Purchasing your first instrument may seem like a daunting and expensive task when you look at the huge variety of options available at local musical instrument stores. Even well-seasoned players want to find the best deals when adding to their extensive collections. Finding high-quality, cheap musical instruments has never been easier when you shop through one of the many online classifieds websites. To get the most out of your purchases, keep in mind the following tips.
Ten Recommendations When Shopping Online for Used Musical Instruments
1. Do Not Underestimate the Value of Buying Used.
Musical instruments tend to maintain value as long as they have been properly cared for and maintained. Buying a used instrument then does not mean you need to sacrifice quality to get a great sounding instrument at a reasonable price. Some pieces even sound better after the previous owner has broken them in since it gives them more vibe.
2. Do Your Research.
Even if you are familiar with the popular name brands of different instruments, do not forget that each one generally has several different designs or modifications that make them unique. Learn more about the options available to help narrow down your search faster and guarantee you get the sound you want from your instrument.
3. Verify Cost with a Price Guide.
Knowing what to pay when you have never purchased an instrument before can be difficult. Luckily, many price guides exist to help you navigate your way through. Check the going rates online through eBay’s Completed Listings, the Reverb Price Guide, etc. and try to negotiate.
4. Negotiate on Price.
When buying a used instrument from a private seller, you have a much better chance of successfully negotiating the price down than if you buy from a music store or dealer. Sometimes you can even get away with it when dealing with a secondhand dealer or a music shop that sells pre-owned instruments. Do not be afraid to make an offer, the worst they can do is say no.
5. Review Multiple Photos.
If the seller only provides a few grainy pictures, request more. Ask them to photograph the instrument in natural light without a flash to get the best view of the piece and any visible wear, tear, or damage. Get photos of all sides of the instrument to ensure you do not miss something small, but important. Avoid sellers who refuse to take additional photos.
6. Ask Lots of Questions.
Looking at photos can only do so much, however, especially if you cannot see the instrument in person before you buy. Know what questions to ask about the condition of the instrument, like the wear on the frets of a guitar, or when the last time the bass was set-up, so you ask the right ones.
7. Learn the Instrument’s Story.
Every pre-loved musical instrument has a story behind it, especially vintage or antique pieces. Ask the seller if they owned the instrument since it was new and, if not, whether they know anything about the history of it. If you do not ask, you may never know if a famous person once owned that particular piano, or if just sat in the back of someone’s house for 20 years. The story can tell you a lot about the condition and the value of the instrument.
8. Request the Seller’s Feedback History, if Available.
When shopping on an online classifieds website, frequent sellers generally have a feedback history available through the site. Thoroughly review previous customer feedback for any red flags that may indicate you should find another seller. You can also ask them directly for feedback or referrals from previous purchasers.
9. Check for a Return Policy or Negotiate One.
Not all private sellers offer a return policy on their goods, but some do. Aim to buy used musical instruments from one of these sellers when possible. If they do not offer a return policy, ask them if they would be willing to negotiate one that makes you both feel satisfied. Avoid sellers that flat out refuse, unless you are confident in the quality of the instrument and feel comfortable taking the risk.
10. Consider Shipping Insurance.
One of the other obstacles to buying used musical instruments online is ensuring it arrives to you without getting damaged. Even if you negotiate a good return policy, most sellers will not refund an instrument that arrives broken due to circumstances beyond their control. Once you establish how the seller plans to transport the instrument, consider buying additional shipping insurance and requiring a signature upon delivery. Most shippers like UPS, FedEx, or USPS automatically offer insurance on items over a certain value, but be sure you double check.
Buying secondhand musical instruments not only saves you money, it keeps them out of landfills and helps to lessen humanity’s impact on the environment. Keep these tips in mind when you search for your first, or next, instrument online and get the piece you want at the best price possible.