PLEASE rent/buy from a music store.
Please do not buy instruments from the internet or Big Box Stores.
Please do not buy inexpensive instruments on trips over seas.
Please be wary of instruments which have been in storage for many years. Please take the instrument into a repair shop and have it evaluated if you do have an instrument that has not been played in several years.
Here are the reasons why.
Two big problems with the "cheap" brands on ebay or Amazon or Costco or Walmart or purchased overseas:
1. They are cheap!!! And they are made cheap. They don’t play very well and will be a frustration to your student. And if they do play…they are guaranteed to fall apart after weeks or months of use.
2. THEY CAN NOT BE REPAIRED!!!!!! This is HUGE!!!!!!
Instruments are a LOT like cars. There are moving parts. They need oil. They need regular maintenance. And sometimes things break. Sometimes, it is no one's fault. Like getting in the car, and finding a flat tire. Like cars, sometimes accidents happen and things get dropped and or dinged. And sort of like new drivers... kids can be a little hard on instruments.
I have a trumpet that a student bought on line for $75 or $125. It is some weirdo brand that nobody has ever heard of. It looks like a pretty nice trumpet. It is metal and shiny. After 3 months, a part broke that costs $10. But it can't be repaired. The companies that sell new trumpets for $100 don't make spare parts. They make disposable instruments.
It would be like buying a car really CHEAP on Ebay or from Costco or Walmart and you need to replace a spark plug... and finding out that you can't buy a spark plug for YOUR car. And you need to throw your car away. It just doesn't make sense.
Your child needs to play an instrument which can be repaired and plays well!!
Another warning about some of the instruments sold on ebay… A friend of mine bought a brand new, shiny, RED trumpet for $99 on ebay… and then found out that he was getting lead poisoning from the lacquer. The red coating was literally making him sick!
Basically, if it sounds too good to be true… it is.
If you could get a great new trumpet for $100 or $125. I’d buy a bunch and sell them to you!! Seriously. I'd buy them for $75 and sell them to you for $100. But it is not possible to get a new instrument for $100 that plays really well or will last.
You get what you pay for.
The rent to own programs at both Allegro and C & L are both very good. They have both new and used instruments.
Also... one good thing about the well known brands... the instruments tend to hold their value and if you do end up buying an instrument... you may get a lot of your $$$ back should you sell it. (Of course, if your student trashes the horn… it will be worth less.)
This is an Olds baritone (with a case that is BEYOND decrepit!). It was made in 1955. It has been overhauled and most of the dents taken out of it and polished up. The disgusting case and pretty nice horn are now selling for $584 on Ebay.
I don’t know what baritones cost in 1955, but I’m guessing that it was $300. It isn't special or antique. Just a good, solid horn which has been restored and is still worth about $500.
A good, decent, name brand instrument that is cared for will literally play and have value for 10 or 20 or even 50 years!
One last caution about buying on eBay... sometimes it is a horn that has sat in somebody’s attic... and it might need $85 to $400 worth of work to get it playing. Flutes, clarinets and saxophones… moths get in the cases and eat the pads. An overhaul on a saxophone might be $300 or more.
Or the instrument may never be playable. 8 years ago... I bought an old King baritone online for about $300. The guy said that he THOUGHT it played fine. He had tried it, but he didn’t really know how to play it. It has NEVER played. I took it to 3 repair shops and it just doesn't play. We can't even figure out why but it just will not play right. I should have it turned into a lamp or something.
I like the rent to own programs. The kids can try the instruments with a minimal of investment. If there is a problem with the instrument…. You can take it in and they will fix it. Your child can change instruments, should he or she want to change from clarinet to sax or trumpet to trombone. After paying $20-35 a month for 2 years, you OWN a trumpet or clarinet or trombone or flute.
The people at Allegro and C & L are good people and genuinely want your child to have a positive band experience. MANY, MANY of the employees at both Allegro and C & L are after school band teachers. They are local Fremont stores. I run into people from Allegro at the grocery store. (They don't pay me to say this!)
The guy selling $100 trumpets online wants to make a fast buck off of you and doesn’t care if your kid gets frustrated after a month of trying to play a garbage horn. He doesn't care if the instrument breaks after 5 weeks.
Hope this helps! Contact me if you have any questions.