Most people like that feeling of unboxing new gear, but you could be saving lots of money by getting that same gear second hand. I myself start with used gear, for many reasons, but mostly because it’s cheaper…and I myself am utterly cheap.
However, you need to do your homework (sorry 😐) before forking out your nest egg on that new piece of kit.
Let’s look at a few quick Pros and Cons when buying used audio gear.
Pros: Used audio gear is cheaper, accomplishes the same functions of new gear, and will usually last as long as the new counterpart.
Cons: There’s usually no warranty, there may be missing pieces (such as the box, manual, or cool brand sticker), could be defective, and may be more difficult to return (if you can return it at all).
Once you’ve decided what you want to buy, (let’s assume a microphone), then we can start shopping.
First, know the going rate of the gear. Don’t have an unrealistic expectation that you’ll find that Neumann microphone for several hundreds of dollars below market value. Most audio gear will continue to hold its value, so know what that value is before purchasing.
Second, choose your retailer. There’s great outlets such as Reverb, Offer Up, and eBay. I personally start with Reverb, because they specialize in selling used audio gear. They have a great reputation, and you can rest easy that you’re getting quality gear from this merchant.
Third, short list a few options. Find a few options of the gear that you want. These should be across a few different platforms to find the best: prices, condition of the equipment, seller ratings, and shipping costs. These are important parameters, so don’t overlook one of them. Maybe find comparable items to the one you like. That way you have more options! Who doesn’t love options?
Fourth, and maybe most importantly, check the condition of the gear. Most sellers will have to list the condition of the gear. Make sure to check any photos for blemishes, dents, or missing parts (as best you can). If there are no actual photos of the gear, it may be too good to be true, so reach out and ask for real photos. Also, check to see if the gear has been in a smoke free environment, as smoke tar and residue will cause issues for high-end gear and you want to avoid these pieces.
Fifth, research the seller. Once you’ve found your gear on a retailer page, and narrowed your list down to comparable prices, you can research the seller. Check their review ratings, read the bad reviews as well as the good ones. Make sure that the reviews look legit, because some people will pay for bogus reviews. Make sure there are at least a few good reviews of the seller. Once you find a seller that looks reputable, you’re almost there.
Sixth, and finally, check for shipping costs. Make sure that the shipping costs aren’t outrageously priced. You can cross check the spec of the equipment for weight, and do a cost comparison on the USPS website. Just put in the seller’s Zip code, your Zip code, the package weight, and voila…instant price check. If you’re lucky, you can do a local pickup and avoid shipping altogether.
Once you’ve vetted these things, you can checkout and wait for that coveted, NEW GEAR DAY!! Open that package, shoot your unboxing videos, and play with that new toy! Go on, you’ve earned it.
Make sure that once you receive your new item, that you thoroughly check it to make sure it’s exactly what you ordered.
- Clean it completely.
- Check that the item isn’t a knock-off, and document your serial number.
- Test the item for quality control. Make sure it passes a signal, that there are no strange hums or buzzes. Make sure all pots rotate evenly and cleanly. Ensure all LEDs are lit, and functioning. Make sure tubes aren’t blown…
- Register the item with the manufacturer, if applicable, for any warranty transfers.
- Register it with your insurance company too, as a separate article of property, just in case.
- Make sure all parts shipped, or were picked up. You’d hate to realize later that the windscreen or shock mount was forgotten, for example.
- Leave the seller a good, or poor, review. Whatever the case may be, let them know you received that new item and that you like it.
Hopefully these quick tips helped you make some important purchasing decisions. If they did, let me know what you bought, and how the process worked out for you. I’d love to hear if this helped.
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Until next time.