6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Here’s What to Know Before Buying an Instrument

6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Thinking about buying a new instrument? It’s a big decision, as an instrument is truly an investment — especially if you’re spending several hundred dollars (or more, for higher-end brands and models) on it.

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to do some research. But where do you start? With so many brands out there, how do you know which ones are worth the money? What do you really need to ensure years of playing and practicing?

We came across a great article over on Donna Schwartz’s blog that we think hits the nail on the head for what to consider before handing over your cash — whether you’re looking at new or used musical instruments.

Donna writes:

Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or pro, here are 5 questions to ask yourself when trying out different musical instruments:

  1. Does the sound of this instrument match my concept of how I want to sound?
  2. Is the instrument free-blowing enough to allow me to get my “perfect sound”? (Or maybe I want a little resistance on this trumpet to help out with high notes?)
  3. Is it easy enough to play in all registers of the instrument comfortably?
  4. Can I control the intonation in all registers of the instrument?
  5. Are the keys placed in such a way that I can perform rapid passages comfortably?

The above 5 questions are important and vary for every performer. This next question though is absolutely necessary for every musician that wants to perform at their best for a long time.

When you are comparing a few different brands and have found some you really like, before you pull out the credit card, it is crucial to ask this question:

If my instrument breaks, do you have the parts to fix it, and if not, can you get the parts?

Donna continues to point out that an instrument like the saxophone has more than 600 moving parts — so if you end up with an instrument with sub-standard parts that can’t be replaced… you may be out of luck if it breaks. Moral of the story? Do your research. Ask questions. Get help from your music teacher, and have him or her try out instruments with you. Make an informed decision!

You can read the article in full here.

For even more tips, we also like this article from the Tampa Bay Music Academy blog. As part of their steps for buying an instrument, they offer some additional pointers regarding instrument quality:

Instrument quality can generally be assessed using three categories: student quality, intermediate quality, or professional quality.

Your 5th grader doesn’t need a professional quality instrument yet, but should you go the cheap route with a student model or shell out a few more bucks for the intermediate? Ultimately, that depends on your goals for your student.

Is this a “try it and see if you like it” endeavor, or have you and your child committed to this instrument for the long haul? Student quality instruments are usually made of cheaper materials and won’t produce as nice a sound, but they are good for students who don’t know if they will stick with it or not. They’re also good starter instruments if money is tight.

If your child (and you) have committed to playing this instrument throughout middle and high school, however, go ahead and invest in the better quality option if possible.

Continue reading the article here.

And finally, if you’re opting for the used musical instruments route, Get-Tuned.com has a great article on how to evaluate a used instrument.

Readers, how have your experiences been buying new or used instruments? What other tips would you add? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Image by Vincent Diamante

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

3 replies
  1. Nash Rich
    Nash Rich says:

    I’m a big music lover, so I’ve bought quite a few instruments throughout my life. I like what it said about finding the instrument that has the sound you’re looking for. Every instrument sounds a little different. Growing up in a family of violin players, I found there was one violin I preferred over the others. I liked the way it sounded, and felt. I’ve also bought a lot of stuff like bass guitars, guitars, synthesizers, drums, you name it. I spent a lot of time researching the sounds I wanted. I think a great way is to hit the internet, and watch videos and read reviews. Nothing is better than trying them out for yourself though. It’s the funnest kind of shopping there is!

    Reply
  2. Gregory Willard
    Gregory Willard says:

    It’s a great idea to consider if you can comfortably play the instrument in all registers. My thumb on my left hand has a slight muscle problem, so it’s always been difficult to find something I can play comfortably. It would be interesting to see if there is something that feels comfortable enough to play.

    Reply
  3. Bradford Snelson
    Bradford Snelson says:

    I liked the question Donna posed about whether the sound of the instrument matches the concept of how you want to sound. I have been thinking of taking up an instrument and was considering a penny whistle because it’s pretty unique where I live. A flute might fit more with what I want to sound like though – I’ll have to listen to someone play one.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *