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How I Bought A Fender Guitar After Losing My Original Bid on Ebay
Fender telecasters are in a special league of some of the most desirable guitars available to professional musicians and guitar hobbyists, and I am always on the look-out for Fender guitars or good lookalikes whether they are brand new, fixer uppers or gently used. Usually, I hope to find them at affordable prices. So on occasion during my leisure time, I will spend time reviewing auctions sites like Ebay or classified sites such as Craig’s list, to see if there is a guitar deal I can find. However, Fender guitars and even Fender look-alikes are so desirable that I am often outbid by competing bidders. Perhaps if I was a millionaire, than price would not be an issue of course , and I would be bidding in the big leagues for the “Let It Be” telecaster George Harrison is selling for $200,000 plus at auction at Julien's Auctions. But, I digress.
So it was just the other day, during a lull in my workload, I happened to stumble across an Ebay listing for a Peavey guitar (not a Fender, but a good look alike) fixer upper at a phenomenal price. The auction bid price when I got involved was already at $100. Just like I suppose the prospectors during the ’49 gold rush, I thought I had hit pay dirt. Unfortunately, the guitar had several dings which the seller to his credit had fully disclosed. The guitar’s switch tip was missing, the input jacks were cut out, it had a few loose knobs, some missing strings, one of the tuners vibrated, it had a chip at the bottom of the fret board and a few other dings and knicks. I reviewed the specs, and did some research and figured that even in its current condition and if I invested approximately $300.00 to restore the guitar it would still be a worthwhile investment. Its value once restored would be around $700- $900. So, I did what every hungry guitar hobbyist does, I got into the bidding war.
I had already set a price of $125 and made up my mind that I wasn’t going any higher. The auction’s final bidding war began, I had noticed that there had been 200 views of the guitar so there was some general interest in the auction. I set my price at $125. (Yes, I know I could have set up a bid robot to automatically send in my bids to zing my competitors at the last second) but I had already decided that I was not going to bid above $125. And maybe like many other ebay bidders have done, I got distracted with daily work and completely forgot about the auction until the last minute. When I remembered to go online to see the status of my bid, I realized I was too late. I came in at the very last second of the auction and was outbid by $12.50, the Peavey Reactor guitar had sold for $132.50. Aaaargh! I was disappointed to say the least, and I am going to keep it rated PG-13 here, I was under a black cloud all day. Just $12.50, I kept repeating that number over and over in my mind all day! Imagine losing by such a slim margin?
I was in a foul mood, so much so that I related the story to my girlfriend later on in the day. She listened patiently and said, “Don’t be upset… you will probably find another guitar deal twice as good and with more bells and whistles than the bid you lost.” I won’t share what I thought, but I did tell her that I doubted it. However, she was right on this one! Still smarting from the loss, I went back online to Ebay to view what else might be up for auction and had planned on finding a guitar that was in a $200 - $300 price range. And lo and behold, no later than two hours after losing my original bid I found a Rosewood Telecaster copy listing. Without delving into the specs or researching the guitar, I just started bidding and watching the bid closely this time. The guitar looked like a beauty and I didn’t even review the details of the seller’s description . I set my top price at not more than $275 for this auction. The last few minutes of the bidding came in, and the price started zooming up $150.00… $175.00… $200 … than $210. At the very last minute, I typed in $224.50 and the words that must make the heart of every Ebay bidder burst out of their chest flashed on the computer screen, “You have won this item!”
Yes! Like a football player winning the Super Bowl, I was very pleased to say the least. After responding back to the seller, making arrangements for shipping and all the details that need to be attended to after any Ebay sale, I questioned myself and asked, “What did I just purchase?” In the rush to bid on another guitar, I realized I had not even thoroughly reviewed the specs of the auction. I went back and was doubly flabbergasted. My heart was pumping faster as I read the seller’s description, the guitar had a rosewood laminate top, bottom and headstock and even a rosewood fret board. Although you couldn’t tell the color from the auction’s picture, he claimed it had a nice grain and deep rose color. In addition, he had modified the guitar in the following ways: he had routed it for humbuckers, the route was finished with high quality copper shielding paint, had the pickup professionally installed and coil tapped for humbucker and single-coil capabilities, he had added a Gotch bridge from Warmouth, replaced with after-market saddles for spot-on intonation and reshaped the headstock to capture the Tele vibe, carefully stripping and sanding off the poly, affixing gold flake logo and topped it with nitrocellulose lacquer finishing it with a hand polish. And to sweeten the deal, the seller was throwing in a free set of Fender Bullet strings! But unlike his ebay title had suggested, the guitar wasn’t a “Rosewood Tele Telecaster Copy” but the real deal… a real Fender.
Since the seller was close enough to Orange County, I arranged to meet with him to pick up the guitar at the best French dip place in Los Angeles County, Phillipes. Like a kid a candy store, the guitar far exceeded my expectations. The guitar was just as he described and in some ways so much better. He had not exaggerated about its looks; now the real test was the sound. I brought it home, tuned up the strings , set up my backing tracks and started playing. Aaah…Guitar heaven!
And the moral of the story is…? I have learned not to get too caught up in the loss of what seems like a good deal, because something better might be waiting around the corner.
Top 7 Tips for Buying a Guitar
1) Know what type of guitar you are looking for; acoustic, classic, electric and acoustic/electric.
2)Buy a guitar for the type of music that you will be playing.
3) Be sure to take advantage of package deals – the type of sale where the seller will include strings, picks and extra goodies.
4) When buying online, try to stick to good quality name brands--Ibanez, Yamaha, Fender, Peavey, Gibson, Martin, and Taylor.
5) When buying online, check to see the reputation of the seller and try buying local. This will reduce your shipping costs.
6) Check out pawn shops or music stores that may have guitars for sale on consignment.
7) Check Craig’s list or other classified online ads for college students who might be trying to sell their musical instruments to raise cash.