Buying vintage amps?

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54
Where do you guys find used/vintage amps besides ebay craigslist and guitarcenter? are there amp conventions out there that i don't know about? People on this site always quote prices on each other like, and i just read this, "you can get a true blackface deluxe reverb for about 1500." Not on ebay you can't! can someone clue me in here?
 

slider313

Gold Supporting Member
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8,294
Where do you guys find used/vintage amps besides ebay craigslist and guitarcenter? are there amp conventions out there that i don't know about? People on this site always quote prices on each other like, and i just read this, "you can get a true blackface deluxe reverb for about 1500." Not on ebay you can't! can someone clue me in here?

Do you have any links to the threads that say you can get a blackface Deluxe Reverb for $1,500?
 

Hulakatt

Has done terrible things for a klondike bar
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14,274
You can but that doesn't mean everyone is listing them at that price. Also whoever states that may have not checked prices on ebay in last few (or more) years ;)
 

Drak

Senior Member
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5,057
I'm done buying amps but was in the game for many years and bought many, many amps over time.

In my case, I always kept a cash-stash on hand and had a lot of patience.
I never felt forced to buy something 'right now' and constantly cruised my favorite sources.
I would always wait for the barking dog to show up, some beat-down for-cheap version I could fix up.

I never ever bought a pristine mint-condition anything.
I made it that way, but I didn't buy them that way.

If you only want to spend a day looking, or you must have a minty-fresh version, then yes, you'll never find the bargains.
They are indeed out there, but you have to beat everyone like me to the punch, and it don't come easy or quickly, you gotta spend time in the trenches.

Having said that, that was back when it seemed much easier, I'm not sure I'd want to be playing that game anymore, sellers lie and cheat more now than they used to, and IMO buyers don't have the patience to stick it out and play the game, they want everything easy, mint, cheap, and they want it today, and will bitch like little girls over the smallest flaw.
No fun left in the game anymore, it used to be a lot of fun scoring amps and finding the deals.
 

NAC25

Silver Supporting Member
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1,905
Vintage is such a crapshoot. You can find great once in a lifetime pieces on TGP, but they are very rare.

The internet has made it very difficult to find great prices on vintage gear. I think people do searches online, find the highest price paid for a comparable item and list theirs for that price.

If you spend a lot of time surfing Craigslist, you will occasionally find a great deal on a vintage piece. Just have to be vigilant, and patient.
 

LPVM

Member
Messages
2,520
If you spend a lot of time surfing Craigslist, you will occasionally find a great deal on a vintage piece. Just have to be vigilant, and patient.
^ This is how I find all of mine but you will have to spend a lot of time sifting through overpriced crap listed by delusional sellers who think they can get every dime back on some POS amp the bought from GC. Then there are the people that don't even bother with details or pictures for the things they are listing like everyone knows what they are selling by telepathy or something. An let's not forget the guys that list the same piece of crap EVERY SINGLE DAY at the same price for months on end....NOBODY WANTS THAT PIECE OF CRAP, START CUTTING THE PRICE OR STOP POSTING IT FOR A WHILE.....SHEESH!!!! Eventually you will become depressed from the realization that most people are lazy and stupid and will have to take a break from it to fight the urge of just over paying on Ebay. Stick with it, every once in a while a gem pops up. Be prepared to act quickly when it does.
 
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ac/dcfan87

Member
Messages
800
Vintage amps deals are hard to find now. With the internet as popular and as readily available as it is now... Ppl can find them and they also know about the "sleeper" amps and near copies, the Gibson amps of the world.

Everyone out there who's got one thinks their amp is a gem and rare and they want top dollar for it. When I hear people buying 50s 5E3s for $50 bucks or something I just laugh. They must live on a different planet then the rest of us because I can't find any good deals on anything worthwhile. The only things really affordable it seems are small SF Fenders and such. But there's like a million of them out there. I don't know where some of these guys are finding their crazy deals but it ain't happening to me. I don't concern myself and I'll find other amps I like. Mostly your paying for how old it is not the sound. I've heard a few 1959 5E3s that sound like **** (granted this probably not the norm). But your getting old leaky caps, probably needs a new power cord and probably new speaker. So do you want a collectors piece or a player? I've seem folks selling mint condish Vibro champs for $800! For a Vibro Champ! Really? I bought a '73 Champ for $250 because it had a new cab and replaced OT and caps. And that still isn't a good deal. Sorry for my rant, but I just think that MOST of all the vintage amp deals out there are gone for good. The knowledge base is too high nowadays, buyers know what's what and sellers know some idiot will pay them $600 for their worn out GA5.
 

