Anyone know a way to get the best deals out of buying a Bass guitar from a pawn shop?

How much would a decent beginning bass guitar cost through a pawn shop? What can I do to avoid getting ripped off? Is there anything I should look for in buying a bass guitar from a pawn shop?

In my experience, skip the pawn shop and go to a music store. Pawn shop owners are generally knowledgable enough about instruments that they are not going to mistakenly sell you a $2000 guitar for $50, but some might be unscrupulous enough to sell you a $150 guitar for $500. Music stores will generally price used instruments to fairly reflect their condition and playability, at a pawn shop they will frequently ask for close to new retail price for a used instrument, anticipating some haggling.
 If you are a beginner with the instrument, you may not know what to look for in a used instrument to help determine its real value. Certain minor issues like dirty pots, buzzy frets, or a minor neck bow can be corrected fairly easily, and can be used as bargaining points in the haggling process. Other issues can be much more difficult to fix, if they can be fixed at all. A severely warped neck will have to be replaced entirely, for example. It's not always obvious which problems are major ones. A reputable music store will not only take these kinds of thing into account for pricing, but will also be able to repair them.
This is not to say that you can't get a good deal from a pawn shop, just that your odds of getting a quality used instrument at a reasonable price are better at a music store. If you do decide to go the pawn shop route, here are a few tips:
1) Do your research. Be familiar with the major manufacturers, the models made by those manufacturers, and the retail prices of those models.
2) Stick with name brands. Gibson, Fender, Washburn, Rickenbacker, Ibanez, Peavey, etc.
3) Always play the instrument in the store. Plug it in, tune it up, turn the knobs, flip the switches, play each string at each fret to check for pickup noise, fret buzz, tuning issues, and action. If the shop won't let you plug in and noodle for a while, leave.
4) Don't skimp on the accessories. The same guidelines for choosing a used guitar also apply to choosing a used amplifier. A great guitar on a crappy amp sounds like crap. Buy a new, heavy duty cable, never a used one, and absolutely never one of the skinny light gauge "beginner" cables. A great guitar and a great amp connected by a crappy cable sound like crap. If you need to save a few bucks, buy a cheap strap and picks.

In any case, like seandogue said, you're not going to get a quality amateur setup for much less than $300 without some form of divine intervention. Good luck.
orksecurity7 years ago
Note that pawn shops generally have a very good idea of the actual value of their merchandise. You're unlikely to get much of a bargain on something which they're confident they'll have another buyer for a day or two later.

You might do better by putting a "bass guitar wanted" notice on a want-ads service.

Either way, it's your responsibiltiy to evaluate quality and condition before you plunk your money down. If you don't know enough to be able to do so, bring along a friend who does, or make arrangements for it to be inspected by someone else (which may cost you some money for the time it's out for inspection, unless the seller is feeling cooperative, and will probably involve you paying the expert for their analysis). Just like buying a used car.
Re-design7 years ago
Don't get you heart set on one guitar.  You need to be able to walk away if you think the price it too high and come back another day.  It might be gone by then.  Go other places and look at the same quality stuff so you know what the range in prices is.

If you think the price is right then it is.  It doesn't matter what they sell for somewhere else, you're not somewhere else.
seandogue7 years ago
Decent is a relative term.

If you're a seasoned player and expect a professional quality instrument, I'd be looking in for a bass @ $5-600 or more.

For amateur...something in the area of $2-300, perhaps as high as $400