Buying Used Musical Instruments: What To Watch Out For

Buying a musical instrument for school or pleasure can be expensive. Many people choose to buy used instruments, including guitars, pianos, clarinets, and even trumpets to help offset the cost. Before you buy any instrument used, make sure you are getting something worth buying. Here are things to look out for when buying used musical instruments.

Major dents, scratches, or missing pieces

Most used musical instruments will have some cosmetic flaws, including worn out parts in the finish where fingers have rubbed away an instrument's shine. Small dents, scratches, and other tiny flaws won't affect the overall playing abilities of any instrument. You want to look out for the following, however, when buying any used instrument:

  • missing strings or keys
  • chipped or broken mouth pieces
  • rust or holes in metal parts
  • rattling sounds when instruments are shaken

If you do find flaws in an instrument, research the cost to repair them before offering a final price. The seller can deduct repair costs from the instrument, or you can calculate whether repairs plus the sale price of the instrument is worth it to you.

Off brands

Many cheaply-made musical instruments do not have a brand name, or are an off brand you don't recognize. It's best to research the top brands of the instrument you want and then try to purchase a used instrument with the same make. If you find a great deal on a musical instrument whose brand you don't recognize, contact your local music store and ask a few questions about it. You want to know: 

  • if the brand is popular among customers
  • any complaints about the brand
  • retail value of new versions of the instrument you are considering
  • if the brand caters to beginner or experienced players (this affects the instrument's overall quality)


You can find the age of any musical instrument that has a serial number on it. You want to know the age of any instrument you are considering, because the older an instrument is, the more restoration it may need to get back into its best playing condition. The age of an instrument also affects your ability to find replacement parts if they are needed. An older instrument can still be a great value if it is in fine condition when you purchase it.

Buying a used musical instrument can save you a lot of money. Before you make any purchase, make sure you are investing in a quality instrument by checking its age, condition, and brand.

Contact a company like Wilmington Jewelry & Loan for more help.