First off, when watching a video, that is not what the guitar sounds like. If someone sends you an iPhone recording, that’s what the guitar sounds like when recorded with an iPhone. If someone is playing a Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul through a Carr Rambler amplifier and using an SM57 microphone, unless you have that set up, the ’59 Les Paul will not sound like that. People demoing guitars can (and do) modify the sound in recording software, so those “comparison videos” are all horse shit.
During the pandemic, our shop is getting a lot more people asking for demo videos. These videos aren’t completely worthless. You can gauge the playability. You can listen for buzzes. But, mainly, people want to hear how the guitar sounds. Unfortunately, they aren’t. In most cases, the video makes them feel better about the purchase. Even though it’s not what the guitar will sound like when it’s in their hands, it still helps them make a decision. And, even though it doesn’t sound like the video when they get the guitar, in most cases it sounds better than the video. But this is really only the case with acoustic guitars.
It’s much more difficult to base your decision off a video when purchasing an electric guitar. You can’t demo an electric guitar acoustically. You have to use an amp. And all amps sound different. To record the amp, you have to use a microphone. And all microphones sound different. I believe 100% of the time you purchase an electric guitar based off a video, you will be disappointed with your purchase. Eventually, you will get used to the sound of your set up and it will be fine, but, at first, you will be underwhelmed with your purchase.
Comparison videos are stupid. With recording software, someone can make a pawn shop guitar sound better than a Collings. For example: If someone recorded a Collings guitar and EQed the bottom end completely out, they can make the guitar sound thin. Then they could record the pawnshop guitar and add compression, EQ, and reverb to make it sound better. Anyone who doesn’t know about recording software tricks will assume that Collings is a waste of money. AGAIN, comparison videos are phony baloney non-sense. In almost all cases, the more expensive guitar is a better guitar and worth the money.
Nothing beats trying out a guitar for yourself. But, in the age of internet shopping, what is your alternative?
– Message boards with reviews from real people is a good option. You can find out which stores people trust. Pros and cons with certain brands.
– Buy from Reverb sellers with 5 stars.
– Buy equipment used by your favorite musicians.