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OT: Pawnshop blues


Eric Iverson

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Help!

I pawned my mandolin so I could take flute lessons, and pawned my flute so I could take mandolin lessons. So now I sit around the house playing bass. But I need bass lessons, too....

Eric the Kazoo player

 

Seriously, have any of you guys ever had to pawn an instrument, or did you ever get a fine instrument out of the pawnshop or want ads for a fraction of its true value?

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I have not seen a pawn shop instrument worthy of purchase in almost 40 years. On my first trip to Nashville I expected to find a few nice instruments, but everything had been hacked up, modified, stripped, or was basically shit to start with.

 

No, they will not give you anywhere near what you think your instrument is worth.

 

You might try Craigslist, but that was a total bummer for me.

 

You might try ebay. It is a bit of hassle to deal with shipping, but there ya go. I did quite well on ebay in the 90s both as a buyer and as a seller.

 

Guitar Center bought a number of vintage pieces from a friend of mine at stupid high rates. Don't know if they still do that or not.

 

Finally I want to say that I saw this over and over again in the 1960s, when guitar players would take their top valued instrument and pawn it with the intention of buying it back someday. Mostly someday never comes. If you need a loan, talk to a family member, or talk to a friend who is flush. I was a few bucks ahead, so I took possession of a bass in return for the loan for the down payment on a friends home. She promised to pay me back, and she did. But while that was happening, I had a nice Martin acoustic bass for a couple of years. I got all my money back, I asked for no interest, she got a new house and got her bass back, and I had a nice toy for a while. But it was understood that it was my bass until she paid back the money. (written down, and signed.)

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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No, but I've done the equivalent, selling items to music stores for half what they're worth so I could pay bills. I've only ever bought one instrument in a pawn shop, a Galveston P Bass copy I paid $100 for. Not a bad instrument, but not what I would call "quality"

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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Never pawned a guitar, but I did buy my 2nd electric guitar out of a pawn shop back in 68, It was an Aria with 3 pickups kind of a Stratlike thingy...still remember the big red switch knob I had to put on it but it played pretty darn good...
Take care, Larryz
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Bill, I would probably agree with you about Nashville. I live in Southern TN, about 2-3 hours from Nashville, so there are a lot of people who have settled down here who have done that trip up there. I would think there is a lot of hacking going on up there, people chasing the relentless pursuit of tone, blah, blah.

Down here, things are a little tamer, since I am about halfway between Nashville and Atlanta, sleepy little town of 40,000. I've had tremendous luck finding at least three instruments. Maybe I'm just lucky, more likely I am not playing to the standards you do. I don't have your years of experience on guitar.

Agreed, MOST of the stuff is junk, but then when you think you've seen it all...my friend a couple months ago walked into a pawn shop and there on the wall was an old triple pickup Charvel, and he got it for $110. We looked it up on the net, $1000 minimum. Found a Squier Strat 20th anniversary recently in mint condition save for the plastic spring cover on the back was missing, a simple $5.00 part. Got it for $65, love it. I passed recently on a Copeland hollowbody electric for $100, found out later I made a $500-600 mistake.

No, I don't run into high end Grestchs, or old American made Fenders, but there is still quality out there.

And I think you are also right about Guitar Center paying high, and then they mark it higher. My local GC has used stuff that's been hanging on their walls for months. My store, at least, seems to have better prices on used percussion, rather than amps and guitars. I think maybe it's kind of a local management thing.

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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I have not seen a pawn shop instrument worthy of purchase in almost 40 years. On my first trip to Nashville I expected to find a few nice instruments, but everything had been hacked up, modified, stripped, or was basically shit to start with.

 

Bill

 

You just looked in the wrong pawn shops - or towns. ;) You won't find anything in Nashville, or LA, NYC, ect...

 

I was on the road full time for a dozen years and found lots of cool guitars and amps at great deals. The key was to hit small towns, especially ones with no interstate highway running through them.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein

 

http://www.thesymbols.net

 

http://www.jascoguitar.com

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Excellant point, Jasco. If the local market doesn't support the pricing, it doesn't necessarily mean that the items will not be there. My town is almost exactly what you described. lots of pickers and players here, though, including little ole me, trying my best! We do have an interstate, but never any big music venues. Leon Redbone was here last summer - otherwise you had to go to Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville, Pidgeon Forge, Gatlinburg or Atlanta to see anybody of consequence.

