Shopping online has become a huge part of our culture. You can, quite literally, but ANYTHING on the web. It’s pretty amazing. There are many pros to buying an instrument online. Some of the pros are: convenience, price, and wider market selection than what you would find locally. However, many prospective buyers are scared to purchase their instruments online.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve purchased nearly everything I currently own online. Let’s look at some strategies I use and things to look for/avoid when purchasing an instrument online.
This is usually the number one reason why someone shops online. Online retailers very often have blow out sales, or special offers due to the shear amount of inventory they have to move. However, if you’re not careful, you can end up with a pretty fat shipping fee.
If price is your main concern, make sure you do your research (Google) and ask yourself some easy questions: Is this instrument available at a local music store? Is there a significant savings after shipping if I purchase it online? Does the seller have good ratings? Does the seller have a return policy/money back guarantee?
Typically if you’re purchasing an instrument from a larger online retailer (Musician’s Friend, Sweet Water, Guitar Center, etc) then you don’t have anything to worry about. They usually also offer these same guarantees on used instruments as well, but just be sure to check the fine print (I’ll discuss purchasing used later).
As convenient as shopping online is, there are a few cons. For example, you can’t try the instrument before hand, and returning it if you’re not satisfied can be a hassle.
One of the HUGE benefits of buying online is the fact that you aren’t limited to the small selections of instruments at your local music store. Sometimes, your local music store doesn’t have what you want or need (especially if you’re a strings/horn/woodwind player).
When perusing the virtual market for the right instrument/deal, be sure and look up some “coupon codes.” When you hit “Check Out” on whatever site you’re on, you’ll see a small box that will say “Enter Coupon Codes.” If you don’t receive coupon codes in your email inbox already, a quick Google search can yield some excellent savings.
It sounds scary. We’ve all heard horror stories of bad eBay purchases and scams. But thanks to services like Paypal, things are much safer and easier than ever. As long as the seller isn’t a Nigerian Prince looking for your social security number, you can purchase any instrument worry free. eBay is another resource that online retailers use to sell their current inventory.
A word of caution: If you’re purchasing a second hand or used instrument from a personal sale or listing on eBay, be sure and check over all the information carefully. Make sure there is a return policy. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller any questions you may have about the instrument.
If you are one of those people that are just too scared to order an instrument off the web, or you have to try it out before you buy it, you still have online options. Chances are your local music shop has a website and online inventory. Craigslist is also an excellent resource for finding the instrument you’re looking for locally and a great way to really see it/try it before you buy it.
The Holiday Season is one of the best times of the year to purchase an instrument from a large online retailer. They need to start clearing inventory to make room for next year’s inventory; the typical story of retail business. So don’t be afraid to take the leap and get the instrument you really want.