Tips for Purchasing Pre-Owned Musical Instruments

Buying a used musical instrument can be a daunting task, especially if the musician is starting out and has no experience in the specific instrument. What seems like a bargain can be misleading and end up in money wasted. There are however, a few guidelines and useful tips for buying used musical instruments that first time buyers can follow.

The most important of all the tips for purchasing used musical instruments is: Research the instrument that you are interested in. Buyers need to find out what the best brands or manufacturers are for the instruments. For instance, when it comes to saxophones, brand names such as Martin, Yamaha, Buffet, Holton, Yanigasawa, Buescher, Leblanc and King, are considered to be amongst the most reliable saxophone manufacturers. Smaller brand names produce what is referred to as ‘marching band’ or ‘student’ saxophones, which are of inferior quality. Also research the prices of new instruments and compare them to the used instruments and compare store prices as well.

Always speak to the previous owner, if possible, or to a store clerk in regard to the history of the instrument. Some instruments, such as flutes, usually have serial numbers by which potential buyers are able to confirm the age of the instrument and possibly who the first owner was. Flutes are also very intricate instruments and it is essential to investigate what materials were used during the manufacturing of the instrument, if the instrument has any additional keys, closed or open holes and how the instrument was tuned.

The overall condition of the instrument is essential to look at. It gives the buyer a sense of how the instrument was taken care of. Any modifications or adjustments made to the instruments could affect the sound or performance. It may seem that buying string instruments, like guitars and violins, would be easier, but buyers should remember that if a string instrument is damaged some owners choose to remove the nicks and scratches, which leads to the entire surface being sanded down and re-varnished.

It is always recommended to ask a music teacher or friend who is knowledgeable in the specific instrument, to assist while buying a used instrument. They will be able to test the instrument and notice any inconsistencies or damage. Buying an instrument should be a memorable experience and not one that the buyer wishes to forget. Always remember to research, test and ask questions.