Before you head over to that mystery house across town to investigate a too-good-to-be-true deal, read these tips--and share your own!

Notwithstanding the occasional psychopath trolling the personals, Craigslist is the premiere classified section of life in the digital domain. Chances are, your city has its own Craigslist, populated by sellers who are too cheap or broke to pay eBay’s listing fees, thus passing the savings on to you! Assume any price has been padded by at least $50 worth of negotiating room. So if you want the guitar, make an offer.

Try to know as much as possible about the guitar before meeting it in person. Arrive prepared. Ask the seller if there’s an amp. If not, bring your own. Any one of the dozens of subcompact combos under $99 will suffice, and they’re small enough to fit where you usually keep your excuses for sounding like crap. Bring a set of Allen wrenches and a magnifying glass. Seriously. Also ask for the original bill-of-sale and/or any original manufacturing documentation originally packaged with the guitar.

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