Buying Used Musical Instruments

New musical instruments are shiney and cool, but most decent instruments can equal the cost of a month or two of mortgage.

The good news is that there are many places to get quality used musical instruments at a steep discount.

For keyboards, guitars, and drums, Guitar Center is a good place to start, especially since you can then pick up the instrument locally in many parts of the United States. Also, check their Clearance and Outlet (open box) sections for special deals on new(er) items.

For brass and woodwind instruments, I have found that local music stores tend to have the best prices and selections. If you are in Los Angeles, I recommend Adam’s Music.

Craigslist and Ebay also have a lot of great deals. On Craigslist, just be safe and avoid scams. On Ebay, be sure to inspect the items as best as you can before purchase, ask the seller questions, and understand the risks involved with purchased a used item sight unseen.

Musician’s Friend also has several categories to check out. They have open box sections and they have regular “Hot Deals” and Clearance items.

Jump to the Instrument You are Shopping for:
Keyboards | Drums | Electric Guitars

Coming Soon:
Trumpets | Clarinets | Flutes | Acoustic Guitars

Used Keyboards

What to Look For:
1) at least 61 full-size keys
2) built-in speakers (if not, you will have to pay extra for an amp or external speakers)
3) a power supply (batteries are expensive and are a pain to replace)

A step up is touch-sensitive keys for changing volume as you play. And, semi-weighted or weighted keys will give a better feel of piano. Anything that says “digital piano” is typically a step closer to the real piano feel.

Best Keyboard Brands:

  • Roland, Korg, Yamaha, Alesis and Casio

Where to Shop:

Used Drum Kits

What to Look For:

  1. a full size kit (even my smallest kindergarteners can reach the drums on an adult size kit)
  2. includes cymbals and hardware (cymbal stands, bass drum pedal, etc — each cymbal can cost a couple hundred dollars separately)
  3. decent condition drum heads (the part that you hit with the sticks) and no missing screws

In lessons, our drum kit has 5 drums (a snare, bass, and 3 toms), a pair of hi-hat cymbals, and a hybrid crash/ride cymbal.

Best Brands:

  • The Drum Kit
    Ludwig, DW (Drum Workshop) Drums, Pacific Drums, PDP, Pearl, Tama, Gretsch, Yamaha, Sonor, TAMA, Mapex
  • The Cymbals
    Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian, Meinl
  • The Drum Heads
    Remo, Evans, Pearl, Aquarium, Ludwig, LP, DW

Where to Shop:

Used Electric Guitars

What to Look For:

  1. the appropriate size for the student (elementary students should definitely use a 1/2 or 3/4 size guitar)
  2. does it include accessories such as an amp, case, picks, tuner, or strap? (these are all necessary accessories)

Best Brands:

  • Fender and Gibson (or their student model counterparts: Squier and Epiphone). You might also get some luck with Ibanez or Peavy

Where to Shop:

Coming Soon!

Information on:

  • Used Trumpets
  • Used Clarinets
  • Used Flutes
  • Used Acoustic Guitars