Last week, I spent some time going over the unfortunate fact that there are a lot of bad instruments out there–specifically piccolos, although you could really substitute any instrument. For example, you can purchase a $30 violin from Ebay, which comes without the bridge set up or the strings tightened! In any case, I hope that I provided some constructive information as to why inexpensive instruments don’t really save you money at all and why you should avoid them. But I get it–most of us don’t have money trees in our back yard, and instruments can be expensive! Now the question remains–how do you sift through all the junk and find a great instrument for a fair price?
1. Do a bit of research. There are literally hundreds of instrument brands out there…how do you know what is good and what isn’t? A quick search of the brand name can give you a lot of information into the quality of the instruments they produce. If the company makes every kind of band and orchestra instrument, that’s usually a red flag. Most reputable instrument companies focus on a certain family of instruments. For example, Gemeinhardt Flutes has been making flutes and piccolos out of Elkhart, Indiana since the 1940s. Most cheap instrument manufacturers are headquartered in China or other locations overseas, and remember: these companies don’t make replacement parts for their instruments. That’s one of the reasons why they can sell them so inexpensively. They are not made to be repaired, they are made to break.
2. Don’t have time to do the research? Ask an expert! At Paige’s Music and the Indy Flute Shop, the last thing we want is for a student to struggle with a poorly made instrument and for your hard-earned money to be wasted. If you are shopping for a flute or piccolo and think you’ve found a great deal, call me (Erin) and give me the deets! I am happy to provide an honest assessment on whether the deal you found sounds too good to pass up or whether you should stay away. I am familiar with the major flute and piccolo manufacturers and can discern a good deal from a waste of money.
3. Be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars. There may be exceptions out there, but I have yet to find a quality piccolo that sells for any less than $750 new. Yes, there are tons of quality used instruments on the market, and you may very well find a good branded instrument for significantly less, but you must be prepared for the possibility of a high repair price tag. If the piccolo needs a repad, which is likely for older instruments, that can cost around $400. So do the math and figure out whether that used piccolo is really worth saving a couple hundred dollars on. It very well may be…but it also might not.
4. Know that you have options. At Paige’s Music and the Indy Flute Shop, our ultimate goal is to help people make music. We have different rent-to-own and financing options for flutes, piccolos, and any other band or orchestral instrument you may be looking for. Searching for a good instrument can be overwhelming; just know that we are here to help and make that process as smooth as we can for you or your student.