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Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

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Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby jellyjim » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:25 pm

Hello

I'm going to be in NYC in January and happen to be looking for a new electric and have some budget to get one (as much as £2k for the right instrument but I wouldn't spend that just for the sake of it). I am wondering what the ins and outs are of buying and bringing back a used (unlikely new) guitar to the UK if I spotted something there.

Transport: Soft bag in the cabin (hand luggage) or hard case in the hold? I'm flying economy (had to sell the Lear jet for the kid's school fees). Tell the airline or hope for the best? Take an empty hard case out with me in case I don't find something there? Probably flying Delta, AA or Virgin.

Customs: Is customs due on used gear? How to deal with customs? Should I deal with customs?! Guitar smuggler!

Shopping: Good used guitar shopping in NYC and Brooklyn (and anywhere nearby within reasonable travel distance)? Pros and cons. It would be expensive to take it back!

Reality check: Is this all just a bit of a romantic fantasy? Am I just as likely to get value for money and choice in the used UK market?

Thanks
Jim
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:04 pm

Guitars are normally cheaper in the US, but the internet is a good way of checking.

Unless it's below the personal threshold of £390, then yes you'll need to pay duty and VAT on it. The duty is 2.5% up to £630 in value and then 3.2% over that. VAT of 20% is then payable on the item price + duty.

If you don't declare it, then it may well be confiscated and you can be fined + criminal record etc.

You can't split personal allowances on a single item. Once duty is payable, it's payable on the whole item, not the excess over your limit.

One problem you may have is CITES if any of the wood is now on a CITES restricted list. New rosewood isn't a problem as there's a 10kg personal allowance for rosewood. But you may need to have a CITES certificate for the guitar, and you'll probably get charged extra for that.

If you find a pre-mid '60s guitar that may have a Brazilian rosewood board (I've got a '65 Gibson acoustic with one), then that's on the top CITES protection rating, and moving that across borders is very hard. You'll certainly need CITES paperwork for that and maybe some extra legal advice as well, though a good guitar store should know all the pitfalls and provide assistance (for a fee).
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:12 pm

Duty and VAT will almost certainly be payable (+3.5% then +20% of the total, you pay tax on the duty!) and the customs, reputedly, do know their guitars........

US prices almost never include sales tax (which you won't have to pay but neither will it be there to be deducted as VAT would be for somebody buying in the UK and exporting).

Can't help WRT flying with it though, probably worth contacting the airline (and get an agreement in writing). But I don't think putting one in the hold would be ideal unless it's in a serious flight case (the clue's in the name :D )

I looked at buying things from the US on a few occasions and always with the cost being either more than UK price or, at best, only slightly less (Tone Dexter Preamp, not available in the UK at the time, would have saved me less than £30 compared to the price my local dealer charged me when he got a batch in stock at my suggestion).

If you can bring one back with you though it may well be worth considering as buying used is slightly different from buying something new that is available from a UK dealer.

edit :- the Wabbit did it again.......
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby jellyjim » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:14 pm

Thanks gents

That's interesting about CITES

Yup 99% likely to be a used instrument
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Despite pointing out the potential pitfalls, if I was going I'd certainly be visiting a few guitar shops (Manny's for sure) and wouldn't rule out buying a guitar :thumbup:
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:19 pm

The abundance of used instruments, especially classic US make ones, is going to be far greater, but you are very unlikely to get any bargain pawn-shop finds, especially in the major towns and cities.

What can be good bargains are mid-range Fenders, which might just creep in under your personal allowance.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:37 pm

Just read something on the PMT website that indicates that CITES certification shouldn't be required if you have it with you when travelling. But they did get some of their other info wrong, so I'm not sure how trustworthy that info will be. However, that article was from May 2017 and things may now be clearer (though I'm struggling to find any particularly useful info).

Certainly, there are certain woods that have been used building guitars that will be on the CITES Appendix I list where cross-border trade is strictly controlled and often prohibited, and a lot of the recent Rosewood-based CITES info ignores these.

