Posted on March 31, 2015 by Andy John

I would look in the following order:

  1. reputable music store in your community
  2. ask friends, neighbors, or relatives
  3. Internet store
  4. pawn shop

A local store will allow you to play the instrument ahead of time which is very important.  I also think having a local relationship is good if something is not right.  They will also stand by their products and depend on local business which is good for your community

Friends, neighbors, and relatives are a good resource for instruments.  Playing an instrument is sometimes a temporary thing and so people jump into it and jump out of it.  That means there are likely to be instruments sitting around collecting dust in people’s homes waiting to be played.  Contact me if you would like to try out any of the instruments that I teach and I can send you in the right direction for instruments I don’t know much about.

A distant third would be  an online dealer.  I have used them and you can often find great deals but if you want a company to stand by the product it can be a hassle to return an instrument.  I’ve also had students buy a guitar for cheap and I am the unfortunate one to tell them that they got a lemon.  Ask about their return policy before buying. If it is an instrument you can’t play first like a harmonica or a cheap recorder then online dealers are fine.

Pawn shops are never a deal unless you are good at haggling and know exactly what you are buying.  You can try the instruments out which is good.  I would ask for at least a 40% discount on anything at a pawn shop.  They will not stand by their products, so beware.

You can rent instruments from music stores too.  Some instruments like ukulele, harmonica, or recorder are cheap enough that it doesn’t make sense to rent but guitar, bass, piano, or a horn are all more pricey to start and borrowing or renting is a good option.

How do I find an instrument?