Buying a Second Hand Musical Instrument
Do your research
If you’re buying an instrument for the first time, try and gather as much varied advice and opinion as possible. Having a certain amount of background knowledge of the instrument you intend to buy will help you to make a well advised purchase in the end. If you know someone knowledgeable about musical instruments, maybe even a tutor, ask their opinion if you’re unsure about buying an instrument you’ve seen advertised online.
Consider the type of music you want to play. It’s worth doing some research online if you can as certain types of instrument, even certain brand names are better suited to particular genres of Music. For example, you wouldn’t buy a BC Rich guitar if you plan to play Jazz music! Also, stick to brand names where at all possible, especially if you’re buying an instrument for the first time.
Although sometimes you can get a perfectly good instrument made by a lesser known manufacturer, it is generally a better idea to buy brand names as they are easier to get repaired, obtain manuals and buy spare parts for if needed. Don’t always assume that new instruments are always going to be better than buying second hand. Sometimes a second hand instrument will have been professionally setup, whereas a new instrument may come in flawless condition straight from the factory but in need of a professional setup.
Make sure the price is right!
Whilst it is possible to purchase a really good second hand instrument, be careful. If the price seems very low, ask the seller questions about its condition, history etc. It's all too easy to get excited when you discover a second hand drum kit selling for £100, then to find out the bass drum is split and it will cost more to fix than the price of the kit itself! Compare the price being asked to the price for the same item bought brand new. If you’re inexperienced, a few minutes research can save you from paying over the odds for an instrument. As a guideline, second hand instruments usually sell for around 50-75% of brand new price.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the seller if you’re not happy with the price being asked or the condition of the item. If you’re buying online, it’s pretty hard to inspect an instrument before buying, so don’t’ be afraid to ask for photographs of the instrument from the seller. Most people will be honest about the condition of the instrument they are selling, but it’s possible their may be hidden defects, marks, or scuffs that you have missed or that the seller is trying to hide. For example, a keyboard without any keys is no use to anyone!
One more thing to remember...
Finally, if the person you are buying the instrument from intends to post it to you, always ensure that the seller uses adequate packaging. It’s certainly worth paying the extra for insured delivery to avoid expensive instruments arriving in more than one piece.