Choosing the Right Instrument for You
Choosing (& Buying) the Right Instrument for You
So you’re about to learn the piano (or guitar, or saxophone, or something else).
Exciting times! There’s nothing quite like learning to play an instrument – especially when you’re learning music for the first time.
But if you’re going to learn to play an instrument, you’re going to need one to practice on.
Easy, right? You just pop down to the local music store or hop on eBay… don’t you?
Well, not exactly. You see, buying an instrument isn’t quite that simple. Not all instruments are created equal.
So here are a few things for you to consider when you go shopping for your next instrument.
The Question of Price
The number one thing to remember when buying an instrument is that quality second-hand is better than cheap new.
Cheap instruments made with cheap parts are readily available. But these parts inhibit the sound quality you can create, and are liable to break – sometimes irreparably damaging the entire instrument. What seems like a short-term saving can quickly become a long-term expense.
That said, you CAN buy a quality instrument on a budget. You just need to be smart about it. Gumtree, the Trading Post, and even some music stores all sell second-hand instruments. By looking for the right brands and models, and following the advice of your music tutor, you can pick up a good instrument at a reasonable price.
Long-Term vs Short-Term
Sometimes, people will buy a cheaper instrument because they want to “test the waters” learning to play it in the short-term before they invest in a better option.
While the idea seems sound on the surface, it’s ultimately not. After all, you cannot test your future goals on a substandard instrument, because it will not perform to the same level as a quality one.
On top of this, cheaper, quality second-hand instruments are readily available if you know where to look and what to look for (more on that in a moment). So there’s really no excuse for purchasing a “cheap and nasty” instrument.
If you do choose to buy a brand new instrument, make sure you get a decent warranty. An instrument can be a significant investment, so you’ll want to ensure it’s protected. As always, don’t go for a cheap option. And don’t buy a smaller instrument unless recommended by your music tutor.
General Guidelines for Buying a Piano
When it comes to buying a piano, don’t buy a keyboard. The only exception to this is if you want to learn to play the synthesiser. Piano students should always play on an electric piano or acoustic (regular) piano.
For electric pianos, make sure the instrument is full-size, with weighted keys. Don’t pay anything under $600 for a brand new electric piano. Anything below this price range will be sub-par quality.
For brand recommendations and other guidelines, speak to your music tutor.
General Guidelines for Buying a Guitar
Guitars come in full size, half size, and ¾ size options. The size you get will depend on the age and size of the student. Your guitar tutor can recommend the appropriate size for you.
Price-wise, don’t buy a new guitar that’s priced under $100. Cheaper guitars are made with cheaper plastic components, and these are more likely to split open and/or fall apart. Canadian-made faux-bone is superior to plastic. The music shop staff will know what you’re talking about if you ask them for this.
Once again, for specific recommendations about size, brand, and other features, your music tutor will know best. So chat to them.
Of course, the best way to choose and buy the right instrument for you is to seek customised, expert advice from your music tutor. Every Aeolian music tutor is available to give advice to their students.
Your tutor will be able to recommend an instrument that suits your needs and your budget. As an expert in the music space, they can help you distinguish between quality and second-rate brands, vital features and gimmicks, and reasonable and ridiculous prices.
Do you have an instrument-buying horror story, or a tale with a happy ending? Then we’d love to hear it. Share your story in the comments below so other people know what to look for – and what to look out for!