If you are considering buying a musical instrument, no doubt you have been confronted with so much choice and information that your head is swimming. Sales people will usually guide you to the most profitable product for them or sell you on the many benefits of a product you may not be ready for. So how do you choose the best musical instrument for your needs if you aren't an expert?
The first step toward purchasing a musical instrument is to assess your needs. What do you want the instrument to do for you? How do you want to use it? How experienced are you currently? What is your track record with purchasing and using musical instruments? Is the instrument for you or someone else? Will they still be using it in a year's time? In two year's time?
Once you have evaluated your needs, begin to research your alternatives. What are the differences between products and prices? Will an expensive product be necessary or can you gain the same benefits with a lower priced product? Make a list of potential products and prices and then phone a number of teachers of that instrument and ask them for their recommendations and if there are any products you should avoid, being careful to let them know your current level of skill.
If you are purchasing for a child you will need to remember that many instruments are sized for the child's height or finger reach and will need to be regularly replaced as the child grows. It would be a waste of money to spend a great deal on these training instruments unless your child is a virtuoso.
If you are a beginner, you may want to consider a lower cost instrument as an introduction to playing until you are confident you will continue and you are ready to benefit from a higher quality instrument. However, if you would prefer a higher quality instrument but don't want to spend the money to buy it new, you can often purchase good quality instruments second hand as many people purchase instruments and then don't use them. However, if the instrument has broken strings or is out of tune you may need to pay someone to set it up for you which is an additional cost. When you purchase a new instrument from a reliable retailer the instrument will be properly set up and in tune when you purchase it and you can start playing it straight away.
There are two ways to look at the quality issue. First, a good quality instrument will sound better and consequently encourage a learner to stick with lessons and practice. During the initial phases of learning, a student will be practicing scales and often boring pieces of music, which can be discouraging if played on a poor quality instrument. Second, an expensive instrument can be a waste of money for a learner if they give up and do not continue with it.
It should be said here that even inexpensive instruments are often quite good and more than adequate for learners, however, they will not last long beyond the beginning phase and will need to be replaced. Nevertheless, your first instrument will have done its job and you will be better able to choose your permanent instrument from experience and knowledge.
Once you have made these academic decisions, it is time to take a few different instruments for a trial run. Sit down in showrooms and play the instruments. It doesn't matter whether or not you can really play and don't be embarrassed by what other people may think; you'll probably never see them again. An instrument needs to feel good as you play it. You have to be comfortable and you have to like the sound. If you don't like your instrument you won't play it. If you are purchasing a guitar, violin, viola, cello or any other stringed instrument make sure you can comfortably get your hand around the neck and reach the strings with your fingers.
If you take the time to assess your needs, research your options and try a number of instruments before you buy, you will find that you will be able to find a comfortable instrument with a sound you like that is within your budget.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of musicianhome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.