Buying s/h guitars when the economy has tanked

loopfinding

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The ancient Romans had it right: Caveat emptor.

A friend and wise old owl sometimes debates with me over buying used. "There's a reason why they're selling it," he says, "and you're going to find out what that is."

In my experience, usually it’s not something catastrophic (that becomes pretty apparent when you see the thing), it’s something that’s a half hour fix and the person selling it was just ignorant of it. I’ve lost count of the amount of “broken” stuff I’ve bought for half price thinking I was in for a project, when all I’ve had to do was just replace a cheap part.

The idea that we live in a society of “disposable” goods is more belief or lack of understanding than it actually is the case. I'm sure many have thought they were pulling the wool over my eyes, but they were actually shooting themselves in the foot because they didn't know any better.
 
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ChicknPickn

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In my experience, usually it’s not something catastrophic (that becomes pretty apparent when you see the thing), it’s something that’s a half hour fix and the person selling it was just ignorant of it. I’ve lost count of the amount of “broken” stuff I’ve bought for half price thinking I was in for a project, when all I’ve had to do was just replace a cheap part.

The idea that we live in a society of “disposable” goods is more belief or lack of understanding than it actually is the case. I'm sure many have thought they were pulling the wool over my eyes, but they were actually shooting themselves in the foot because they didn't know any better.
Won’t disagree with any of that. Knowing what one is doing makes a real difference. As a technology buyer for my company, I learned to look for business closures and asset liquidation. Saved tens of thousands on Cisco gear, some still under warranty.
 

JoshW77

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Maybe I’m over-thinking this, or I’m getting soft in my old age, I don’t know. I have happily bought secondhand guitars in the past. The last one was a few years ago, an Epiphone EB3. It was a year old and was one third the price of a new one. As usual, I thought, I wonder if it was stolen. But, the s/h shop I go to is good at checking that sort of thing, and in addition (in case any encouragement was needed) I know the police go in every so often, make sure nothing untoward is going on. It’s a general s/h place, not specifically musical instruments. Also, the EB3 wasn’t set up very well - it’s A-OK now - and I wondered if the owner just couldn’t get on with it, for that sort of reason. Or - simplest answer - the owner needed the money.

Spool forward to today. The UK economy is not in good shape, we’re not alone in this, it’s the price of electricity and gas, fuel, food, interest rates, people having to work two jobs to get by, people out of work using food banks, people who are in work using food banks… It’s not great, and for most people, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Meanwhile, I’m lucky: I even have a bit of spare money at the moment. I’d like another guitar, something semi-hollow or hollow, ES-335 or 339 shaped, a Gretsch or a Gretsch lookalike, that kind of thing. Yes, I’ve wanted one for 45 years or so, it never made it to the top of the list of things to buy, and even today it would have to be s/h, not new.

You almost never see one hanging up in the s/h shops round here, but if you did…

But then I’m thinking, would I be capitalising on somebody else’s misfortune? I can’t see me willingly parting with a nice guitar in a s/h shop unless I really needed the money. If this was a Hollywood fairytale I’d find the guitar, buy it, trace the owner, and give him/her it back. Not very likely in real life, but there it is.

I’m kind of thinking out loud here, not really expecting the Bad Dog Cafe to hand me the answer on a plate. Hell, I haven’t even seen this hypothetical s/h guitar yet. Maybe if I do find one, the answer will come to me.
If somebody needs the money badly enough to sell a guitar, you would not be capitalising on someone's misfortune any more than you would be doing them a favor by providing a market for their excess goods. I see no ethical malpractice here, it's just the way of the world.
 

Tonetele

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A local multi millionaire bought guitars off guys when we went through the worst years here ( late 80s ) now owns a huge guitar business (and other instruments) . He took advantage of young men trying to pay mortgages and eventualy became a combination of Norm's and a guitar Centre. He was unscrupulous in his dealings. E.g. $110 for the same model Rickenbacker John Lennon used. Really charging high prices ( $ Thousands ) for an old 50s Telecaster. He still overcharges. $6500 for an ES-330 or a J-45.
 

northernguitar

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A local multi millionaire bought guitars off guys when we went through the worst years here ( late 80s ) now owns a huge guitar business (and other instruments) . He took advantage of young men trying to pay mortgages and eventualy became a combination of Norm's and a guitar Centre. He was unscrupulous in his dealings. E.g. $110 for the same model Rickenbacker John Lennon used. Really charging high prices ( $ Thousands ) for an old 50s Telecaster. He still overcharges. $6500 for an ES-330 or a J-45.
People aren’t forced to use his shop, yet it’s ‘huge’. Sounds like he’s doing things right for that local market.
 

Bob M

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The money I use on guitars has always been separate than my household money. I realize that I am very fortunate in that regard. I buy and sell a lot. I have bought guitars that I thought were going to be “the one” but turn out to be not the answer. They get sold off quickly. Someone else gets a near new instrument at a market price. Don’t over think the situation. There are a lot of reasons that used guitar deals show up. Whatever the sellers reason for selling is that’s his concern.
 

jvin248

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.

Try being the person who desperately needs to sell something -- and you'll find you are glad someone buys it at nearly any reasonable price.

Years ago I had a couple of houses I needed to sell, I took a bath on them but was out from under badly set mortgages, and somewhat glad even to this day I got out when I did. Those homes cost me more than a pile of Custom Shop guitar gear. Being debt free makes you, well, free.

.
 

Monoprice99

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A lot of guitars are sold for too many different reasons for me to even try to overthink. I tend to find the "WFOUS" (White Flags of Unconditional Surrender). The guitar was bought and the player gave up after the 1st broken string.

The first preowned I bought was a grocery store parking lot purchase, The seller went right into the Aldi grocery store and celebrated his sale with a few days worth of groceries. He definitely wasn't selling me his best instrument, one that did more corner sitting than playing from his own sales tactic. The frets on a 14 year old guitar at the time looked virtually unplayed. And it needed some work to become playable, shim & glue & toothpicks for stripped out screw holes. He wanted $ 60, I offered $ 25, And with as much work as I put into it to get it playable, I think I paid too much considering my time. But it's actually a solid instrument at this point.
 




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