Purchasing Second Hand Instruments
When instrument shopping you can certainly save quite a bit of money if you purchase a second hand instrument. However, you can also end up wasting a lot of money by purchasing a second hand instrument. Second hand instruments can be a good value for your money, but you have to be careful about what you are purchasing. Most musical instrument stores run pretty good deals on second hand musical instruments. However, you are still going to pay a fairly significant mark up. Shopping independently for a second hand instrument can save you a lot of money if you know what you are looking for, as well as what you are not looking for.
Any second hand instrument that is presented without a case is not a good sign. This typically means that the instrument was not kept in its proper case, and that any additional parts, such as spare reeds for woodwinds, are not contributed in the purchase. While this may not always be the case, most second hand instruments are not worth the asking price if they were stored as is. A second hand instrument that is presented in a case that has obviously been through its own personal war is a red flag as well. While obviously the case did its job, if there is evidence of a lot of knicks, scrapes, dings, or scratches, the condition of the case should at the very least be questioned.
While there may be a perfectly good explanation for the condition of the case, it is usually indicative of the musical instrument suffering a great deal of jarring which can harm the instrument’s quality. It is not difficult to tell when a second hand instrument has been well used and lovingly cared for. Often wear spots can tell you just how often the instrument was played. If the second hand instrument was well maintained, then there is no real concern about wear spots and faded places, provided it still holds a playable quality. A second hand musical instrument without any fading or wear spots was obviously not played very hard, and is more likely to have retained its original quality, but may not have been so lovingly cared for. Having an experienced eye look at any second hand instrument you may have doubts about is a good idea. If you are unsure of how to tell a quality second hand instrument from one that has suffered too much abuse or neglect, then purchasing a second hand instrument form a reputable dealer may be your best bet. Just remember that part of what you are paying for is the experienced eye that can tell a quality second hand instrument from one that is lacking in playable quality.
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