I would not try to buy a Rolex from a Las Vegas pawn shop...

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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Pawn shops used to be a place where you could get a deal, numerous old time tales abound. Like the widow who brings in her dearly departed husbands old acoustic guitar hoping she can get $50.oo or so for it. The un-educated pawn shop dealer gives her the $50.00 and puts it on the wall for $100.00. Turns out it's a pre-war Martin in near perfect condition and some guy in the know gets it for $75.00! Not anymore. Pawn shops started having everything from musical instruments to jewellery appraised before putting it out for sale 20 or 30 years ago. I was in a pawn shop in Reno a few years ago and the guy pounced on me as soon as he saw that I was looking at guitars, they had about 100 out and he said "if there's a particular make or model you're looking for let me know, for every guitar you see here I have 3 more in the back room".

 

Jim

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I bought a '68 Rickenbacker 4001 bass at a pawn shop for $220.

 

A couple of years later, in college when I was playing in a cover band for a living while in school, I had to pawn it during a school break (smaller crowds at bars) for $60 to cover the electric bill. I explained that this was how I made my living and I would be back in two weeks to get it back. In 2 weeks I played a gig (with a borrowed bass) and raced to get my axe back. When I asked about it I was told "Oh... huh... we thought you just sold that to us." I guess when I relayed how broke I was they figured I wouldn't be taking them through court any time soon. Bastards.

 

A guy I'd known a little a few years before that tracked me down a few years ago: he wandered in and bought the bass for $300 a few days after I pawned it and recognized it as mine. He still has it, said I can borrow it sometime if I want.

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Seriously guys, pawn shops have not carried good instruments since ebay came along and made $30 Kent basses into 'vintage' 'collectable's. I still travel, and I check when I can. There is really nothing out there. Now, could one stumble into a Charvel? Why not? Is any Charvel worth $1,000? Maybe, but not to me. Squires? Okay. But anything Fender, Gibson, Rick, Gretsch, etc has usually been crapped on or crapped out, and they still want collectible prices for them. Pawn shops have deals with guitar brokers, just as they do with jewelers. The valuable stuff gets moved along immediately for a good price and sold in different markets, the junk sits waiting for the unknowing and unwise.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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It wasn't at a pawn shop, but while visiting a friend in Lafayette, LA, I stopped in a really small music store. For $300, I got a 1965 Guild Starfire I, in it's original (chipboard) case. Certainly not in mint condition (updated tuners, and the pickup is a Gibson); but worth more than I paid for it in terms of quality and mojo (if there is such a thing). Super nice neck, and one of the most useful tone pots I've come across.

http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n2/Awestruckdan/Gear/2007_0109Image0083.jpg

 

A Craigslist ad got me a Fernandes Dragonfly (sans tuners & sustainer pickup) for $30. Body is in pretty good shape (7/10?), the other pickups are ok; the neck is pretty nice. I put tuners on it right away; just recently got a GFS lipstick pickup to put in the neck position, and a GFS Modboard wah/mid boost to put in the sustainer controls' place. Hopefully I'll have a unique, serviceable axe for @ $150, that I can maybe sell for a bit more if I need to move it on.

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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Seriously guys, pawn shops have not carried good instruments since ebay came along and made $30 Kent basses into 'vintage' 'collectable's. I still travel, and I check when I can. There is really nothing out there. Now, could one stumble into a Charvel? Why not? Is any Charvel worth $1,000? Maybe, but not to me. Squires? Okay. But anything Fender, Gibson, Rick, Gretsch, etc has usually been crapped on or crapped out, and they still want collectible prices for them. Pawn shops have deals with guitar brokers, just as they do with jewelers. The valuable stuff gets moved along immediately for a good price and sold in different markets, the junk sits waiting for the unknowing and unwise.

 

Bill

 

There's another thread here Bill where I described missing a '72 Fender Princeton Reverb for $99 at a pawn shop this past weekend because I was out of town when someone found it and posted it on a local board. The guy who ran to get it said it's in perfect working order and 8 out of 10 looks.

