Bass flipping. What's the attraction?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rocktometrist, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. Rocktometrist


    Oct 3, 2012
    So I can't help but notice that about three out of every four talkbass classified ads selling high end basses start with some variation of "so I picked this $4500 bass up 2 weeks ago, and now...".

    Which makes me wonder. For you guys who constantly flip basses (often at a loss), what is the attraction? Are you in a never-ending search for "The One", or do you just enjoy the wheel and deal?

    I will say this out of pure envy, and with no intention of player hating: I am seriously jealous of the many guys out there who apparently have no problem tying up close to $10k in assets on a rotating boutique bass collection, half of which are "never played" (if the classified ads are to be believed). That's an expensive collecting hobby, and your wives must be angels! :)
  2. snyderz

    snyderz Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    I've slowed down over the years, but when I first started playing I wanted to experience different basses. I usually sold for about what I paid, so there was no real net loss. I play only unlined fretless basses, so there was no going to the local music store to try some out. I had to buy on-line (TB/ebay) and luckily never got a lemon. I've tried about 40 basses, and am down to 3 now, and pretty happy. No regrets though for 'flipping' so many through the years.
  3. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I've never flipped at a loss.

    I've never bought an instrument I couldn't flip at a profit, and wouldn't consider it.
  4. I use to do it a few years ago but not anymore. If your smart about it you'll get to play a bunch of high end basses for not much more than the cost of one. I generally sold them world wide on eBay and was patient about it. Even if it took a month to sell it was worth the wait to get a few hundred dollars more. There are certain countries where certain brands don't have any distribution and people will pay for them. In some cases I even made money off of them. I actually made a profit off the bongo 5 I custom ordered. It was a pretty standard bass but happened to be a finish an pickup configuration that was not available in a production model at the time. It was a single H stealth black with a shell guard and a 3 band eq. For something like that that's not available in a production model people will pay just so they don't have to wait months to get one. Other times Id go to a music store like guitar center and get a really good deal on a bass and knew I wouldn't lose money on it. For example I got my warwick thumb nt5 for $2800 new, played it longer than any other bass I've owned and sold it for a little less than I paid for it. So while some guys pay the full $4,800 for one I played one for years for about $200.

    The thing you have to understand is just because a bass is expensive does not mean you'll be able to sell it for much. For example fender basses while they are decent basses are a dime a dozen in the used market. There's just so many of them out there. Newer fenders often won't sell for even half the retail price when you try to unload them. I can find mim fender jazz basses all day long in the $200-300 range so I would never pay $600 for one. With warwicks look at the cheaper models. had mixed results with corvettes. I sold one for a decent amount but lost a lot on the other probably because people are sitting at home like "I can get a new rockbass corvette or pay more for a used real corvette." I want to say I sold my Bolt on thumb 5 for $1800 and the neck through thumb 5 for $2600. So I didn't lose much in either one but that's probably partially to do with warwick not having a rock bass version of the thumb basses.

    I tried to get basses I knew there were in high demand but also in order to not lose a ton of money you also have to buy low. Expensive basses will sit in stores for years and eventually they will sell them for a lot less even if they don't make any money just to get new inventory. If you pay over 4 grand for pretty much any bass unless its a custom your going to lose a ton of money selling it. I played a Roscoe 6 string yesterday that was used for $2800. If I thought I could get close to that selling it I probably would have bought it but it was an unlined fretless 6 string. That combination means there's not a huge market for that particular bass. And I wasn't abou to buy it for $2800 and and end up selling it for a $1000.

    As far as the basses I actually keep. I keep my cheaper modded basses. They are worth more to me than i could sell them for.
  5. Rocktometrist


    Oct 3, 2012
    Even if it was your absolute "dream bass" and you thought you might want to play it for the rest of your life? As a player, I'd be willing to pay market value or more, if necessary, for something like that.

    However from the collector/trader/flipper angle, I totally see your point!
  6. RxFunk


    Dec 2, 2012
    When I buy instruments(used) to flip, that is my goal, to make money, generally double what I paid as well. If I ever sell something at a loss(only once so far) it would be because I bought it for personal use not with the intent to sell.
  7. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Most people who flip basses don't lose money. Not if they do it a lot. Most make a couple bucks or break even. If they lose, it's not much. Some will emphasize they're selling a $4,500 bass for $1,600, but rest assured the seller didn't pay $4,500 for that bass.

    I've seen a guy buy from me on ebay, and put the same bass up for sale here for $500 more than he paid me for it. Which is totally ok with me. If he can get it, more power to him.
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    If I find a bass that I am interested in flipping, I only buy it if I am confident that I can make money. I usually try to get double what I paid but have sold for less than that and still made a decent profit. I have only lost money on 2 basses, both of which I purchased for personal use not intending to flip them.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Whatever floats your boat, but I like to devote whatever time I have leftover after wasting hours on talkbass to gigs, rehearsals, and even practicing my chops, LOL!
  10. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    I don't flip, nor do I do boutique, really. However, there are lots of deals to be had in ordinary stuff if you know the stuff. It's a good way to extract money from equipment you already use and keep earning money with it, with no new investment.

    If I can buy a solid bass or amp comparable to what I play for substantially less than what I have already spent, bet your parents I'll move what I have, get the deal, and pocket some money. I actually have a couple of basses that strictly represent net profit on a couple of deals I made—which means I have no green money at all invested in them. Plus, I get to gig with them. When I sell them, guess what. Even better, what if I don't sell them?

    With Fenders and other basses that are basically collections of commodity parts, it's hard to go wrong selling the parts—everything but the "oink", like on a pig. Very hard to lose money that way. At some point or another, you are making somebody's life easier, because they don't want an entire new bass just to get a bridge, a neck, or a pickup, and you can sell it cheaper than new.

    It's not about the "attraction" of it all. The day I find a bass that solves all the problems in my life, I'll die with it in my hands. It's about not falling in love with equipment and tying up money unnecessarily. With rare exceptions, it's pretty much just stuff and not something to get sentimental over.
  11. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    BASS stands for Buy And Sell Stuff.
  12. Toneonbass


    Jul 1, 2006
    If you're getting gear for ~25% of new street price, are you not worried about buying hot items? Or from addicts? Why would anyone sell gear that cheap?
  13. Rocktometrist


    Oct 3, 2012
    Thanks for the responses. I can understand being motivated by money, and it appears there is quite a bit of satisfaction derived from being good at "the art of the deal". I can dig that.

    Now to figure out how you guys are repeatedly and consistently buying equipment at half it's street value. Maybe you you need to "know a guy"...either that or you need to know whole bunch of guys with more money than sense... LOL
  14. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I consider that a juvenile and -- above all -- a doomed outlook. I've dealt with these romantic quest jerks for decades, looking for something that "speaks" to them. It's just deluded neurosis. They're never satisfied for long (see OP) until boredom with the chase or pure inertia sets in.

    It's just gear. It's good enough for your requirements or it's not. It comes and it goes. Try not to lose money on it.
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I used to be a huge gear flipper, but I have slowed down considerably. Looking back, I can see that for me, gear flipping was a substitute for learning and studying. If I had to do again, I would have spent my money and time on instruction. I can also say that I sold some gear because I did not understand how to do set ups, and I got rid of basses that usually just needed small tweaks.
    Finally, I flipped gear because of easy credit and the lack of patience when it came to saving for something new.
  16. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High

    Jul 21, 2012
    I've only sold off 2 basses in the last 46 years of playing bass. I prefer to keep them. Presently I have 10 basses, the oldest of which is a 64 Hofner, the newest is a 2013 Fender P/J, and there is a wide assortment of 4 strings, 5 strings, and fretless basses in between.
    I think my next bass is going to be a Fender VI with E-e tuning. I played one for a while back in the day (1960's) but I think I'd like to have one for the collection. Playing it would again be a unique experience.
    Also looking at a Hagstrum or Rickenbacker 8 string.
  17. BIGEJ2

    BIGEJ2 Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    I used to flip between two and three basses a week but have recently stopped because of other priorities.

