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bass "exchange"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lucfor, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. Hi everybody,
    this is my first post, but I have been following the forum for some weeks.
    I have something that has stayed in my mind for a while, and I feel like putting it through the forum now.
    The point is: there are some basses made in USA that are very exphansive here in Europe (I live in Italy), and there are also some european firms (see Warwick) whose basses are very exphansive in the Usa. For example, few days ago I saw a Carvin lb70 standard on sale, here in Italy, for $1.200. The same bass bought in the USA is $660. And in Europe I can get a new Warwick thumb bolt-on 5 for $1240, while I think it is much more exphansive in the USA. So, let's say (just an example)that I want to buy a Carvin and someone in the USA wants a Warwick, with the money saved by the two people to buy the bass in its own country, one of them could fly to Europe or USA and do the bass exchange, have a nice week-end abroad and save some money on the top of all that.
    One problem, of course, is that to avoid paying taxes at the airport I guess we must declare that we are flying with the bass and that on the way back we still have it (but about that I don't know much, so I hope some of you know it better). But, I was wondering, do they really check in detail what kind of bass it is, or they are just happy with seeing that you left with a bass and you are coming back with a bass?
    Other problems of trust between "exchangers" may also arise, but that can be discussed.

    So, to finish,do you think it is an idea "out of the world", or can we try to work it out in some ways in the future?


  2. dont fly just have find some one that will buy the bass and ship to were your at. you can ship the warwick to me:D
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I've thought about this a lot but it's problematic - firstly you would definitely be breaking the law and do you want to lose your job, just for the sake of getting a bass a bit cheaper?

    You might not get caught - but is it worth the risk and they are checking more since 9/11!

    Secondly there's not much in it for the Americans - almost everything is cheaper over there and even the Warwick thing isn't necessarily a very good example. So Bass Central's website is advertising a Thumb bolt-on 5-string fretless for $1099!!

    Adding on the cost of flights/hotels I can't see there being much in it for people in the US - they have a huge choice of high-end basses at reasonable prices anyway! :(
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yep, isn't living in a non-VAT, low-sales tax non-socialist country great? :D ;)
  5. Intrepid


    Oct 15, 2001
    Yeah, they don't tariff the hell out of it if you just sending out a personal stuff...I don't it'll be breaking the law either.
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I wouldn't recommend it. I've done the border-hopping thing before (between Canada and the US) and they DO check these things. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to make it pretty risky. They would definitely ask you why you're going to the States with the instrument.

    They may not be able to prove that you bought the bass while you were there, but it is up to YOU to prove that you didn't. Customs officers (here, anyway) do have the power to confiscate your stuff if they think you tried to sneak it over, and from what I know, the tariffs are a ripoff anyway.

    I agree with warwickben, probably a better idea to ship it...:rolleyes:
  7. Yes, you might be right. Of course it is not a possibility that would suite people on a general basis. It would be a particular solution for particular situations. About Warwick, the one you talked about is second-hand, so I still think that there would be a difference of price from Europe to USA. I also read that it is difficult to get some Warwick models in the USA, so that might be a reason to go on the european market. About hotels and things like that, well, there is always hospitality that can solve them. The biggest problem, I think, is the taxes/law one.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well that way, you will definitely get stuck with VAT and customs duty! This has come up here before and people from Europe have mentioned how they have ordered something comparatively small - like parts - and still got a big surcharge added on.

    I have ordered loads of stuff via the internet, from the US and it seems to depend on how "flat" the thing is - so individual packets of strings don't get stopped - or single CDs, books of sheet music, t-shirts etc.

    But I ordered a Parliament 4CD boxed set and it was stopped at customs and about £15 (c. $23) was added on which I had to pay before I could get the thing - so it didn't end up being a cheap buy at all! :(

    Something the size of a bass is definitely going to get stopped at customs and opened - you will then pay VAT and customs duty - plus what they want to add on for their time! It will also cost you a lot in terms of P&P.
  9. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I know it sucks to have to pay added duties and taxes when buying something. But, aren't there some excellent luthiers in Italy? I've heard some pretty good things around here.

    I would have thought that would increase your choices a bit.
  10. i got a ? what cant you just make freinds with soem one out the side the us,send them the money to buy the bass were its cheaper and also send them the money it would coast to ship it back to you.i dont think its against the law.and if it is why.
  11. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    How would you make friends with someone who lives overseas and trust 'em enough to send that person hundreds, if not thousands of dollars? Are you really that naive???:rolleyes:
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well that woudn't be illegal, but as I mentioned before. something as big as a bass is going to get stopped by customs (it could contain drugs explosives etc. ) - they will then proceed to charge customs duty and levy VAT at 17 and a half percent of the price. So the bass would be no cheaper than if you bought it in a shop in Europe - proably more expensive as you are paying shipping on one item rather than getting a cheaper rate for large numbers!

    What we were originally talking about was illegal - that is - walking through customs on your way back from the US, with a bass under your arm and saying you have "nothing to declare" ! Which would be blatantly lying and leave you open for prosecution if you got caught!
  13. i was just saying if you new some one you could do that and shipping cant be that much
  14. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    if you're buying overseas from a retailer you can ask the guys there to devalue the instrument, and thus be charged with lower tax rates.

    one of my music teachers once said that if you're taking a guitar abroad with you, there is a possibility you will be asked to register at the customes officers about what guitar you took, I heard there are several techniques to frauding them (headstock logo stickers) but you can never know how detailed they're gonna get in their description of the instrument (and then you'll be limited to exchangng it with a bass of the same colour, number of strings, pickup arrangment etc.).

    as always there is the chance you'll be asked to have your gig bag checked when you land back at home, you can never know, if the officer in charge happens to be a weekend musician he might not have a problem distinguishing a Thumb from an LB70 (bad luck!).

    btw, I dont belive they'll open up a bass case, they'll probably run it through xray before rendering it open for their inspection.

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