AxeLover

Member
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1,203
The knowledge base is too high nowadays, buyers know what's what and sellers know some idiot will pay them $600 for their worn out GA5.
Very true, even the GA5 part. One guy on this very message board was trying to sell me his beat-up Skylark for $650 plus shipping which would amount to $800 total.

So yeah. It is almost impossible to buy vintage amps for a bargain.

For example has anybody bought a tweed 5F1 Champ for less than $900 or tweed 5F10 Harvard for less than $2000 lately? Because I sure can't find either of those for cheaper and most price them $200-300 higher.
 
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ac/dcfan87

Member
Messages
800
Very true, even the GA5 part. One guy on this very message board was trying to sell me his beat-up Skylark for $650 plus shipping which would amount to $800 total.

So yeah. It is almost impossible to buy vintage amps for a bargain.

For example has anybody bought a tweed 5F1 Champ for less than $900 or tweed 5F10 Harvard for less than $2000 lately? Because I sure can't find either of those for cheaper and most price them $200-300 higher.
True dat. It's a shame but that's the way the world is. You know what I find interesting is the fact tube technology has been "obsolete" for some 40 yrs or more yet us guitar players still want them. There was a smart man on one if these forums that said - "tubes are magical yet fragile objects." Even though technology is way old, it's just better. There's an unpredictability in them that allows the player to impart his own expression thru them. I'll never go back solid state as long as I live. I'm 26 now. Hopefully I'm still cooking tubes when I'm 86 :)
 

AxeLover

Member
Messages
1,203
True dat. It's a shame but that's the way the world is. You know what I find interesting is the fact tube technology has been "obsolete" for some 40 yrs or more yet us guitar players still want them. There was a smart man on one if these forums that said - "tubes are magical yet fragile objects." Even though technology is way old, it's just better. There's an unpredictability in them that allows the player to impart his own expression thru them. I'll never go back solid state as long as I live. I'm 26 now. Hopefully I'm still cooking tubes when I'm 86 :)
Agreed. Had a solid state modeling Tech 21 TM60 which was probably better than my first amp (Epi Valve Jr.) but still crap compared to what I own now.

The only deals left I think both in vintage guitars and amps is those that have a bunch of visible unoriginal parts be it finish or new cab or tweed/tolex covering. Those you could still buy for pretty reasonable cash.
 

DaGlenster

Member
Messages
1,023
To get back to what I think the OP is asking; you have to find your way into the game. I couldn't have found a vintage amp to save my life 10 years ago. I met someone who is a collector and he got me into the life. I go to vintage guitar shows, hunt swap meets and network with people in my area. Lucky for me I live in the Los Angeles area so there is plenty of chud. I have gotten a few good deals over the years and lost on a few also, you won't win them all but I have made vintage gear a part of my life. Only problem now is I have to much and not enough room. I buy what I like and follow my musical heart, I don't just go for money value.
A $1500 Deluxe reverb now a days is going to need a lot of work or won't be original, so be prepared if you find one.
 

rockinrobby

Senior member Professional musician ...
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3,586
To get back to what I think the OP is asking; you have to find your way into the game. I couldn't have found a vintage amp to save my life 10 years ago. I met someone who is a collector and he got me into the life. I go to vintage guitar shows, hunt swap meets and network with people in my area. Lucky for me I live in the Los Angeles area so there is plenty of chud. I have gotten a few good deals over the years and lost on a few also, you won't win them all but I have made vintage gear a part of my life. Only problem now is I have to much and not enough room. I buy what I like and follow my musical heart, I don't just go for money value.
A $1500 Deluxe reverb now a days is going to need a lot of work or won't be original, so be prepared if you find one.
I remembered back in the day 80's mostly. I could find 60's Deluxe Reverbs for $150 bucks all day long.. Same with Vibroluxe Reverbs $150 to $200 I bought two Vibroluxe reverbs for $300 bucks and maybe 5 to 8 Deluxe amps and deluxe Reverbs for $100 to $175 depending on condition.. I can go on and on about other amp I bought.. Those day are gone baby!!! This is all before the internet. We used the Green pages called the Recycler.. I live 90 Miles for where all these amp were and go a make a day of it..
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
5,343
The best place to get great deals on vintage amps is garage sales and estate sales. Craigslist and local newspaper listings can have good things from time to time. Then next I would look to local pawn shops and music stores that deal in used equipment. Pawn shops can get real expensive, real quick, so you have to know what you're looking for, and find a good pawn shop. Around here I'd say 90% of pawn shops price everything WAY too high (a good place to sell equipment, btw). But if you look around long enough you can find a few that price things pretty reasonably (a good place to buy equipment). They'll often be in neighborhoods that nobody thinks to look for music equipment in. Especially very poor and very rich parts of town with a mostly elderly population. But you never know until you walk in one. I have more than once bought something at a pawn shop, used it for a while, then sold it to a different pawn shop for more money than I had in it. You just have to get to know your area really well.
 

