Music instruments aren’t cheap, and they are a critical piece of equipment for taking music lessons, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price for a brand new instrument. Instruments don’t have expiration dates on them, and often a well cared for second-hand instrument can be just as good as a brand new one, if not even better. There are plenty of families who find themselves with a disused instrument after music lessons have ended when their child has grown and moved away, or after a loved one has passed on. When their family decides to declutter, you might be able to score a fantastic deal. Take a moment to read through our best practices and tips guide for buying a second-hand instrument from what we believe are the three most likely places you will probably find yours.
Many music instrument stores/repair shops also carry second-hand instruments. Finding a good second-hand instrument can often be as easy as contacting your local music instrument retailer and asking them if they have any available. You might end up paying a little more for a second-hand instrument if you go this route, rather than purchasing directly from a previous owner, but there is a silver lining. Most reputable music instrument dealers handling second-hand instruments have already performed an inspection and tune up on each instrument, repairing or restoring anything needed to return it to full working order. You get the peace of mind and price certainty that you will have a working instrument requiring no additional immediate repair costs.
Another good place to look for second-hand instruments is on Craigslist. Craigslist is a well known online local classifieds website that specifically features a dedicated category for music instrument sales. Craigslist transactions are relatively anonymous, sellers typically favor cash payment, and merchandise is often sold “as is” with no buyer protections (like return policy or warranties). It is important to be safe and aware of how you are transacting, especially when you choose this route, but this is often where you might find some of the very best deals. If you do decide to purchase an instrument from craigslist, and you are not experienced enough to be able to evaluate it’s condition yourself, consider reaching out to a local instrument repair shop/dealer to see if they would do a free instrument inspection, and how much a standard tune up would be. When you find your shop, contact your Craigslist seller and arrange to meet them at the repair/dealer’s shop of your choosing for the sale of the instrument. You will have the benefit of having an expert available to assess the instrument’s condition and potential additional repair costs before you buy it from the seller, and it’s safer to meet your seller in public.
Other places you can safely buy second-hand instruments from are the Amazon.com marketplace, or eBay. Both Amazon, and Ebay (though Paypal) have excellent buyer protection policies in place. It can be a little unnerving to order something as complex as a second-hand instrument online without ever having seen the instrument in person, but there are a few things you can do to help make certain that you get what you want the first time.
- Look for listings that have detailed descriptions about the instrument. Look for specific information about it’s condition, and its appearance.
- Listings that feature actual photos of the item (as opposed to stock product photos) will help you make an even better decision.
- If you have a specific question about an item use the “ask seller a question” feature. Both of these online retailers offer a means for prospective customers to communicate with the seller. If you don’t get a response, or your seller seems evasive or vague, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere.
- Be aware of shipping and handling fees. Some sellers use a slightly predatory practice to get more potential buyers attention on their listing by pricing an item significantly cheaper than all the other like items while jacking up the shipping and handling rates. They might hope that you won’t notice the abnormally large shipping and handling fees added during your checkout process that might, in fact, make the seemingly cheap item more expensive in total than one of the other higher priced listings.
If you do purchase online and the instrument shows up in a different condition than how it was advertised, both of these online stores provide tools to file a dispute, or to request a return to recover your payment. Be prompt starting your claims process, but also be polite to your seller, remember there are a lot of people who handle your package while it is en route to you, so it might not be the seller’s fault. Remember, most sellers will work with you to find an adequate resolution get you taken care of, either replacing, crediting you back, or partially crediting you in the amount required to repair.
So go out and find that diamond in the rough! You’ve got the right tools to find that instrument now, and music lessons are just a hop and a skip away from any of Lessons Unlimited’s St. Louis music school locations.