An expense every musician, young and old, faces is purchasing their instrument of choice. Finding ways to save money on that purchase can be very helpful. This is a guide to saving money on musical instruments.
When my kids decided they wanted to be in band at school, I went to Pawn Shops and looked around to see what they had. I did not know if my kids would stick with it, and I did not want to put a lot of money into an instrument in case they did not take it but one year.
Both of my kids stuck with it from middle school through high school! We never had any problems with the instruments. You just clean the mouth piece good. Someone at a music store can tell you how or the music teacher at school can. We had both a clarinet and saxophone.
By Teresa from Durham, NC
As a music teacher I occasionally looked in pawn shops for instruments. I found that I was actually better off buying a used instrument from a small music store. I also bought a really good Tenor Sax from a music repairman at a great price and it was already fixed up.
Instruments from pawn shops often require expensive re-padding, overhaul etc. Be careful. Take someone knowledgeable with you. I have had good luck buying at yard sales, also. Do your homework and know what brand(s) and level you plan to buy. A good brand of used instrument is often way better than a cheap new one, albeit maybe not as shiny!
I am retired now, but starting a band for adult beginners. Believe me, I'll be looking for instruments everywhere!
I have bought recorders on eBay - offbrands that I had researched & gotten a good deal on - & a concertina at a thrift shop (very cheap but I had to fix it). I also have a clarinet I picked up, but, as the music teacher says above - those instruments have to be overhauled & that's expensive - I have seen tutorials on YouTube as to how to do it - but even though I can make minor instrumental repairs otherwise, I was quite intimidated!
I also have bought used instruments from a music store & they were in great shape & way below market value! But remember if you are shopping for an instrument, do your research first!
I worked for years finishing musical instruments. Wood instruments should be inspected for cracks which can make the instrument sound bad, also the bridges and sound posts (inside) on stringed instruments need to be positioned properly, only a trained professional can recognize if this is right.
With brass and woodwind instruments you need to inspect the pads along with the mechanisms to make sure these are working properly. Just because it looks good doesn't mean it will play well. It is best to have a professional--not a musician as much as a technician, with you when buying a used instrument. Repadding alone could cost you $150 or more depending on the instrument you have purchased. Good luck.
I guess you have to know your pawn shops but where I live all pawn shops have professionals look at all instruments and also with all computers before they sale them. They do this because they know a bad sale could hurt them. Ask questions when going to a pawn shop.
You can make percussion instruments out of almost anything (a la the show "Stomp").
If you live near a university or college with a music program, keep an eye out for their piano sales. Many programs will have an annual piano sale, and often school districts have them, too.
Any of your kids studying a clarinet or another woodwind with a cork? I just found out that you can use lip balm instead of cork grease - cheaper, easier to get and smells better too.