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What To Do With Old DJ Gear: Recycle, Donate, Sell?

It’s amazing how much new DJ equipment is produced – almost every week there seems to be a new DJ mixer, player, or controller available on the market. Many DJs update setups and buy new gear with regularity to stay on the cutting edge – which can quickly create a personal graveyard of controllers, mixers, and turntables. Inside we’ve complied great resources to help you figure out what to do with unwanted (but still useful) DJ gear.

Usually when something new is purchased, the older model will go out the door. Before you put your ancient mixer out with this week’s trash, try to consider what would happen if every DJ in the world did the same thing – a big pile of mixers and MIDI controllers in a landfill somewhere, and a whole lot of environmental waste. Electrical equipment contains hazardous substances which can leak out and cause soil and water contamination, putting the health of humans and wildlife at risk.

Here are some of the best options for what to do with your old DJ gear: 

DONATE YOUR OLD GEAR

If only we had DJ donation boxes!
If only we had DJ donation boxes!

That old mixer may still have some juice left in it, and there’s probably a young DJ somewhere who would love to practice on it. Consider donating your equipment, so that it can be used by someone who can benefit from it. Most institutions who accept donations require that the gear be in good working order, which means no major mechanical deficiencies or essential missing parts.

There are many DJ schools and institutions in the US and Canada that accept equipment donations, including:

Scratch DJ Academy (New York, Miami, Chicago, LA): Founded by Jam Master J (of Run-DMC) the Scratch DJ Academy accepts equipment on a case-by-case basis, and if deemed to be in good shape, it is given to a deserving student who is working on their certification. To donatecontact the school and send them an email about the type of equipment you have, and its condition. In general, they accept mixers, Serato boxes, and Technics 1200s (no turntables of any other kind) as well as donations of records to give to promising students who are in need.

Hollywood Arts (Los Angeles): Helps LA-based homeless and at-risk young adults ages 13-15 transition into self-sufficient lives by utilizing arts-based curriculums, mentorships and professional internships. They are open to accepting equipment donations that could be used for future classes. Bring your equipment directly to their HQ, or ship it there – they’ll give donors an in-kind donation receipt, and include the estimated value of the equipment provided.

My Friend’s Place (Los Angeles): My Friend’s Place assists and inspires homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives. They offer a DJ 101 workshop, and welcome equipment donations (as well as donations of clothing, books and shoes) To donate, call Taylor Wilkerson at 323-908-0011 ex. 116 and give him details about your gear and schedule a time for drop off delivery – they’ll then mail a donation acknowledgement letter for tax purposes.

Village Glen High School (Los Angeles) is a part of The Help Group and serves a population of students with high functioning autism and other developmental disabilities. They accept used equipment in good working condition; it is best to contact the school (email: ecrasnow@thehelpgroup.org) to let them know in advance about what is being donated. Any donations will be used for music production classes; large donations will be distributed to other schools in The Help Group.

L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Program (Los Angeles): Their mission provided underserved middle and high school youth with an arts and literacy based after-school program. They accept donations of music equipment, (as well as visual arts and sports supplies) but in working order only.  Email them to set up a delivery time: lsh@lacerstars.org – after contacting them, equipment can be dropped off in Hollywood.

Scratch Lab (Toronto): Canada’s largest DJ Institute accepts donations of DJ equipment. Email them at: info@scratchlab.ca to begin the donation process and send them details about your gear.

Off Centre DJ School (Toronto): Off Centre is a DJ & Production school in downtown Toronto. They accept equipment donations, to be placed in their practice rooms, or given to organizations that serve underprivileged youth. Email the school lessons@offcentredj.com with your equipment donation offer – equipment can be shipped directly, or can be dropped off in person by making an appointment.

Goodwill: a good place to donate DJ equipment.
Goodwill: a good place to donate DJ equipment.

Goodwill (US + Canada): In both the US and Canada, used DJ equipment can be donated to Goodwill, an organization who re-sells goods to fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs. There are over 2,700 Goodwill donation locations in the United States and Canada.

Point Blank (United Kingdom): is a prominent music production and DJ college in the UK. While they don’t accept donations, they regularly donate old kit from Point Blank to various youth projects and can recommend reaching out to DJ-related charities like Dance for Decks and Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.

