There are many things to think about when it comes to selling second-hand instruments or buying second-hand instruments.
So, where should you start?
In the age of the internet, there is information on used trumpets scattered throughout the web. With everything so spread out, it can be difficult to find the exact thing you could be looking for.
Today, I have listed the main points to think about when trying to gauge the price you should be charging or buying a trumpet for:
Things to Look for When Selling a Used Trumpet:
- Missing or Broken Pieces
- Noticeable Damage
- Type of Metal
If a trumpet no longer is playable due to any damage or internal issues, the likelihood of selling it is close to zero.
Still, if your trumpet model is known for special sound quality, that can be a major factor in pricing.
Missing or Broken Pieces:
If any tuning slides or valve caps have been lost, this is another factor that will make it incredibly hard to sell, but buying a replacement part is possible and will probably need to be done.
Dents, warping, or rust will cause the value to drop significantly and sometimes result in the instrument being unplayable, so make sure to look for any possible damage that could affect you in the long run.
Type of Metal:
Trumpets are in the brass family because they are made of, well, brass!
But there are many different types of brass, from yellow to gold, to red or ‘rose’ brass, and they all produce different sounds and tones.
Manufacturers typically won’t use the same metal for the entire instrument but will use it mainly for the bell because that influences the sound the most.
- Yellow brass is the industry standard. It has a bright sound when played.
- Gold brass is a darker color than yellow brass and gives a fuller sound.
- Rose brass has a more mellow tone, but the sound does not project because it is a softer metal.
Some companies also make trumpets out of plastic, they are much cheaper, but the sound is much different from a real brass trumpet.
Avoid those if you can.
Can I do Something to Increase the Value?
One of the best ways to keep the value as high as possible is to keep up with routine maintenance.
Regularly oiling your valves, greasing, and cleaning your slides will help keep your trumpet in peak condition.
It is recommended that you give your trumpet a ‘bath’ by taking it apart and soaking it in warm soapy water every six months. Cleaning and polishing your instrument will help keep up its physical appearance and keep the inside working properly.
If you are planning to sell it online, the photos are super important. Make sure to use a solid background and have good lighting. If there is any damage or blemishes, add a photo of them and be honest with the potential buyers.
It is better to be honest upfront and get less money than deceive someone to get more money and end up with someone very unhappy.
The listing should also include a link back to the manufacturer’s website and includes the specifications and instrument history if you have it.
Giving the backstory that goes along with the instrument will help catch potential buyer’s interest and increase buyer trust.
How Quickly Does a Trumpet Depreciate?
Much like a car, a trumpet will lose value rather quickly.
Adding the word “used” onto anything will decrease the selling price, and with the typical wear and tear, it will only assist with decreasing its potential value.
Most specialty brick-and-mortar stores will offer no more than $500 for a trumpet, and that is only for the ones that are either in the best condition or are very rare.
Over the years your trumpet will regain some of its value if it is continued to be taken care of properly. Older used trumpets tend to sell for more than newer ones due to their vintage value.
What is the Best Time to Sell a Trumpet (To Get the Best Price)?
If you do not want to hold onto your trumpet for many years (waiting for the possibility that it might grow more valuable) then there is no time like the present to sell your instrument.
If you are no longer using your trumpet and are sure you are ready to let it go, do it!
Whoever ends up buying it will enjoy it and have much more use with it than if you decided to hold onto it for the sake of just having one.
Things to Look for When Buying a Used Trumpet:
When you are looking for any used instrument, there are several key factors to look for:
Age can sometimes be a null point when an instrument is well taken care of.
Typically a newer instrument will be in better condition because it is closer to being new.
Yet after twenty to thirty years, as we mentioned before, a used instrument will sometimes increase in value again because older models can be more difficult to find.
Depending on the quality of an older instrument, you may want it more than a new one.
Large brands like Yamaha and Bach are typically always solid brands to choose from.
Less well-known brands or even the really cheap ones can sometimes be troublesome or deliver a bad product.
Buy from brands that are reputable or are recommended to you by professionals.
As said before, some damage can be a sign of improper care and can lead to an instrument being unplayable.
Make sure to check for any damage before buying.
Minor dings in the metal or scratches are typically okay and oftentimes inevitable, but rusting or warping is not a good sign.
Knowing who owned the instrument, and for how long, is very important when buying used.
If you are looking to buy a trumpet and the previous owner says it was used by a nine-year-old who did nothing but brutalize it before deciding to get rid of it, that probably isn’t a good sign of the functionality of the instrument.
Whereas if used by a dedicated player who used it often and took amazing care of it for many years, it probably means it is in much better shape.
Sometimes the instrument history isn’t available, in which case you should use your best judgment, but always try to get as much information from the seller as you can.
Which Brands Should I Avoid?
With any musical instrument, the price is often a reflection of the quality, so you are usually getting what you pay for.
Beware of deals that seem too good to be true. There are so many listings online for trumpets that are only $100! However, the quality of those will only be worth $100, which often proves to be subpar at best.
If you are looking for a genuine trumpet with a good sound, avoid ones made from plastic.
Some specific brands to avoid include:
How Do I Find the Brand and Serial Number?
If you aren’t sure what brand your trumpet is or the brand of trumpet you are planning to buy is, a quick look at the bell of the instrument will answer your question.
The name of the brand will be stamped into the metal there for you to see.
For a more specific look at the instrument’s specifications and to prove authenticity, the serial number will be stamped onto the side of the valve casings.
I wish you the best of luck on your musical journey, whether it is coming to a close or just beginning, and I hope that you find the perfect match for you!