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How Do I Buy a Great Bass for Real Cheap at a Pawn Shop??

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rickreyn, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Been meaning to ask this miscellaneous question for awhile. Looking for tips. I don't want to get shot though.
  2. craigers2

    craigers2 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    it might be smart to go to the pawn shop with pen and paper. just write down as much information you can about each bass that you like (name, price, condition, etc.) and post it here on talkbass. i'm sure there are a bunch of people that could help determine if you are getting a good deal or bad deal
  3. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I think I'd benefit the most from hearing about the great deals acquired at pawn shops. I've never seen a "great deal" in a pawn shop yet. For example, a '67 Fender is hanging there and the guy doesn't know what it is and has it marked $150. That kind of stuff.

    I've already mastered how to get great deals from stores, off the Internet and ebay, etc. (see profile).
  4. Poker face. If you find something you like in a pawn shop, pretend you really aren't that impressed with it, but, you might consider buying it, "for your nephew." Be prepared to walk out if you have to.

    Never show fear to an animal, never show true interest in a pawn shop.

    Mike J.
    Hey, women do this with men all the time. :D
  5. craigers2

    craigers2 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    i really haven't either. i used to try to make the rounds to the pawn shops at least once a month thinking that i'd come across one of those deals that people write about.

    i've stopped going as often, because most of the pawn shops around here just have a bunch of garbage.
  6. My luck came at a pawn shop in North West Indiana. A Travis Bean with the brown neck coating with a tag of $250.00. I said "Look the strings are closer to the neck by this top thingie than they are down here by the bottom". It took about 10 mins but he finally came down to $175.00. My best deal was at a garage sale 1957 Deluxe guitar amp. talked the woman down from $5.00 to $3.00. I find that it works best acting like you don't know everything there is to know about an instrument.
  7. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Thanks Mike. That's what I'm after. Savvy stuff from a New Yorker. I've done the rounds down here in the Tampa area on occasion, but will be taking a vacation in Waynesville, N.C. this coming week. I'm going to hit a few shops up there and try to catch them off guard.
  8. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    That $2 really makes a difference, huh?
  9. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I swear, if it weren't for old Fenders, we would have no interest in Pawn shops at all...

    Finding a '67 Fender for $150 was very common... in 1977.

    The chances that a pawnshop will not know the value of a bass are very slim. They have access to the same information you have, at least where Fenders are concerned. I think you'd have a better chance getting a deal on a more obscure name, or a good "no name".

    Case in point: Last month I went to my local Pawn shop and found a dual Bartolini Music Man Jazz bass with a Badass bridge and Grover Tuners - for $250. Usually, they'll knock a few bucks off if you haggle and offer to pay cash for the item, but those guys have been seeing me checking out their basses at least once a month for the last five years and I've bought all sorts of stuff from them, from Nikon camera optics to a kalimba, so I walked out with it for $200 even. That was the only real great deal I've ever seen. I've also seen G&L L2000s and L1000s going for around $695, a Kibicki Factor for $995 and a MM Sterling for $800. Tempting, but I passed.

    Bottom line is you gotta be patient. and check back once in a while. Also, some stores keep their nicer merchandise behind the counter or somewhere you can't reach by yourself, so you might want to ask if they have any other stuff that's not on the floor. Learn how to haggle and be patient.

    These are things I've learned about Pawn shops in California. I saw some interesting places in Florida I'd have loved to check out if I had the time. Happy hunting.

  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think this is almost a truism over here - I mean why would anybody leave anything in a Pawn shop if it was worth anything?

    Times have changed - people are queuing up to loan you money - whereas in 1977 maybe there was no other way to raise cash? I know now in the UK that finance companies flood the media with adverts offering to lend you money.

    People are only going to leave something in a Pawn shop it is "rubbish" and nobody else wants it or will buy it!

    Of course it is probably different in the US .......
  11. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    My experience is that anything that has a remote chance of being valuable has a pretty high price tag to begin with. Same on flea markets too nowadays, it's either junk or too expensive.

    I once saw a Fender P-bass, advertised to be from '64. Somebody stripped the finish off (the saw dust was still on it) and tried to make a hole for a J pickup with a chisel. The shop asked 2500$ for it!!!
    They also had a beat-up Kubicki X-Factor that was almost as expensive as a new one. The rest was junk.

    The time for great deals is pretty much over.

