First, play the strings in the open and see how they sound; after that, take a good look at buzzing or strange vibrations at the end of the sound. If you test multiple guitars, always use the same amp, and test both clean and overdrive.
How do you see the strings?
Look at the condition of the strings (even if you are going to change them shortly) and ask for the gauge, if you see it necessary.
Perhaps of all the tips to check an electric guitar, this is not the most important, but if the strings are very new or very old, the tuning will be unstable.
How is the guitar action?
What is action on the guitar? It is the distance between the strings and the fingerboard of the guitar. Look at the action they have; it must be comfortable to play.
What is the correct action? There is no universal answer that is always valid. But what you should know is that the higher the action, the more difficult it will be to play (it is usually used in Blues since many bendings are used), and the lower it is, the easier and faster you can play (recommended for main guitarists).
Although I emphasize that there is a standard measurement if it can be said that a normal height is usually around 2 mm for the sixth string and 1.5 mm for the first string.
Does the guitar fret?
What is guitar fretting? It is the annoying sound or hum that is produced when the string, when played on one fret or in the open, rubs against the next fret. In other words, you play the fifth fret, and the string touches the sixth.
If the guitar frets, you will need to adjust the neck or fix the frets; they should be done at the store.
Check if the guitar is well octave or fifth
If you don’t know what the octave of a guitar is, I’ll explain it to you.
As you already know, the 12th fret of each string must have the same note as open, but not only that, it must also have an octave higher than the one that sounds open.
Therefore, an octave is a process of making the 0 and 12 fret sound the same, with the 12th fret having one more octave. You could say that octave is tuning the frets. If our guitar is not well octave, the harmonic of the 12th fret will be displaced.
So, look at the octave of the guitar, and the 12th fret harmonic on each string. This, like everything else, has a solution, but you should go to a luthier if you don’t know how to solve it.
Look at the controls.
Take a look at the tone and volume control. The volume is simpler, but there are more electronics in the tone. Turn the tone little by little and see if it sounds lower or not.
How are the pills?
Look at the pads and their wear, also the selector.
Look at the neck joint with the body.
This aspect is important since the joint has to be strong enough to withstand the tension caused by the strings on the guitar. In addition, the union also affects the tone of the guitar.
Guitars can be:
- Semi-hollow or semi box.
Solid guitars have great sustain and more spin. On the other hand, the semi-hollow and hollow body provide a more acoustic sound.
Number of frets
Normally guitars come with 22 frets, but some come with 24. Take a good look, because if you like songs with high-pitched solos, one of 22 may be too small for you.