In this tech tip I am going to talk about some things to look for when buying used electronic equipment. Buying used equipment can save you big bucks or provide you with big problems if you are not careful.
The first rule is plug it in make it work and test all the functions. If the person you are buying the equipment from does not have the needed equipment on hand to test what ever you are buying, (such as a guitar & cable for and amp, an amp and cable for a keyboard, etc.). Bring your own! When you test a piece of used equipment you are thinking about buying don’t just turn it on play through it and say yea it works I’ll take it. Leave the equipment on for as long as possible.
Many problems take an extended warm up period to show up. Lightly wiggle all the jacks (including the ac adapter jack if it has one) on the unit while it is operating to check for intermittent connections. Lightly tap on the unit in different places while it is running again to check for any obvious bad connections. If a unit is capable of running on both batteries and ac power, check to see that it does indeed work with both. Rotate all the controls while operating the unit, if they are audio controls there should be no erratic behavior or crackling from them if there is, while this is usually not a serious problem it will mean an additional repair expense.
If the controls operate a function as on a keyboard or an effects unit the same applies only the problem will show up in the way the display that indicates that function changes. If a unit has an external fuse check it to see that it matches the value written on the unit. If the fuse that is in the unit is of a substantially higher value or worse yet has foil on it. Insist that the proper value fuse be installed to make sure the unit will operate and is not drawing too much current which could indicate expensive repairs.
If the unit is fairly complicated make sure you get an owners manual with it. If the person selling the unit does not have an owners manual figure on spending an average of $15.00 to $25.00 to get one if it is not available as a free download, as many are these days. Many private parties sell things as is with no warranty, but it never hurts to ask for some kind of warranty (don’t expect too much and don’t be mad if you don’t get it.) If you are buying from a music store expect some kind of warranty. In either case be sure you get the warranty in writing so you are both clear on it. Last but not least get a written bill of sale with the model and serial number of the unit on it.
Randy Morgan ….. Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair