Buying Used--Things to Look For

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jeffcoop, Apr 28, 2004.

  1. jeffcoop


    Mar 7, 2004
    I have a line on a used Rogue Beatle bass at a very good price. I'll have a chance to inspect the instrument at some point later this week. Any suggestions on things that I should make sure to inspect?

    I know Beatle basses aren't the most rock-solid instruments around. But the short scale appeals to me (small hands), and when I first took up bass (now in the distant past--I haven't touched one in 20 years), it was because of Paul.
  2. check all the frets are good by listening for buzz, check the pots are good by twiddleing them and listen for a scratchy noise, look straight down the neck and check it isn't warped, use your ears and eyes very well.
  3. byrdsfan


    Feb 9, 2004
    I had one of these in my hands for about 20 minutes a couple of weeks ago. i was impressed. My friend paid $200 for it, which i thought was a lot but he needed it in a hurry for the N.J. Beatlefest.
  4. I assume they are set-neck. If so, be sure to check the neck joint for cracks. I have seen nexpensive instruments develop that problem occasionally and they are not worth having a neck re-set done.
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    For one thing, look at the neck. Minor problems can usually be corrected with a truss rod, but major might require much more. Checking fret buzz is one way to do this. I'd also eyeball it, looking from the bridge to the nut.

    Second, make sure the electronics all do what they should. If there's a volume knob, you want to make sure it actually adjusts the volume. There are some crazy people out there who screw up electronics and then glue the knobs back in place...but, when you go to test them, they don't work!:eek:

    Third, check for any cosmetic or structural damage. This should be pretty easy to spot, but use a discriminating eye. Chipped paint is strictly cosmetic, and won't affect the overall instrument too much. But, a crack in the headstock might signify something much bigger.

    Check the nut and also the frets. Fretwear is normal. Nut cracks are not. Major fretwear signifies you might have a $300 fretjob staring you in the face. Minor fretwear is cool.

    Best of luck!
  6. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I agree with what has been said to this point and I'd add the following:

    When you check the frets and the neck, play every note on the neck both hard and soft. Listen for any changes in the tone (other than the pitch of the note). Are some notes duller than others? Are there dead spots on the neck?

    Be aware that on older basses, it's possible to have really nice looking frets - meaning no dents from the strings, that have been filed down too much and cannot be crowned properly. This will cause the fret to look good but be flat in it's overall profile. This WILL affect the sound. The note will be duller and less defined. This happened to me and I ended up not playing the bass very much and then selling it at a discount.... too bad.

    Be especially aware of these fret issues in the common playing areas like G on the E string and second position in general.

    Listen for the sound of the wood by playing the bass unplugged in a quiet setting. Put your ear up to the bass (touching) and play some. You should like that sound.

    If you know how to do a setup, I would do one right there - minus the intonation. That will tell you if the truss rod is maxed out or loosened all the way. Check to make sure the truss rod nut has not been mangled by a moron with pliers.

    Make sure that none of the screws from the bridge are missing and that the saddles are somewhere in the middle of their range of travel. I.e. not too high and not too low.

    I would assume that someone is selling the bass for a reason. Meaning that there is something wrong with it. Not to say that anything dishonest is going on, just that you never sell your BEST bass. This may also be a case of someone having upgraded to a better bass. Anyway, buyer beware.

    Lastly, I would play it for a while if you can. Nothing will reveal the true nature of an instrument better than playing it.

    Good luck.