Where to buy good used pro level woodwinds safely

In order to stimulate sales instrument manufacturers periodically repackage their existing pro level instruments with new model numbers while making only very minimal changes in the instruments. Add the very slow rate at which the technology changes to the fact that woodwinds (at least the metal ones) last a long, long time when properly cared for-in most cases longer than their owners’ playing lives. The result is that a whole lot of terrific used instruments are available, saturating the used market and keeping prices much, much lower than equivalent new instruments.

I decided long ago to almost exclusively buy used instruments. In doing so I can obtain fantastic instruments at maybe 60% of the cost of new ones. Not only can I better afford the instruments, but the used instrument will hold its value much better, enabling me to get my money out if I should I need to sell it.

That being said, used instruments that are being sold on consignment at big music stores have hefty commissions attached and the stores also hesitate to sell pre-owned instruments inexpensively so that they don’t end up competing with their new instruments for sales.

Soooooo… I haven’t bought a used instrument lately and would love some input on where to find instruments for sale directly by their owners in a marketplace that is safe for the buyer. Any tips on how to find the horn you want at a good price with protections for the buyer are welcome!

Can you give an example of a pro instrument being rebranded I have never heard of this.

There’s too much competition as it is and you want me to help you be another competitor for excellent vintage instruments? :smiley:

Actually there is no “safe” place to buy vintage instruments. There’s always going to be some type of risk involved. Most of the ones I got were from on-line auction sites. I just recently found one, for a great price IMO, at local music store. Was a little lucky with that one though.

Other than the local music stores what other places have you been looking?

I think the OP is mainly talking about the differences in models for any given manufacturer. But when I hear the word rebranding for example, I think of Chevrolet / GMC, Ford / Mercury, CG Conn / Pan American and other stencil horns.

I have purchased many instruments on Ebay, which does offer some pretty good buyer protection, but I feel like that’s sort of old school (as am I). I have also purchased from Music Go Round, which lists much of their inventory from their franchised stores across the country.

I think that there may be more platforms that offer reasonably priced used instruments direct from the sellers, which are also safe for the buyer. Just trying to update my approach so that I can ferret out a reasonably priced R-13 Greenline clarinet in A, which is kind of rare, or maybe sell an instrument or two. So does anyone have any experience buying used instruments online that might be informative for me? Thanks!

Other than Ebay, I’ve found Reverb an ok place to search for used inventory. Often the same people/businesses (like Quinn the Eskimo) listing on Reverb also list on Ebay. I always check the sellers history and rating. Often it’s someone sells regularly (like Quinn) or a music store with a history of selling.

I did have really good luck on the SOTW forums buying from private sellers. I think the 2 horns I purchased (the 2 Yani’s) if the seller asked for PayPal (personal), I would offer 2% extra to cover the Goods/Services fee. That offered me a little protection in case an empty box showed up. I haven’t checked their marketplace in years though. I know they’ve had issues and had to update their rules many times. If this place ever got big enough, I think there are several systems(inc trust systems) in place that could simplify the process.

Also, Clarinet in A isn’t easy to search for! As ‘A’ is both a key and word.

By that, do you mean all the various (17!) Pro Buffets offered? Or the Selmer Supreme? Or the Yani model updates 6 years ago?

Thank you daviderato.

Once in a while I’ll look for other instruments (other than saxophones) but I don’t remember ever coming across any Clarinets in A.

Other than what’s been mentioned I’ll sometimes look on Goodwill’s auction site and the Salvation Army auction site. Only thing about those sites you have to know what you are looking at. You may have to search for several similar looking instruments to find that one you may want. I’ve seen Soprano Saxophones list as a Clarinets and old metal Clarinets listed as Saxophones.

They mostly have student model instruments but once in a while you’ll a very nice vintage horn.

I’ve seen some instruments listed on Etsy. Found a vintage Conn Saxophone mouthpiece on there for $10 less than what they going for on eBay. But the person selling it had no idea what saxophone it was for.

Have you looked at Facebook market place?

Thanks for the tips gasax!

I shopped for a used pro flute recently. I contaced the flute instuctors at nearby universities to ask if they knew of any students or faculty upgrading and selling their previous instruments. You could also contact a local symphony or other professionals. I got lucky and had a friend from high school that is a professional nearby and I bought his backup flute that he was selling. I wouldn’t have known he was considering selling it though if I hadn’t asked if he knew of any. Another resource could be a good repair person that professionals use, who might be aware of pros that are considering selling instruments (or may have already bought some from them).

Thank you Sandy. That’s excellent advice!