Customer Resources

This page includes general buying advice, specific buyers guides for each instrument, advice on how to buy a musical instrument and questions to consider before you buy.

General Buying Advice

You may live in a local authority area where instruments are available on loan for an initial period whilst enjoying lessons in a school setting. Please note the quality and level of service the instrument has been subjected to may be variable.

An alternative is to hire a checked instrument from your local music shop, from your teacher, or from an accredited NAMIR member in your area who has a stock of instruments they have reconditioned and set up ready for trouble free learning. Some larger shops also offer a “hire before you purchase” scheme where the hire fee is partially refunded if you buy the instrument outright at the end of the hire period.

The other option is to buy new or preowned. New instruments from a reputable source means the instrument has been selected and warranted as a quality instrument, and you’ll have the delight of the new feel, and playing experience. If you buy a brand new instrument, it may be possible to buy the instrument through your state school’s administration VAT free (Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme). If you buy preowned, you achieve a lower price for your instrument, which could be as good as new, and if it has been assessed, cleaned, serviced, and set up by a NAMIR member repairer or reputable local shop, it will operate to its best level and be very satisfying and reliable to play

Buyers Guides

Flute Cello

How to Buy a Musical Instrument

You can buy new or pre-owned musical instrument via musical instrument retailers, instrument repairers, and the private market. For a full list of questions to consider when buying please see the ‘Questions to Consider Before You Buy’ segment below.

  • Specialist musical instrument retailers should offer a selection of instruments, often including new and pre-owned. They will commonly have on-site workshops where technicians are on-hand to set-up instruments and make adjustments. There should also be somewhere you can see & try the instrument and an experienced staff member to offer advice. You can often find independent reviews of instrument retailers from online review platforms. This is a good way to ensure peace of mind if you’re new to the seller. Some retailers will also offer rental or hire schemes which allow you to get started for a low monthly cost. Carefully check the terms of the rental/hire scheme to see how it allows you to stop the hire and progress onto your own instrument. Ensure the instruments being offered on hire are of a suitable quality. They should also include servicing and insurance.
  • Musical Instrument repairers often sell pre-owned instruments that they have previously serviced or maintained and prepared for re-sale. They will be able to offer a good technical insight into the condition of the instrument and will usually offer some form of warranty and the ability to see/test the instrument. Many professional instrument repairers will belong to NAMIR which ensures a level of expertise. You can also search for independent online reviews from other customers to provide further peace of mind.
  • Private market purchases can need a little more care because commonly you won’t be buying a pre-checked or set-up instrument. There will also be no warranty and commonly no trial period or chance to see/test the instrument. The prices may be a little lower (not always) but a specialist retailer or repair professional will offer much enhanced pre-sale and after-sale support.

Questions to Consider Before You Buy

Like all musical instruments there are a wide range of manufacturers producing different models. The quality of production is paramount to the instrument being easy to play, reliable, durable, and economical to maintain. Buyers should consider the origin of the instrument and also the support that the seller (retailer, repair professional, or private individual) can offer when you buy from them.

Here are some questions to consider before you buy any musical instrument:

  • What is the make & model?
  • Does your teacher (or an experienced player) have knowledge of the make & model?
  • Is the seller offering any sort of warranty?
  • Is the instrument checked/set-up by a professional repair person before sale?
  • Can the seller obtain spare parts for the instrument to support it in the future?
  • Are there other used models of this kind in the marketplace that retain some value?
  • Can you see and test the instrument before purchasing it?
  • Is there a cooling-off or approval period after purchase?
  • Is the instrument suitable for your needs (i.e. student or advancing player)
  • Are there any previous major body repairs?
  • What happens if your instrument needs adjustment in the future? Can they assist?
  • If it is a brass or woodwind instrument does it have a good quality mouthpiece?
  • Is the case secure and suitable for the instrument?
  • Will the seller offer any form of buy-back or part-exchange in the future?
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