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3 Steps Guide --> towards buying your first instrument

Step 1

Budget, Budget and Budget

How much can you afford?

How much do you want to spend?

What is an estimated price for the instrument you intend to buy?

This are all very important questions and the answers are probably the biggest surprise that parents of the young musicians (or any first buyers really) will discover while the prices are far away from what you think. And yes a nicely shaped piece of wood can cost more than your car.

Always be sure that you are realistic and that you make sure you will be able to sell the instrument for the same amount of money you had bought it for. That makes it a good investment and even if later in life the instrument is not needed any more you can sell it on to some other music enthusiast.

What to avoid?

- Buying something just because it is cheap

- Buying something just because it is expensive

- Buying the first thing you see and is in your budget

Believe it or not choosing an instrument is a very personal thing and there is no 'one size fits all' rule. As humans we are shaped differently and we grow at different speeds. All this details make choosing the right instrument very important but also more difficult. Price wise, the best advice is to give yourself a minimum and maximum limit (or at least the maximum). If for example your maximum budget is 2000 GBP it would be a good idea to look at the instruments priced from 1000-2000 GBP while pricing depends on many factors and sometimes you may pay more because of the brand or the maker rather then quality.

Step 2

Must have

Decide what your 'must have' points are and where are you willing to compromise. If you are not musician yourself, it would be a good idea to ask your teacher and more experienced friends for help while you can teach a lot from other people's mistakes and experience.

Maybe it is obvious to some of you but one of the things that you should be willing to compromise is the outside look of the instrument. Of course it needs to be in a decent state while you do want to be able to sell it onwards but the sound quality and responsivnes should be higher up on the list of priorities than prefered colour.

If you are buying for example a violin, you also want to make sure that you know if it comes with the bow, chin-rest, shoulder-rest etc. while this are all the accessories you need and if not included in the deal will cost you an additional amount of money.

Another no-no, especially with the instruments that are in a higher price range is buying online. In theory a piano is a piano and a violin is a violin but not being able to try out the instrument or at least have your teacher try out the instrument is a very big risk that majority of people would not want to take with other investments in life (imagine buying a sofa online without reading the reviews, because it looks preety and after arrival you realise the sofa is as hard as rock).

Don't be afraid to ask, your teacher, friends, shop assistants at the specialised stores, they would all like to help and even though there is no reciepe for a 100% success, your chances of getting a decent instrument are much higer with the help of right people.

Step 3

A Shop or a Private Seller?

It is your decision to make and majority of people who have no experience of buying an instrument will rely on the shop expertise more than private sellers. It is worth mentioning though that some of the makers (especially when it comes string instruments) have some very good second hand instruments that they are selling at a discounted price. The risk is probably higher but if you personally know someone (or if your teacher does) it is worth a shot. If you decide that a shop is still a better option for you I can not stress enough how important it is that you go to a specialised shop where employers can demonstrate the ability of the instrument and give you some professional advice. This kind of shops may seem more expensive when you look at them for the first time but the final check out if considering quality is the same as at the more general shops.

Other general advice would be:

- Do not rush, buying an instrument takes more time, while you need to consider it as a long term investment.

- Google for different funds and foundations, while there is many of them who are helping young musicians in financial need, when it comes to buying an instrument.

- If you can not afford an instrument check different foundations like Benslow Trust, which loans a very high quality instruments to gifted musicians.

- Find a balance between trusting your instinct and learning from experiences of your friends and teachers.

Good luck with your purchase and don't forget to contact us with any specific questions!

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