Is buying a used amp worth it?

vintage66

Member
Messages
6,648
Depends on how much savings, how it’s made, if you can give it a good tryout. Like has been said, cheaply made amps tend to need repair after a few years, bad soldering, tube sockets on circuit boards, etc. That said, I usually buy used. You save in the long run. Repairs are a fact of life with amps, even high end ones. Find a good (this is most important) amp tech that you trust and most repairs aren’t super expensive. New amps need repairs too and you’re often limited to the factory authorized repair place which might not be worth a crap. Been there. I’d rather take a used amp that I saved a bundle on to said trusted repair guy and pay a fair price and have it fixed right.
 

Keith Kline

Member
Messages
200
Don't buy anything used that comes with an attenuator.

I would be cautious of any non-master volume amp that people tend to play cranked.
This one is a Fender 68 DRRI, which someone may have played cranked. It's got a cabinet rattle when I play a low G, which goes away when I put pressure on the top of the amp. The worse rattle is when I play C - it sounds like a glassy rattle, which I assume is a tube. Pushing on the power tubes doesn't affect it, so I'm guessing maybe a preamp tube. Weird thing is, it's totally unnoticeable on other notes or at lower volume.
 

Keith Kline

Member
Messages
200
Reflecting after my original post, I've had similar bad luck with new amps. But at least I could return those or have them repaired under warranty. Two faulty Fenders, humming/buzzing Egnater and Blackstar, and a channel switching problem in a Hughes & Kettner. I think I have really bad luck. This vibration in my used Fender 68 Custom reissue isn't any worse than the problems I've had with new amps.

Also, I saved $700 on an awesome Mesa. The reverb was dead but the shop fixed it for free... and that amp is amazing.

So, new... used... it's all a crap shoot.
 

Keith Kline

Member
Messages
200
Also, I'm thinking I should just run my 68 Custom deluxe reverb through an extension cab. Combos are stupid, rattling tube death traps.
 

kafka

Member
Messages
1,722
I've had probably 2 or 3 new amps in my life. The other 20 or so were all used. I don't think twice about it. A new amp becomes a used amp eventually. They occasionally need some maintenence or a repair. Not a big deal.
 

rstites

Member
Messages
1,634
I've never bought a new amp. When I was young and playing out all the time, I couldn't afford new. Plus, why buy a brand new amp to drag around and bang to hell, when I can purchase a second hand amp for half the price. Both were going to need regular maintenance.

Later, by smartly buying, I tried a lot of amps I couldn't have tried otherwise, and flip as I worked through them. I was patient so I tended to earn money off each amp after owning it for a year or three. (Actually, some I earned a bunch more than that but it took time with older amps.)

I still buy. I only pay parts though as I can fix my own. I guess I have built several new amps. Really, if I'm guy to splurge, I think I'd rather splurge and build exactly what I'm wanting at the time rather than either pay a ton of money for a new one, or spend the same for a compromise design.
 

macrossgeorge

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
804
For a new production amp I might buy new with an extended warranty because with used and no warranty most non hand-wired amps are just too expensive to fix. I am a guitarist but also a bassist and I bought a brand new Fender Rumble 500 because I was going to be gigging with it and did not want to take my chances on a used one. The amount I may have saved buying used would be a gamble I was not willing to take and I am glad that I did not. I have gotten a lot of mileage on that amp already. Also with some new amps they have problems right away so with a good warranty you are covered.

That said, for guitar I am mostly a fan of vintage amps so I have to buy used amps (obviously) and I have had mostly good luck and a little bit of bad luck. I have learned what to look out for and what questions to ask in advance. If the seller does not know if the electrolytic filter caps have ever been replaced on an amp from the 1960s and doesn't know how to get in to take a photo of the insides, or has had the amp for 30 years and never had it serviced or tubes replaced then I know right away it is going to cost a few hundred extra for new tubes and servicing. If the seller shows gut shots of the amp, has said when they had it serviced last and what was done, lists when they switched out tubes, and provides details about the amp then I feel more confident buying.

I did take my chances on a used (new production) amp because it was a great deal for a grab n go amp and have had no problems.

If I were going to get anything with a PCB I would try to get new with a warranty but these days all I want is vintage hand wired amps. They do need maintenance occasionally but I try to get ones that have been recently serviced.
 

