Pitfalls of buying used amp gear?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Cambass, Dec 28, 2001.

  1. I'm currently looking at upgrading my existing amp (40watt Ashton combo) but I don't have a lot of money to spend, only about $600 Australian. So I'm going to have to buy a used amp.

    So far I haven't found too much in this price range (surprise surprise) and what I have found look like relics from the 50's that have been around the block a million times. Today I found a cheap amp and speaker cabinet at a place called 'Cash Converters' (a glorified pawn shop) for about $500. It looks alright but I didn't test it out.

    My question (and I do have one, bear with me) is what are some of the dangers of buying second hand equipment? What sort of things should I check for when buying it? If it sounds good and is in ok condition would it be worth parting with this money?
  2. progplayer


    Nov 7, 2001
    Depends. I know I found a few used junkers at Daddy's and they don't want to admit it. So you really have to test the stuff you want to buy (especially used gear!) And when you buy from a private owner you got to test everything (especially if you buy stuff off the 'net like ebay, etc...)

    Just recently I was about to buy a SWR 2x10 and when tested the right speaker proved to be blown! The kid denied it but my ears and eyes said otherwise. A little background check (like asking what he use to run into the 2x10) will also provide some good info. This kid pushed this cab to the max and probably clipped the amp. He was trying to push 700w into this cab at full volume at 4ohms. Don't ask me how he did this but he did. So of course this cab is gonna be shot, he's owned it for two years.

    Its probably better to buy from a store because they have policies on defective gear, etc... In a nut shell just go in there and test the gear with you bass/head if possible. Let your ears and eyes make the final decision. I'm sure others here will provide better advice!
  3. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    The big downside to buying used is that the gear isn't virgin and that bothers a lot of people.

    Most of my rig is used and here's what I generally look out for:

    - If an amp is about 2-3 years old, has a tube pre and someone is selling it for dirt cheap, chances are they don't know about changing the tube. Many people will sell a perfectly good SWR or what have you, thinking it's shot when it just needs a (single, cheap, puny) tube changed.

    - Make sure all the controls work. Turn all eqs, check for a signal on all jacks, make sure the fan is working.

    - count on opening the hood of the amp and cleaning out dust. In many cases the innards of used amps are filthy and a blast of canned air can't hurt.

    - When buying a cab, it's easy to tell if a driver is blown but not necessarily if the horn is gone. Make sure to turn the treble up all the way, turn the horn up all the way and listen for a hiss. No hiss, no horn (the fuse may be blown) but renegotiate price or pass on it.

    If a piece of gear survives to make it to the used market, you can be certain there aren't manufacturing defects (cold solder joints, bad trannies, etc...)* You just have to decide for youself if the amount of wear and tear that was put on it by previous owners is of an acceptable level to you.

    * Except for vintage gear (late 60's early 70's). Those pieces often have problems relating to the age of the electronic components...caps drying out, corrosion, etc... If you're a tinkerer it's great but you might be buying something that is on the last legs of usable life.
  4. If you can learn how to fix this stuff yourself, buying used can be a gold mine. Especially buying broken stuff for cheap.

    But if you have to pay someone to repair it for you, you have to be extra careful in getting used gear. I would shy away from 60's and 70's tube stuff if you aren't gonna work on it yourself.

    When you test any amps out, play them loud, bang on the head with your fist, play it for an hour so everything will heat up, etc. Be suspicious, because there is usually a reason someone is selling their stuff. If they just need the money, your in luck. If they are trying to unload an amp with an intermittent problem that can't be easily fiound and fixed, you'll need to discover that before you buy it.