The Ebay Guitar “Code Book”!!

When I bought this guitar, the seller said,
When I bought this guitar, the seller said, “works great!” 16 hours of tech work proved otherwise…

This is sort of a fun poke at the interesting world of buying and selling guitars on Ebay.  Always an adventure, buying guitars site unseen is a relatively recent experience, especially for those of us that remember actually visiting REAL guitar shops that carried cool old gear.  I’ve been buying and selling on Ebay for over ten years, and in that time I’ve noticed all sorts of ways people will describe a guitar, to basically say something without saying something, dig?  Especially vintage guitars.  You know, the kind we all like!  I’ll get this started but I’d love for this to be collaborative, so if you have the same sense of humor then feel free to add the quips!!  Here we go!!!


Butter”  As in, plays like butter.  I still don’t know what this really means, but when someone uses this term I usually avoid the auction.  I have to watch my cholesterol.

Estate Find”  Usually estate thievery.  Man, I never find cool guitars at estate sales, but the people that prowl estate sales usually uncover cools tuff.

Great Slide Guitar”  Basically another way to say the neck is totally messed up and strings are buzzing like a hornet’s nest.

Hen’s Teeth”  As in, rare as hen’s teeth.  Probably not that rare.  Whenever I hear this, I think I my great grandfather who was from Austria, was mean as hell, and was literally a giant.  If you said this to him, he’d probably punch you for “talking dumb.”

Holy Grail”  The impossible quest for the elusive grail seems to have found a home on many Ebay auctions.  Implies rarity or desirability, or both.  Usually neither.  Again, look at the definition of Hen’s Teeth to see what would’ve happened to you if you said this around my great grandad.

I Don’t Have an Amp to Test this Guitar”  90% of the time it’s cause the guitar don’t work!!

Looks Original”  Look again please…usually means stuff has been changed.

Mojo”  Usually means beat to hell, and not in a loving way.

Original Strings”  Back in the day, string gauges were really heavy and if the guitar has been strung to pitch, with the original strings, for the last 40 years, well, you know…

Rare”  The most overused word on Ebay.  Most likely not rare.

Ry Cooder”  This poor guy’s name comes up all the time to increase the value of many Japanese pickups. The guy modded a few guitars with Japanese pickups and suddenly Ry played every type of Japanese pickup ever played.  Also, I really despise name association to sell guitars.

Slight Bow”  As in, there’s a slight bow in the neck.  Slight usually means the neck is shaped like a banana.

Straight as an Arrow”  Referring to the neck.  Most people don’t even know what a good set-up is.  People who mention this phrase also tend to say, “I don’t know much about guitars.”


14 thoughts on “The Ebay Guitar “Code Book”!!

  1. Patrick Keene says:

    A couple more I’ve noticed:
    “Has New Strings on It”: Usually roughly translated to: I polished this turd – the neck is bowed, the pick-ups are microphonic and the tuners take herculean effort to turn – but HEY LOOK! I put $5 worth of new strings on it.

    Variant: “Has new (Gibson or Fender) Strings on It”: I avoid these listings entirely, as this is usually an attempt to somehow equate a pawnshop special with a Gibson/Fender guitar by putting the words Gibson or Fender in the post, like they are some kind of magic words that will compel someone to buy the guitar. Seems to mean either: I have no clue about guitars or I hope you have no clue about guitars. Either way, no thanks.

    For Amps:
    “I Have no Guitar to Test this Amp” aka “Powers Up, but Cannot Test” aka “Seems to Power up Ok”: translation: the amp equivalent to “I Don’t Have an Amp to Test this Guitar” aka: a cap job and/or tube job (or worse, a new transformer) in the near future. The kiss of death for an amp listing.

  2. Tom says:

    Plays as good as it did when it was new… means, It played bad as a new guitar and still does. I have a confession to make. I use this occasionally.

  3. Dave E says:

    The one that always gets me is “missing a string”. If they knew anything about guitars, they would spend $4 and put new strings on it before listing it. Also, if they’re mentioning that it’s missing a string, that might very well mean that it’s been missing a string for a few decades.

    A more honest listing:

    “I’m selling all of the junk that my son left behind when he moved out, so you know it’s a bunch of garbage if a 25 year old wouldn’t take it with him, or at least pawn it.

    I bought him this guitar when he was 10. It must have been pretty cheap. He hasn’t played guitar since he was about 11. When I opened the case, I saw that one of the little skinny strings was broken. So I ripped it off of the guitar, ’cause it sounds better to say that the guitar is missing a string than to have to say that it had a broken string. I hope it doesn’t cost too much to replace a string.”

  4. Jared says:

    Hello – Can you tell me what kind of guitar that is? I have a similar model (same head and switch) and can’t identify the brand.

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