    The name of the game is knowing values and being at the right place at the right time.

    On top of making me a nice return, flipping gave me the opportunity to try basses that aren't available locally.
  18. Rocktometrist


    Oct 3, 2012
    Well, OK...I essentially gig with 3 electrics. Fretted and fretless Zons from the mid-90's, and a modded Fender sig model that I've had the better part of a decade. I live in Seattle, so I've played and drooled over lots of high end instruments at places like Bass Northwest and Mike Lull's shop. I know what's out there, and I have the means to buy.

    However, I LOVE my basses, and I bought them in the first place because after playing and researching lots of basses over many years, I knew what I was looking for. The basses I own were the tools with the features and versatility I wanted--and frankly, I guess I'm one of those jerks who had a bass "speak to them". I bought the fretted Zon new, and the affair has lasted 18 yrs and counting.

    That said, tastes and styles change, and I'm ready to add a new horse to the stable. I'm in the market for the first time in a while. I hope whatever I buy keeps me happy for another 20 years, and I could give a crap whether I lose money on it after that...guess that makes me a juvenile jerk?
  19. Going through a dozen, or so bass a year by flipping them sounds like a really, really cool thing to do. But, I don't know what it is with me, especially when it comes to parting ways with money. It's something I've always wanted to do, but, for the life of me, I just can't part with money that I've worked, hell, slaved so hard for, just to possibly lose on some gear.
    I'm from a state, West Virginia, where the median income per household is ranked 49th in the nation. I grew up in an upper middle-class home, but, as an adult, I've held the shorter end of that financial "stick" before, and, it's no fun. Now that I've settled down a little, and gained a great job, along with a few promotions, I'm very, very stable financially, and I don't even wanna go back there. I have no idea why I have that holdup with money. I can't have children (due to an illness), the old lady makes her own way as a registered nurse, so what's holdin' me back from something that I'd enjoy? I have no idea, and, that's not fun, either.
    If I need something, I'll get it, and not feel guilty about it. But, if I want something, and get it? I feel so guilty about it. Hell, my ex-wife literally made me purchase my last bass, and, that was way back in '97. And, I didn't stop feeling guilty about it, until it paid for itself a couple of months down the road. :confused:
  20. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The new and used instrument market is huge...and it seems the used market is bigger now more than ever. Sure if you're buying a brand new instrument at full retail and you are a gigging musician, you usually can't go into this thinking your going to be flipping the thing soon. Most likely you'll be doing it at a loss. When it came to new stuff, I used to concentrate on going for the limited run or special color items, and know I'd be sitting on them a while; 1) I really didn't go in expecting that I will sell it, I was hoping I loved it. 2) but this way if it ends up that I do sell, I'll have something that would have a little more leverage over a run of the mill model.
    But more-so, there are also many people or their parents everyday who walk into music stores and buying new instruments and amps thinking they or their kid will start playing, and then it doesn't happen. So tons of gear now makes it onto the used market and usually at really great prices, and so the ball starts rolling. A $700 dollar Am Std Fender or a $800 Musicman can be bought and enjoyed for a while, then flipped for either no loss or even a +.

    Vintage is another avenue. Usually if you simply watch the market for what a going rate is, sometimes you can haggle a little down and get a nice deal (typically from a private sale, and usually not from a dealer). Then, usually if you sit on that instrument for a couple or few years, you can likely sell it for a little more than you paid.

    The boutique market is tricky, as most builders are high priced, limited and far lesser known, and the market is far more narrow. Usually the 1st owner takes a major loss if they didn't like that instrument in the long run. But then after that the instrument can usually change hands at a steady price with no or little loss.
    Ballin'bass likes this.