Tips on buying used

Doc B. · 12530

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Offline Doc B.

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on: March 22, 2011, 12:53:51 PM
As we retire kits and introduce newer models we have been seeing more questions about Bottlehead products that have been purchased used. This can be a reasonable way to get a bit of Bottlehead flavor at a low price. Bear in mind that we control only the quality of the parts and design but not the actual construction! These used kits can often be lovely, but sometimes they are construction nightmares.

Here's a few tips to keep in mind when buying a used kit -

FIRST AND FOREMOST - if you are buying a kit used because you don't want to build it yourself and you don't want to have to troubleshoot anything, think again. You're buying a kit assembled by an amateur. There's nothing wrong with being an amateur, that's exactly who we started our kit business for! But please do not assume that the guy who is selling you his used kit knows jack about the design or how to fix it if it isn't working right when you get it. Negotiate a price based upon whether or not the seller will guarantee the kit to work when you receive it. If you don't think you can fix it if it's messed up when you get it, then budget for paying us to fix it for you. We can fix any stock kit for $145 plus any major parts and shipping if you get stuck. Better yet, if you don't want to build a kit just ask our recommended kit builder, Paul Birkeland, for a quote to build it for you. It will be built to Bottlehead standards and will come with a guarantee. As far as I am concerned the very best thing you can do is buy a kit, take your time and build it carefully, and enjoy both the sound and your new found DIY audio superpower.

If you do buy used ask the seller to include the manual. It is an integral part of the kit, containing the schematic, views of the finished kit, assembly instructions and test procedures. This will be invaluable if the kit needs some troubleshooting. And if the guy kept the manual it a sign he's probably pretty well squared away and probably took care in assembling the kit. We have manuals for most kits if you can't get one from the buyer, and prices run about $15 per manual.

Ask the seller to explain any modifications they have done. It will be much easier to figure out any troubleshooting issues if you know what has been changed from the stock design. If the mods have taken the design too far from stock it might be better to move on and purchase another one. We're happy to help here on the forum, but we can't help as much when things are different than the way we designed them.

Ask if the kit is working. This may seem obvious, but we hear of folks buying gear with the notion that it works only to find they have a repair job on their hands that was sitting in some guy's closet for three years because he goofed up and didn't bother to ask on the Bottlehead Forum for help getting it sorted out.

If you can see the kit beforehand look at the underside. Neat wiring goes hand in hand with good performance. If the kit is a rat's nest of wires, plastic parts look like they've been branded by a soldering iron and the solder joints look like buckshot, consider that you may have to tear it all apart and start over. Like we said, we can guarantee the quality of the parts we supply, but we can't guarantee that everyone will take the time to do as neat a job as we show in the manuals. There can be cases where a kit is so hosed up that it might be better to start fresh.

There are no more original transformers available for legacy kits, and a lot of the other legacy parts are no longer stocked. If you need a MagneQuest transformer you will need to contact MagneQuest directly to inquire about a replacement. We do not have original S.E.X. kit power transformers, Foreplay I or II power transformers, or Paramour I or II power transformers.

Also please bear in mind that we no longer do repairs on legacy products. The techs here only work on current production kits. Because of the huge range of assembly quality and the high instance of modifications repair rates for current production kits are billed by the hour plus parts. Legacy kit repair is referred to Paul Birkeland. Paul was the lead tech at Bottlehead for many years and now has his own business.

There are thousands of Bottlehead kits in the world, and probably some great used deals out there. Take your time shopping, be cautious, and don't buy someone else's f***up unless you are confident that you know how to fix it.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:30:32 PM by Doc B. »

Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Reply #1 on: June 09, 2015, 02:38:23 PM
I would bump this and add that sometimes those large capacitors and chokes that get added to kits don't stay put in shipping.  A filter choke that breaks loose inside an amplifier during shipping will do enough damage that you'll be starting over once you remove all the damaged bits.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 05:15:04 AM by Caucasian Blackplate »

Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man