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Advice on buying used amp heads from GC?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Diesel Kilgore, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. I see a ton of good deals on some nice used heads at GC. This might be right up my alley as far as rounding out a cheap cab im about to get.

    Im just leary about buying an amp used. Thats the one thing im most worried about buying used. Any advice you all could give if I do make a purchase? What should I look for. Should I go for any warranty/insurance offered?
  2. I think buying a used rig from GC is just about like buying one from anyone else - - private party included. You do not know what you're getting, unless you know who it was who sold the item to CG, or who was selling it privately. Most of the transactions I've conducted at CG have been good - - the salespeople are sincere and have truly been interested in how I liked the product I was checking out; but I have always bought new from them. I have traded in some gear and everything I traded was in top working condition, but then again, I'm kinda anal and really try to take care of my stuff, so no doubt, someone probably got a good deal buying my stuff. So, that being said, there are good things out there. Here's what I'd do....

    Take your favorite ax with you (you know and use that instrument, so it won't sound different to you than what you're used to) and if you have a friend who's into audio equipment repair, take him/her with you. Look for a rig that's physically clean-looking and hasn't been beat around the block. If you're checking out a tube rig, try to find out how new the tubes are. If the brand name and tube-type (numbers like 6L6 GC) have cooked or worn off, you know they're old. Then play the rig in every manner possible, loud, soft, with tone controls in all different positions, and with your ax plugged in (without playing), turn all the knobs slowly (including volume and master volume controls) all the way up. There should be no crackling, scratching, hissing (other than with the volume turned all the way up), feedback, hum, or the like. If it is a combo unit, the speaker should sound good; try another speaker with the head section just for grins and to be sure the unit's speaker isn't failing.

    I hope all this info helps and doesn't seem in any way patronizing.....just trying to think of everything I'd do in your shoes. Best of luck!
  3. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    I think a lot depends on the brand you're looking at. Some are more reliable than others but you already know that. Searching what your looking at on threads posted here should answer questions about the reliability of most anything out there.

    How does it look? Has it been well taken care of or is it "beat up" from being bounced around a lot. You may be safer with SS than a tube head but if it's a tube head you're after then as Bassman suggests get a pedigree on the type and age of the tubes. Re-tubing a bass head can turn a sweet deal into an expensive mistake.

    Play it and see how it sounds through a cab that's as close to what you'll be using as you can find. Leave it on for as long as possible and play through it as long as practical. Some problems only show up after the amp has heated up. If it all checks out with no major issues then I'd be a buyer. Used amps can be a real bargain.

    If it's a reliable brand I wouldn't worry about any extended warranty. With most stuff like this if it was gonna fail big time it would have long ago. If it's a piece of junk or near impossible to service they won't offer any warranty on it anyway. Buyer Beware and Good Luck.
  4. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Although this applies to new gear as well as old, I'd recommend checking how long the manufacturer supports (for repairs) the unit you're looking at. I think I heard that one particular well-known brand stops repairing gear as soon as it leaves their list of current products. "Well," you might ask, "how about traditional amps with just a bunch of transistors and ICs and resistors and caps and diodes, all on boards with plated-through holes and no surface-mount anywhere?" Because even with equipment like that, you can get bit in the butt if the manufacturer's used custom (unsourceable) parts or has buffed out any sourceable parts' case markings, or has encased them in a blob of silicone. Oftentimes an unmarked part can be inferred from its location in the topology, but sometimes not to the level of detail that would allow a responsible/reliable swap to be made.

    If the price point is low enough not to make any future repair sensible, then none of this matters, because basically you're going into it with the idea that if the thing bricks on you, so what.
  5. Andy FitzGibbon

    Andy FitzGibbon

    Sep 17, 2012
    Montrose, WV
    Professional Luthier
    One thing about GC is that they only charge $12.50 shipping for ANY piece of used gear (including an Ampeg 8x10 I bought from them, which came via truck freight). And, if there's a problem with anything, they will send a call tag for you to ship it back to them. Their photos and descriptions suck, but they usually say which store has the item, so you can call that store and talk to somebody there about condition, ect.

    Other than that, it's like buying any used item sight unseen- you never know exactly what you'll be getting. I've bought a lot of used stuff from GC. Some of it had problems that weren't mentioned on the site, but I kind of figured it would based on the price they were selling it for. I've only ever had to send back one item.