Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Get That Gear - Part Seven: Where?

I've talked about making lists, "checking them twice", having cash ready, avoiding the impulse buys and trusting your senses, now the question is once you are ready, where does one find the deals.

First off, if you have a need and the resources to fulfill that need then you could just go to the local guitar store, be it a Guitar Center or a "Mom and Pop" place and buy it. However if you are willing to be a little patient you might be able to get a couple of things checked off your list for the price of one. 

Some starting places...

1. eBay - Here's my post on eBay from a few months ago. One trick I just found out about is not new but new to me, and a great for finding valuations for things you're looking to buy or sell.  Go to advanced search and check the "completed listings" box and search for your item. This will show you recent transactions so you can see if that deal the store around the corner is really such a good deal.

2. Craigslist - Craigslist has a bit of a bad reputation as of late, however if done right you can find some great deals this way. I picked up a 1940's Kay "archtop" last year. I didn't bring any cash, the buyer met me at a neutral site where we sussed each other out and I sussed out the guitar. Then we went to the bank to get the money and made the exchange. He thought I was cool so he took twenty bucks off the fair price and I thought he was cool so I took him to lunch. I used the guitar in the film Gangster Squad. Just in the background of a few scenes, you aren't actually hearing it. One has to be cautious when going to places with large amounts of cash or when inviting strangers to your gear strewn music room. But I don't really need to tell you this. The neutral site thing works great.

3. Yard Sales - Deals still exist out there. It's been a while, but have in the past gotten some very good deals at yard sales. I generally go looking for cheap things. If you look in your local Friday classifieds you will see listings for yard/garage sales. Look for the ones that actually say musical instruments. Could be an accordion or charango or a Stella acoustic or an early 60's Strat for $300. The latter, 20 years ago, I actually found once and told the seller it was worth $50,000, even though it was worth more like 10-20k, but I couldn't bring myself to buy it and I didn't want him to sell it to any one for less than it was worth. There were times when I would go to yard sales at their listed start time, say 8am or 9am, and be told that guitar buyers were knocking on their doors as early as 6am or the night before sussing out the deals and then low balling their prices. I never did that.

4. Thrift Stores - I picked up a couple of 60's Stella acoustics for $20 each at a Salvation Army once. A match pair - standard and tenor. Both worth easily over a hundred each. Don't care so much about that, they sound cool. The six-string has a very Robert Johnson quality to it and is great for slide and the tenor (4-string) is a very unique sounding instrument which is always good to have. My wife is always on the prowl at thrift stores and will call me if she sees something she thinks I might be interested in. Because of eBay, good deals at thrift stores and yard sales are getting tougher to find. Everyone seems to know what stuff is worth.

5. Local Guitar Store - So much of life is about relationships. This is true in gear acquisitions too. Some of my best purchases were from stores that I frequented. And by frequented I mean, bought stuff at, not hung around at. Store owners can be friends too. Sometimes they'll give you their cost on something because they appreciate your business. Sometimes even lose a little on a sale because they need the cash, just like anyone else, and would rather lose money to you than a stranger. I've gotten some of my best deals in such situations.

6. Friends - I have a acquired a few instruments from friends who either wanted me to have an instrument of theirs and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse, or had friends with guitars that I've told, "if you ever decide to sell this instrument talk to me first." In those situations I always offer/pay market price as I don't want to take advantage of my friends. My son got a great deal on a Gretsch Tennessee Rose in such a manner. I got my 60's 175 from a friend I'd known since 1974. Known the guitar that long as well. You can always make known your offer. In the case of the 175 it took 30 years to "adopt".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great series of posts on acquistions. Just discovered your blog, added it to my blogroll, and look forward to exploring previous posts. Best, Eric