Skip to main content

You want to buy a second-hand instrument? We’re here to help

Price Rule – Half of New

Look at the make and model. Now search for the price of a new version (or a modern equivalent) online, then halve that price. That is a fair starting point for an instrument in good condition.

If the price much higher, then it’s either a rare/desirable instrument, or it’s a rip off.

If the price is much lower, then there is something structurally wrong or it’s a fake:

selmer fake

There is also the possibility that the person selling doesn’t know the value of what they have – although I can’t imagine that this scenario is common with the abundance of info online.

Choose a trustworthy brand

Self-explanatory. If you’re unsure, contact us and ask.

Get it checked by a technician

I know, I know. Buying online makes this difficult; we can’t often see the thing we’re buying until it’s couriered to our house.

If there is any way you can get the instrument inspected by a technician, please do so. We don’t charge for quotes at Vanguard. I doubt other technicians will either.

It is sad to see somebody come into our workshop with a recently-purchased used instrument and then tell them the repairs will be north of $500.00

Ask to view the instrument

If you’re a confident player, this it great. Take your skills and, if applicable, a mouthpiece and reeds that you are familiar with. If you aren’t as confident, have a good player – e.g. a teacher – come with you.

Keep in mind, good players are not technicians. A tech will be able to notice problems immediately without even playing the instrument.

How good is the mouthpiece?

You may get a good instrument with a terrible mouthpiece. This is another thing that is worth checking if possible and considering in your budget. A good student mouthpiece is about $75.00. Professional mouthpieces go well into the hundreds.

broken clarinet mouthpeice

This one is no good!

Check out our second-hand instruments

Check out our second hand mouthpieces

After you buy:

After six months of playing, it is a good idea to bring your instrument to a technician for a service. An annual service thereafter is a good way to ensure your instrument is always in peak condition.

Are you at this point now? Make a booking in our workshop.