Nearly every parent would love their child to get involved with music at their school’s band or orchestra program. However, that involvement comes with a hefty price tag. Not only are there various fees and materials required for school music, the student usually has to provide their own instrument. If you know your student will play for a while, it’s usually a better investment to buy instead of renting for multiple years. But what happens when they quit band? Usually, the parents are left with an instrument worth over $1,000 that they don’t know how to re-sell. Fortunately, there are a few different strategies to employ when selling your used instrument.
Getting the most value when selling a used instrument: EBay
This is the most obvious choice, and it usually results in the lowest rate of return. However, there are some good tools here to see what your instrument is worth. Using the current auction listings at a guide, you can get a better idea of what price point will sell quickly, and what price point will cause the instrument to go unsold. When selling a used instrument, one has to take into account how fast one wants it to sell.
If you are only selling one used instrument (or two), you can set up an eBay account for free. Once you sell four or five in a month, eBay starts charging sales fees. The whole process is pretty user friendly; just pay attention to the listings that sell, and follow what they do.
Getting the most value when selling a used instrument: Craigslist
Notice how I haven’t mentioned a brick and mortar store yet? Selling a used instrument does not work at a traditional music store. They will never offer you a very good value (if they offer anything at all). Their whole process is to make a profit on when they sell your used instrument, so they need a buffer between what they offer you and what they will sell it for.
Craigslist, on the other hand, deals directly with the consumer. It gives the potential customer a chance to see and play the instrument, so they aren’t caught off guard by anything. I have had great success selling used instruments here, and I have made a good return on my initial purchase price. Offering pictures definitely helps, as well as being clear and concise in the product description. If your product is worth anything, you will get responses. To ensure success, take a look at my other article, How to Identify and Avoid Scams on Craigslist and EBay.
Getting the most value when selling a used instrument: Donation
Although I never hear people considering this option, donating is the way to get the most value for your used instrument. Although nobody will be handing you a pile of cash when you turn it in, any reputable charity will allow you to write the donation off as a tax deduction. If you live in the Chicagoland area, Gift of Carl is a great option. They use those donations to provide instruments to children who are unable to provide themselves with one. Some music stores participate in the program, so you can either drop it off there, or send it directly to the address on the website. If you do not live near Chicago, a quick Google of “musical instrument donation” will yield hundreds of options.
Most charities work similar to Gift of Carl. You send your instrument to them; they appraise it, and send you a receipt for the value. Then, when you do your taxes, you can get the full amount back on your return. Even though you have to wait until April to cash in, you will probably get more return on your musical instrument than if you tried to sell it.
I would recommend first using eBay to create a good selling price. Then, I would try to use Craigslist to get the most upfront money as possible. If there isn’t an offer that suits your needs, donation is definitely the most reasonable step. When these options are used accordingly, you will be able to easily sell any used instrument. Now, when your son or daughter tells you they want to learn trumpet, you can breathe a little easier knowing you can recoup some of the value.