Trumpets are expensive!
Whether you’re a beginner in need of an entry-level trumpet or an experienced player looking for an upgrade, it’s prudent to pay less for a used instrument.
How much could you stand to save, though?
Let’s check out some examples:
Bach Stradivarius Model 37
The Bach Stradivarius is the most popular professional-level trumpet, and the Model 37 is the most popular Bach Stradivarius.
Pros everywhere love this instrument (and for a good reason!) but, purchased new, it boasts an eyewatering price tag of $2,999.00.
So how much do we save by buying used? As it turns out, a whole lot!
On eBay, most Model 37s sell for between $1,200.00 and $1,700.00.
Auctions typically finish lower than ‘Buy it Now’ listings so, if you have the time, those are well worth watching.
You’ll also see listings for lower prices, such as this one for $901.00.
This can look very tempting, but pay close attention to the photos!
In this case, the instrument has a significant dent near its bell and will need professional repair.
The YTR-2330 is the most popular student trumpet.
Purchased new from a store, its price tag is a whopping $1384.00.
For the parent of an aspiring player, that’s a scary number!
The good news is, used prices are low.
Most YTR-2330s on eBay sell for between $300.00 and $500.00, but you can find good-condition instruments for as little as $200.00.
Yamaha Xeno Artist Series ‘Chicago’
Yamaha Xenos is also a highly respected pro-level instrument, and Artist Series trumpets are the top instruments in the Xeno range.
A new ‘Chicago’ will set you back $4651.99.
These sell a great deal more slowly than Bach Stradivarius instruments and typically aren’t listed for less than $2,500.00.
Bach Stradivarius Model 43
The Model 43 is the second most popular trumpet in Bach’s Stradivarius range, after the Model 37.
New, these are priced at $3159.00.
Used Model 43s sell for a similar price to Model 37s. Most fall within the $1,200.00 to $1,700.00 range.
The YTR-1335 is an older student trumpet.
It’s been discontinued for quite a while now, but used instruments occasionally crop up in the used market.
These instruments aren’t much cheaper than a used YTR-2330, but they’re no longer listed on Yamaha’s website, so they don’t receive the same attention.
You may find yourself faced with less competitive bidding on these trumpets.
The TR-300 is another discontinued student trumpet, which has now been replaced by the TR300H2.
These are incredibly cheap on the used market and may be one of the best options for more non-committal beginners.
These instruments usually sell for under $200.00, even when in fair condition.
This one, for example, sold for $138.88.
How Do I Figure Out What My Trumpet is Worth?
To determine a trumpet’s value, you need to know:
- The make and model
- The year of production
- The finish
- The instrument’s condition
1. Make and Model
Identifying the make and model of an instrument is your first step in finding its value.
The instrument’s make is usually engraved on the top of the instrument, close to the bell.
You can find the model in different places, depending on the make. On Bach instruments, the instrument’s model is engraved near the bell, next to its make.
On Yamaha instruments, the model is engraved above the serial number on the middle valve casing.
Once you know the make and model, you can search for your instrument on eBay or Craigslist. Be sure to scroll down and tick the box for “completed items.”
Many listings have aspirational prices – you’re just looking for the prices of instruments that actually sell!
2. Year of Production
Once you’ve determined your instrument’s serial number, you can go to the manufacturer’s website to find its year of production.
For example, you can find the production year of your Bach instrument by checking its serial number against this table.
There are some model years, for example, the Bach Stradivarius Model 37 2015, which are worth significantly more.
Make sure you’re comparing like for like!
Most trumpets are either gold lacquered or silver-plated.
Silver-plated instruments are worth more, typically by around $100-$200 depending on make and model. Make sure you’re comparing your trumpet to instruments with the same finish.
It’s really easy to tell which you have. Silver-plated instruments are always silver. Lacquered instruments can be any color, but they’re usually gold.
The two finishes are also damaged differently by wear. Lacquer keeps its brilliant gold shine but starts to flake away in patches. Silver-plate scratches, rather than flaking away, and develops a black tarnish.
If your silver instrument has flaked-away patches, then it may actually be silver-lacquered.
There are also other, less common finishes, such as gold-plate. Gold-plated instruments are more valuable and have much richer color when compared to gold lacquered instruments.
These are usually very high-end instruments and may be custom-made, so it’s a good idea to have them valued by an expert.
It can be tricky to determine your instrument’s condition because there are so many relevant factors.
The first thing to check for are dents in the instrument. These can negatively impact your trumpet’s sound, depending on its location.
Most buyers aren’t experts. They may not know the difference between a minor cosmetic dent and a serious problem. Even small dents can make it much harder to sell your trumpet.
The next thing you should check for is red rot (or dezincification). A trumpet with red rot will have little spots of copper-red, which break through the finish from inside the instrument. These will most often appear on the instrument’s lead pipe.
Red rot is a major problem for brass instruments, and sections of tubing that show signs of red rot often need to be entirely replaced. Red rot will be a major red flag for buyers and will seriously hurt the instrument’s value.
The valves are another place where wear can cause problems. If a valve’s mechanism is damaged, or if it still gets stuck after cleaning and oiling, then it may need to be repaired before the instrument is playable.
You should ensure that all slides can be removed. If your first, third slide, or tuning slide is stuck, they may require professional repair. A stuck second slide is less important and may have less impact on the instrument’s value.
The condition of an instrument’s finish can also impact its value. Light scratches and tarnishing are unavoidable and are common across most used instruments.
Deep abrasions or large worn-away sections of exposed brass will hurt the instrument’s value, though.
What Are the Most Popular Trumpets on the Used Market?
The most popular trumpet brands on the used market are Yamaha and Bach, followed by others like Jupiter, Getzen, and Olds.
The biggest sellers are the professional models of those instruments, such as Bach’s Stradivarius range.
Student models, like the YRT-2330, are also top-rated. These instruments are cheaper to buy new, though, and typically purchased by players’ financially stable parents. This means buyers are less likely to seek out used instruments.
Intermediate trumpets, such as Yamaha’s YTR-4335GII, are relatively uncommon on the used market.
These instruments do usually sell when they crop up, though.
How Quickly do Trumpets Lose Value?
Trumpets lose their value in stages. A Bach Stradivarius Model 37 is worth $2,999.00 when you buy it from a store.
If you want to resell it in mint condition, though, you may get closer to $2,300.00 for it.
Once it shows visible signs of being a used instrument, for example, light cosmetic scratches, your instrument’s value may drop to around $1,700.00.
Older trumpets are also more likely to have picked up major issues after years or decades of use.
Any damage that impacts playability will seriously hurt an instrument’s value.
When Are the Best Times to Buy or Sell a Trumpet?
It’s best to sell when others are buying, and vice versa.
Children often start playing trumpet at the beginning of the school year, so September may be a great time to sell your old student trumpet. There will also be more buyers in November and December, with Christmas on the way.
Similarly, students going to college for music may be hunting for their first professional instrument, so that July-to-September holiday period is a great time to sell professional trumpets.
If your instrument is particularly suited to marching, for example, if it’s cheaper or lighter, you should consider selling in June or July.
If you’re a buyer, you should aim for a few months later. By February, many new players have often stopped playing and are looking to sell.
When is a Trumpet too Old to Play Well?
A trumpet’s life expectancy all depends on the standard of care it receives.
Many vintage horns still sound beautiful, especially those from reputable makers like Bach.
When you’re buying a horn, it’s a good idea to ask about the care it’s received, for example, how often it’s been cleaned and serviced. This will be a good indicator of how likely the instrument is to develop red rot.
There’s no better test than trying out the instrument for yourself.
If it still feels good to play, then it’s not too old!