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What Are the Best Tips for Buying Used Percussion?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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When buying used percussion, consumers should consider include the type of music they play, such as folk music or classical orchestra music, and the reason they need the instrument. Generally, when buying used items, a person should weigh the pros and cons of buying online items versus buying items from a brick-and-mortar store or a local seller. It is advisable to have an experienced musician or other professional inspect the item, especially if it is expensive, such as a piano or full drum set. This advice is especially important if someone is buying an item online or without seeing it in person.

A buyer should ask the seller some pertinent questions. It is important to know the manufacturer's name and the item's model and serial numbers, the item's age, and the reason the person is selling it. Sometimes people sell instruments because they no longer play them, because they want to upgrade to a better instrument, or because the instrument is faulty. A potential buyer should listen for clues that may tell him that the person is selling a bad or broken instrument. He may want to ask if the person played the instrument or if it was someone else's and be alert to possible fraud or theft.

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Other important questions relate to any guarantee or warranty. Sometimes the manufacturer's warranty extends to future owners, or a buyer can purchase it for the item. It is important that the seller offer recourse in case the percussion instrument is not as good as promised. Usually, if a person insists on a guarantee, a shady salesperson will remove the offer. Some music stores offer limited warranties on used merchandise.

A visual inspection is important when buying used percussion. It is vital to inspect the instrument's condition for clues as to how the person treated it. The item should be in good condition and free of cracks and defects. Split laminate surfaces and other problems may indicate that the owner did not take proper care of it. A buyer should look for broken parts and missing hardware.

Physically inspecting the item usually includes playing the instrument. The item should be sturdy, and all moving parts should move freely. If it has wheels, a potential buyer should move it around and watch for unsteadiness, tight or broken wheels, and difficult maneuvering. Sometimes parts like wheels can be very expensive for used percussion hardware. In any situation when buying used percussion, it is important that a prospective buyer or a professional inspect the item.

If it is not possible to personally inspect the item, it may be possible to hire a professional to inspect it. This person may be a music shop owner, a music teacher, or a professional musician. If the person doing the inspection is a friend of the seller, the report may be tainted, but if the person is an independent observer, the report may be invaluable.

When buying used percussion instruments and hardware, it is important to consider different sources. Frequently, music stores offer used, rebuilt, or refurbished items. Usually, these items have good warranties. Other sources include musicians who are upgrading or leaving the music industry, manufacturer or dealer demo items, and estate sales. When buying a demo item, consumers should learn where it was used, the model year, and if it was played or simply displayed.

A buyer should research possible problems. For example, a piano needs regulating every 5 to 10 years ,and having this done may cost thousands of dollars. When a seller lists a five-piece drum set, a buyer should know that in the industry that means the set has only five drums. It may or may not include other percussion instruments, such as cymbals, or percussion hardware. Another possible problem is insect-infested instruments, especially pianos that harbor cockroaches.

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