guitar one playing barre chords and distinctive mutes thrown in for accents, while guitar two plays a double-stop riff that creates suspensions between the 3 and 4 of the chord. The G chord is a rather surprising choice in the key of B.
Blur - Coffee And TV
Moving on from 1960s influences, Ex. 5, based on “Delicious” by Sleeper, has that 1980s “jangle” sound (for more on jangle guitar see my June 2021 lesson “What Exactly Is ‘Jangly’ Guitar?”) heard in songs by such bands as the Smiths and the Cure. In this example, guitar one, a la “Delicious,” is dirtier, and guitar two has that glorious 1980s clean tone.
Sleeper - Delicious (Video)
Britpop is not without its solos, but once again we can find the influences worn prominently on the sleeves of the guitarists. Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” which, besides the intro piano that sounds as if it came straight out of John Lennon’s “Imagine” sessions, has a guitar solo reminiscent of George Harrison’s lead on the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” Ex. 6 provides the feel, atmosphere, and quintessential licks of “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” which also features a IV to IVm (in this case F to Fm) chord movement, another classic Beatles move. It is notable that Oasis founder, Noel Gallagher said of the song, “It reminds me of a cross between ‘All the Young Dudes’ [Mott the Hoople] and something the Beatles might have done.”
Oasis - Don’t Look Back In Anger (Official Video)
The Blues Influence?
Though not as overt, there is a blues influence to be heard in Britpop too, however, it’s filtered through the prism of ’70s glam rock. Once again Oasis–with help from T. Rex–is our point of reference. Ex. 7 demonstrates the influence “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” had on Oasis’ “Cigarettes & Alcohol.” Pay attention to the syncopations found in guitar one, as you must play through four measures before the progression repeats exactly. Guitar two has syncopations of its own although you only have to play one chord shape.
Oasis - Cigarettes & Alcohol (Official HD Remastered Video)
As we heard in Ex. 5, arpeggios, play a large role in Britpop. Blur’s “She’s So High” and Suede’s “Lazy” are worthy examples. I don’t think Britpop arpeggios get any better than the Stone Roses’ “Waterfall”, which Ex. 8 is based on. If you’re searching for forerunners to this sound, look no further than the Beatles “Ticket To Ride,” “She Said, She Said,” or “Run For Your Life.”
Blur - She's So High
Beg, Borrow, and Steal
As with most overview lessons, this one has barely scratched the surface of the Britpop sound or the post-Britpop bands that followed. More examples of references can be heard in the Verve (“Bittersweet Symphony” via the Rolling Stones), Radiohead (“Creep” via the Hollies) and Elastica, who appropriated some riffs by the band Wire. All of those bands busted over these similarities, but don’t let these “borrowed” ideas worry you. To paraphrase the Who’s Pete Townshend, “All songwriters are magpies and thieves.” Just make sure you steal from the best!