gregsguitars

Member
Messages
879
Just getting more expensive to ship amps today, you can't expect original parts to last (they can go out for any reason at any time) etc.etc.and weather does effect electronics during shipment(moisture,rough handing,condensation,etc.).But there are still a good many cool amps available .
 

billyguitar

Member
Messages
5,466
Before the internet pawn shops had lots of great deals. I remember a Brown Center Volume 3x10 Bandmaster I could have had for $350 but I held off waiting for one in better shape, which I never found! I bought Blackface Vibrolux Reverb for $140, B F Deluxe reverbs for the same, and others. I even bought a 1957 Tweed Bassman in an antique Mall in Denton, TX for $125. It was right in the front window! After about the year 2,000, it was all over. The internet was here and pawn shops could find out the going rates.
 

Rumble

Instrumental Rocker
Gold Supporting Member
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2,517
Do you really want a vintage amp? More than likely, the components are aged way out of spec, and will have to be replaced. Then you be will frowned upon, shunned, and maybe even physically injured by the amp puritans.
:mob
 

PoorOtis

Member
Messages
9
Vintage Amps(as Rumble said) can be a pain in the A$$..aged parts/tubes/general maintenance can be very $$$..!! If you have to have a Vintage Amp..I'd do things like place
a Add in local papers,Craigslist,Listlux,Pawnshops,Garage Sales..do more networking in general!! Its hard to buy something sight un-sean,or something that you can't plug in and play...with that..you just take your chances on what you really get!!
Good Luck.
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Hearder
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18,260
Yeah buying vintage anything online (i.e., sight unseen and sound unheard) is fraught with risk. I wouldn't suggest that anyone gets into it if they are unwilling to spend the time that it will take to educate themselves and become diligent shoppers. You need to know what the hell you're buying. You need to learn how to spot non-original parts that may impact the amp's value or performance. And when you get to hear it/play it, it'll really help if you can diagnose what various symptoms may mean in terms of repairs.

And beyond knowledge (and experience) and diligence, I would highly recommend that anyone who wants to get into vintage amps learn a bit about how to do minor repairs and maintenance work on these amps. If you're unwilling to learn to do the repairs etc., that's totally understandable but then you'll need to find a good, trustworthy tech who is responsive and quick...and not too expensive, because you'll almost certainly need him (or her) sooner or later. And with that job--I say, good luck. ;)

I opted to go the route of teaching myself how to do repairs and trouble-shooting.
 

rockinrobby

Senior member Professional musician ...
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3,586
Back in the day of no internet we would read a classified ad about the amp give the guy a call to see if it's still available ?? Then go drive to see and play it.. I remembered it was maybe two black an white sentences 65 Fender Vibrolux reverb amp original $175. Call Bla bla..
 

Falco

Member
Messages
547
The best deal you will get is for an amp that needs service. Cap jobs and grounded cables cost a couple hundred bucks and some people just don't want to spend the money to make it playable/marketable. So it sits for a couple months, the seller's confidence fades and he drops the price a couple times cause people realize that it's going to take money to get it 100%. Finally, the seller decides he just wants to get something for the amp. That's when you make an offer. You won't get a 50's tweed this way but there are plenty of great vintage amps out there that are neglected.

You have to have your head in it or you'll get beat. Know the circuits, know the tubes, know what's original. Leo Fender did most of em and everyone copied from or varied his circuits. Gibson amps from the 50's & very early '60's are a great buy, for example. I have a GA-6 Lancer (1960). It's essentially a 5e3 tweed Deluxe. Picked it up for $395, put $300 into it and I couldn't be happier.

They come up, and when they do, have cash ready cause the really good deals only last a day or less - you've gotta be quick whether it's on Craigslist or in pawn shops. Keep a last year's Vintage Guide on hand, it's not perfect but it's a baseline so you don't totally get taken.

It's also good to know a good tech or know how to do stuff yourself. A bad or unscrupulous tech can cost a lot of money and butcher an amp. There's a lot of trust that goes into maintaining vintage gear.

With vintage amps it's not always cut and dry. Sometime's you win some and some times you lose some. You've got to love 'em and you have to be prepared to spend some money. If you aren't, buy a brand new Deluxe Reverb with a 30 day return policy and a warranty and forget about vintage. They're a lot like women - they are always costing you money and can be hard to read but once you've had a good one you'll never want anything else.
 




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