With the end of the current school year in sight, parents are starting their search for band instruments for summer and fall band programs. You can choose to rent your instrument (check out the rentals tab for more information) or purchase it outright. If you are unfamiliar with brand names I want to warn you STRONGLY against purchasing an instrument off of the internet without consulting a repair tech or the student’s instructor. Sometimes instruments purchased off the internet will cost less upfront, but the maintenance required on these substandard instruments can be very expensive.
For trombone and trumpet players in particular, the issue with off-brand instruments is very poor metal and lacquer quality. If you have poor lacquer on your instrument it can affect the tone of your instrument and the overall look-it will scratch much easier. If you’re dealing with poor metal quality, (usually brass) the actual instrument will be softer, resulting in more dents and dings which all affect the playability of the instrument. Another issue common with poor brass or metal quality is that the inside of the instrument will actually corrode, which means the slides will stick, which can be very costly to repair. Aside from metal quality issues, some off-brand instruments don’t have the regulations that more common brands have, which can mean that the lengths of the tubing, receiver etc… might not be correct-which means the instrument will play out of tune, regardless of the student’s ability.
For woodwind instruments, off-brand instruments can have similar problems as their brass counterparts. Oftentimes the alloy that the keys are made out of (usually nickel/steel/silver) will be very soft and can be bent very easily. Any slight mishandling and the pads won’t cover the tone holes properly and will have to be brought in for adjustment. Another issue that has come up with woodwind instruments is that the tone holes are not places correctly on the body of the instrument, which, like the brass instruments, means that the instrument will not play in tune, regardless of the students ability.
In addition to problems with material quality, it is very difficult or impossible to get replacement parts for these instruments should something be irreparable.
Here is an incomplete list of suggested brands when purchasing a used instrument