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Buyer Beware: Tips to Buying Musical Instruments on eBay.

Musical instruments can be very costly, so it makes sense to turn to eBay for a price that best fits your budget. Unfortunately, even experienced online shoppers have fallen into some pitfalls. Guard yourself against rip-offs and swindles with these tips.

Shop Offline First

Local music stores are an invaluable resource for educating yourself about a specific instrument. Most shop owners and employees are musicians themselves and can offer practical recommendations when it comes to brands, models and skill levels.

The internet will never truly replace the experience of touching, holding and testing a musical instrument. While you may not be buying one in a brick and mortar location, you should definitely visit a retailer for a test drive.

Request the Serial Number

Any reputable eBay seller will be more than happy to provide you with a serial number on an instrument if it’s not already included in the description. A serial number is an absolute must to ensure you are getting a legitimate musical instrument.

Fakes and cheap knock offs have no identifiers so the lack of a serial number is a telltale sign of fraud. Remember, the internet picture could have come from anywhere, but serial numbers are specific and individual. Getting pushback from the seller? That's a warning flag for stolen goods; better to just move on.

Compare New and Used

Luckily, eBay has plenty of listings for musical instruments both new and used. It’s worth the time to compare the new and used listing for the same or similar models.

Second hand instruments will obviously save the buyer some money, but browsing these listings is also a great way to get a feel for pricing and value on new instruments.

Certain brands and models of instruments maintain their value better than others do. Therefore, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the resale value of brands you like.

But browsing used instruments on eBay also gives you a good indication of which brands are common in the marketplace. Rare instruments are great for collectors, but everyday musicians should look for instruments that will not be difficult to repair or order parts for.

Compare the Cost of Shipping

The excitement of eBay, particularly auctions, occasionally leaves common sense in the background. A good deal can quickly become a lesson in overspending if the shipping costs are too high. Always make sure you include the shipping charges and take note of which sellers include shipping as part of the price.

As with all online shopping, be a little skeptical buying any musical instrument on eBay. If in doubt, stick to the golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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