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.
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?
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.