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A Guide to Buying Pre-Owned Musical Instruments


Musical instruments from pianos to saxophones are expensive due to the love and labour put into making them, nevermind the parts themselves. Whilst we’d all love to be able to just walk into a music shop and buy a new Steinway or Les Paul whenever we want to, you can save yourself a bundle by buying second hand.

Where to Buy?

Searching through local classified ads on Craigslist, and auctions on eBay can turn up a wealth of instruments available to buy at very reasonable prices. We’ve even have a friend find an upright piano on Freecycle. As with anything you are buying from individuals online, you should make sure that the person you are buying from is reliable, and that the instrument is in good working condition before you part with your money. If the seller is nearby, ask to go and see the instrument before you make any commitments.

There are also a variety of music shops around the country that resell second hand instruments online, and whilst you may not find the bargains here that you may find on eBay, music shops will normally check and service instruments before putting them up for sale. Again it is always useful to go in a see the instrument for yourself before buying, but in general you are safer dealing with a music shop and they may even offer you discounts on other bits of kit you might want to buy alongside it from sheet music to cases.

Do Your Research and Know What You Want

Simply searching for a piano or guitar on sale is going to offer you hundreds or even thousands of results at any one time. Do your research and decide on a few models of piano, guitar, or other instrument that you would like to buy and look up the price they sell for when new to give yourself a benchmark price.

Make Sure There’s a Guarantee

When buying anything second hand, it is always useful to ask the shop or seller whether they offer a guarantee with your purchase. Some music shops will even give your instrument a service after the first 6 months for free to make sure it’s all working out well for you. A guarantee will be more difficult to get from a seller on eBay or the like, but most people want you to be happy with your purchase and will offer refunds if you aren’t.

[Photograph courtesy of Alexander Ward]

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