Purchasing A New Instrument
Whether you are looking to make your first instrument purchase or are looking to upgrade what you currently have, here are some tips to help you find the right instrument for you.
Know your budget.
If you are completely new to purchasing an instrument, this may be a hard place to start-- especially if you do not have a point of reference to begin with. Start by doing a little bit of research into the instruments that are available from your local shops and individual sellers in your area. This can give you a good idea of what you can afford and what to set as your budget. Doing research on the local shops can also give you information on what kinds of deals they can give you, helping you stretch your budget further. Many places will offer rent-to-own programs, discounts for purchasing a whole outfit (instrument, case, and bow), or special deals if you pay in-full when you purchase your instrument.
Try as many instruments as you can.
Even if the instrument is being bought as a gift, it is helpful to have the intended musician try out as many instruments as they can. By trying many instruments, the musician will be able to tell what they do or do not like about certain makers, preference on chinrests or endpins, differences between strings, differences between bow types, and differences in model. Even if a student and parent do not know much about instruments, it is still good to see what sounds and feels best to the student (and better still, when it feels good to both the student and one of their teachers). It is also good to try out as many instruments as possible because every instrument, even those that are of the same level, maker, and materials, because no two violins are exactly the same.
Take an instrument out for a "test drive".
Whether you like one instrument or can’t decide between two, it’s always worth asking if you can take the instrument(s) out for a week or two. This gives you a chance to play the instrument(s) in different locations, gives you time to really get to know the instrument(s), and gives you a chance to have a school or private teacher look at the instrument(s) and give their input on the quality and price.
Keep the possibility of additional costs in mind.
An instrument that is new or newly refurbished will not likely need any maintenance for a while, but a used instrument that has not been checked over before sale may need new strings or require some general maintenance in the near future. If you like an instrument but can tell it will need a little work in the near future, you will want to factor those potential costs into the price of the instrument in order to stick to your budget.
Looking for an instrument is a different adventure for each person. Some people find an instrument quickly while others take time and try dozens of instruments. The most important thing is to find an instrument that you like, fits your budget, and will last you for years to come with proper care. Happy hunting.