The Essential Guide to Buying Second-Hand Musical Instruments

Making Money
19. Apr 2021

Buying pre-owned musical instruments is an integral part of today’s music lifestyle.

It will help you find cheaper deals, history-rich pieces, and rare or limited edition instruments that are already out of stock.

Then again, buying pre-owned music appliances comes with a fair share of risks.

If you aren’t vigilant, you will likely end up with chunks that cannot add value to your music passion.  

The way out?

Familiarise yourself with the basics of choosing quality pieces from chunks before you start scouting for those used, cheap, or rare gems.

This crash course equips you with the vital information you need to buy wisely.


What do you need to know before you shop?

Buying second-hand musical instruments is a gamble.

When done rationally, you’ll end-up up with a high-value, fairly-used instrument at a reasonable price.

On the contrary, you could easily buy a substandard musical instrument if you aren’t extra cautious.

Though this mission sounds complicated, the good news is, you can avoid the latter type of musical instruments easily.

Before you go shopping, just make sure you have the following basic on your fingertips.

  • Physical inspection of the musical instruments
  • Understand the best places to buy second-hand instruments
  • Know the best brands
  • Understand things to watch out for when buying


Second hand instrument - Harmonica Second hand instrument


Does brand matter?

Brand matters a lot when buying second-hand music instruments.

Reputable brands produce instruments that sound professional, last long, and hold their value for an extended period.

Replacement parts for respected brands are readily available. 

Therefore, buying a used instrument from a reputable brand will guarantee peace of mind.

You will rest assured that your appliance will hold up well, you will fix broken parts easily, and when the resale time comes, you will get a better resale value.  

All in all, the little-known brands aren’t bad. Take your time to inspect the instrument on offer before buying. 


Branded Musical Instrument - Piano


What to watch out for when buying second-hand instruments

Knowing the red flags to watch out for when purchasing a pre-owned appliance isn’t something to underestimate.

These warning signs will help you tell if a pre-owned instrument is fit for reuse or too old to buy. 

If you are new to this game, the following basic red flags will help you spot bad deals from good ones.

 Some of the signs are fixable.

Therefore, they shouldn’t scare you that much as long as you have a budget for repairs.

It would be prudent to steer clear from instruments with irreparable red flags signs.  


What to watch out for when buying used guitars (electric and acoustic)

  • Guitar crackles when playing
  • The neck is bent
  • The guitar’s body has cracks, chips, scratches, and loose screws
  • The neck isn’t attached firmly to the body
  • Tuning knobs feel too loose


Things to watch out for when buying drum kits

  • Drum heads are broken or dented
  • Drum sticks are cracked
  • The cymbal is broken or cracked
  • Drums have pronounced cosmetic issues
  • The kit’s hardware is broken


What to watch out for when buying brass instruments (Trumpets, trombones, and horns)

  • The instrument has large dents and pits
  • Slides don’t move smoothly
  • The instrument doesn’t give clear sounds
  • They have hard to fix cosmetic blemishes
  • Keys are misaligned
  • Valves wriggle inside the casing


Things to watch out for when buying woodwind instruments (flutes, clarinet, saxophone)

  • Keys don’t function smoothly
  • The body has large dents or cracks
  • Corks and pads have cracks
  • The interior is mouldy and rusty
  • Notes don’t play easily


Things to watch out for when buying pianos

  • Overly dirty or discoloured keys
  • Keys that get stuck when playing
  • Uneven keys
  • Felt has pronounced imperfections
  • Hammers have grooves and flat spots
  • Cabinet has loose parts and or damaged hinges


The benefits of buying second-hand music instruments

While many consumers consider second-hand items a bad idea, that isn’t the case with pre-owned music instruments.

Buying used appliances has lots of upsides that you can hardly find with new models.

No wonder many music enthusiasts don’t shy off from buying second-hand.


Second hand instrument - Guitar Second hand instruments - drums


  • They are cheaper

Used music instruments are way cheaper than their newer counterparts.

Some cost almost half of what brand new accessories cost.

Despite the low price, you can easily find an instrument in excellent working condition. 

  • The quality is often better

Pre-owned music instruments aren’t always worn out.

The majority are relatively worn instruments sold by music enthusiasts who want to upgrade or want quick cash to sort out emergencies.

Into the bargain, many owners value their instruments so much. So, it is hard to find a highly abused instrument out here. 

  • Better quality instruments hold their value

High quality used instruments, more so those with a rich history and made from premium materials, can hold their value even after several years of use.

However, you will have to maintain them well if at all you want to keep the value. 

