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TheGreek

How/why do people allow their gear to get in a state?

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I recently ordered a Sterling SUB 5er (I blame @mcnach for posting his thread about his new Harley Benton) from the Hull branch of Cash Converters. Put aside your feelings for CC, I know that they're not everybody's favourite company.

Bass arrived safely in a Gig bag but well packed in tons of bubble wrap (replenishing my dwindling stock) and several black bags. I was concerned when I saw it but my concerns were unfounded. It was intact and seemingly unharmed.

I unpacked the spade bass - pretty sure it must have previously been owned by Alan Titchmarsh or Charlie Dimmock - the strings were filthy, probably never been changed by the looks of them, the bridge was caked in dirt and grime and the Maple board looked like it had been played by a motor mechanic during his lunch break.

Strings off, I was able to clean all the parts thoroughly in about 15-20 minutes and underneath all that gunk is what looks like a very nice bass. Obviously fitted a new set of strings and deposited the old ones in the bin.

Now, as a buyer, it arriving in a mess automatically puts my back up - it suggests that somebody along the line really didn't give a sheet - it took very little time to clean. Had it arrived in it's present condition (cleaned) I would have assumed that it had been well cared for. CC always seem to have a stock of (cheap) strings - if they'd changed them to a clean, new set it would, again, have suggested that somebody was interested in making a good impression.

I'm making a couple of points here. Now I know that CC are a business and want to make as much money as they can, and they probably acquired the bass in this poor condition but surely it's better business to have happy customers (who are likely to return) than just taking money from their wallets only once.

Secondly, knowing the business model that CC adopt - buy crap cheap, mark it up and sell it on - I'm guessing it came through their door in this condition, so really they're just passing it on as they got it - the poor maintenance is clearly as a result of it's previous owner's lack of care.

What also astounds me is that somebody, who at one time paid good money for this, allows their instruments to get in this state. (It's only now occurring to me that it may not have found it's way to CC from it's genuine owner). I'm pretty sure (check my feedback here) that anybody who has ever traded with me has done so with the confidence that the merchandise has been well looked after and will arrive in good condition.

Am I naïve in believing this?

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5 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

What also astounds me is that somebody, who at one time paid good money for this, allows their instruments to get in this state. 

Am I naïve in believing this?

Yes, they probably nicked it!

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Many of my eBay/Gumtree/FB Marketplace* bargains have been instruments that were bought new and then left on a stand in the bedroom/living room/kitchen* for many years accumulating grime.

Yours is not an unusual experience, many people do not realise that there is some effort involved in keeping an instrument in good condition.

 

*delete as appropriate.

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Everyone is different. Some are incredibly anal about keeping their instruments absolutely pristine (I can never grasp how they manage it to be honest, unless they don’t gig), some really just don’t care, and most are at a point somewhere between. I would generally give an instrument a clean prior to shipping, but I don’t really expect anyone else to do the same.

It’s highly unlikely I’d put new strings on though, unless agreed with the buyer. (A) they cost and (B) they may like a completely different make and gauge (and setup) than me, which would make it a pointless exercise. Almost every time I’ve bought a used instrument, from a shop or privately, I’ve changed to different gauge/type of strings and had to set the instrument up to my taste. I certainly wouldn’t expect not to have to do this.

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I don't mind the fact that an instrument is dirty/not looked after as long as the price reflects the fact. No big deal to clean it and happy to do so if it means I get it for a bargain price. 

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One thing that I've seen a lot is people listing in the advert that they've fitted a new set of strings like it's a selling point. 

Apart from the whole 'not my kind of string' thing, the first thing I'll do with a second hand bass is cut the strings off. I don't want whatever the previous owner has managed to grind between the windings all over my fingers thank you very much. 

Usually while they're off the bass will get stripped and everything thoroughly cleansed, including the fretboard, then polished and oiled and a fresh set of strings. 

The funk may indeed be in the gunk, but I'm not finding it in someone else's. 

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All my gear is well looked after. If I sell anything I always give it a good look over before sending it on its way, and make sure to wipe it over with a clean cloth and polish. If it’s a bass then I change the battery and fit new strings.

It beats me how people can invest good money in an instrument, and not look after it.

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I love my basses in a similar way that I love painting or sculpture, they are or at least can be beautiful. Having said that they are tools first and foremost. No matter how good they look if they're uncomfortable to play they will be out the door. 

I accept they'll get grotty and dinged over time it's unavoidable. Sometimes the dust gets a little embarrassing even for me so I'll wave a cloth at it. 

But if I'm selling it then the pictures will show the condition and no one will be surprised by it good or bad. 

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1 hour ago, Dan Dare said:

I don't mind the fact that an instrument is dirty/not looked after as long as the price reflects the fact. No big deal to clean it and happy to do so if it means I get it for a bargain price. 

Yep. That's really the definitive answer. 

