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Purchasing New Instruments

If you are thinking about buying a new or used instrument, mouthpiece, or bow for your child we have a couple of tips that will help make your investment worthwhile and lasting.

Talk to an expert and do your research!  You wouldn’t buy a brand new car without researching it first.  We have knowledgeable teachers who can share valuable insight as to the type of instrument you should be looking at, brands that produce quality instruments, and the level of the instrument (student model, intermediate, professional).

Give it a test drive.  Keeping with the car theme, you test drive a car for a reason: to make sure it works the way you want it to and that it is a good fit for you.  Instruments are exactly the same.  Instruments have different feels and respond to everyone differently.  For example on one trumpet you may get more back pressure and can’t play in the high register very easily while on another horn you have difficulty in the lower register but can play high notes with ease.  A third horn might give you exactly what you were looking for which is to play the full range with little resistance or problems.  The same goes for trying out mouthpieces and bows, one size does not fit all and they should be tried out not just once but several times.

Brands and price do matter.  We hate to say it but it is true.  A $50 no name brand flute versus the $400-500 Gemeinhardt, Armstrong flute will have major differences.  The $50 flute will break more often and will lose its seal faster allowing air to escape affecting your child’s tone and often frustrating them.  The well known, trusted brand flutes will keep their pitch, will seal correctly, will hold its value for years instead of months to where not only your child will play it for their life but will be able to pass it on to their next generation if they so choose to (and practice good maintenance habits).  This goes for all of the instruments.  Valves on trumpets, horns, and euphoniums will stick more frequently and do not hold their tuning on the no name very inexpensive instruments.  Repair companies will not fix these instruments anymore as the metal often breaks when they try to put keys and rods back in place or when they try to release the pressure on the valves from the bending slide made of thin cheap metal.

You can buy used.  Quality instruments last, especially if the previous owner took care of it properly. 

Buy from a reputable dealer.  Be wary of people selling instruments out of their trunks, trench coats, and garage sales.  We have several music shops in the area that are knowledgeable and carry quality new and used instruments.  If they do not have the instrument you are looking for in stock, some of them will even have it shipped in for you to try.

If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If someone said “you can have this brand new car with all the features and five star safety rating for only $50” would you believe it?  I’d be intrigued, maybe even would give it a look, but I doubt that it is as good as they said it is.  Instruments are the same way.  Try them.  Test them.  Research them.  Is it really a good deal?  The worst thing is buying something very cheap and then spending more money to have it repaired over and over again.

Does it have a warranty?  Reputable dealers will usually offer a warranty for the instruments and the instrument makers do as well.  They stand behind their work and if the work isn’t right, they will do what they can to make it right.  They appreciate the music and the instrument and want you to as well.  A broken instrument only leads to aggravation and frustration.

Does it have a serial number?  If it doesn’t have a serial number, walk away.  Serial numbers are used for several purposes including if it is ever lost or stolen and someone tries to sell it at a music or pawn shop.  The local retailers will take the serial numbers of missing/lost/stolen instruments and keep an eye out for people trying to sell them and make money.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read through these suggestions.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us and we will do our best to help you with the process of purchasing a new or used instrument.


The Music Department