Checklist for Craigslist inspection

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Burwabit, Apr 10, 2014.


  1. Burwabit

    Burwabit Likes guitars that tune good and firm feelin women Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    I buy and sell a decent number of basses locally on Craigslist in search of gems and good deals. I've been burned a time or two not looking closely enough at a bass only to later find out that it has an issue.

    What are some thing you look for when inspecting a used bass?

    Here is a quick list of things I'd do to avoid past mistakes:
    - tune it to check action and neck (lose strings can hide issues)
    - truss nut - bring a tool, make sure it turns both ways
    - spread strings to check fret wear
    - string alignment... is it balanced along length of neck or favoring one side
    - loose knobs/electronics
    - cosmetic stuff, obviously
    - ?what am i missing?

    I mention Craigslist specifically because, unlike used instruments at a guitar store, I'm usually meeting someone at Walmart or something and giving it a quick 5 minute inspection before making a deal.
  2. Jah Wobble Fan

    Jah Wobble Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
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    Los Angeles
    Sighting along the neck as if it are a rifle is a good one -- make sure the neck is true with no twist.

    Pluck a note on every fret to determine if there are dead spots bad enough to be a deal-breaker.

    Make sure all pots are in working order.
  3. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2003
    Location:
    NYC via Austin and NOLA
    Look at the neck pocket to see if there's a gap on either side.
    Look for any cracks in the pickguard due to screw stress.
    Check the input jack for crackles. Does it wiggle at all?
    Look closely at the pickup mounting and other screws. Are the heads stripped at all?
    Shake it and listen to see if anything is audibly loose.
    Check out the tuner mounting screws-- anything stripped there?
  4. Burwabit

    Burwabit Likes guitars that tune good and firm feelin women Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Unfortunately for these deals I'm usually not playing the bass through an amp. That's part of my dilemma. Do you make that a requirement when buying something on CL?
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  6. deepestend

    deepestend Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2003
    Location:
    NYC via Austin and NOLA
    That's part of the risk of CL. Do you know how to wire up basses/fix electronics? Aside from a bad pickup, nothing is that hard to do.

    Some kind of battery powered headphone amp might prevent some heartache.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Location:
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    You should. I have bought basses without an amp before but it was usually such a deal I didn't care if the electronics didn't work. I have a Roland microcube that runs on batteries if I need to do a parking lot meet but I tend to meet people at their home or mine. Canadians are a little less paranoid about their neighbours from what I can gather.

    It really depends how much money I an investing into how much I check things over. I rarely do a full check on stuff I am buying because it is rarely being sold fraudulently. I had one guy sell me a bass with broken electronics, I am sure he thought I was the fool but I bought it so cheap I didn't mind soldering back one wire (who is the fool now :D)

    It doesn't hurt to take a straight-edge to check the frets for ski ramp, a visual sight of the neck is a must.
  8. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Minnesota
    .. product knowledge ... know your models, know how to date them properly, know what should be stock components and be able to recognize variances/modifications, and then know accurate (real world) values based not only on its physical condition, but the affect of modifications on the piece ...

    .. and unfortunately, there is a myriad of uneducated sellers out there that have no idea what they really are selling (not only on CL, but Ebay and even some sites closer to us here) and sometimes you need to be prepared to educate them in a way not to insult them, but get them gently in touch with reality ... JMHO
  9. malthumb

    malthumb Supporting Member

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    I've used a Korg Pandora a number of times when buying and when selling. Since most everybody has an iPod or other music players these days, they usually have some sort of earbuds. I let them play the bass I'm selling through the Pandora and their own earbuds.

    Not perfect, but works ok.
  10. kenneffdupriest

    kenneffdupriest Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I have went to the instrument section of Best Buy and told them that I spent over 1000 bux here at Xmas (which is BS) and asked if they mind if I test drive a CL bass. No one has ever told me no.

    You really shud make sure it makes noise otherwise the price comes down, waaay down. I'm just sayin
  11. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Guitar Center is a good place to meet up. Bring the bass in with you and the seller, check it in and tell them you want to try out some bass amps. They've never said no to me.
  12. IvanMunoz

    IvanMunoz

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Subscribed!

    Yes! These are the two things I mainly do when checking out an instrument. (And after a setting up my bass just to be sure)
  13. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2001
    Location:
    California
    Sighting down the neck isn't really going to tell you that much, though if it's bad enough to see, it's certainly history.

    Sighting along the fretted string at both ends of the fingerboard on both sides will show you a lot more, quicker.

    One of the more interesting things about CL is it always shows up obscure gear problems you've never seen before. I never cease to be amazed. After over forty years of working on gear, I start to think I've seen it all, but some little CraigsList grifter always manages to put a little something over on me.

    And they ALL lie about the condition. Always. ALWAYS.

    This is why I never buy used gear unless I'm paying not much more than scrap price for it -- and good luck on that, because CL sellers are asking more for used gear than I can usually buy it new for.

    I just look for the basic bad stuff, fast, and figure I can bench out the rest. I spent less than ninety seconds inspecting my last buy.

    The little headphone amp thingy is a good idea. I'm surprised I don't have one.
  14. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Location:
    northern CA
    Disclosures:
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I only bought one very inexpensive Squier J from a CL ad and I did bring a small amp to test it. (at the owners apt) It turned out to be fine - as anticipated/no surprises so I bought it. I really wouldn't consider buying an instrument if 1) I couldn't do that, and 2) if I had to meet somewhere other than a Guitar Center where I could play it through an amp. Too many unknowns otherwise.
  15. IvanMunoz

    IvanMunoz

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Also, if it's a set neck bass (like a Hofner) or even guitar (rickenbacker 360 for example)...

    Check to make sure the bridge isn't bottomed out, that indicates the neck shifting fowards and lowering the bridge all the way to compensate for bad action.
  16. Mind Eroded

    Mind Eroded

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2003
    Location:
    Brooklyn/Buffalo, NY
    Sometimes, when an opportunity presents itself you have to act quick and roll the dice. I have bought and sold for many years on CL, and I(as most of us here) am always on the hunt for the best possible deal. Therefore, I'd do the sketchy "meet me on the corner here" stuff, where it was a quick 2-3 min overview of the gear and money hand off. I've scored some good deals this way, but I knew I was taking a risk.

    Sellers posting their gear for more inflated prices on CL are more likely to be receptive to people coming over their place and properly trying out the gear. People who know they are giving you a deal want to be as least hassled by you as possible, at least in my experience (mostly in NYC).
  17. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Location:
    northern CA
    Disclosures:
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    maybe why gambling has never appealed to me
  18. OldDirtyBassist

    OldDirtyBassist

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Play low F up to Ab, with your ear on the upper horn. Listen for the truss rod rattling in the neck. If doing so, try to tighten it. If it's already tight,..and still rattling, don't buy the bass.
  19. Wallace320

    Wallace320

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Location:
    Milan, Italy
    +1
    this, and a couple more advices down the thread are a real must. I mean Mind and Bongo: doin' great my friends

    Cheers,
    Wallace
  20. Burwabit

    Burwabit Likes guitars that tune good and firm feelin women Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Thanks everyone for the replies and comments. I got some good ideas to add to the list, including shaking it and using my iRig and headphones to test electronics.
  21. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    if you're selling - check the pockets of the gig bag first!

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