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Mastering Arbitrage – How To Subsidize Your Income Selling Used Items Online

From guitars to women’s handbags, collectibles remain one of the quickest ways to turn one dollar into ten in a matter of days. Not even stocks or realty can return an investment as fast as a “quick flip.” Sometimes you don’t even need to do a thing to your investment! Just relist it for more, sit back and win!

Diversifying and subsidizing your income by flipping stuff online is easier than you think!

As many musicians experienced, the Covid-19 pandemic brought my musical endeavors to a halt in 2020. I was heavily involved with three different bands, all of which disbanded during that challenging year. That’s when I decided to invest in a house and completely renovate the 1200 sqft basement to create a commercial recording studio. Little did I know that this studio would serve a dual purpose as a storefront for trading recording equipment and musical instruments.

This title could just as easily read, “How To Supplement Your Income by selling Handbags!” or any number of collectible items online. Whatever YOU are passionate and knowledgeable about, you can make a massive amount of side cash with. It doesn’t have to be music gear… that’s just my wheelhouse.

During the pandemic, I also began expanding my collection of recording equipment. Over the next two years, I invested every available dollar into the studio space. By 2023, I had poured nearly half a million dollars in cash into the project. How did I manage this on a self-employed income? The answer lies in my own dual system of barter trading and arbitrage.

Many friends have asked me how I could afford to buy a $30,000 AKG C24 microphone, a $20,000 Oberheim Matrix-12 synthesizer, and a collection of seven Abbey Road RS124 converted Altec 436C compressors, among other gear, most of which I acquired in the last 24 months. The secret is actually quite simple: I would use every extra dollar I had to buy gear at a great price, sell it for double, and then reinvest the profit into more gear. If I sold something from my studio (something I was also using to make money producing audio content), I would simply buy it again and use the profit to buy more gear! I started with literally a couple grand and turned it into $400K in three short years of “playing” on the side with gear. Whatever YOU pick to engage in arbitrage, make sure it’s something you know the market for and enjoy researching regularly. For me, I am up all night scrolling through dozens of online resale apps for music gear. I enjoy studying music equipment so for me, it’s just a fun game! This is how YOU should feel about whatever you are going to flip. Here’s how:

Over 24 months of doing this, I managed to accumulate a substantial inventory and bolster the reputation of my new studio. Once I had acquired high-end items like reel-to-reel tape machines, small mixing consoles, top-tier synthesizers, and guitars, I began reaching out to sellers on Reverb to propose trade deals for their equipment. Trading used to be discouraged, but Reverb now permits it! While others were aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and TikTok at night in bed, I spent my time messaging sellers to initiate trades and soliciting studios and artists to buy my gear. Most sellers declined trades, but occasionally, someone would agree. Regardless of the outcome, I always expressed gratitude for their time, as most musicians share a common bond, and I even made lifelong friendships through these interactions.

One day, I struck a lucrative trade deal involving a modified Gates MO-3777 preamp (HERE is a forum post I made all about this coveted mixer), which my technician had modified with some pretty snazzy unique features. The person I traded with turned out to be a famous guitarist from one of America’s biggest bands (whom I won’t name). I had initially spent around $800 on the Gates preamp and invested another $800 in modifications, making it one-of-a-kind and incredibly desirable. With $1,600 invested, I listed it for $14,000, considering it the coolest mic pre on the internet. Although I didn’t expect to get the full $14,000, the famous artist contacted me and said he had to have it. I proposed a trade instead and walked away with a vintage U67, an API lunchbox full of high-end 500 series modules, and $7,000 in cash. I ended up selling the mic for $18,000 on Reverb and used the 500 series modules and the cash to buy more gear. That guy doesn’t know it, but he is the sponsor of my entire studio. That influx of cash was all I needed to really take my flipping to a whole new level.

