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Buying an Instrument
Buying an instrument is a big step and can be confusing. However, the fact is that leasing an instrument
for more than a year will end up costing MUCH more in the long run. If your child has come this far, the
time to purchase is here.
The student instrument your child has started on will be sufficient throughout their school music experience.
I will never suggest that you must buy a new instrument (vs. a used one) or that you must purchase an intermediate
(or step-up) instrument. With that in mind, I will make the following qualifications:
- Student line instrument / Beginner instrument: most music stores lease less expensive models.
These instruments are made to be relatively inexpensive and relatively durable. They are not necessarily
made to play with the best tone quality or to stand up to many years of intense playing. Simply put, they
sometimes “wear out” or musicians “grow out” of them as they gain more experience.
- Step up instrument / Intermediate instrument: These instruments are made with better quality materials
and better quality control. In some cases (woodwinds), these instruments have more keys or have a bigger
bore (brass--to help get a bigger sound), or are made of more expensive metals (including gold on some flutes).
Some of these options are cosmetic, and some are truly beneficial. Generally, if your child is serious about
band and really enjoys playing their instrument this can be an excellent option.
If you are considering purchasing an instrument I recommend the following:
- Shop around! Get as much information as you can, get the best value you can!
- Some choices in this area are:
- Galaxy Music
- Music And Arts Center
- Gwinnett Discount Music
- Mr. D's Brass Shop
- PLEASE BE AWARE OF AN INSTRUMENT THAT IS NOT PURCHASED FROM A REPUTABLE DEALER!!
- IF YOU PURCHASE ONE FROM A PLACE OTHER THAN THE ABOVE, ASK YOUR DIRECTOR ABOUT THAT BRAND OF INSTRUMENT!!
- We have received reports of REALLY poor quality instruments from many sources!
- Some "off brand" instruments are so bad that they CAN'T be fixed!
- If you have any doubt about the instrument, PLEASE ASK US! Our primary concern is that your student
has a good quality instrument!
- Used instruments: are plentiful and CAN be an excellent value. However, as with buying a used
car, the rule is “Buyer beware”.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE--- talk to a band director or better yet have a band director play
test any used instrument you are considering.
We are always willing to look at an instrument for general observations and will “play test” the instrument for
you. We can often spot potential problems and help you to avoid a “bad horn”.
In buying a used instrument, consider the following:
- Quality of instrument when it was new: was this a beginner horn or better?
- Age of instrument: old is not necessarily bad
- History of instrument: How long was it played and how long has it sat? An instrument that is ten years
old but was only played for 2 years may be in better condition than an instrument that is five years old and has
been played for five years.
- Repair history: Has the instrument had a “GPC”---Good playing condition check? Corks, wood, and pads
deteriorate over time and with use. (Woodwinds)
- Appearance of instrument: Are there many dings, dents, or tarnish? This can be cosmetic OR the symptom
of abuse and neglect.
- Most used instruments will need some kind of repair to put it in the best possible play condition.
BEFORE YOU BUY AN UPGRADED INSTRUMENT:
ALWAYS, have your child play the instrument before you buy!!
They need to play with their regular mouthpiece, reeds, etc., if at all possible because different mouthpieces
make a HUGE difference! Send the student into another room and have them play scales, long tones and songs they
know. The idea is to get a feel for how the instrument plays and how it feels to play. Surprising your
child with new horn could backfire!
- Can you make arrangements to take the instrument to a repair person for a repair estimate and appraisal?
- Can you make arrangements to bring the instrument to one of the Smithton band director’s for an estimate of
repair and play test?
If the seller is unwilling to meet these conditions, remember: “Buyer beware!!!”
Generally good brands: This list is not complete! If in doubt, please ask us!
- Flute: Armstrong, Artley, Bundy, Gemeinhart, Jupiter, Pearl, Selmer, Vito, Yamaha
- Oboe: Bundy (Selmer), Yamaha, Fox-Renard
- Bassoon: Fox
- Clarinet: Armstrong, Artley, Buffet, Bundy, Evette, Henkin, LeBlanc, Noblet, Selmer, Vito, Yamaha
- Saxophone: Armstrong, Buffet, Bundy, Conn, Jupiter, LeBlanc, Noblet, Selmer, Vito, Yamaha, J. Eric
- Trumpet: Bach, Benge, Bundy, Conn, Getzen, Holton, Jupiter, King, (Old)Olds, Yamaha
- French Horn: Bundy, Conn, Holton, Jupiter, King, (Old)Olds, Yamaha
- Trombone/Baritones: Bach, Besson, Bundy, Conn, Holton, Jupiter, King, (Old)Olds, Yamaha
- Tuba: Bach, Besson, Jupiter
- Drum Kits: Ludwig, Slingerland, Yamaha 2B Snare Drum Sticks and a practice pad
Instrument Options and Upgrades
- Silver or silver plated body--highly recommended
- Solid silver head joint
- Open toneholes (for more “serious student” who plans to continue in H.S.)
- Low b key & “gizmo key”
- Gold plated lip plate-some students react to silver
- Wood----highly recommended, much better tone
- Hard rubber mouthpiece---highly recommended
- Silver plated keys
- Hard rubber mouthpiece---highly recommended (Selmer C*)
- High F# key
- Silver plated (Not Necessary, there are alot of great brass plated instruments.)
- Bach 3c or 5c mouthpiece---highly recommended
- F trigger attachment (for more “serious students” who plan to continue in High School)
Questions and comments about this page should be directed to Jacob Sevier.