4 Reasons Not to Buy a Second Hand Instrument

As we inch closer to back to school, many new band and orchestra parents are asking themselves a big question:

“Should I get my child’s instrument at a retail store, or should I buy second hand?”

The reason for this question is quite simple: we all have a budget to stick to and instruments can get quite expensive – and many parents are scared of being taken advantage of by the “big corporation”.

While there are corrupt corporations in any field, most music retail stores are run by honest, hardworking people who want their customers to have the best band experience possible and many have musical backgrounds and experience themselves.

Here are a few advantages to getting an instrument from a retail store, as opposed to buying a second-hand instrument:

  1. Rental Programs
    Most music stores offer some type of rental program for school band instruments. A key advantage to renting is it allows the parents to make monthly payments, while allowing the child time to decide if band is something they would like to stay with. If the child decides not to stay in band, most stores allow parents to return the instrument with zero penalties.
  2. Verified Playability
    A music store wouldn’t last long sending out instruments that were faulty or in bad repair. So you can feel quite confident that the instrument has been checked over and serviced by a certified repair technician. You can even request a demonstration of the instrument for verification of functionality.
  3. Knowledge of School Needs
    Most music stores work closely with surrounding school districts. They are very “plugged in” to the needs of the students in surrounding districts. Schools furnish local stores with a list of what is required for each student – which includes instrument (brand and model), mouthpiece, and all other accessories they will need. The school market changes very quickly, due to director changes, budget cuts, and instrument quality. Dealing with someone who keeps frequent contact with the schools is very crucial.
  4. Warranties
    Aside of consignment or used items, any instrument sold from a retailer has some form of warranty, whether it be manufacturer or in store. These warranties cover defects, repairs, or even part replacements, within certain limits. If you rent an instrument, as mentioned earlier, you pay an insurance fee that covers those very things.

There are distinct advantages to shopping with a music retailer as opposed to second hand. While you can find great prices buying second-hand, it’s quite a gamble if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Think of it this way: Would you buy a car from someone in another state, with no way to see it up close or test its functionality? If not, then why would you take that chance with your child’s education?


photo credit: Dukas.Ju via photopin cc

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