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I'm not super careful, but I've still got one guitar that I got in the late 1960s and it's still in pretty good nick.  Others from the 1970s onwards are equally well looked after.  All my guitars are fairly good really and they're all gigged. (Or used to be. :( )

I'm absolutey amazed at the amount of wear on some guitars.  I wonder how it's even possible during a normal gigging career.  They look like they've never been cleaned and dragged on a rope behind a car.

So, on the rare occasion that I sell a guitar, it's always checked over and cleaned before posting.

Frank.

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Imagine what the guy's house looks like!! He's probably turned his underpants inside out for the 5th week in a row.

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13 minutes ago, chris_b said:

Imagine what the guy's house looks like!! He's probably turned his underpants inside out for the 5th week in a row.

Urgh. I’ve suddenly gone all itchy.

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Just now, ambient said:

Urgh. I’ve suddenly gone all itchy.

Exactly; who bothers with underpants during lockdown?

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They're only underpants if you actually bother to wear something over them.

Edited by Doctor J
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Most people I know are really good but there are one or two that are horrific. When I bought my Rickenbacker it was described as immaculate but had a few small chips and knocks in the headstock and at the other end. The seller would have known and we had a chat about what "immaculate" actually meant before I paid him. I also picked up an acoustic for a singer and when the seller got it, it was by far the most bowed neck I have ever seen. Most of my stuff is regularly played and looks as new.

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Mick, you should the state of some the instruments that I get to work on. The worse ones are school music department guitars and basses.

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Flipping things over you can get some buyers who really are annoyingly, nay pathetically @[email protected] about the tiniest imperfection. A few months ago I sold a very well looked after Ibanez electric guitar via EBay for less than half the price I bought it. Advertised as 'like new' I checked it over in minute details, could see no scratches and spent an hour cleaning it and packing it safely. A couple of days after the buyer got it I had a message saying expressing his disappointment that it wasn't 'like new' as there was a 'hairline scratch' near the neck pickup. He attached a photo which I expanded but still could see nowt. He must've used an electron microscope to look for flaws or mebbe the Hubble telescope. I mean he'd already knocked me well down on the price until it was cheaper than all other copies of the same model. People eh? 

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9 minutes ago, Barking Spiders said:

Flipping things over you can get some buyers who really are annoyingly, nay pathetically @[email protected] about the tiniest imperfection. A few months ago I sold a very well looked after Ibanez electric guitar via EBay for less than half the price I bought it. Advertised as 'like new' I checked it over in minute details, could see no scratches and spent an hour cleaning it and packing it safely. A couple of days after the buyer got it I had a message saying expressing his disappointment that it wasn't 'like new' as there was a 'hairline scratch' near the neck pickup. He attached a photo which I expanded but still could see nowt. He must've used an electron microscope to look for flaws or mebbe the Hubble telescope. I mean he'd already knocked me well down on the price until it was cheaper than all other copies of the same model. People eh? 

Yes, I've fallen into that trap myself. I don't use the term 'as new' anymore. It's always 'used' and I take the best photographs I can for them to make the assumption that it looks fabulous.

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IME accumulated dirt and damage doesn't always register with the player if it has been gradually acquired over a long period of time. 

I had a bass which I sold some years ago as someone on here had actually put a wanted ad up for that particular make and model, and I thought "I've got one of those which I don't need anymore". The bass in question had spent most of it's life as a back-up to my Overwater during the 90s, and therefore had very little use - it had spent most of it's life either in a flight case or on a stand at the back of the stage. It would get used occasionally at rehearsals just so I could check I could play all our songs using it, but had never been actually used at a gig. Since I had bought my first Gus it had gone permanently into storage.

When I got the bass out of its case I was very surprised to see that it was covered in grime and a multitude of dings, dents and scratches that had never registered with me before. I spent a good half a day cleaning it and photographing all the damage, luckily the buyer was still interested. However I only did that because it was being sold in response to a wanted ad. Had I just been listing it on eBay, it would have been sold as it came out the case with a few photos showing the worst dents and dings, and something in the description to cover the condition.

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A bass comes into Cash Converters - they stick it on their website and see if it sells without them doing extra work. Obviously works as you bought it!

The moment you start cleaning or changing strings you're going to come into a few issues... what do you clean it with, who cleans it and also do you have anyone qualified to change strings on all guitars and basses that come in and do a half decent setup? 
If you get a bass that's a mess and dirty with old strings, but it plays and it's working why would you risk not being able to set it up properly, or one of your staff breaking a truss rod - or even just finding undisclosed damage or something? Easier to stick it up on the website and if someone wants it they will buy it, if they don't want it GAK, Andertons, PMT et al will provide clean instruments with new strings...

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Cleaning of some sort would be essential in the present covid situation I would of thought 

Maybe a quick wipe with antiseptic spray would of been good bet they didn't do that though 

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