Buying musical equipment is a big decision for anyone, and no matter what instrument or sound equipment you want, buying online offers you plenty of choice and some great deals. But can you really trust an online review of an instrument when playing music and creating sound is so dependent on your own abilities, musical style and personal tastes? And how do you choose when there is so much choice available?
Check out our top tips for buying musical equipment online so you can find your perfect instrument at a good price, whatever it is that you play.
Tip 1: Try out the musical equipment in a shop first.
It might seem like a bit of a cheat, but if you live anywhere near a retail outlet that sells musical equipment why not browse the music shop first? That way you will get an idea of what the various instruments sound like and what they feel like to play. There is no better way to choose a musical instrument than to play it yourself, and doing this gives you a great idea of what to look for online.
Tip 2: Watch YouTube video reviews and do your homework.
There are literally thousands of YouTube videos related to musical equipment of all types. Check out the review sites and see if you can find some examples of the sound you want to create yourself. You can subscribe to online shops or just find private individuals keen to talk about the pros and cons of any particular musical equipment you can think of. Many of these are perfectly happy to answer questions.
Tip 3: Check out private sellers.
Once you have got a rough idea of the musical equipment you want, you can shop around for price. If you are buying from a private seller such as via eBay or other auction sites, check out the seller’s review history. Does this person seem reputable? Does he or she have much feedback? Do you think you can trust them? If you have any doubts, find another seller.
Tip 4: Always ask for more information and more pictures.
If you are buying from a private seller don’t be afraid to ask technical questions or for more pictures. You need to know that your instrument or musical equipment is in good working order and as described. If you are buying from eBay check the seller’s return policy. Remember, if it is not as described you do have the right to return it.
Tip 5: Insured shipping.
Another point to consider when buying through a private seller is the delivery. Musical equipment is often fragile so sending through the post is not without risk. Make sure that your seller is sending with adequate insurance value so that if it is damaged in the post you can make a claim. If it does arrive damaged take plenty of pictures as proof.
Tip 5: Consider new price vs. second hand price.
Prices of musical equipment can vary. A lot. You can often find new musical equipment on sale for around the same price as being offered second hand from a private seller. Check out the reputable online music shops for the current prices and you may be surprised that it doesn’t cost much more to buy new than it would to buy second hand.
Tip 6: Do you want the latest model or are you happy with old stock discounts?
Musical equipment, especially anything to do with electronics, is constantly changing and being updated, and sometimes you can find some great bargains that may be discontinued models. Doing this can save you money and in many cases there is no real difference to the overall sound quality.
Tip 7: Have you got room for the musical equipment?
It may seem like a great idea to give a drum kit for Christmas or to order that piano but have you checked out the size before you buy? When you are buying online it is surprisingly easy to forget about basic facts such as dimensions, especially when you are carried away by the pictures and the advertising.
Make sure you have the space for your musical equipment. If you don’t have the room, think about space-saving alternatives. You don’t necessarily have to change your instrument, as many are available as electronic alternatives such as drum machines for drum kits and keyboards instead of full size pianos. These are portable and take up far less space without compromising on sound. Check out the review sites to find the best electronic alternatives to large traditional instruments.
Tip 8: Check out review sites and research.
We can’t say it enough but when buying musical equipment online, you do need to do your research before you make any major decisions. It can be difficult to know where to start but the good news is that once you have defined what it is you are looking for, buying online is surprisingly easy and safe.
Tip 9: Is there a good returns policy?
Some online musical equipment outlets have a great returns policy. Buying from a reputable seller like this will enable you to try the instrument or the equipment and if you don’t like it, simply return it. Some outlets even offer free return postage so it is worth checking this point out before you buy.
Tip 10: Decide on a price range before you start shopping.
Are you buying the instrument or musical equipment for yourself or are you buying it for someone else such as your child? There is a dilemma on price and quality here. You want musical equipment that is easily playable, sounds good and is solid enough to learn on and evolve as a musician. But you don’t want to break the bank, especially if it turns out to be a short lived craze. Going for a mid range price can often be the best choice. A good quality instrument will satisfy all abilities and if it doesn’t work out, you can always sell it.