Hard Off is the name of the used music store that I frequent and buy most all of my second music gear from Nagano city, Japan. The attached photo was taken by me showing the downtown Nagano city Hard Off store. There are also two other Hard Off stores nearby that I also go to that get used music gear in on a weekly basis. To get the good stuff you need to hit the stores at least once a week. I find if I go on the weekend and then on either a Monday or Tuesday, I can intercept some really good stuff. Good deals on vintage music gear, audio equipment, and old computer devices can be found quite regularly. It’s also well known that the Japanese take really good care of their old stuff. Very often you will find accessories, boxes, manuals, stickers, etc. for the gear that you buy at Hard Off stores. In addition, there are used book stores called “Book Off” that are part of the chain. The names of these stores “Hard Off” and “Book Off‘ are classic examples of how the Japanese mangle the English language. It’s hard to keep a straight face when saying the names of these stores.
Typically, Hard Off Japan sells old music gear with a three month warranty against the item breaking. Items that have no warranty are classified as “junk” but I have found the store just doesn’t want to be responsible so they label good working items as “junk”. Generally, music gear without OS disks or support disks are labeled as junk so I one can get some really great deals. All of the items are shrink wrapped after they are carefully cleaned with air guns and cloths. You can test drive guitars, keyboards, and amps at any time of course. I also noticed that you can’t haggle very much if at all, but if you are a frequent customer like myself, they will throw extra things in your bag like cables, disks, guitar picks, straps, batteries, etc. About twice a year, Hard Off Japan will have sales in their store and they pretty much knock off 10-20% on all items. These sales last about two weeks and are generally not announced. Also, about once per year there is a complete remarking of price tags to account for the change of pricing or value of used items over time.
All in all, Hard Off Japan is a fantastic place to find used audio, music, and computer gear. I find the prices reasonable, but most of all, I find the used gear to be consistently in excellent condition with little wear. There’s always something new each week and it’s a thrill when you walk in and find that special item you are looking for on the shelf. This just happened last week when I found an almost brand new Boss RC-50 in the box just sitting there. Immediately I grabbed it and ran to the register. Things go sell fast there so you have to know your stuff before you buy. There’s usually no coming back for hot items.