Testing used gear
I'm jumping from the bedroom combo to a bigger rig. I'm going to buy used, as I've been told many times that it's the best way to go.
Since I never tried any amp or cab before, a not so honest seller could easily trick me.
What are the key points that I have to make sure to test while trying the used gear? Are there any standard procedures (like checking the bass's neck, the frets, buzz, etc...) for both the amps and cabs? Are there common problems/flaws with this kind of equipment that the seller might want to hide?
Thanks a lot guys!
here are some points i have:
1.figure out what your needs are for power. this will depend on what other instruments you will be playing along with, and the type of setting you will be playing in.
2.do you want a combo or a head and cabinet? if you get a combo, i suggest you get one that will allow a second cab to be added later if the need arises. if you get a head and cabinet, i suggest you get an 8 ohm cab, and a head that will operate at 4 ohms, because a second cab can be added later, also.
3.decide on your budget and stick with it. keep it realistic, it's your first.
4.don't be scared off by cosmetic imperfections like small tears. be very afraid of dented grills, stripped screws (especially on grills and amp-mounting fasteners), cracked or dented corners, and water or "liquid" stains. stay away from anything that looks like it has been "fixed". a professional service or repairman would do work properly so it wouldn't be noticeable. also, missing or damaged handles are a red flag that it was likely DROPPED at some point, and be sure the feet or casters are in good shape, too. also make sure the inputs and outputs have solid connectors that aren't loose, or a rigged-up connector plate.
5.if you have a voltmeter, take it with you if you're buying a cab to confirm that the speaker in it is the correct ohms. this is especially important if it is a cab with multiple drivers.
6.make sure you only check out stuff if you can turn it UP and make sure that it doesn't make strange noises or rattles. this will also help determine if a) it sounds good loud b)the speaker(s) are good c) ifit's prone to easily popping a fuse or going crazy when it's pushed.
7.missing knobs are often a sign of mishandling, but not always. just be wary of this.
8.play YOUR bass through it with a known-good cable and a proper speaker cable. don't trust that the seller has a real speaker cable, take one with you.
9.lift it, carry it around. make sure it will fit in your car, etc.
10.no matter what the seller says, if you KNOW any bass gear doesn't have the original or at least the spec speaker in it, don't buy, unless it sounds good per #6 and #8.
i think i got the major points. there may be one or two i forgot, but i'm sure if i did somebody will come along and fill you in on it.
Check the fan is operating if it has one.
Crackling pots are a good haggling point.
Make sure all the speakers are working! I once got a used 2x15 cab shipped to me with a blown driver. It sounded quite ok at low volume but not as loud as I expected so I got down on the floor to find the bottom one wasn't! Seller took it back and refunded me in full.
DCR resistance is always a little lower than the impedance rating.
You are quite within your rights to ask for speakers to be removed to verify them. But if it sounds good and loud you probably don't need to worry on budget used gear.
First of all, thank you both for your tremendous help.
The only thing I have a problem is the terminology (English is not my main language).
Let me go over some of the points you mentioned:
- What is a "rigged-up connector plate"?
- I use a VM Squier Jazz. I think it is reasonably well shielded as it sounds clear with 15W. Should I expect some noise from it, even from a good condition rig?
- "popping a fuse"...? Explain please :)
- I don't own speaker cables... I was expecting them to be included in the purchases. Should I definitely get one now?
- How can I tell if the speakers are original? If I can make him/her open it are they branded?
- "Crackling pots", please explain this too :).
Thanks again guys.
also be careful not to get lampooned buying gear that you can afford new. once you pick something out, make sure you can't get the same thing for just a little more, or nearly the same price new. warranties are a good thing!
lots of people may disagree, so i stress this is IMHO, IME, but stay away from behringer, first act and pyle pro. these are not quality brands and i have had or know somebody who has had these brands and they aren't worth the trouble.
and if you can resist the temptation, save the tube amps for when you know a little more about gear, you'll be better off for it. i blew up my first amp out of sheer ignorance.
and finally, be careful not to drop your money on guitar gear, there IS a difference; more so with cabs, but the amps typically won't have the beefy output transformers that a bass amp will.
2-Some noise.. but not a lot.. Test the amp with no instrument plugged in and turn it up. You may get a slight hum or hiss.. but if it is too loud or sounds like a generator or a babbling brook off in the distance there may be issues that you won't want to and shouldn't have to deal with.
3-If you test an amp and wyhen you push it a bit it blows a fuse ... fugheddabouddit.
4-No. Do not buy cables until you get your amp/cabinet and make sure that you get the right cable/cab to match what is on the amp/cab. Some amps/cabs have both speak-on and conventional cable jacks while others only have one or the other.
5-In many cases you can't.
6-If you have an amp on and when you adjust volume or tone you get that crackling sound.. caused by either dirty, old, damaged or poor quality pots ... back off.
If you are going to buy used consider the TalkBass classifieds before eBay or Craig's List. Read this thread before you go any farther.
2.most any amp will have at leas a little bit of hum when it's on. as long as you can't hear it while you're playing, and it isn't VERY loud, it should be ok.
3.make sure that simply turning it up won't make protections activate.
4.it definately won't be a bad idea to have extra cables, plus like i said you can't always trust that the seller has PROPER speaker cables. using instrument cables for this is not good. and you'll need new ones sooner or later anyway.
5.typically, the speakers have a matching brand sticker or print somewhere on them. looking at the screws holding them in is also a way to tell if they have been taken out or replaced, too.
6.crackling pots: if there is noise when you turn the knobs. this won't always be a big problem, it just means the knobs are dusty and need to be cleaned==a good way to get a few dollars taken off the asking price.
hope i've cleared that up for you.
^^^oh, and i mostly agree with what he said... ;)
In regards to how much noise is expected, please remember that since you have a Jazz Bass, you should put both volume pots on full, since if you run the volumes differently for the bridge pickup and the neck pickup you'll get some noise from the bass itself. This may not be noticeable on a 15 watt amp but it certainly will be as you start running through more powerful amplifiers.
My best advice since you are so new to this is to find someone you trust who knows what they're doing to come with you. A guitarist if you can't find a bassist. No matter how much advice you get here, it will be very helpful to have someone else there who knows their stuff!
In addition to what has been mentioned above, I also bring a speaker cable with me when checking out cab to perform the battery test.
Let's me know that at least all speakers are working, and in proper phase.
9V battery test is to connect cab(s) and put 9V to the end of a 1/4" cable. + goes to the tip, - to the shaft, making the speakers jump outwards. Don't leave them connected just pop them and release. The first time I did it the pop gave me a bit of a fright but no harm.
Thanks guys, your advice have been great. Bringing someone who knows better is a great idea even if it means asking someone I don't really know.
Regarding the battery test, how exactly will I know if everything is correct? What's the expected outcome?
All cones move towards the grill instantly, then flop back when you remove the battery.
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