RECYCLE WITH A MANUFACTURER

electronics recycling

Unfortunately, most equipment manufacturers in the DJ industry do not have recycling take back programs in place – but there are a few. Here’s the companies who make DJ or DJ-related equipment that do have recycling programs in place:

  • Apple has one of the best electronics recycling programs available. They give customers an incentive by offering an Apple Store Gift card for the value of your old device. Send them your old iPhone, iPad, or computer (Mac and PCs are accepted) and if the electronics have monetary value, Apple will ship a gift card. If not, Apple will recycle it free of charge. The company has international recycling programs set up all over the world.
  • Denon USA has started their own recycling program in the US in response to state laws passed in New York and Illinois requiring all companies based in those states to provide a free path to recycle e-waste created by the company. Essentially, any Denon players (they’re focusing on DVD, but CDJs and older decks likely also quality) are eligible for the recycling program, keeping the hazardous materials in those devices out of landfills. Learn more at Denon’s site.
  • Pioneer DJ EU in the UK encourages their customers to recycle older equipment, and provides local recycling facilities for electrical equipment. Their recycling policy allows customers to take their used equipment to local recycling centres, free of charge. Pioneer DJ in the UK places a crossed-out wheeled bin symbol on equipment that can’t be thrown out. If you have any DJ (or other) electrical equipment with this symbol, don’t it throw it out with the trash.

LOCAL RECYCLING

Electronic waste piles up quickly in recycling centers.
Electronic waste piles up quickly in recycling centers.

There are many local recycling centers around the world that accept old equipment. It may be necessary to do some research on where they are located, and what kind of goods they accept. Recycling policies differ from country to country, so do your homework before you make the trek down with your goods. Find out more about community recycling programs below:

Unfortunately, a lot of electronic waste is sent to developing countries, where the processing takes place under unsuitable conditions. There are certification programs, such as e-Stewards that help individuals find recyclers who follow safe practices for handling electronic waste.

GET YOUR HUSTLE ON: SELL YOUR GEAR

A sampling of the DJ gear available on the SF Bay Area Craigslist
A sampling of the DJ gear available on the SF Bay Area Craigslist

There’s no shame in wanting to make a few bucks off that old DJ rig. The internet can be one of the best ways to list gear and find potential buyers. A few of the top sites for selling equipment include:

  • Craiglist.org is an online community that allows you to create postings in specific cities in the US, Canada, and around the world. It’s one of the leading sites to post up used equipment on. One of the great things about Craigslist is it’s free to create postings.
  • Ebay is still one of the biggest sites for selling new and gently used items, Ebay allows you to post up equipment and makes it available to buyers worldwide. There are fees for creating postings on eBay, including an initial ad fee, final value fee, plus fees for any optional features and services you may use. 
  • Amazon allows individual sellers who want to sell less than 20 items per month the opportunity to make postings for $1.49 per items, plus selling fees. It’s one of the world’s biggest online shops, and a growing site for selling used goods.
  • DJTT Buy-and-Sell Forums: Our own community has one of the biggest buying-and-selling forums around for DJ equipment – if you haven’t checked it out already, try it out.
Many local, smaller stores will buy and sell used gear.
Many local, smaller stores will buy and sell used gear.

If you’d rather sell locally, consider the following options:

  • Advertising In Your Newspaper: Create an ad to sell your equipment in the local newspaper. There may be fees for this (or maybe not) depending on the publication. You might be able to secure a higher rate for your equipment this way, as there will likely be fewer ads for DJ equipment.
  • Local Equipment Shops: The local DJ/record store might be a good place to sell gear. Give them a call, and ask what their policies are for used equipment. They will likely want a percentage of the price you’re asking, so be prepared to give them a cut.

No matter where you choose to post up your gear for sale, check out the online prices for similar used models. Be open to negotiation, and keep in mind that potential buyers will usually give you an offer that may be less than the price you ask. Keep your bottom line price in mind when negotiating.

TRADE-IN

Try getting credit from an old piece of gear (left) for a newer piece (right).
Try getting credit from an old piece of gear (left) for a newer piece (right).