Bill Lumberg

I Drink and I Know Things.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
933
I love vintage amps and I wasn't alive in the 50's and 60's to buy them new. Once I started getting obsessive about collecting them, I learned how to do basic repair & maintenance by a combination of books(Weber's Tube Amplifier Essentials and All About Vacuum Tube Guitar Amplifiers as well as Aspen Pittman's The Tube Amp Book) and a very patient local amp tech. I got tired of forking out a couple hundred bucks every time I bought an amp and being without it for however long it took to turn around. I don't really think it was about the money as much as I have no patience to wait on a tech to fix anything and I HATE not knowing something that I should. It's one thing to buy new amps, I do it too often. It's another thing to bring a vintage Tweed back to glorious life. So OP shouldn't feel discouraged about used amps, most will be just fine. If any issues creep up, it's just an opportunity to learn how to fix it IMO.
 

HeavyCream

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,536
Reflecting after my original post, I've had similar bad luck with new amps. But at least I could return those or have them repaired under warranty. Two faulty Fenders, humming/buzzing Egnater and Blackstar, and a channel switching problem in a Hughes & Kettner. I think I have really bad luck. This vibration in my used Fender 68 Custom reissue isn't any worse than the problems I've had with new amps.

Also, I saved $700 on an awesome Mesa. The reverb was dead but the shop fixed it for free... and that amp is amazing.

So, new... used... it's all a crap shoot.
Man!!! You gotta find a four leaf clover or something. Mojo bag maybe? Worst amp luck ever. I feel for ya. Have you ever bought an amp without any problems? Your next amp should be a Fuchs Lucky 7 :D

Try swapping some tubes in that DR. Does it occur on both channels? Reverb off?
 

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,344
I'm starting to think buying used amps is too much hassle and not a good investment. Every one I've bought has need some work - usually to deal with rattles and hums. Sure, I save a few hundred bucks on the purchase, but then I have to go spend $100-200 on service, and possibly replace tubes within a few months. I bought a Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb that is in great cosmetic shape for $720. Well, I get it home and discover it has a ridiculous amount of rattle at certain frequencies. Very discouraging.
For me it depends on what I am going to use the amp for. If it's dive bar gigs, I am not spending north of 500 bucks for an amp. I am not an amp tech (more of an advanced hobbyist) but every used amp I get, I go through it with a magnifying glass, soldering iron and solder, and contact cleaner then finish it all up with blasts of canned air. I have resolved so many issues by finding a cold solder joint or cleaning dirty pots. The only amp I ever had die on me on stage was a new Mesa Boogie Tremoverb. As they say YMMV.
 

Valtyr

Member
Messages
664
For me, most of the time purchasing a used amp has been worthwhile. I tend to get through dealers that have a return policy though, so I have returned a few that were not in as good a condition as advertised or had some serious issue. Most of the time it has worked out.
 

NamaEnsou

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,055
If I had to buy new I'd probably not have my Friedman. Between the Wildwood Small Box and Dirty Shirley I could have spent over six grand, which even though a year apart, I couldn't have bought either one at the times I did except that I got each one for about two grand instead.

Maybe the only amps I bought new were my Mesa Boogie Mk-IV and Marshall 30th Anniversary, but they've both been replaced by my used Friedmans.
 

Muffdriver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
755
I'm starting to think buying used amps is too much hassle and not a good investment. Every one I've bought has need some work - usually to deal with rattles and hums. Sure, I save a few hundred bucks on the purchase, but then I have to go spend $100-200 on service, and possibly replace tubes within a few months. I bought a Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb that is in great cosmetic shape for $720. Well, I get it home and discover it has a ridiculous amount of rattle at certain frequencies. Very discouraging.
I think someone just got a Metroplex in the emporium for $2000 a few weeks ago so yes I think it's worth it.
 

BlueRiff

Member
Messages
6,213
I don’t flip amps so buy new when I’m sure it works for what I need and will get used often.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
4,623
It depends

My current amps are a '76 Champ bought in '12 and a '90s Ampeg bought last year. I did replace speakers and tubes. They work fine. The Champ has a lot of hours on it for recording & mic'd/isolated live. No gig failures with either.

My THR was bought too and it is reliable.
 




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