2nd hand instruments

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by bardsandwarriors, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. I'm curious, as sometimes in the future I'll want my own instrument. So I'm getting off to a head start on the subject. Plus "I'm on top" was asking about buying a flugel, but can't afford a really good one - so I wondered if a 2nd hand instrument would work for her.

    Obviously they are much cheaper, so you can get something much better for the same money. But what are the pitfalls, and is it a good idea?
  2. sevenhelz

    sevenhelz Active Member

    Generally they just need a good clean and a shine, unless you're getting them incredibly cheaply. To make sure the instrument is okay, just ask if you can play it for half an hour before committing - if it's in good nick I can't see why they would refuse.
    Good luck with that. Tbh it's finding them for sale that's the problem!
  3. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    There's nothing wrong with buying a second-hand instrument, just be as sure as you can be that its been properly looked after. Obviously with most brass that's fairly easy - you can usually tell from how many dents and how the valves work if the think has been cared for or not. Give it a good road test, just like you would if you bought something new, and if it feels good, then go for it. But that's assuming you have it in front of you.

    Buying online is a different matter - there are loads of [seemingly] great buys of second hand instruments on eBay and the like. Would I buy something off there? Ermmm.... I think you have to be really aware of the pitfalls. Ask the seller lots of questions - including a few curveballs designed to weed out the dodgy bloke who is selling something he knows nothing about. Get a serial number and - if you can - check it out to make sure its not knicked. Look at the sellers other items - if he's selling lots of 59 quid i-pods and a single trumpet then I wouldn't touch him with someone else's very long bargepole. If its a reputable music shop then the chances are the deal is genuine. Check the sellers feedback and just generally take a sensible pill before diving in.

    As with anything eBay related, remember Caveat Emptor and you should be OK.
  4. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    If you do buy secondhand then make sure everything works. All the slides, all the valvecaps, all the valves assemblies, all screws, slides, waterkeys - everything. Make sure your mouthpiece fits without sticking. Then there's no nasty surprises after you've bought it - like discovering someone had cross-threaded one of the valve caps, or that you couldn't replace a valve spring without a trip to the repairers because it was seized up.

    If the previous owner has taken care of the instrument they'll be delighted that you're interested in such details, and be pleased it's going to a good home.
  5. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    The trombone I use every day of my professional life was manufactured in 1970. Considering I came into being in 1974, I can assume it's been through a few hands. As long as the instrument is in good condition, 2nd-hand is fine. Even if there is damage/wear, if that's the instrument you want, just factor in the cost of an overhaul. I bought my trombone two years ago as a wreck from a seller on Ebay for next to nothing, had it rebuilt (by Adrian from Raths - sadly no longer with us) and it's now the best instrument I've ever played.

    Best off seeking some advice on the subject and looking around. I'll assume you're still blowing for the mighty Knighton. Feel free to bend my Dad's ear about the subject, he's had many instruments over the years. His Yamaha Meastro cornet he's using at the moment did once belong to my wife before she switched to Tenor Horn, so he got a good deal!
  6. Yes, I'm still there :D I'm getting a lift from your dad now, so there is plenty of time to chat about stuff. I probably won't question him on this yet - I'll wait until I have enough spare money. I'm asking this question partly to help out other people on the forum who might want to buy one, and partly so that when I come to buy one, I'll have had plenty of time to muse over the options. Just passing the time really. Thanks for the advice though.

    What is involved in rebuilding an instrument? Is it an expensive business? I imagine taking apart all the pieces and re-soldering it, fitting new valves, re-silvering it, etc.
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    The trombone had been in some sort of accident, so the bell and slide were touching each other. The whole bell section (including valve) had to be taken to bits and re-soldered in the correct position. The laquer wasn't in too bad a shape, but that's not really that important to me anyhow. The slide hardly moved, so that needed the dents knocked out and re-alignment. The whole job? A touch under £500, but well worth it. 'Elkhart' Conn trombones are very hard to come by now, as they stopped making them around 1970/71*.

    Always worth looking around for an instrument that needs work, as long as you're prepared to get it done. The trombone in it's wrecked state cost about £200, so I was on to a winner.

    *Is there anybody out there who can tell me when the Conn factory burnt down? I think it was 1971, but don't know for sure. C'mon Brassneck! Are you up to the challenge?
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    1910 :cool: :tup (the second fire)

    1883 (the first one)
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  9. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    They've had one since then, hence the move to Texas in the 70's. However, I am in awe of the size and quality of your anorak! :clap:
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - not really an anorak, more like a snorkel when thrown in the deep end as such. I get a little help from my friend sometimes too ;).

    post edit:- found some information about the recent fire in 1979 ... here
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2006
  11. Mister 4x4

    Mister 4x4 Member

    All of my horns (except my wife's Berkeley Trumpet) were purchased second-hand.

    If you buy eBay, make sure to ask the seller lots of questions, and find out if they really know what's going on, or just selling the instrument just to pad their seller numbers. I was really lucky to score my Jupiter 470L for about 1/3 of the full purchase price, since it's in such great shape. Granted, there's a few 'character' markings here and there, but if it's not a big deal, then I say go for it.

    I just wish shipping was so expensive and sometimes 'iffy' coming across the pond - I'd love a nice Sovereign or B&H euph for my collection (without treading into 'arm & leg' territory, that is)
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    - out of curiosity, what import taxes do you pay when shipping anything into the U.S.A.? In the U.K. we can be subject to custom duty/import tax and V.A.T..
  13. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    I have bought a lot of second hand instruments on ebay, ranging from a 10£ pocket cornet bought for fun to a practically brand new prestige cornet.
    I have bought a lot of besson 600's and 700's for our beginners in the youth band as well as more expensive models. Not one of them has failed to meet the standard that was described by the seller and they are all better than the new student models we have bought (besson 1000 and others) and at a fraction of the cost.
    I am currently playing on a Besson Sov. 967 euphonium which was bought on ebay for 750£. It had a huge dent in the bell (as was clearly stated by the seller and shown on photos) but it was only a few years old and valves and tubing was in fine order. After its arrival in Denmark it has had the dent removed and it has got a complete service costing a further 200£.
    Still the overall cost is far less than getting a new 967.
    Ebay does provide some buyer protection and if you pay via PayPal, you can get your money back if the instrument fails to meet the standard specified by the seller.

    Good luck finding a bargain
  14. waynefiler

    waynefiler Member


    I also bought my maestro cornet off of ebay 4 years ago and its a fantastic instrument, although might have to have an accident with it soon!!!
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2006
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