Trade-in programs are becoming more popular; an increasing number of retailers are offering these programs for gently-used equipment. Here’s a few of the major retailers with programs in place:

  • Guitar Center will accept DJ mixers, CD players, and Technics Turntables (note: not turntables from any other brands). They have a Trade In/Trade Up program, where the shop will either give you money or an upgrade on your equipment in exchange for your old gear. Equipment is appraised on the same day, so it’s a fast process – and it is worth noting that some stores might accept MIDI controllers – it will depend on the store.
  • Best Buy’s trade in program offers you a convenient way to trade your used electronics for Best Buy Gift Cards. See if your equipment is eligible and then a local Best Buy shop will assess the age, condition, and original accessories included with your gear. If your equipment has value, they will give you a Best Buy gift card for the determined value, otherwise, Best Buy will recycle your equipment free of charge, with their free recycling program for electronics, available regardless of where the item was purchased.

SWAP OR TRADE GEAR

Trading posts on the DJTT forums
Trading posts on the DJTT forums

There are a couple of places online where DJs can swap gear with others. If you choose to participate in an equipment swap, make sure the gear you trade yours for (as well as your own, of course) is in good working condition.

  • Swapz.co.uk (United Kingdom): There’s a dedicated section on this site for equipment swaps, and you can list individual items that you would like to swap for.
  • DJTT Forums: Worth mentioning again here – people often look for trades on the Buy/Sell forum instead of looking for a specific price.

We actually would recommend trying to swap gear locally – try seeking out DJ groups in your town or asking your friends if they want to trade gear – even if only temporarily! Learning how to use someone else’s old gear means you get a chance to become that much more proficient on a different controller or mixer – a good practice technique.

ANYTHING BESIDES THE TRASH

Progress and new equipment is great, but we all need to take responsibility to make sure that older equipment is disposed of in a way that is safe. Ideally, it’s great if we can extend the life of equipment by putting it into the hands of someone else who will enjoy using it. If it’s really the end of the road, it’s important to find an option besides the dumpster!

Know of any recycling, donation, or selling options that we’ve missed? Share them in the comments and we’ll add the good stuff to the article. 

Header photo credit: Sam Gribben

  • Elan Eichler

    Looking to donate old gear? The Portland-based non-profit the Morpheus Youth Project needs DJ equipment for after-school programs! Learn more at: http://www.morpheusyouth.org/

  • Melvin Cabelin

    I would be very grateful if someone could send or give me their stuff. 🙂 I would love to learn more about djing, too bad i cant afford to buy some equipment.

  • Richard

    I could use some old stuff,,,,anyone?

  • Da real deal

    bought a pair of Technics 1210 15 years ago, still running::: NO need to buy new equipment. Think about it, don’t be silly !!

  • djblackjack

    im looking for a pioneer ddj sx, anyone feeing generous??

  • Weaver2

    IMO it’s better it going to SOME use than just sitting in my closet.

    However, as huge as they are, and even if they don’t get much use anymore: I’m never letting go of my tech 12s, especially now since they’re out of production.

  • MidVinter

    There are so much history and art out there, and there is so much new dj shit produced on a daily basis that i dont even know were to begin.

    If i bought cd players or technics 1200 i would look at them as tools for an artist and they tell a story and show a history of marvels and happy times, i am contemplating buying Technics SLDZ 1200 just because they are the most beautilful cdplayers ever built.

    I have tonnes of stuff laying around at home, but im keeping them all, as ill never will be able to buy them again, that goes for the records as well, i recently begun converting my records to Wav and put them all on harddrives, just incase.

    Im a “pull the lever, touch the dial” kind a guy, so computer for deejaying is only an option when playing in really cramped places that dont have space for a real dj setup. and its not as fun with a controller then say 1200s or CDJ 2000s, thats just a fact.

    Its possible to do more with a controller, there of im certain, and a computer gives you a bigger footprint regarding the screen, but no, i try to use it as little as possible.

  • William

    or you coiuld just keep all that shit! Look at that All-in-one beauty! why would you get rid of that! if you do, send it to me. Hell, i will come pick it up!

    Don’t give to goodwill, they are a shit company. They pay crappy wages, overprice their stuff and they get all the stuff for free. Mark Cuban owns goodwill, he makes 2.3 million as ceo of this company. Give to Salvation Army, their ceo make 13,000 a year. I do go to goodwill for 33 cent records but i would never donate to them.