 

That comes after a few weeks like that - another friend found a brand new, plastic and tags intact with a section of paint missing on a side ("relic'ed?") Classic Player '50s sunburst strat for $149, another guy I work with finding a '90s 2x12" Ampeg Reverberocket re-issue for $100... a guy finding a never used Morley oil can delay for $40 (he was asked "What the hell is it?" when he asked them to take it out of the case) that he's been offered $1,200 for by some studio guy he knows. An older jazz guitarist bought a '65 SG Custom with Vibrola at a garage sale for $75...

 

I'm down here in the sticks in Louisiana, I guess... but things have changed here. I think some people don't feel like looking stuff up? I won't complain about that...

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Also... we watch stuff come down and down on Craigslist here. Some people seem to have an aversion to listing things on eBay, and they're stuck with what the local market will pay. A MIM Strat is never more than $200 when all is said and done, usually half that if they just want to sell it immediately (and it's mostly kids getting rid of neglected gifts). PRS and Gibsons and higher end Fenders are listed for weeks and months until they get fairly cheap. Pawn shops aren't giving people anything, Guitar Center does used stuff the same way as pawn shops so if people are intimidated by using eBay (or aren't someone whose built up a good rating) they're stuck with taking what they can get in a time of economic depression.

 

So few notable things have even made it to Pawn Shops for a bit, and that has probably led to those relationships with the guitar dealers drying up. That, and the fact that with everyone selling and hardly anyone buying it doesn't seem to be a job people are clamoring for here these days, so a lot of inexperienced people seem to be in the jobs.

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Not every pawn shop has taken the time to buy the books to tell them what they need to know. Imagine having to buy pricing books on everything from guitars to watches to bandsaws, you get the picture. And a lot of them only have dial-up, if that, too slow to respond. That is why I snagged my MINT Ibanez Ghostrider Tobacco Burst 560 with original case for $300.

A local dealer, (who does buy the books), offered me $450 without even seeing it.

That's the secret - these little out of the way shops where they don't take the time to do their research. They may know guns, or tools, but no one can know it all without the books, the internet, and plain experience. And from these postings, it looks like the finds are mainly coming from small towns and rural areas, which you would expect. There are no bargains in Manny's, for sure. But Wildwood Pawn, Bluesprings Rd, in Southern Tennessee where you trip over the old drills and VHS tapes to get to the guitars? Another story.

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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here in texas, pawn shop deals are easy to come by

might be the economy, could be the lending laws

i have about 15 guitars and more than 40 pedals, all but one are from a pawn shop, here are some examples:

1992 Fender SRV $750

2003 MIM Strat $125

2006 Fender Custom Shop Designed Classic Strat $300

1973 Fender Twin Reverb $140

1981 Fender Concert (Rivera Era) $275

1974 Takamine (Guild copy) 12 String $59

2003 Music Man Axis (USA) $400

I could go on, but you get the idea

 

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"1973 Fender Twin Reverb $140"

 

well, that is the only thing on that list that I might have been even remotely interested in, ut that is what makes horseracing. (Not really, the twin is too loud for my work. But MIM, Takamine, etc.... no interest.)

 

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I know this is the guitar forum, but I got a Moog Opus 3 at a pawn shop for $90. The guy didn't know what he had. He said "yeah I don't think it works, it only makes strange noises". Of course, the filter resonance was up with a nice LFO modulating it, so it was just making "sound effects". A couple movements of the right sliders and it was making beautiful music.

 

FYI - I still have it, and they go for about $800 on ebay.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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In the mid 70's I found a Neumann KM84 in a pawn shop for $75, my first of about 18 Neumann mics I now own. They were, & still are, generally the first call acoustic guitar, drum overhead & orchestral mic. They're long out of production now & sell used for around $1200. I always check pawn shops to see if lightning will strike twice, but I've never seen another such deal.

 

Scott Fraser

Scott Fraser
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In the mid 70's I found a Neumann KM84 in a pawn shop for $75, my first of about 18 Neumann mics I now own. They were, & still are, generally the first call acoustic guitar, drum overhead & orchestral mic. They're long out of production now & sell used for around $1200. I always check pawn shops to see if lightning will strike twice, but I've never seen another such deal.

