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Thread: The Price of Used Ukes

  1. #1
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    Default The Price of Used Ukes

    This is an odd situation. If you buy a used car, you can expect a lot of wear. If you buy a used ukulele, you want it to look like new, but you want to pay a lower price.

    I don't hesitate to buy used items, and 28% of my ukes were bought used. In most cases, they would be indistinguishable from new ones, yet I paid below the store price. Logically, it's hard to justify the lower price because an undamaged uke is just like a new one. If the price for a new one and a used one were the same, I doubt anyone would choose the used one unless it were something special - signed by a famous player, for example.

    The same goes for selling a used uke. If I paid $500 for a nice uke and sold it five years later, why shouldn't I charge $500 for it, assuming it's in like-new condition? Still, I would feel obliged to charge less because it is older and "used" more.

    As I said, it's an odd situation.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
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  2. #2
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    Not really that odd. If you buy new, you expect a certain amount of support from the retailer such as returns, warranty, adjustments, possibly a discount on accessories. When you buy used, you buy as is, with an unknown history. It may look perfect, but may have been improperly stored and have problems down the line.

    Probably it is perfect, but there's added risk so lower price.
    Glenn

  3. #3
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    Many factors that affect price of used, some of them are:
    • ukuleles like everything else deteriorate with age, and if they get used a lot the wear on frets, neck, gears, and body accelerate the aging process so may have less usable life in them than a new one,
    • some ukuleles have lifetime warranty that is attached to original owner, this usually reflects about one third of new cost which is lost on sale as used,
    • most ukulele makers increase the price of their instruments over time, so when an older one is offered used it may be a lot cheaper than a new one, but also at a higher price as when it was new itself,
    • the value of money changes through inflation, so for older ukes that needs to be taken into account
    • specs of ukes change over time, and more often than not this reflects efficiencies in manufacturing and lower quality materials in order to reduce cost of production, so used ones may actually be "better" than equivalent new models


    So overall this is complicated, and used prices more often reflect the psychology and emotions of buyers and sellers in the market than quantifiable factors as listed above.

  4. #4
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    New generally has a warrantee and backing from the maker. If something goes wrong they should fix it. Used should have any kinks worked out, but you have to trust the seller. A used uke in truly mint condition is rare, and people often want to put the first fingernail scratches in themselves. Or the opposite: I don’t mind used because I don’t want to have to worry about putting that first little ding in a perfect instrument. And I know it’s likely that I will, so I’ll let somebody else take the depreciation.

    My main reasons to buy new is that I can’t find what I want used locally, or I can’t find it for enough less than new that it’s worth the extra risk. There are two GoldTone MicroBasses available near me, but I’ll order new: they’re asking $20 less than Guitar Center. I expect GC will discount, and I’ll take the warranty thanks.

    What’s weird is that I don’t like to negotiate so I’ve not made an offer on the local used ones, but my head feels asking my GC guy for a quote is fair. Not sure what I’m thinking there.

    Historically, I’ve been bitten twice on a used buy, and both were from Guitar Center. The first had a bit more paint issues than I had expected from the description (including verbal - I talked to the selling store), but not enough to mix the deal. That on I still have. I should sell it, but keep playing it instead of listing it. The second was a strat with a giant divot on the top edge that wasn’t apparent on the picture. That got returned.

    Everything I’ve bought locally of through the marketplace here turned out well.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    This is an odd situation. If you buy a used car, you can expect a lot of wear. If you buy a used ukulele, you want it to look like new, but you want to pay a lower price.

    I don't hesitate to buy used items, and 28% of my ukes were bought used. In most cases, they would be indistinguishable from new ones, yet I paid below the store price. Logically, it's hard to justify the lower price because an undamaged uke is just like a new one. If the price for a new one and a used one were the same, I doubt anyone would choose the used one unless it were something special - signed by a famous player, for example.

    The same goes for selling a used uke. If I paid $500 for a nice uke and sold it five years later, why shouldn't I charge $500 for it, assuming it's in like-new condition? Still, I would feel obliged to charge less because it is older and "used" more.

    As I said, it's an odd situation.
    ALL goods, including cars have people wanting to buy in like new condition. Look at used car listings and you will see the ones in pristine condition with low miles. If you peruse Ebay, all manner of items are listed as mint. If an item is collectible, there isn't really a discount and normally it costs more. If not, mint condition gets you closer to what you paid, but subject, like everything else, to supply and demand. Nothing confusing about it. We all want to pay less for used things and we all want them to have as little wear as possible, regardless of the item.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    I don’t mind used because I don’t want to have to worry about putting that first little ding in a perfect instrument.
    Yes, that does remove some of the stress of trying to keep it perfect.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
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  7. #7
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    I never buy used ukes, it's just not worth the risk, especially if the price is not much less than new!

    Likewise, I don't buy pre used harmonicas, not worth the risk, plus you have to strip & sanitize them.

    But I do buy used flutes & whistles, but not wooden ones.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  8. #8
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    I have witnessed that there is about a 20% discount when an uke goes from new to used, however, once it hits that "used" price point, it usually stays there as long as it is in good condition. Assumning great used condition, A used Kamaka tenor from 2000 will sell between $850-$1000 and so would a 2017 or 2018. I find that once the uke hits that "drive off the lot" price, if it is a quality uke, and quality maker, it then finds its price and stays there.

  9. #9
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    The more replaceable an instrument is, the more likely it’ll lose value on the used market. Even dinged-up vintage instruments often sell now for much more (in inflation adjusted dollars) than they did new. Yep. Supply and demand.
    Last edited by hendulele; 12-18-2019 at 02:50 PM.
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  10. #10
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    It is a risk buying used. Don't like buying w/o trying. Only got burnt once though. 90% of my instruments have been used. There does have to be a very, very significant discount. I look for an instrument that is excellent quality and would be completely out of my price range if new. I welcome some normal play wear to get a great instrument that I couldn't otherwise afford. I agree that it's wise to pass right by those instruments that are used but folks want to get almost as much as new (regardless if they say it's mint).

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