Buying a new vs used wind instrument
New vs. Used wind instrument
Buying a New Instrument
There are many places to gather information regarding your purchase; your teacher has a wealth of knowledge, she/he may recommend a certain make or model.
our local music store may carry a new/used line of band instruments. If this is the case, ask to try as many as you can, not all instruments are created equal!
If the instrument feels good under your fingers, ask if you can show it to your teacher before you agree to make the final purchase.
And finally, the very best place to buy is at a band/orchestral specialty store. Your questions will be answered by knowledgeable people and as a bonus you won’t hear any searing guitar solo’s in the background!
Questions to ask before buying:
- Is there a trial period?
- Has the instrument been “set up” from the factory?
- Is there a warrantee, and if there is, is it “in store” or a manufacturer’s warrantee?
- Ask about shipping particulars
- When your instrument is away for repair, will they provide you with a loaner?
- Are replacement parts available for the instrument? There are many affordable “off-shore” instruments found at local music stores but should you need to repair the instrument, the availability of replacement parts can be difficult.
- Does the instrument come with a cleaning kit, and all the accessories needed to keep your instrument in top shape?
- What is the return policy should you wish to return the instrument?
- Does the store offer repair services in-house, or do they send your instrument out? This is your opportunity to develop a dialog with a repair technician. The more your repair technician knows about the relationship you have with your instrument, the better she/he can assist with mechanical adjustments.
Buying a Used Instrument
Not all used instruments are in “excellent” or even “P.C.” playing condition. Should you decide to purchase a used instrument, factor in a trip to your local repair technician for a check up, and a thorough cleaning.
That being said, purchasing a used instrument is an excellent way to get a better quality instrument within your means.
Questions to ask before buying:
One way of determining the condition of a used instrument is to speak with the original owner. Ask questions like:
- Are you the original owner?
- Is it clean?
- Who has played it?
- When was it played last?
- Where did you buy it from?
- What was the original price?
- Who has repaired it?
- Why are you selling it?
Things to look for:
- Check the condition of the case. If the case is clean and free of damage, it is likely the instrument has been well looked after.
- Avoid instruments with foul smelling cases as them may have been in a flood.
- Inspect pads for ripped or fuzzy edges – this is an indication the instrument is in need of service.
- Check for dents and cracks, large and small. Look down the bore of the instrument.
- Depress the keys to ensure they move freely and evenly – listen for any clicking.
- Assemble the instrument and check that the pieces fit together.
- Check for matching serial numbers on all sections of the instrument.
- Check that all accessories are included: mouthpiece/ligature/cap, cleaning/tuning swab, neck strap, all lubricants, and cork grease.
Where to buy a used instrument:
If you decide to purchase on line, make sure you have the option of a trial/return period. Ask for warrantee information and store policies.
If you decide to purchase from a music store, ask the salesperson for the history of the instrument, and get contact information for the previous owner.
Ask for advice from your teacher or your musical friends. They may recommend a store or even a certain brand and model of instrument. Ask them for feedback on the condition and sound of the instrument once the purchase has been made.
Do some comparison shopping, make certain the time and money you’re investing for the used instrument is worth it. Research the instruments’ original cost. Visit a few shops, compare prices on-line.
Not all used instruments have been maintained alike. There is a wide range in quality of materials and methods used in the care and maintenance of musical instruments.
Regular maintenance will assist in your instrument retaining its value.
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