 

Scott Fraser

 

Yeah, in the 70s, pre-ebay, too. Now -everything- is 'vintage' and worth a mint. Except for my stuff. Nobody wants to buy that junk.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Bill, you seem like a really smart guy. And I am glad you are somewhat of a purist in your equipment. You are obviously a good player who can justify the premium equipment. I cannot afford an expensive guitar, (over say, $1000), and my playing is not good enough to warrant it anyway. I do, however, collect, and in my hobby, build those Tsunami's I posted a few weeks back. So I guess I'm a gearhead more than a player.

That leads me to my second point. Once in a while, a battered piece of gear in a pawn shop yields some outstanding parts that if bought separately would cost more than the pawn shop price. I am willing to buy that unit and strip out what I need in order to build or upgrade a unit so it rocks. Pawn shops can be good for that. For instance, I ran across an older hot pink Aria with a Floyd Rose, a S/S/H configuration, with the locking nut torn off, the stick holder of the Floyd ruined, but the pickups, OMG. Something the previous player did not mess with. For the $90 asking price, you simply toss the rest and get a great set of pickups!

So all I can say is I'm glad you are not looking in the pawn shops anymore, leaves all that "junk" for the rest of us!

Thanks, Bill!

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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Going green at the pawn shops and using those old parts and speakers is a great thing to do...there are a lot of guys out there that should buy at least one nice guitar instead of collecting a thousand dollars worth of cheap guitars IMHO...one of my best guitar buds doesn't feel justified spending a thousand on a guitar, even though he outplays many of the players I've seen...
Take care, Larryz
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"cheap" is meaningless... back when everybody was buying $1000 Charvels I was borrowing a fleet of $150 pawnshop Jaguars and Jazzmasters from a buddy (and having snide comments made by people when I'd pull them out). Fashion has reversed that scenario, but does it and did it ever say anything about the respective quality of workmanship involved in either?

 

Human beings aren't rational, and don't make judgments based in rational considerations for the most part.

 

As a kid, when I started playing, my musician/music teacher parents gave me a cheap Les Paul copy and little amp when I'd made a certain amount of progress teaching myself on a sadistic Global acoustic. My school mates - whose parents were Doctors, Lawyers, Stock brokers, etc. - started off mostly with real Les Pauls or strats and Fender Twins, along with lessons, right off the bat. It became a point of pride to sound better than they did on my junk, and I'm afraid that buried itself deep in my psyche or something.

 

Anyway, I have a bunch of guitars that I didn't pay a fortune for, but they're good guitars and anybody who plays them who isn't just a cork sniffer with little actual playing ability notices that right away. "Guitars are like people: you shouldn't prejudge them based on names, color or what country they come from..."

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Years ago, when "Leave it to Beaver" was still on TV in black and white, they had an episode where Beaver was trying to learn the trumpet. Obviously, he struggled and made foul noises until the parents tried to rectify the situation. That set up a cameo appearance by some famous trumpet player, cannot remember who. In one scene, June and Cleaver thought it might be a poorly made trumpet, where the trumper player took the cheap, poorly made used instrument and proceeded to play a very difficult riff beautifully.

As much as I like finding cool guitars for bargains, I know the most expensive and best in the world won't make me play any better than on my well set up Chinese S101 EHL24, or that Squier 20th anniversary Strat I just acquired. The quality has come that far. So it's just fun to find these. It has nothing to do with my playing ability. That still firmly sucks, unfortunately.

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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Cheap is meaningless to some but you would be hard pressed to find a nice Jaguar or Jazzmaster for $150 bucks these days...I have a re-issue of each that cost over a grand each...back in the days of Leave it to Beaver you could have got a new one for $150...the buddy I spoke of had a new Mustang when we first started playing together (circa 1966) and it was considered the "cheaper" model...I loved the sound of that guitar and still do (in fact I think it sounds better than the Jag or the Jazz)...

 

I remember that episode too and really enjoyed the look on the Beav's family faces when they heard how beautiful that horn could play...doesn't matter if you have an expensive guitar or not, if it's what you like playing then it's your baby...I paid $325 for my LP Deluxe [new] back in 1971, but it's going to cost you at least a grand for something similar these days...some of the new LP and Strat prices these days (ie 2 to 3 grand) blow me away...and I know that they aren't going to sound that much better no matter who plays them...If you find $150 guitar that sounds and feels good, by all means buy it ASAP...

 

Take care, Larryz
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