Should I buy new or pre-owned?

New instruments of a reputable manufacturer are, for the most part, great. Here at Wind Works, we carry new Yamaha, Eastman, Jupiter (KHS) and Conn-Selmer lines of instruments. However, many new instruments are now being produced overseas and sold at box stores and websites at seemingly impossibly low prices. While lower prices (especially from big online retailers) seem exciting at first look, they will cost you more in repairs or replacements in the long run. In our repair shop, we have seen a steady decline in the quality of materials and workmanship on these horns. A lot of the manufacturers’ instruments that have just shown up on the market are often little better than instrument-shaped objects. Many of them do not even play right out of the box! An instrument that does not play is a huge source of frustration to a student and very often a major contributing reason for quitting band. These lower cost instruments are like disposable lighters—use them for a few months (if they work to start with) and then discard and replace them. We often tell our repair customers to expect to have to replace these lower cost instruments after the first year. That adds up in the long run. Year after year, we hear school teachers bemoan another kid who quit band because their cheap instrument literally fell apart in their hands, or won’t play below the first note on the instrument. No wonder students (and parents) get frustrated with these instruments.

The used instruments we have chosen to carry are reputable brands, based upon recommendations by local musicians and teachers. We pride ourselves on knowing almost all of the local teachers preferences, and if we don’t know, we will ask. We have established, solid relationships with the local band and orchestra teachers in Whatcom and Skagit County, many of whom are our own customers. Based on their recommendations and our own experience, each of our previously loved instruments is hand-picked by Ed, and restored to its very best playing condition. If the used instrument happens to be a consignment, any associated costs are noted and presented to the buyer up front. We will not accept a consignment if it is not in good playing condition, because we want both the seller and buyer to be satisfied with their purchase.

If you are purchasing for a student, please note: Student players are often hard on instruments (not due to anything other than inexperience). That beautiful, brand-new horn, that you just paid big money for, has to go live six hours a day at a public school, in the care of a student. Wouldn’t you rather give that student a used horn to learn on, and upgrade as their enthusiasm grows?

And remember, new instruments are just like new cars—as soon as it is paid for, it becomes a used item. The minute the purchase is made, twenty to fifty per cent of the value disappears due to depreciation.