Now I had the funds I needed to do the same thing on a bigger level. Two years later, I had amassed about $250,000 worth of gear that rivals any top-tier studio in the world, all crammed into my 1200 sqft space that I built from the ground up, all paid for with cash! I started hiring techs all over the US to modify gear for me. I was doing at least three or four deals a day, and Covid was finally a thing of the past. When the dust settled, I had a thriving studio and had survived the isolation of Covid-19! Praise God for the gift of barter trading. I am much less active now and focused on making music again but the hyper focus of energy on barter trading and arbitrage helped me build my dreams during a global pandemic.

Recently, a friend asked me to put together a game plan so he can also make some cash on the side. Here is a transparent layout of exactly how you too can trade/flip gear, or trade/flip anything you are passionate about! It doesn’t have to be recording equipment or even instruments like guitars (another passion of mine); it can be DSLR cameras, artwork, motorcycles, or even houses.

Thanks for looking, and feel free to leave a question in the comment section below!

My Reverb Page is listed as a preferred seller. My reviews are impeccable and I treat all my customers as if they are the most important person to ever grace my store.



The very first thing to understand is how to find the value of any given item. The best way to do this is to simply look at what they have been selling for on eBay over the last 12-24 months. Simply type the name of the gear into eBay and hit enter. Then go over to your widget column on the left side of the screen, scroll down to “Sold Items” and select the box. Now you can filter date ranges and see what they are actually going for.

Filter from low to high to see the lowest it has sold for. This is YOUR number. You shouldn’t pay much more than the lowest sold listing, otherwise you won’t make a profit. Now switch the filter over to high to low and look at the MOST it has sold for. Take note because that’s YOUR number too! That’s what you want to sell it at! This is called arbitrage. Arbitrage is the simultaneous purchase and sale of the same or similar asset in different markets to profit from tiny differences in the asset’s listed price. And this is how I built a half-million-dollar recording studio in 24 months with nothing but a couple of grand in my pocket!

OK, so first, the five keys to success:

THE FIRST KEY: Don’t forget, Rare and Cool! If it’s rare, that means it’s been modified to do something the other ones for sale can’t, or they simply only made a few of them. Don’t get it twisted; there are more oil barons and wealthy collectors out there than you think. They are all eager to give you a mint. If they see you have something they can’t get anywhere else (like a vintage Gates broadcast mixer you converted into a mic pre with 95dB of gain, phantom power, direct outs and unique wiring topology!), they’ll pay whatever you ask. That’s not unethical; that’s smart business and how the rich got rich in the first place.

The second part is that it has to be cool. Sounds basic but check it out: People buy with their eyes, not their brain. If it will bolster their control room vibe, or it has been repainted or cleaned properly, the value goes up like a car with the top down. If it looks like the coolest piece of gear they’ve ever seen, they’ll have to have it. We are not too different than other animals in this regard… for better or for worse!

THE SECOND KEY: It’s gotta be in very good working condition. If anything is broken on it, it’ll never sell. Unless you have a speedy local tech, avoid gear that needs repair like ebola. Having said that, minor repairs YOU can be the veritable gold mine everyone else is passing up on, so know your market & learn to solder! I recently bought a Roland Juno 106 for $400 that was destroyed. I changed out the voice chips, Xvive BBD chorus chips, replaced a couple keys and flipped it for $3200. I used that money to buy 3 more and did it again. Two months later I had netted about $5k profit. Beats shoveling a bosses s***, don’t it? Spoiler alert… it ROCKS.

THE THIRD KEY: is integrity. Honesty is key. Never list anything for sale and try to be deceitful. You want to ask 10x what it’s worth? You have every right to do so. That’s not shady; saying it is not scratched and hiding a scratch with lighting is shady. You want to sell something that’s kinda broken? Fine, but you MUST divulge the truth. Never lie, never cheat, always do what you say you are going to do. If it arrives broken, you’re going to have to deal with that and stand by the order. Not only will karma bite you in the butt, but so will the buyer. You also risk being banned from the apps you use to sell.