  • Second-hand instruments come with a history

From the manufacturing process, the inspiration that motivated the manufacturer to develop that instrument to its first owner, second-hand appliances have a history to tell.

In fact, this is the reason why many well-maintained instruments will hold their value for an extended period. 

  • You can find rare or limited edition models

Buying second-hand is the only way to find those rare or limited edition gems.

You can hardly find such rare and unusual instruments since they are out of stock or manufacturers ceased to produce them. 

  • Buying second-hand in-store means you can physically see what you’re buying

Many second-hand sellers operate in brick-and-mortar stores.

Unlike buying online, a physical store will give you the freedom to see, inspect, and perhaps test the instrument you wish to purchase.

Buying in-store will minimise the chances of buying instruments of inferior quality. 

  • You can get advice from music experts

A majority of second-hand music instrument sellers are seasoned experts with a wealth of experience.

They will not mind selling their used musical instruments along with complimentary pieces of advice that you won’t find easily. 


What is the cheapest musical instrument?

There are several musical instruments you would own without breaking your bank.

Since singling one as the cheapest is quite complicated, we’ve listed five of the industry’s most inexpensive. 

  • Tambourine
  • Didgeridoo
  • Tin whistle
  • Recorder
  • Harmonica


Tambourine Didgeridoo
Tin whistle Harmonica


What is the rarest instrument?

The hydraulophone stands as the world’s rarest and most unusual musical instrument.

It has a perforated, curved tube that spurts out water to create unique tones.

Artists play this acoustic instrument by simply closing and opening the curved tube’s holes.

It was designed for visually impaired musicians


World rarest instrument - hydraulophone

By Glogger at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


Where can I sell old instruments?

With so many bargain hunters and budding music enthusiasts looking to buy used items, finding a market for old instruments shouldn’t be hard. You can sell them to pawn shops and brick-and-mortar stores that buy second-hand items. 

You can also sell them on online marketplaces like:


Where is the best place to sell musical instruments?

Used music instruments are best sold online.

Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, the online marketplace exposes your item to millions of music enthusiasts from various corners of the world.

And while you can sell your used appliances on the general marketplaces, expert sellers suggest that selling on specialised marketplaces is always great.

Some of such marketplaces are:

  • Reverb
  • Music Go Round
  • eBay.


Selling old instruments


What’s the most expensive instrument?

Vieuxtemps Guarneri Violin

Costing USD 16 million (approximately AUD 30 million), the Vieuxtemps Guarneri Violin is today’s most expensive music instrument.

Currently, the violin belongs to Anne Akiko Meyers, a celebrated violinist.

Surprisingly, the violin wasn’t new when Akiko bought it for such an amount.



Picture source: www.anneakikomeyers.com



What is the coolest instrument?


The guitar is arguably the most remarkable musical instrument.

Instrumentalists prefer it because it is capable of playing several tones.

Apart from its polyphonic nature, the guitar is portable and relatively easy to master. 

Acoustic guitar Acoustic guitar playing


What are the best music stores in Perth? 

Cherished as the home of famous music artists like Luke Steele, Troye Sivan, Rolf Harris, and Tim Minchin, Perth has several stores supplying quality instruments to budding and professional artists.

Some of the most iconic are:

Zenith Music

Established in 1969, Zenith Music is, without doubt, one of the best stores for music appliances in Perth.

It supplies virtually all musical instruments. Zenith Music gets its products from the world’s renowned brands.


Though it started as a small shop selling a few instruments, this store has grown to be one of Perth’s best.

It has every instrument you would need to push your music passion to the next level.

What’s more?

You can buy your stuff online from this store. A group of Western Australian artists established SoundCentre.


Managed by a professional musician, MusicMart is another top-rated store in Perth.

It supplies a vast array of music appliances for beginners and low-end professionals.

The store gets its supplies from renowned brands. 

Music Park

From drum kits to string instruments, Music Park has every instrument you need to push your talent.

This store works with specialist staff that will guide you through the buying process.

So, you’ll never make a wrong decision when buying from Music Park.

Concept Music

Concept Music is a one-stop store for every musical instrument you would want.

This brick-and-mortar store is well known for helping beginners make a rational buying judgment.

Their support teams don’t just sell for the sake of making a profit.


Over to You

Doubtlessly, buying second-hand music instruments isn’t a bad rap.

When done carefully, you might end up owning an inexpensive, high-quality instrument or one whose value will keep appreciating. 

Now that you know how to evaluate used music instruments and the best places to buy them don’t shy off from buying pre-owned instruments.

Get to your favourite seller, scrutinise the instruments on offer, and get one that charms you. 


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