ebay, Goodbye.

I had written a long post about the use of various online commerce sites for instruments, my super ultra old dog pro status expertise, and whatnot.  Complete with topical humor and various pop culture references juxtaposed with emotional attachment to my earliest instruments….but it had to be scrapped.

It’s just too much of a headache to buy or sell something used online.  In our younger days we can do the legwork of shipping, take the risks.  But after being burned a few times, you learn a little, and just can’t waste the effort.

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There was a period during which I became addicted to Round Badge Gretsch Drums.  (Hey, some people smoke crack, give me a break)  I somehow hit the wave, and came upon them like one of those truffle sniffing dogs.  I ended up with 5 kick drums, 3 toms, and 2 snares.  Maybe it was a Brooklyn thing, they were after all made in Williamsburg.  Sooner or later, logic and space prevailed, and most had to be let go.  One kick and one tom were shipped to Slovenia (the Fedex bill was RIDICULOUS) and 2 other kicks were shipped to Canada.

The Canadian paid an offensively low price, for drums basically being sold as parts.  Still, he was unhappy with them, and opened a Paypal dispute.  After a Paypal mishap, DOUBLE the amount of money was put on hold from my bank account, which lets just say was an inconvenience in my freelance working days.  Paypal is not the must helpful of organizations, as evidenced by this article, entitled “If you don’t like the violin you bought, just smash it, and we’ll get your money back”

I recently sold a snare drum to another Canadian (I guess I’ll never learn)  who wrote me to request $50 back claiming the snare throw off was broken.  This was not the case, so I asked what was broken, could it have been damaged in shipping, etc….and he said “you know what, let’s just forget about the $50″  WTF is that?  Just phishing for a refund?

So let that be a Lesson to you all, stay away from ebay for anything larger than a priority mail envelope, or more expensive than an iPod shuffle.  This is just on the selling side, I can’t even imagine it from a buyer’s perspective.  I’ve bought 3 drums on ebay, all over 5 years ago, but have heard endless horror stories.  Even Nels Cline was burned in a Jazzmaster ebay transaction, no one is immune!  Where’s the congressional hearing on this?

Jazzmaster

Online descriptions of equipment are rarely as they seem.  The same can probably be said of anything on the Internet.  I recently bit the bullet, and bought a Jazzmaster, scouring Craigslist.  A slightly safer alternative.  The description said:

“I’M SELLING MY 62 REISSUE FENDER JAZZMASTER.
MINT CONDITION. ONLY 3 YEARS OLD.
YOU WON’T FIND A SINGLE THING WRONG WITH THIS GUITAR.
JAZZMASTER’S ARE GOING FOR $1700 NEW RIGHT NOW.
THIS IS A BEAUTY!”

Yes, the first thing wrong, is that it’s in all caps.  Yet still, I went to see the guitar. It was nowhere near mint, full of dents and gouges, the pick guard was stripped in some areas with a screwdriver, the bridge was replaced….But I did get it for a pretty low price.

I think it might be time to stick to music stores.  Is this what adulthood is?  Sometimes you just have to feel comforted by the convenience and possible guarantee of quality.  Is it worth the $300 markup for the guitar you saw on Craigslist at $600 now displayed in your local independent shop for $900?  Sometimes it is.

Just as I finished that paragraph, I got a call from my friend in Virginia.  He found a Ludwig Vistalite kit in a thrift store for $40.  I think that’s the place to end it.

A Response.

Well,  thanks to everyone who clicked through from the Lefsetz Letter, and especially to those who commented.  Some are for, some are against what I had to say, but that’s what makes the internet the leading source of information among humans age 4-65 in this country, Monday through Friday and occasionally on weekends.

One particularly interesting point was how we basically wait for the backlash after any media coverage of an article like this.  That just furthers the point that the guage of what sucks and what does not has never been more obvious.  This article was written by a douchebag indie rock trust fund collective, and instantly they were called out on it.  The world is a safer place, please return to normal activities.

The moral….Make sure something is completely fantastic before putting it out to the public.

In other news, I moved yesterday, and am just beginning to dig myself out of boxes.  There will be a beautiful mini studio set up in the new place, perhaps some resulting tracks will be posted.

I’ve once again fallen victim to the Craigslist eBay monster, so in addition to moving boxes, shipping boxes are now involved.  Did you know it costs fucking $60 to ship a guitar?  All relevant search results told me around $30 would do it.  Lesson learned.

In gear news, I want to get my hands on that Zvex J Mascius pedal.  Someone get Zach on the phone.

Fuzz.

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Sometimes we find ourselves captivated by objects.  We give them little personalities and expect great things from them.  It’s like Toy Story.  We want everything we own to come alive at night and wreak havoc on the Museum of Natural History while Ben Stiller fumbles with a flashlight.  Is that a different movie?  I think it still works.

The Zvex Fuzz Factory is like the mean popular kid in school.  Where I came from, I don’t know if we had mean popular kids, most people seemed fairly nice, but I’d imagine that’s what it’s like in the Disney Midwestern Version.  You can’t get it to agree with you, it keeps screaming at you, its way out of your control, it occasionally self-oscillates (yeah, you heard me).  And yet there is just something about it you want to hang around with.

I’ve tried this box out in stores on two separate occasions.  Each time, it was just too out of control for me.  The thing is INTENSE.  Think of the fuzz guitar sound The Flaming Lips have on the “At War With The Mystics” album, that’s this guy.  It squeals.  It sounds like your amp got in a fight with a wild wolverine (as opposed to domestic) and is limping away to safety.  Its far beyond the realm of anything normal.  But it certainly is intriguing.  I vowed not to pay full price, staying true to my heritage of bargain hunting.

Continuing with my CL/Ebay sell and trade-off, I got rid of a 1920’s Ludwig Snare that I’ve owned for years.  I bought it on Long Island from a dude who is exactly what you think of when you hear the words “Long Island” and it basically sat for those few years.  Finally, it was taking up more space than it was worth, and a friendly drummer on tour from Seattle bought it last week.  That same night, a Fuzz Factory appeared on the CL.  So I figured, why not?

There is no final point to this story.  Except that a few days after it was acquired, I ran into Nels Cline on the street, who was a lovely fellow.   I’m going to take that as a sign that I made the right move.