  • sabdbasdb

    is the how to cook eggs article next? puke

  • Walter Hoch

    If you do not have a use for it anymore, or, don’t wanna be in charge of taking a good care of it. donate! BUT, be 100% shure that the person will take a good care…

  • Thomas Smit

    I will never sell my old gear, to much hystorie!!!!!!

    • MidVinter

      Same here

    • Dwayne Taylor

      Me either!!!

  • Robert Wulfman

    what if several controls have broken off?

    • Sara Simms

      I would contact the schools/organizations first and let them know about the state of your equipment.

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    good acticle, but i play it forward a bit closer to home. i have a 12yr old and a 15tr old, if my old gear doesn’t go to them, circuit bending or midi mods (synths and drum machines) or donated to young aspiring producers and dj’s with a quick tutorial to get them started (controllers and software). organisations and workshops don’t start a new generation of dj’s (they may hone some skills), the first cool dj that stops to talk to you does… the music you enjoy does… getting sick of listening to people train wreck you favourite tracks also gets you started.

    just remember, there are always places closer to home that you can donate your equipment to keep your local scene a bit stronger, like donating to your local community or campus radio station or getting a new generation started in your own backyard.

  • DJ Gerard

    You say Scratch Academy only takes 1200’s? I just recently saw a video of them saying they use Stanton STR8-150…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eddsdrGBzL0

    • Sara Simms

      According to Scratch Academy, Technics are the only turntables they accept for donations

      • Weaver2

        This seems kind of unreasonably picky. I understand not wanting to turn into a dumping ground for shitty $60 belt drives, but there are plenty of really well built turntables out there that aren’t Technics (and this is coming from a Technics owner).

        Well, it’s their business and their rules.

  • Dr Beatz

    I find its fun to re purpose them. Tear off the covers and play with the circuits to make something new. If you have never taken a jump into the DIY controller department, this is great way to start. If your kit is already broken, why not have some fun with it?
    Use the knobs and buttons to make your own controller.
    moldover is the champ at this, and he links to lots of open source projects
    Or donate to your local schools electronics lab (if there is one anymore)

    does anyone really just “throw away” an expensive DJ controller? Seems crazy to me

  • eduardo

    i always use my old gear i like my set up to be with old equipment and new

  • As an instructor at Scratch Academy Chicago, I can say we LOVE when people donate gear to our students. These guys are usually some of the hardest working prospective/beginner DJs in their city and even old needle cartridges are GREATLY appreciated.

    PLEASE DONATE… thanks.

    • Sara Simms

      Thanks for posting up…hopefully you will have some donations coming your way soon!

    • MidVinter

      Nice to hear that there are still people that want to learn “the craft” from the roots and ground up, and dont pretend beeing a dj after viewing or even worse recording a couple of youtube videos, get a few likes on facebook and then book and go out ruining parties or weddings.

      To be a DJ, takes soul, commitment and heart, and i dont mean heartsigns in the air!

      Keep it up PC3 @ SA hope you get more students that can pass our history and knowlage on, what djn is all about

      If i was living in the U.S i would donate for sure!

      We dont have that kind of institution here in sweden, some kids likes the old ways, but most of them, just buy a computer, read a little about what a dj do, underbid real djs and start a semicareer hooking weddings and parties.

      And believe you me, when i say, if i only got a dollar for every comment about hooking djs, i would be a wealthy man today ;D

  • Matt

    Thank you so much for posting this! *%$& Yeah to donating your gear to orgs who can pass the knowledge on to the next generation. = )

    • Sara Simms

      🙂

  • Frankie Claessens

    I alway sell my old gear, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. I still have a Livid Code and an EFX500 laying in my closet, the first one won’t sell because it’s too exotic and expensive, the second one because there are cheaper alternatives these days. Maybe I’ll get rid of them one day lol

    • you have an EFX500 that you arent using??!! My god man whats wrong with it!!!??
      i still have mine from 1998 i think is when i got it and its still running STRONG. no issues. When the new model came out, i stayed away from it. Didnt like it at all

      • Frankie Claessens

        The EFX is fine, still looks brand new and works flawlessly, just don’t like putting it on the master output since I’m doing everything else internally.

