Buying Pawnshop Instruments: 5 Things To Look For

You can get great deals on instruments from a pawnshop, but when buying these pre-owned or vintage instruments, you have to have an eye for detail -- use these for considerations to figure out whether it's a good deal to buy a bargain instrument in a pawn shop or consignment shop.

1. Are expensive parts missing?

One consideration is whether the instruments in question are missing any of their key parts. For pianos and keyboards, missing keys are common -- but these can be expensive to replace. For horns and woodwind instruments, look at valves, caps and other auxiliary parts. String instruments have their own accessory parts like bridges and tuning pegs. Make sure all of the instrument is there before buying.

2. Tuning

Another quick way to test an older pre-owned instrument is test for correct tuning at every part of an octave or scale.

Tuning on a keyboard or piano means listening for any evidence of warped wires or other hardware -- on string instruments, changes to the neck of the instrument can cause it to tune improperly. These are danger signs, because it's so expensive to fix these kinds of damage when they start. Generally, play the instrument enough o hear the sound and consider whether it is going to sound good after it is purchased. Even correctly-tuned instruments can have distorted sound that impairs their value.

3. Cleanliness

Another big issue with pre-owned instruments is the condition that they are in. Think about whether it will cost you a lot of time and money to scrub away grime and dirt from complicated areas of an instrument, such as the headstock of a string instrument or the keys of a saxophone or woodwind. Generally, the value of an instrument is a lot less when it's become covered with ingrained dirt and dust.

4. Structural Damage

Some types of structural damage and also make used instruments difficult to repair and play. With horns, damage can consist of the warping or denting of metal parts. String instruments need to have integrity along the neck and headstock.

5. Accessories

It's also a good idea to think about how you will transport an instrument. Check to see if cases are available, and whether you will need to buy other critical accessories.

All of these are good things to think about when looking over available used instruments in a pawn shop and asking the pawn shop owner about price. Do your research to get instruments that are worth what you paid, for long-term play and collecting. To learn more, contact a company such as West Covina Pawn with any questions you have about buying used instruments from a pawn store.