If certification is needed, you will need both a CITES export certificate from the US and an import one when it reaches the UK. Probably worth getting if you can, just to make selling it on again easier. At the moment, you'll be importing into the EU, but if Brexit happens, then you'll then need a CITES certificate so that you can sell it outside of the UK.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Dave B » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:59 pm

Getting it on the plane can be fun. Some airlines can be biffy about instruments. Years ago, I had a nightmare when flying to Barbados with a Tele. The desk told me that I would get rejected at the gate, and this only worked out as the flight was horribly late and they rushed everyone on.

The flip to that is that BA have a good reputation for being instrument friendly. When I brought my (below duty threshold!) Strat back, it flew in the 1st class coat wardrobe, standing up. I know a bass player who has had similar treatment.

In both cases the guitar was in a gig bag.

I seem to remember being told that the 'flightcase in the hold' option causes fine cracks in the finishes on some guitars that may or may not settle when it warms back up.

You should be able to check with the airline - the websites can be out of date (both ways), so a quick call to customer service may be a better way of checking. Cheaper airlines may get biffy about charging you as well.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:13 pm

A proper 'flight case' should be well enough insulated to minimise that risk if it's the big temperature changes that cause it but I don't know the effect of low pressure on a guitar finish (I'd have though none TBH but I really don't know).
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:41 pm

If anybody can be bothered to scan through the posts I conducted a test whereby I put a digital thermometer into my luggage on a trip to Japan and recorded min temperature (which wasn't all that low if I recall).

It must be around 2010 or earlier since I've not been to Japan since.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Watchmaker » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:17 pm

CITES can be a real PITA...perhaps returning via steamship helps minimize unwanted attention. Not that I would ever, ever support evading regulation.

Make sure you stop by Matt Umanoff's guitars. They have some interesting items on occasion.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby BigRedX » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:21 pm

With CITES I personally wouldn't bother trying to bring back any wooden musical instrument, it's just too risky.

Also ignore any anecdotes about getting your instrument into the aircraft cabin, or what the airline tells you in advance. It is entirely down to the discretion of the gate staff. If a musician has pissed them off on a previous flight they are unlikely to be sympathetic. I've been lucky in getting a guitar on board on a flight in the past but only because I was flying business class and was horrendously late checking in. The check staff marched us down to the gate, got us on board and we were backing out of the terminal minutes later.

I would always go with a proper flight case checked in and placed in the hold. As for temperature and pressure problems in the hold, it should be the same as the passenger cabin, after all animals are transported in the hold. IIRC there was someone on here who placed a min/max thermometer in their hold luggage and the results were the same as in the passenger cabin.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:27 pm

For transatlantic flights with modern aircraft, I don't think hold conditions are a problem any more, though travelling on smaller inter-state airlines using older, smaller planes, there might still be some that don't pressurise the hold that much or heat them to any degree.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:36 pm

Just seen that Virgin pilots will be striking over Christmas. If the dispute doesn't get settled, there might be more disruption following that strike, so you may want to think about your choice of airline for the visit.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:38 pm

Found it

Music Wolf wrote:The return flight was a success.

90 min train ride, 2hr check-in, 12 hour flight, 2 hour lay-over, then 1hr 40min flight.

Outside temperature hit -50deg C, thermometer placed in middle of case wrapped in clothes.

Max recorded temp +27 deg C
Min recorded temp +14 deg C

I don't think that there would be too many worries from a temerature point of view.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:52 pm

However, the rate of change of temperature and humidity is also very important. Within a good case, change rates will certainly be reduced significantly. However, not all cases that are mechanically strong act as effective thermal barriers.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby BigRedX » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:28 pm

Wonks wrote:For transatlantic flights with modern aircraft, I don't think hold conditions are a problem any more, though travelling on smaller inter-state airlines using older, smaller planes, there might still be some that don't pressurise the hold that much or heat them to any degree.

IME flights that don't pressurise the cargo hold tend not to fly high or long enough for temperature or pressure to be an issue for anything carried in them.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby scw » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:39 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Despite pointing out the potential pitfalls, if I was going I'd certainly be visiting a few guitar shops (Manny's for sure) and wouldn't rule out buying a guitar :thumbup:

Am I wrong in thinking that Manny's is no more?
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:42 pm

You are correct. It went in 2009. It then became a Sam Ash music store (who actually bought it in 2000). Now demolished for redevelopment.
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Re: Used guitar shopping in NYC (and back again)

Postby scw » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:48 pm

:(
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