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previous: rmike That's the one!If I... -- 9/15/2000 7:23 PM View Thread

Re: updates, questions, etc....

9/15/2000 7:43 PM
Re: updates, questions, etc....
Hmm . . .  
Considering all the info now, I would be wondering if a high-volume ebay seller might not have had two BF Showmans auctioned and shipped you the *handyman special* single boxed by mistake while the *perfectly working* double-boxed one went to the guy who paid less and expected less.  
It could happen, I would offer the scenario and give the seller a chance to say, *yeah that's the ticket* and find out how he had prepared to adjust in case he was intentionally trying to cheat on this deal. A cheater here would hope the buyer would not say anything, but also be well prepared for a variety of possible dissatisfactions, some of which may still be to come with this particular piece. Other times honest sellers are intending to get rid of old surplus in typical as-is condition at prices which reflect the work typically needed. When an item reaches closer to fair market value they sometimes might not hesitate to use part of their extra profits to make it a good value for the final buyer, but you would have to ask for a partial refund to get the ball rolling out of their court and see what they might do instead. They are still probably hoping you wouldn't say anything, there's plenty of buyers that won't, but a good seller is used to handling all kinds. Sometimes a partial refund could be significant enough cash that they would offer way more value in additional surplus if you would accept it. In this case it would be nice if he had lots of used music accessories, maybe a nice pedal or two that he's not using would sweeten the deal and leave a good taste in everyone's mouth. Or even a half-dozen or more non-working pedals, especially if there is a vintage classic or two, which might be enough to trade to a tech for your entire repair, you could even have a tech be in touch with him to work out something like this, so that the seller actually compensates your tech for assuring you get the amp that was *bargained* for at the price agreed.  
Anyway, all BF are old, almost any could use some work even if not needed immediately, so expecting that you or a tech would have to work on it anyway is most realistic even if you got a mint one and paid a mint price. Expensive parts like transformers should not need replacement on any amp represented to be fully functional, I would even say tubes that were less than *75% good* would not be acceptable in an amp that was supposed to be *good to go*. OTOH, I would probably not expect old speakers to be perfect, but at least *75%* usable themselves.  
There is some history of auctioneering in my family, and from the many hundreds of hours I've spent in live auctions, some of it purchasing many tons of equipment, the most important theme that dominates is that an auction is intended to dispose of merchandise for whatever reason, *cash the day of the sale, as is, where is, no warrantees of any kind*. The idea that things go to the highest bidder is of primary importance too, but secondary to the need to dispose goods. So an honest representation (or your interpretation of whatever representation) of why the merchandise is being disposed can help in advance to get a feel for whether the largely unknown quality factors might have better odds of turning out in your favor or not, once you get the merchandise home and only then are able to find out what it's really worth.  
Rarely in a real auction will over 50% of the true quality of an item be verifiable, and many seasoned buyers use that as a guideline for bidding, letting only the real risk-takers bid more than half the fair market value. With Ebay, verification is realistically less than 50%, so they continue to modify the auction concept to try and make it better for both buyers & sellers, effectively reducing risk and moving more in the direction of electronic classified ads. This has led to gradual increase of trading prices overall to meet and sometimes exceed fair market. This has made a new niche for unscrupulous sellers to unfairly profit more than ever with the age-old technique of representing recognized mass-produced old antiques at better than actual condition. I always remember that in an auction you are supposed to be buying a *pig in a poke*, so bid accordingly, bid seldom but on lots of different items, and develop a gambling strategy that proves to yield more merchandise surprises in your favor than your disfavor.  
I know Steve was in this thread earlier, and had previously expressed his reservations about purchasing a guitar over ebay. Bad enough without playing it first, but also in a situation which requires so much trust would just about rule it out for me too. Just about, but not quite . . .  
Here's what I did, and how it was different than the amps.  
First the amps since my standards were lower, I wanted some cheap experimental platforms, bought units that were just plain less expensive than wholesale replacement cost of the transformers & tubes they contained. About half the tubes were good, I already had spares anyway, overall about a 50% yield for the merchandise, i.e. average of half the amps working or all the amps halfway working, whatever. Paid less than half the market price so I feel I did fine. Didn't get any valuable collector's items, or anything near perfect, the compromised pieces were represented with typical mild exaggeration from a known disadvantaged condition, so only those willing to work on them and put money into tubes were bidding and that also kept the prices down. I found sellers who were seasoned enough antique volume movers to have good exposure to old electronics, and are now beginning to take advantage of the growing desire for the old tube amps that have been gathering dust in their stores for years. The ones who realize the cost of new tubes alone without labor is more than they need to get from the amp so they sell it as-is, even though they might choose to restore a jukebox or radio before offering it. Packing was generally excellent from those who apparenty know how to ship Tiffany lamps and such. I didn't really expect or want the seller to know much about amps in particular anyway.  
For the guitars it was an extreme weeding-out process, since I'm still cheap. Looked at thousands, bid on hundreds, got two. I saw no apparent way to get an acceptable deal on anything even slightly popular from any decade of electric guitar manufacture, so focused on downright unpopular models. Extremely unlikely to find one at or near to 50% of fair market value either so had to decide based on what it was worth to me now, that ruled out truly professional top-of-the line instruments, of which only the most beat up copies are available anyway. I have to be honest, I just can't afford fair prices, so that meant it had to be clean, little used, and certain to appreciate in value by 100% over the number of years before I might be inclined to sell or trade. That meant old, and I wouldn't be able to make up my mind what I wanted in advance, but would have to take whatever I was familiar with that appeared to be a good deal. I was never surprised as hundreds of guitars were bid over twice the value I had in mind. I got the two that surprised me, both were student models so were not expensive when originally made, and not presently considered collectible. The 1962 Epiphone thin hollowbody was way down from Gibson's best archtops at the time, the 1973 Gibson S-1 was one step down from the L6-S I got new in '73. Both were virtually unplayed and near mint, taken in trade by the music stores I bought them from. Probably the original owners never kept up their guitar lessons, and their next-of-kin traded for modern gear. I could tell by messages from the store owners that they were packed with gear and these pieces were truly surplus. They knew they could sell them for more if they waited (but had probably been waiting a while) and were just doing the regular auction thing to dispose of them immediately for quick cash. This wasn't internet marketing but instead something familiar to me with which I had an established comfort level. Plus these guys probably receive more guitars than they ship, but at least had some experience and plenty of the right packing boxes on hand, they were real businessmen about it without a doubt from the beginning.  
Just so happens that Gibson's current pro models don't happen to be built as well as these oldies, and the tones are unique, though not popular enough for amp tweaking, they are still more fun to play and listen to than most new guitars. Especially that S-1 with the three Bill Lawrence pickups that all play at the same time, the 3-pickup chime is fantastic where you would usually expect mud. Plays as good as the L6-S with the two humbuckers that I have been using almost 30 years instead of a Les Paul, which it was supposed to replace in the Gibson line at the time.  
Well, that's my somewhat off-topic story, but maybe it will help,  

Steve A. Mike:  &n... -- 9/16/2000 2:31 AM