A lot of instruments available today are built offshore. They make their way to us via sea, and no doubt have an arduous journey from workshops and factories across Asia to the final port of destination here in the US.

While your guitar or uke is carefully packed in sealed shipping containers for the sea journey, it is still exposed to a number of temperature and humidity changes along the way. Once these instruments arrive in port, they may stay onboard a ship for a week, perhaps even longer, before actually being unloaded and shipped to a warehouse onshore. They are then shipped to various dealers who will most likely have them sit around in their stockrooms for a while. Finally, your instrument makes yet another journey from a dealer to you.

That's a lot of travelling for your guitar or uke. And while the journey is not necessarily destructive, the environmental changes along the way can cause minor fretboard shrinkage, or perhaps even a slight change in the neck geometry, cause the top to swell or shrink slightly or the strings to corrode a bit.

Not to worry, these are all things that can be addressed to ensure you have the best playing and sounding instrument right out of the case. The question is whether or not your dealer takes care of them.

You should ask your dealer what they have done to address any of these potential issues before you purchase your instrument, especially if you plan purchasing online.

LuthierThe 9 questions you should ask your dealer are:

  1. Is your stock stored in an environmentally controlled area?
  2. What setup work do you perform prior to shipping?
  3. Do you level the frets?
  4. Do you recrown or polish the frets?
  5. Do you dress fret ends to remove any burrs or sharp edges?
  6. Do you adjust the nut and saddle to lower or raise the action?
  7. Do you condition the fingerboard to prevent it from drying out?
  8. Do you check and adjust intonation?
  9. Do you check and, if needed, replace the strings?

Asking your dealer if these steps are being taken prior to shipping can save you the disappointment of receiving an instrument that does not meet your expectations.