If you buy a second-hand car, which unless you're one of those very lucky people with a well-paid job and reasonable rent, you probably will, you'd expect it to come with a full service history, MOT certificates and so forth. This could be a problem if I ever decide to sell my car before it has a spectacular head gasket failure (which being a Vauxhall knocking on the door of 100,000 miles will probably be quite soon) - I have all the MOT certificates somewhere, but every time I've had it serviced I've 'forgotten' to take the log book to get it stamped, by which I mean that I lost it years ago. I've always thought that when you buy a second-hand car you should always be given a full profile of the previous owner, too, so you know what you're in store for. If it was a yob who thought the rev limiter was a target, the timing gear's probably shot to pieces. If it was owned by an old person, it will smell and 4th and 5th gears will probably have seized up due to having never been used. And if it was me, the next owner will spend all their time in the car picking American Hard Gums out of small gaps and wondering why every option on the CD changer gives them Bruce Springsteen.
The reason I say this is because every time you look at a 'guitar for sale' advert we are given a glimpse into the owner's life. Comes from a smoke-free home. Home use only. This always confuses me somewhat. Firstly, I know many people who smoke like chimneys, and I have been in bands with them. Not once have I lifted a bandmate's amp into my car and thought 'Bloody hell, this stinks of Cutter's Choice'. And bar the odd session sitting in the pit for a theatrical show, my Les Paul was only used at home. Unfortunately, my band at the time rehearsed at home, which is why it was still covered in scratches and had a big ding on the headstock where I dropped it. Something can be home use only, but if the person who lives in that home is a complete spanner the guitar will be in a far worse state than a live spare bought by a touring band.
Besides, smoking around guitars gives white pick guards a funky, aged-looking tint. Nowadays, unless you smoke, the smoking ban has made this impossible to achieve - you'd have to play all your gigs in tobacco specialists or the House of Commons bar. And another thing - I might have spent years subjecting my Tele to all sorts of cringe-worthy abuse but annoyingly, bar a bit of tarnish on the nickel hardware, it looks exactly the same as it did when I bought it.
So these are somewhat grey areas, which brings me onto another one - 'good condition'. I bought an Electro-Harmonix Cathedral in 'good condition' and was amazed when it arrived with me in the same condition, since it was packaged in nothing more than a Sainsburys bag then given to that bunch of cack-handed trade unionists who call themselves the postal service.
I have also just been stung buying a microphone in 'good condition' from Cash Generator, a nationwide branch of stores where you take your treasured electrical goods to exchange them for money for drugs. At £80 for a mic that retails at at least £120 new it seemed like a bargain. When it arrived and had a patch of a not entirely inert substance on it I should have been aware. How I laughed when I took it to a recording session at the weekend and realised it didn't actually work. The firm responsible also seemed worryingly keen to collect it to return it for a refund.
All this just brings me back to what I say time and time again - if there's something you want, go to a shop and buy a new one.