Guitars, Basses, Ukuleles, or any stringed instrument can be funny. Sometimes you can play five of them that look identical, and one will be the stand-out perfect piece. The other four may be OK... or one of them might be a dud.

When you walk into a large music store with a big selection, you can sit and play the instrument you're thinking of buying. You can ask the salesman to try out more than one, and pick the one that feels or sounds right to you.

Keep in mind at this point that things like nice action are not the most important concerns. Tone, resonance, weight, feel and looks are. We can correct a setup for you. We can set the action low, or improve the intonation. We can level uneven frets. We can't make a dull sounding plank of wood suddenly come to life, however. This is something you can't know beforehand when ordering your guitar online.

Not all guitars are created equal. CNC machines may cut them exactly the same each time, but the wood grew from a tree in the ground. There's no accounting for how it grew before man cut it down. Finish work and fine details are done by people, and there is room for variation in each one.

This is why it's important that you order from a company that has a good return policy. Also, don't be afraid to return it if you're not happy with it. If it shows up and everything is great - except it needs a setup, well that's typical. That goes for 90% or more of new and used instruments out there anyway. Again, we can fix the setup. If the neck is twisted or the paint looks awful, send it back.

If you receive a new instrument and want to have it checked out professionally just to be sure: Bring it in to us during your return period. We'll look it over and tell you what we think. We may recommend you send it back for another one, or we might make you feel really comfortable with your purchase when we confirm it's a nice piece. You don't have to leave it with us for work right away. Our estimates are still free.

We never know until we see it, and we'll be completely honest with you. We count on repeat business to keep our doors open and the lights on. Even if you don't need any work on this instrument, we're confident we'll see you on the next one.