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Selling DIY amps?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Drew617, Mar 13, 2021.

  1. dogmeat

    dogmeat Friend of Leo's

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    ha ha... King Fan... (“the amp you sold me is making a funny noise”)


    I sold a (nice) car to a not very mechanically inclined friend years ago and got something like that from him after he'd owned it a few months.

    eventually my response was... "looks like I got rid of that pos just in time then"

    it wasn't anything catastrophic and we're still friends, but it poses another question...

    even if I sell to a friend, am I still attached to it?
     
  2. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Tele-Holic

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    Speaking as a buyer rather than as a builder, I'd consider buying a built up kit amp or a modded amp (a la 'used to be an 80's Fender, but now it's a tweed Deluxe') if the price was right and I got a good vibe from the seller. There's a guy the next town over from here doing that--building tube amps into old solid state amp guts. There's probably a few people out there who caught the building bug and now have to offload their first few builds.
     
  3. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Speaking also as a buyer... Every one else close your ears. :p

    Don't spend too much. When it comes to custom built anything, except in very rare cases, it's always a buyers market.
     
  4. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I know @jsnwhite619 has sold a few amps. I'm surprised he hasn't chimed in. :)

    I sold all my Princeton Reverb builds, three in all, and I sold both my Vibro Champ builds. My blackface Bassman build isn't going anywhere. That's my amp. That only leaves my TV front 5E3, which I'd actually like to sell, but no one seems to want it.
     
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  5. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Funny you say that, I've got a minty red stripe Peavey Rage here just so I can build a robrob Champ or Blackvibe Micro into its chassis, a "sleeper." More accurately, I think it'll be dumb and amusing and I have a couple WRVBPT transformers that must be used for something. Critically, I'm going to do to do whatever I can do keep its panel cosmetics stock. There are a couple wacky toggles mounted to a board underneath that I don't think can be retained. May have to see about epoxying those in place.

    It occurred to me that I might shoehorn a no-reverb, no-trem 22W amp in there with an 8" PA speaker, or something like an 8F150. I'm not buying a transformer set just to amuse myself, though.
     
  6. glenlivet

    glenlivet Tele-Afflicted

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    Consignment through a local shop?
    They get a cut...of course...so you're never going to see a *real* profit, but, it might get more of the right people looking at your amps. I'm not sure about any indemnification as far as items sold on consignment.
    Of course this also depends on your relationship with the shop as well.
     
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  7. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    @Drew617, remember that free advice is often worth less than what you pay for it. You've received a lot of free advice in this thread. You're located in Mass. I'm not familiar with Mass. law, but practice in the State of Washington. This is my educated $.02.

    Every state has a different set of consumer protection laws. Every state has a different take on the legal doctrine of negligence. If I lived in Mass. and did not want to pay a good local attorney to answer these questions for me, and I did not want to do the legal research myself, I would take this approach.

    I would definitely place a warning or disclaimer on the back of the chassis of any amps built by you which said something to the effect of"

    "No Warranties express or implied. This Chassis contains lethal voltage, DO NOT OPEN, no user serviceable parts contained herein."

    I wouldn't worry too much if you're going to sell a handful of amps that you've worked on. The small # mitigates any potential liability you may have. I wouldn't worry about selling Commercially available amps that you've done some work on. I would advertise those as used amps, "as is/where is" and would not say anything about any work you did inside the chassis.

    Now, all of that said, it is probably worth a 30 minute consultation with a consumer protection attorney in your area for more specific and better advice than you're going to get on a guitar forum.
     
  8. jsnwhite619

    jsnwhite619 Friend of Leo's

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    For complete amps, I 95% stick to simply building for people who know me or find me online and ask for something particular. The cabinet work is the reason for probably 75% of those requests as well -- everybody wants something a little different and special. Honestly, if I had to buy the cabinets, I wouldn't do it at all. Most of what I build is empty cabinets. A friend of mine just asked me to build a head version of that 5881 Tweed Princeton that I'm starting this week. Unfortunately, I'll have the same situation as the last one -- he's going back to Alabama on Sunday, so I've got to rush it and won't have any time to play it & record it!

