Purchasing a musical instrument can be truly exciting yet daunting at the same time. With the amount of choices and places for you to purchase an instrument, it can be rather overwhelming in where to even begin.

Having a quality instrument is important when learning an instrument as it produces a better sound and feels comfortable to play. This makes the whole experience of learning an instrument much more enjoyable

We’ve put together this guide to help any students and parents to get started and to give you our recommendations on where to look in purchasing an instrument.

Please note that our school offers a wide range of instruments. Therefore this is a general guide for purchasing an instrument. If you’d like more specific recommendations, please contact the school or speak to your teacher in your next music lesson.

There are a number of factors to consider before you consider purchasing an instrument for the first time. These factors may also determine the quality and price of the instrument you purchase. These include:

  • Skill and level on the instrument
  • Budget to spend
  • Other incentives

Where Should I Go to Purchase?

Our first recommendation when purchasing an instrument, is to find a place that can provide you with a good selection of well-made instruments. Our priority list of places include:

  • An instrument specialist – such as a piano centre or strings luthier
  • A general music retailer – a local music shop selling a variety of instruments

An Instrument Specialist

The most significant benefit to going to an instrument specialist is that you can trust their instruments to be of good quality, serviced and maintained. The workers are experts in the instruments and have much better experience and expertise in finding the correct instrument for you.

A General Music Retailer

These are usually shops that sell a variety of musical instruments, as well as print music and other accessories. This can also be another good choice provided they are a reputable company and retailer. However, because these retailers sell a large variety of products, the workers may not be specialists in the instrument and may not be able to provide you with the best advice. Also many of their instruments may be factory-made, which compared to hand-made instruments are not as good quality. However these places can sell good quality entry level instruments if you are just starting to learn the instrument.

Should I Buy An Instrument Online?

Purchasing an instrument online can be tempting because of the price. There are many places online, such as gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, that you can find instruments for half or more than half the price you would find at a music retailer. The problem with buying online is that you cannot guarantee the quality of the instrument until you actually have it on hand. You cannot judge the quality of the instrument by photographs or knowing the brand or model of the instrument. Every instrument is made different regardless if they are the same make or model. Therefore the only way you can tell is if you are to try the instrument or have someone knowledgable to try it for you. There may be chances to get some great deals online, but it is certainly a lot more riskier that you may be receiving a poor quality instrument.

Other Retailers

Nowadays there are retailers such as Kmart, Aldi, Target that sell musical instruments for a very cheap price. We would highly recommend avoiding these places for a musical instrument purchase as this will in fact hinder your musical learning. These instruments were not designed for musical learning.

Skill level and Experience

If you are just starting out in your musical learning journey, it is recommended that you begin with an entry level instrument. Whether it is a piano, violin or cello, many places will offer entry level instruments for beginner learners. This means that the quality of instrument is sufficient enough to get you started, but comparable in quality to higher end instruments.

This is especially good if you may be considering if learning the instrument is something you would like to do for long-term, without having to spend too much on the instrument at first.

On the other hand, if you are already an advanced player, it would be suitable for you to purchase an instrument to match your skill and calibre. A more advanced player will be able to harness the quality of the instrument much more and will progress further in their learning. Having a good quality instrument for an advanced player is important, as the level of sound and playing is dependable on not just the player, but the quality of the instrument.

How Much Should I Spend?

The quality of many instruments are determined by the price bracket they are in. For example, entry level violins may cost from about $300-600, the next bracket will be around $650-$1000 and the next from $1000-$2000. You may find the instruments in a certain bracket will be similar in their quality.

If you have more of a budget to spend on the instrument, then you will be returned with a higher quality instrument. However bear in mind that if you are a complete beginner and you wish to purchase a higher quality instrument, you may not have the skill level yet in that current time to harness its quality. Therefore you may not appreciate the value of the instrument as much.

We would recommend purchasing a higher quality instrument as your progress of playing of the instrument improves.

Instrument Stock and Availability

It may not always be the case that you walk into a store and there will be a large selection of available instruments at hand. Especially with hand-made instruments, there can be a lot of demand which makes stock availability limited. Since each instrument also has its own unique sound and quality, this can make it even more difficult to choose which instrument is right for you. Instead of choosing the first one you see, try to find the time to take a look at a variety of places and see what their selection is to offer. You will have a much better idea of what you are after once you have explored a good selection of instruments.

What About Different Brands?

This will vary depending on the instrument on the instrument you are after. Different instruments will have a variety of reputable brands that we would highly recommend. But in many cases, brands do not always guarantee you the quality of instrument suitable for you. As each instrument is made uniquely, it is rare to find two instruments that are going to be exactly the same, regardless if they are the same brand, make and model.

Other Helpful Tips

  • If you are a beginner, it may be difficult to test the instrument to know what you are looking for. Ask an assistant to play the instrument for you so you can hear what the instrument sounds like. This is why it is recommended to purchase from a specialist so they can do this for you. Listen to the sound of the instrument – if you don’t particularly like it then it’s probably not the right choice for you.
  • If you are able to test the instrument and discern its quality to an extent, we would recommend you try some instruments from a wide variety of qualities and prices. This will allow you to explore the differences between a higher quality instrument and a lower quality instrument. There are many cases where you will find a high quality instrument but for a much lower price point, so it is important to explore what choices you have.
  • When purchasing instruments like pianos, it’s important to also note whether warranty and servicing is included and for how long. Some pianos can be bought inexpensively but include no warranty or servicing. It can be worthwhile purchasing a more expensive instrument but have the warranty included. Some places will also include tuning and delivery which you can also factor into the cost of the instrument.

Here is a list of our recommended retailers to make sure you receive a good quality instrument:
https://www.cantabileschoolofmusic.com.au/a-list-of-our-re…mended-retailers/ ‎

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