New or Used – The Quest for DJ Gear

Digital DJ Setup

By Dave Austin, “Music Professor”

For the past couple of months I’ve been “out of service” due to having surgery on my injured knee.  So, I’ve had time to do some extra reading and thinking.  I’ve noticed that among DJs, one topic which seems to reappear time and again is from those among us who seem to be obsessed with the latest and greatest equipment and gadgets.  They drool over the newest speakers, controllers, or lights, and unfortunately, many cannot wait to plunk down their money.  Knowing this, it seems that some manufacturers obsolete their own gear almost as soon as it hits the shelves.  Even if you’re able to track of all the new stuff and personally attend the big trade shows, it’s impossible to keep up with the blur of technology and innovations.

Hold on! Let’s step back a moment and consider whether we really need the latest and greatest stuff, or more importantly, is it going to bring more business to our operation?  I’m being very honest with you when I tell you that the vast majority of clients care little or nothing about what brand or size speakers you’ll be using at their wedding, or which model controller you’re going to use, etc.

Don’t misunderstand me here.  I, too, think shiny state-of-the-art gear is great, but we must consider the cost factor as it impacts our business.  Also, we should decide if it is something we just WANT to satisfy our ego, or do we truly NEED it for a legitimate business reason?  We definitely should maintain good quality up-to-date professional equipment, but unless you are wealthy, spending every dollar you make for new gear just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Let me clue you in on a secret I’ve learned:  A lot of DJs buy gear, take it home, play around with it for a bit, decide it really wasn’t what they expected or wanted, and never use it again!  Or, they buy what they believe to be the latest and greatest only to quickly discover that it’s been replaced with a new model.  What does this mean to you?  It means you can buy near-new, excellent condition, often still in the box and under manufacturer’s warranty gear for a fraction of the price of new!  If you’ve just got to have it, take a little time, shop around and you’re likely to find what you’re wanting at a bargain price.

Okay, where does one go to seek out these gems?  First, I’d try Facebook and the page “The DJ Classifieds.”  Checking there as I write this, I find a nice set of uplights ($200), equipment cases ($75), mixers, a pro controller in mint condition ($150), powered subwoofer ($350), a pair of Technics 1200 mk2 turntables with cartridges ($700), a Crown Micro Tech amp ($200), a Rane mixer ($250)…Wow!  Everyone wants to save money and there are some great bargains here.

While browsing Facebook, also check “Las Vegas DJ Equipment for Sale,”  “Used DJ Gear and Audio Equipment.” or “Pro DJ Swap.”  There are a number of similar pages on Facebook, both U.S. and abroad.  You can also find gear for sale on Craig’s List, but I’d advise careful scrutiny of both items and sellers.  And, let’s not overlook eBay.  In fact, with a bit of research you can find dozens of sites with gear to sell.

Try checking your nearest “brick-and-mortar” store as they often take trade-ins and resell them.  I’ve purchased several trade-in items, including a compact ceremony sound system, with which I have been very pleased.  However, I’d advise checking the gear over thoroughly, making sure it’s in good working order before leaving the store with it.  Used gear is commonly sold “as is” with no warranty or return.

On a related note – I’m reading this morning about the potential closing of one of the major retail suppliers of DJ gear, and should that happen, finding alternate sources for our gear and supply needs is going to become a more pressing concern.

Occasionally, DJ groups stage a swap meet, and again, some tasty bargains can often be found among the offerings.  You have the advantage of being able to lay hands on the gear and usually talk with the owner – plus, these events are just plain fun.  I recently purchased a nice Crown amp, less than three months old, at $225 below list price.

It’s your choice – do you want to pay the full retail price for brand new equipment, or would you rather score the same thing at a nicely discounted price?  Take a big breath when you begin panting for that new piece of gear and shop around to determine if it’s available as “used.”  It’s a pretty safe bet, that with a little effort, you’ll find a nice saving on the gear you’re craving.

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