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How To Buy Used Gear Without Getting Ripped Off

How To Buy Used Gear Without Getting Ripped Off

Nothing beats the feeling of finding a great deal on a piece of gear you’ve wanted forever.

Buying used gear locally is one of the best ways to save money on equipment purchases.

But it can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared.

Here’s everything you need to know to buy used gear without getting ripped off.

1. Know what you want

When you buy something used there’s no salesperson to explain the features or tell you how to use it.

You have to make sure you know what you need—down to the last detail. That means looking into anything that might be an issue on a used unit.

Does the seller not have a power supply? Make sure it’s possible to replace it. It’s easy if all you need is a simple 9v, but in some cases more exotic power supplies can be harder to come by.

You’d be surprised how many old manuals and spec sheets people have uploaded to the internet over the years.

Is it compatible with the rest of your setup? Make sure you don’t accidentally buy a legacy version that doesn’t work with your rig.

To get everything right you’ll have to look up some details for the gear you’re considering.

But you shouldn’t have any trouble finding everything you need to know online.

You’d be surprised how many old manuals and spec sheets people have uploaded to the internet over the years.

Use these resources make sure there’s no surprises when you buy used.

2. Estimate the value

I’ll let you in on a secret: used gear is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.

You’ll need to have a general idea of the value to make an offer on an item.

You’ll need to have a general idea of the value to make an offer on an item.

Take a look at completed listings on Ebay or the Reverb Price Guide to judge the value of a piece of gear on the used market.

The middle part of that range should be in the ballpark. You can generally subtract 10-15% from the price you see in online marketplaces for the convenience of a cash and carry local sale.

Anything below that range is a deal, anything above is worth making an offer, but be careful.

Making an offer that’s far below market value is known as “low-balling.” Low-ballers are inconsiderate and don’t contribute positively to the second-hand gear community.

Make informed offers that you’re prepared to follow through on.

Make informed offers that you’re prepared to follow through on.

3. Be savvy

Use your street smarts when it comes to buying gear used. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If the listing looks sloppy or incomplete, it can be a sign that the seller may not be easy to deal with. Sometimes the gear is just not worth having an interaction that doesn’t go well.

 

DannydevitoMPC

But it’s not always intentional.

Even if they don’t mean to, sellers can sometimes misrepresent their items or give you the wrong idea.

Stay in tune with the vibe of the exchange. It’s pretty easy to tell if things will go well.

Stay in tune with the vibe of the exchange. It’s pretty easy to tell if things will go well.

On the other hand, make an effort to be a good buyer. If someone is refusing to sell for a price that you consider reasonable, don’t push the issue.

Any gear—no matter how—rare will always show up again later on the used market.

That’s why buying used gear is all about being patient. It’s worth the wait!

4. Plug it in.

Any piece of gear can fail. Buying something used only to realize it doesn’t work when you get it home is a crushing experience.

Buying something used only to realize it doesn’t work when you get it home is a crushing experience.

Don’t let it happen to you. Plug it in to make sure that it at least powers on. Run some signal through it if you can.

Be polite and friendly while you’re interacting with the seller. Someone’s letting you—a total stranger—come into their home/jamspace/studio to test their gear.

spaceecho

Plus, in most cases you’ll just be meeting another person from the music community, so you might have more in common than you’d think.

But don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the most informed purchase you possibly can. You might want to ask things like:

  • Are you the original owner?
  • Has it been repaired or modded?
  • Why exactly are you selling it?

A spot test and a quick Q&A with the seller can give you enough information to walk out of a sale feeling confident. That’s priceless!

A spot test and a quick Q&A with the seller can give you enough information to walk out of a sale feeling confident.

Used Gear is New to You

Buying used should be one of the first ways you think about expanding your gear collection.

It’s cheaper and more personal and than buying new from a store.

Buying used can have its own challenges, but the feeling of getting something you’ve lusted after for months on a great deal is well worth the effort.

Now that you know how to buy used gear like a seasoned veteran, go check out your local online classifieds and find something that’s new to you!

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.

@Michael Hahn

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