    I built a 5e3 for a local guy several years ago when I first started getting into it, my first Tweed job as well, instead of the finished wood. He's the local "guitar hero" type... I learned the first of many lessons dealing with him, to the extent that I decided a few years ago I was done doing anything for him except maybe repair work, but I don't think I have to worry about that anymore either.

    Anyway, he thinks of himself as a real vintage aficionado/gear junkie and loves to roll tubes. I sent it out with new JJ's. He called me maybe 2 weeks later saying, "Something's wrong with it. It's buzzing really bad, guitar isn't coming through. Listen." Then I heard what sounded like a firecracker. I had a gig that night and he dropped it off at the bar, I took it home. Unloaded gear, set it on my bench at 2 a.m., and I didn't even have to take the back off of it. One of those JJ's had the screen print very much facing the wrong direction. He shoved it in and it luckily only blew up the bias cap and he turned it off - somehow nothing else was damaged. He swore he didn't do it; he told a mutual friend that I was wrong because he didn't do it; I showed him the picture I took of it the day I dropped it off to him -- "See how they are all in the right way in the picture? Also, what just happened would have happened 2 weeks ago, and it never would have worked right from the moment I handed it to you." I charged him $40 just for the time I spent picking capacitor fibers out of the chassis and for his stupidity. ;)


    Complete amps are a tough sell to see any profit unless it's really something custom/special that YOU can do better or that YOU have worked up as unique. Used factory amps are too cheap & plentiful these days. Even with wholesale pricing and building your own cabinet, it would cost more to build a Deluxe Reverb that is a complete clone in the looks department - even building an authentic Blackface cabinet from all new parts will set you back triple digits - than you have to pay for a used RI any day of the week. You are gonna have to have a few tricks up your sleeve to offer someone to make a profit on that. And they have to trust you - and even more, you have to trust them not to be an idiot and try to hold you responsible.
     
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  9. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, this is helpful and taken earnestly.

    I've actually included a boilerplate "voltage, no serviceable parts" disclaimer on everything, more of less by reflex. Printable permanent labels cost something like $.50/sheet. I don't want my hammond chassis finding their way to anyone who may mistake them for some kind of a busy box.

    Good reminder that state/location matters. For some reason I opened the question in my head with "like the FCC, but for electricity." In hindsight, seems obvious that liability wouldn't be determined in federal court, or Reverb.com court... so on.
     
  10. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    I've sold a few. I Usually recover the cost of the parts, but I usually use the money to buy new parts, so its kind of a trade with myself?

    I should be listing a Marshall 50W within the coming year. I'll have to remember the liability angle when the time comes...
     
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  11. XTRXTR

    XTRXTR TDPRI Member

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    I don't build without considering how it is useful to me. The thing on my bench now is my first DIY from 16 yrs ago. I think I made some layout mistakes, it's got hiss and hum. I wanted to add an fx loop. So I decided to use it as my test amp. Then I wanted to add some Robinette mods. Now I'm adding more mods. After all the test mods, I'll rebuild with a new layout, test it, tweak it. Then play gigs with it again. If I ever sell it, it will be at the price I want that represents what it is to me. If that never gets met then it will forever be my achievement and sit like a trophy.

    But seriously add some stickers with warnings across a point that should have to be cut or torn if it was opened, some colored glue on the chassis screws take pictures of each one, place in a file with sales receipt etc. Etch some makers marking in a random unseen spot with pictures.
     
  12. FluffyDog6

    FluffyDog6 Tele-Meister

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    I would avoid this hobby turned into a business, as the liability risks are insane. You could easily spend thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, without even going to court, if someone claims injury from your product.

    The profit margin is too small at this scale to risk having your wages garnished, your house attached, your retirement funds seized, or whatever.

