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Save Big When Buying A Student Instrument

Instrument Three years ago my son signed up to take trombone class in middle school, and my search was on to find a trombone before the school year began. If your child is going to learn how to play an Instrument this school year, you're playing the same song, looking for the best way to buy the Instrument.

I had several options to obtain his trombone. I could have rented it for $25-$27 a month, a total of up to $243 for one school year. At the end of the year, I could have bought the Instrument for about $1, 000, and applied the rental fees to that price. Another local store offered a deal of $600 for a new instrument if I paid cash. Another option was to find a used one from a private seller locally. or I could buy one through an online auction site.

like many popular instruments for beginners, I found there were many used trombones for sale on the auction site. So despite some misgivings, I chose to buy from the site. I had a positive experience. I bought a brand-name nearly-new trombone, for about $200, or one-third the lowest price I could find at a music store. The next year, I bought my son a back-up trombone (in very used, but playable condition), from the auction site for only $50. Here are tips to help you buy a used instrument.

Before buying, find a store in your area that is able and willing to look at the instrument after you buy it, and fix it for a reasonable price if necessary. The day after the trombone arrived, I took it to the local band service store and asked the owner if it was worth what I paid. She told me it definitely was, although it did need a minor and inexpensive ($10) fix, which they did.

Unless the instrument is a really good bargain, as in "so cheap you wouldn't mind losing the money, " make sure the seller offers a money-back return policy before you bid or buy. Many did, but many were "as is." Also, look at the seller's rating before bidding.

Look closely at all photos of the instrument before bidding. You want to know what you're paying for. Read the description carefully. If there are doubts, ask the seller to elaborate. Ideally, you want a well-made instrument that someone bought new, but rarely played.

Note what comes with the instrument. I assumed that the first trombone I bought came with a mouthpiece. It didn't, and I spent $30 buying a new one at the music store.

Determine a price you're willing to pay (factor in the shipping charge too), and don't go over that price. If the bidding goes higher than your top price, keep looking. You don't want to spend more than you're comfortable spending. Remind yourself that it's used, so the price should be lower than for a new item. Also keep in mind that if you don't win one auction, there will be others.

Before buying, see if your child's music teacher has a brand preference. My son's teacher had a list of preferred brands, which we didn't get until after I'd bought the first trombone. I had bid on one brand of trombone and not won. I bid on a Bach later that day and we won it. I had read good things about Bach, but was disappointed not to get the other trombone. Turns out, I was lucky. Bach is first on the teacher's preferred list, while the other brand wasn't on her list at all.

Also, if you see a music company selling inexpensive new instruments online, carefully research and read reviews for that brand. Sure you want a good price, but you don't want to buy an inferior instrument that's going to fall apart in a few months, or not have good sound. In the long run, that doesn't save you money.

I hope this helps you find a great instrument for your student, at a price that fits your budget.


By Georgina Tripp - Georgina has worked as a newspaper managing editor and reporter, and a parenting magazine editor. For the past several years she has been a freelance writer. She believes everyone has a story to tell, and lo...  

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