    Maybe there still can be great deals in private deals.
    Our guitarist bought an old Guild acoustic from a woman who didn't play guitar for 25$.
    He later asked for a evaluation from a vintage store and they offered him 1500$ without even having seen it!

    But this is probably as rare as winning a lottery.
  12. IMHO, guys who run pawn shops are as sharp as razors, along with market traders, and used car salesmen. They gotta be, it's as simple as that.

    They take stuff in at virtually no cost and offer it quite cheaply, giving the impression to the buyer that they've got a good deal in prospect: perhaps they have, of course ;)

    Feigning disinterest, a lack of knowledge, etc? They've seen it a million times before:eek:

    They'd know the difference between a Fender and a copy and, if they didn't, would know how to find out.

    If you see a good deal, go for it. Try to talk the guy down but be prepared to walk out.

  13. I wouldn't be too sure about pawn guys knowing their stuff, and being really sharp. I saw a thread a couple days ago about a Warwick Buzzard in a pawn shop. Thing was, it was some cheap ass P bass clone that somebody slapped a name on.

    Most of the time, I see stuff like cheap copies, Squiers, Rogues, and low end beat up gear in pawn shops.

    I oneday hope to find a great deal in a pawn shop, but seriously doubt it.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    That sounds like pretty "sharp" practice to me! ;)

    I can agree with most of what you're saying though.
  15. Sharp for the one selling to the pawn shop, hehe ;)
  16. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Names like Fender, Peavey, Marshall, Gibson,etc. are well known to pawn shops. Your best bet would be to look for a name that you know and that they don't know much about. I think the days of pawn shop and flea market deals are over, for the most part. A friend of mine used to frequent flea markets. Once, I saw him bring home a box with three bodies and three necks that he bought for $5.; an Ibanez "Les Paul", a Kay, and a Memphis "Strat". He would often bring home a piece of junk to refinish and tinker with. I would say that he has 40 to 50 of these flea market deals hanging on his wall. Now it is rare to find an instrument at a flea market and I suspect eBay has a lot to do with that. eBay is now the place that a lot of people use to raise cash instead of pawn shops.
  17. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    It was to their advantage not to "know".
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Presumably that's because they are "unplayable"!!?? ;)
  19. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    A few of them are unplayable. Most of them have turned out pretty nice (for what they are). He recently sold the Memphis "Strat" for $150. that's a pretty good return on a less than $2 initial investment. He worked for a while building cabinets and furniture so he already has the tools and finishing supplies. Anyway, that is (or was) his hobby.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Excellent advice, Mike.

    I don't think it's necessary to pretend you're buying it for someone else but it certainly can't hurt.

    A large part of anyone's success at pawnshops hinges on the pawnshop in question. The majority seem to overprice items and aren't willing to deal. They also have internet access so they can check comps instantly on the web, particularly eBay. They have books on musical instruments as another source. Despite all of this, I've had excellent luck over the years and haven't seen things slow down. Here's how:

    The stores that overprice and are firm with their prices? I don't deal with them. It's usually a waste of time. Once I'm sure that's how they operate I may go back yearly to see if things have changed, otherwise I write them off.

    You have to be well-informed and ready when an opportunity comes up. When I saw a Polytone MiniBrute III combo amp in great condition for $79 I knew it was a bizarre deal. If you aren't familiar with them you won't know that. This ties into my next point:

    I rarely make offers. I let the pawnshop tell me what they'll accept, it's usually much lower than what I'd offer and I know lowball offers sometimes turn people off. I found my 78 Ash Jazz for around $800, asked what they would take, they said $500 including tax, Isquealed with joy (internally0 said "not bad, I think I'll take it" and the rest is history.

    Remember that all situations will not have a happy ending. No need to get upset about it. If they stick to a price that doesn't work for you, say thanks, maybe some other time, and go about your business. The shop where I got my like new Maple Cirrus V originally wanted $800. I stopped by a couple of months later and they said they'd take $600. No negotiation on my part.

    You need to know what you're doing. If you don't, you may screw yourself. What may seem like a great deal may pale when you find out the same thing is available elsewhere for less, maybe even new. My wife, son and I buy lots of stuff from pawnshops but we're informed buyers. My son learned his lesson (on being informed) when he bought a PS2 game for $20 that sold for $18 new. "Seemed like a good deal" is not as good as "knowing" it's a good deal.

    Most of the stuff is just common sense.

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