    At the every least, INCORPORATE your amp-building enterprise, and TRY to get liability insurance - though I doubt anyone will underwrite you for a price you consider reasonable -- and that should give you a good indication of the risk you face.
     
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  13. gusfinley

    gusfinley Tele-Afflicted

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    This reminds me....

    I started a thread on this same topic (selling DIY amps, not liability) a while ago. I have discovered that if I am to sell an amp, I want it working well for its new owner. When it is ready to sell, it is working better than it ever did - no hum, buzz, etc.

    The Marshall I mentioned I will be selling has some hum and some high frequency oscillations if it is turned up all the way (which I hardly ever do). I built it around 20 yrs ago, so it is getting new caps and I bought lots of shielded wire to tame the oscillations. I'm sure the grounding could use some help, too.

    I'll be replacing the 50w Marshall with a better one. I figured that I could fix the old Marshall to my liking for around $300, but if I can sell the old one for $500, then I could build a completely new one with better parts for no extra cost. The new one gets a ClassicTone Transformer set (bought just after the announced their closing) and hopefully some real mustard caps if I can find a good price (I got lucky with my vox build a few years ago).
     
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  14. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    Just for perspective, your nightmare scenario happened to a guy who sold a used printer on Craigslist:

    https://nextshark.com/doug-costello-craigslist-printer-lawsuit/

    My point being, if you are going to worry about being sued frivolously, you shouldn't just worry about amps, you should be worried about selling anything/ leaving your house/ letting anyone onto your property for any reason (or not even letting them enter, people have been sued by injured burglars). At a certain point you can't live your life without exposure to some risk. Where selling a couple of hobby built amps falls in that spectrum of risk is up to your comfort level, but I suspect it isn't that much higher a risk statistically than selling a used guitar.
     
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  15. Badside

    Badside Tele-Holic

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    Let's hypothetically say one of your amp catch fire. You did everything you could to make it safe, but hey maybe something moved in transport once and something shorted.

    This fire took down the building the amp was in.

    Sure, you buddy ain't gonna sue you... but the insurance company paying for damage to the building might. They have the means to do it if they have a case.

    It's very unlikely, but it's not impossible.

    EDIT: To be clear, this could happen to your amp while you're the one using it too. But your insurance company ain't gonna sue you. Once you start selling though, it's "commercial" liability, which is not included in your typical insurance policy unless you pay for it.
     
  16. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Agreed, but this kind of thing could happen to just about anyone for any number of reasons.
     
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  17. Badside

    Badside Tele-Holic

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    Sure, but if you built the thing and someone gave you money for it, legally you're in a whole other level of liability.
     
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  18. Drew617

    Drew617 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    All good conversation, although I think the thread's scope may have crept a bit. It's well understood that hobby building isn't going to be profitable, likewise that some degree of liability, legal or practical, is assumed by selling anything. Remembering now that it has to vary by jurisdiction, I'm really interested how others quantify that potential liability.

    I've been aware of risk management strategies in different industries. There's always a basic formula for risk assessment that boils to something like (probability * impact). "Probability" may be some combination of likelihood, vector, surface area or relative exposure. By that rule, selling 1 amplifier vs. 500,000 results in a different total risk even if impact or potential liability doesn't really vary.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
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  19. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I often sell some I've built. I often build things just out of curiosity, then move on. You wont get top dollar for them. The more vintage accurate you are the better you can do though. It's kind of weird, but people will pay $1000 for a PCB Princeton Reverb RI, but tough to get $850 out of a new blonde Bassman Clone done perfect with vintage power tubes, vintage logo, pine cab etc.
     
  20. jsnwhite619

    jsnwhite619 Friend of Leo's

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    Yep. I guilt a Harvard year before last I think that ended up being the cleanest & snappiest Tweed amp I've built, Deluxe Reverb OT on it, 1258 inside. Nothing but clean & loud with single coils until you got way on up the dial. That one is playing rockabilly in California now and living a better life for it. ;-)
     
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