5 Tips: How to Buy Music Equipment on a Budget
There is no doubt that music equipment can get pricey–and fast! Unfortunately, not all of us can be sponsored by our favorite drum company or get VIP rock star treatment when we walk into a music store. Whether you are just starting off as a musician or are trying to build up your rig on a budget, these tips will help you and your wallet!
1) Acquire Bare Essentials
As consumers it is our natural instinct to want to overbuy and purchase items that we don’t really need. You might want to take a look at your current rig and ask yourself what you genuinely need and what you can live without until you do get that sponsorship. It may be tempting to buy that new “Delay” guitar pedal or a special crash symbol but you have to prioritize based on your current budget.
2) Friends and Family
Did you know that over a million electric guitars are made per year? How many of those do you think go to lifelong musicians? The answer is only a fraction! The majority of instruments made go to children as presents who usually give up the instrument soon after realizing that being a musician takes hard work and dedication. Before buying an instrument you might want to check with friends and family and see if they know of any guitars gathering dust in a bedroom or untouched bass amps in the basement. Oftentimes people will be so eager to get rid of the space consuming music equipment that they won’t even charge you for it!
3) Garage Sales and Thrift Shops
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend or family member with an extra piece of gear, garage sales and thrift shops allow you to buy unwanted gear at seriously discounted prices. Be on the lookout for signs in your neighborhood advertising garage sales, which often take place on weekends (you can also find these on craigslist). Thrift shops are also an excellent place to find cheap pieces of musical gear. In addition to instruments, check to see if your thrift shop has an electronics section, usually some interesting pieces of gear like guitar pedals and tuners wind up in there. We know someone who bought a 1960s Ludwig drumkit for under $600…it’s worth well over $2000 now.
4) Ebay and Craigslist
In the past if you wanted to buy a second hand instrument you would have to search through the classifieds in the paper but the Internet has made all of this much easier! Ebay and Craigslist have become the premier on-line sources to find a piece of gear second hand. Most people turn to Ebay and Craigslist when they need money fast and if you are online at the right time you can walk away with incredible deals. Craigslist holds the slight edge when it comes to deals on gear because there is less competition from the local market. Just beware scammers – heed all warnings from the websites. They offer all sorts of tips and methods to avoid rip-off artists.
5) Aggressive Comparative Shopping
If you have tried all these avenues without any luck and must buy gear from a traditional music store then at least go in with the correct mindset. You have to remember that because of the economy and the competition among music gear sellers, you truly have all the power. Ideally, you should go into the store knowing exactly the piece of gear you want. Make sure to only visit a store that will match any price and come loaded with printouts of different online stores who have the cheapest price. Salespeople get paid on commission and can sometimes be pushy so don’t be afraid to walk out if you aren’t getting the deal you want.
Fellow musicians…once you get your gear, let’s not forget that a little maintenance goes a long way. Make your instruments last longer by taking care of them! Research tips for the best way to clean and maintain the products you have. Don’t over-tighten your drum hardware or haphazardly lean your guitar against an unstable object. And when you are pounding that Venti Starbucks coffee, don’t set it down next to your electronics!
Do you have any other tips for fellow musicians? Comment on this post and share them here!