        • i have mine on the master out but i then go OUT from the 500 and down through the other equipment on my rack
          Limiter | 3 band EQ Filter | Dual 15 band EQ | Compressor / Gate
          and THEN final output

          why dont you like having it on the master out?
          and yes, it is too bad that the S2 / S4 components dont have a SEND RETURN area in the back panel

          • Frankie Claessens

            I’m using a Pioneer DDJ SX in Traktor, that also doesn’t have a Send/Return, bummer yes! I like being able to control the effects on each channel seperately, that’s why I’m not using the EFX. I might put it back on the master though, just as an add-on FX unit maybe. Problem would then be that the recording is analogue again and broadcasting out of Traktor wouldn’t send my track info with it, etc.

            But there might be one reason why I will put it back on the master output, the delay! The delay effect in traktor really sounds like shit when I compare it to an EFX500 or DJM, just being able to quickly switch from beat to beat with a 1/2 delay is nice with the kind of techno music I play. So yeah I might just use it for that :p

    • MidVinter

      The 2nd hand is not worth anything, you buy say a CDJ 2000 for $2000, the six month later it sells under a $1000, and now with the Nexus, you should be glad of getting $500.

      A DJM 800 that went for $2500, is going for $500 if not less.

      If you wait, much of the gear wil lend up as electronical garbage, and if you have a cool nerve, you can sell it later on as “vintage” and maybe get what you payed for it in the first place.

      An example is a Roland synthesizer i had in my teens, Roland Juno 106, i bought it for $1000 and sold it 8 years later for $2000, that is good business, and people know quality so they dont mind paying.

      DJ gears has nooo value what so ever, today you can buy a used NI S4 in good condition for $200, even less.

      Controllers are worth SQUAT!

      The value in Vinylplayers like T1200 / 1210 is rising

      • Weaver2

        This is kind of the thing, isn’t it? Despite a few sought after vintage and/or analog pieces of gear, your stuff will generally depreciate in value.

        Especially in the controller market.

        Anyways, what I want to say to anyone selling: PLEASE be reasonable in pricing if you ever hope to get rid of stuff. I’ve done some hunting for a new used mixer and the prices people think they can get for a 3 year old digital mixer are bloody absurd. Shaving 10% off the cost of the mixer new is not a deal and no one is going to pay that. Maybe a 50 – 70% discount would be more like it.

        People are not buying used because they have thousands of spare dollars, they’re buying used because they’re likely strapped or cash.

        Anyways, just kind of wanted to rant a bit there 😛

  • Mutis Mayfield

    You can also upgrade the “old” into something new with some knowledge (or friends with it and internet as hub/library)
    Repair before recycle, improve before drop…

    • sarasimms

      Good idea! Do you have any pics of older equipment you’ve turned into a new piece you could post up?

      • Mutis Mayfield

        It is done and right here at djtt
        http://www.djtechtools.com/2011/08/24/how-big-do-you-like-your-platter-sir/

        Turning any jog into midi controller and even a regular turntable with a tascam ttm attached to …………. (Put your controller with jogs or arduino board) and control your softwar without mess with audio cables and calibrations. Upgrading your retro gear into future (or not) gear.

        Norbert and I (hacknmat) made it possible.

        Another one was the korg nanopad turned into:
        A) kaoss pad midi lite (with walkthrought)
        http://www.hispasonic.com/blogs/kaoss-pad-midi-lite/37004

        B) Cheap midi fighter (oops! XD) with xy controller and 0 coding.
        In proces but you could see pictures of the process at my fb/g+

        • Sara Simms

          Cool, thanks for sharing!

          • Mutis Mayfield

            You are welcome!

  • radley

    If you’ve had an interesting piece of gear for a long time, consider holding on to it. Like guitarists mount their fav old guitar, some of us have displayed our old fav DJ mixer. DJ Tech Tools has a few on their shelves too…

    • MidVinter

      I have both a Denon DN 9000 and a Pioneer DJM 909, i wil lnever sell them, as they were the first pieces in my collection that helped me make real money as a dj
      Ive had DN 2000s, DN 2600s, DJM 500II Ltd as well, but i got rid of them as they did not make quite of impression on me as the later gear did.