For most parents, starting a child in a school band program can be a confusing time. Parents are exposed to a whole new world of instrument and musical terms that many times are totally unfamiliar. Parents want the best for their child, but don’t want to pay a huge amount of money for an instrument in case their child doesn’t stay with the band program.

There are ways to buy good instruments at reasonable prices. With a few tips, unmusical parents can buy a quality instrument for a good price.

Become Familiar with Good Brands

Before shopping, look up some well-known local or online music instrument stores to become familiar with good brands. Woodwind Brasswind and Musician’s Friend are both very large and respected instrument stores that sell student models.

Most stores will have a section for the student model of the instrument that the child needs. Write down those brands and model numbers to become a more informed consumer.

Look Locally…

After looking around and writing down recognizable brands and models, start looking locally and online. Check area music stores for used instruments first. Most music stores will only stock well-made working instruments, so they are pretty free of junk instruments. Craigslist also can have some quality used instruments, but be cautious, because some people will be trying to get rid of off-brand copies.

…Then Try Online Musical Instrument Stores

If searching locally isn’t working, try looking online. There are some better deals online, but the shipping costs can sometimes negate those savings. Make sure to add everything up before clicking “buy.”

There are many more scams online on large-scale second-hand sales sites like ebay. Make sure to come armed with that list of what is good so that it’s easier to sift through the junk. Don’t be tempted by the other brands. If an unfamiliar instrument breaks, repair services usually can’t fix them because the parts aren’t available. Also, many of these off-brands brass instruments are made from sub-standard metals that can warp soon after purchase.

While shopping online look for these warning signs:

No brand name on the instrument description
Bids starting at 99 cents or an unusually low price
Sellers based in India or China marketing almost exclusively to Americans
Check with Someone Before Buying
The school band director has seen it all when it comes to instrument purchasing mistakes. Before buying an instrument, check with him or her. Most band directors will be happy to help a parent approve an instrument. However, band directors do have many students, so don’t expect him or her to help with shopping.

Selecting a band instrument for a beginner can seem like a big, confusing task. With a few tips and some common sense, it can be easy and rewarding to start a child off on a new music-learning experience.