THE FOURTH KEY: Accentuate the positives. This seems obvious yet no one seems to know how to do this right. This is where we separate the supersales-people from the average joe-shmoes. Just as I said you must be honest in all your dealings, it’s totally OK to lead with the positives! Maybe the VU meter on a compressor doesn’t work but it still sounds great. Don’t say, “VU is broken but it sounds great.” It will never sell. Instead, say, “Sounds amazing! Must be heard to be believed. VU needs repair but doesn’t affect operation at all.” Find a way to divulge the truth while simultaneously convincing them it’s not that bad… that they still want to buy it from you! The underlying guide here is to remain honest without fibbing. This is how good sales people do their job well.

THE FIFTH KEY: Probably the most important. Pick the type of thing you want to sell that you are passionate about. Don’t try to sell something you aren’t familiar with. Trust your gut. What turns you on? Buy and sell that, and you’ll find yourself an audience of loyal buyers. I recently had a friend see what I was pulling and tried to do the same thing. After I taught him everything I knew and wasted all my time, he immediately gave up and said, ” I am looking at eBay and I realized I have no idea what I am doing. I don’t know any of this gear!” Ugh.

Here are some additional tips and items to consider:

1. Start Small and Think Big:

  • To make serious money, you need capital, so start with $500-1500 and commit to spending it wisely on choice items.

2. Choose Your Platforms Wisely:

  • Source items from eBay, but also explore auction apps like HiBid for hidden treasures.

3. Be Tax-Savvy:

  • Remember that any online sales exceeding $600 are subject to income tax. Always report your sales to the IRS to avoid penalties.

4. Opt for Smaller Items:

  • Smaller items are easier to handle and ship. Think microphones, vintage snares, kick pedals, or items you are passionate about.

5. Think Outside the Box in Your Searches:

  • Use unconventional search terms to discover overlooked gems. Terms like “antique radio mixer” can reveal hidden recording gear.

Profitable Items and Margins to Consider:

  • Dolby noise reduction units with modifications for the “Dolby Trick.”
  • Vintage microphones from attics and estates.
  • Roland MC-909 and DIY repairs.
  • Old drum gear, including vintage snares and kick pedals.
  • Sony C-38B microphones with strategic sourcing.
  • Electric Mistress V1 or V2 guitar pedals.
  • Echoplex EP-3 tape delays with operational guarantees.
  • Roland Juno-106 with voice chip and chorus section repairs/upgrades.
  • Lexicon PCM series time-based effects modules (70, 80 & 90).

These examples illustrate the wide arbitrage margins available. Remember, honesty and helpfulness will set you apart from shady sellers. Your buyers are artists who need reliable gear to make music. Operate with integrity and always do the right thing. In this business, there’s enough for everyone to eat. Share knowledge and opportunities; it’s a win-win for all. There is enough for all of us to eat, which is the sentiment that led me to offer this free article to you today!

My final piece of advice is to learn to use a soldering iron. Its basically a dangerously hot glue stick. A monkey could learn to use one. This skillset doubled the amount of money I made because I was able to do many of the smaller repairs in-house and de-tethered me to expensive techs who charge $100 and hour bench fees. I was also able to get killer deals on great gear that no one else would touch because it had a small issue. Do your homework and find out from the buyer what the issue is and if you can fix it, you’ve just made a ton of cash. If an XLR jack was broken, I knew it was probably just a disconnected pin or cable that takes all of 60 seconds to repair. XLR jacks are cake. If the voice chips or the BBD chorus chips in the Juno-106 had gone (which they notoriously do after a few decades of use), I learned it was very easy to repair on my own and where to course the Xvive MN3009 BBD chips and Analogue Renaissance voice chips from! There’s tons of great tutorials on how to fix this stuff and many suppliers of NOS and replacement parts. Even the MC-909 parts are easily had on the Syntaur website at a very reasonable cost!

In conclusion: Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  I hope you do extremely well in this, alongside me, not against me. After all, there is enough for all to eat and no reason to hoard knowledge or resources. Forward this to a friend who sells gear or is interested in it.

Good luck out there, and I’ll see you in the market, my friends!

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