Music Equipment & Gear Honest Review: Best Places To Buy

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*This article may contain links to affiliate products & services. We have reviewed these services to try and ensure the highest quality recommendations*

Written by Ramsey Brown.

Getting your hands on a juicy new piece of equipment or a shiny new instrument is a great feeling for any musician. We know how this can sometimes bring new life to your music enjoyment, or even allow you to perform and create at your best. 

Unfortunately, this feeling can turn sour if you don't have the money for it. Luckily, there are ways musicians can buy quality equipment on a tight budget. These tips will help put the spark back into your musical fire while watching costs burn out of sight.

Many people start their music careers with instruments they borrow from friends or were gifted from family, then one day decide to bite the bullet and upgrade. So, if you're in this situation and on limited funds then you may be asking questions like:

What instruments and equipment can you buy on a tight budget?

What makes one product better than another?

How can you make your purchase last as long as possible without sacrificing quality and performance?

Well, we’re going to answer all of these questions in this article. We are going to discuss the various options available for musicians on a tight budget, identify ways in which these products can be improved for both efficiency and fidelity, and also provide tips on how to care for each type of instrument.

It’s time to debunk the myth that the best equipment will cost you the most money. Oftentimes, this is very far from the truth. With the right knowledge and research, you can find high quality gear at a fraction of the price that the fancy name brand gear will cost you.

What Makes One Product Better Than Another?

The most important aspect of choosing the right instrument or equipment is the overall quality of what you are buying, not just the price. You never want to be tempted to save money on your purchase because most items will depreciate in value over time. This means that with prolonged use and abuse, you could end up losing a lot more money in depreciation alone.

In order to prevent this from happening, you need to understand which products are worth it and which ones are not. There are three basic criteria that determine whether a particular product is worth paying more money for, which is quality, performance, and value.

  • Quality refers to all the inherent characteristics of the product.

  • Performance refers to how well the instrument actually performs its function.

  • Value refers to how much you get for what you pay.

The best way to find a quality, affordable instrument is through research and knowledge. Check out some reviews online before investing in any particular product. You can also talk with other musicians who have purchased the same item and see if they would recommend it to their music colleagues.

Researching Different Products

The only way to truly identify the best product for your needs is to spend some time researching different equipment. Reading professional reviews will give you an idea of whether or not a certain product is worth paying for. Music blogs, Trust Pilot, Reddit, and music gear websites are just a few places you can go to see what people are saying about a particular product or piece of equipment.

This can be an extremely tedious process, but with proper avenues and patience, it's definitely possible to find the information you are looking for. Just remember, If you choose to go the cheapest route possible and purchase the cheapest equipment available, you could end up spending more money in the long run  on repairs and upkeep.

After researching various products online, you will be able to choose from several factors such as quality, brand name/reputation, price point, features, and accessories. 

Keep in mind that some products might look great on paper or online, but once you get it home and start using it, you might find that it is not really what you had hoped for. To avoid this problem, make sure you take the time to personally try out different products before purchasing one. Most music gear stores will even let you try before you commit to buy. 

As a general rule, don't buy anything exorbitant just because the brand name or the company looks good on paper or is hyped up. It pays to do your homework. If your research indicates that two products are nearly identical in quality and performance, then go for the more affordable option if possible.

Again, the best way to find quality equipment is through knowledge. Researching before buying can give you peace of mind and help prevent you from making costly mistakes in the future.

7 Ways to Save Money on Music Equipment

1. Don't Buy Too Much at Once

It's easy to get excited and start buying all of the great music equipment you could ever imagine having, but you have to be sure that you can actually afford it and that you have a need for it. 

Before you go out and buy the most expensive items on your list, see if there is anything else you can do with what you already have. You don't want a bunch of extra stuff if it means you will be in debt or burdened with having to pay it off.

2. Look for Bargains Anywhere Possible

The internet has been a godsend for those who are shopping on a budget. You can find insanely cheap deals on almost anything you want, including musical equipment and accessories. 

Online auctions, garage and estate sales, and even ads in the paper are also a great place to find amazing deals on music gear. Just be sure that you are buying from someone who has a good reputation rather than someone who is selling their used stuff for cheap.

3. Take Advantage of the Holiday Season Sales.

Some of the best times to shop for musical equipment is during the holiday seasons, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great days to purchase equipment at a much discounted rate. 

Also, sign up for email notifications to alert you when your favorite music store is having sales. Oftentimes you will find stores having discounts on holiday’s like July 4th and Memorial Day as well. 

4. Buy Used Rather Than New if Possible

You can save a significant amount of money by buying used gear rather than new. Used gear doesn't have to be old, it just means that it hasn't been used for too long. You can find great prices on used equipment at places like garage sales, online auction sites like Ebay, OfferUp, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and even equipment stores like Guitar Center or Sam Ash will occasionally have used products for sale in store.

Reverb.com is also a great place to buy used equipment and you can see the seller’s reviews right on the website. They also compare different prices on the same instrument so you can ensure you are getting the best price possible. 

Just be wary of instruments and accessories sold by individuals on third party sites because it is difficult to tell whether those items will last long or break quickly. You will always run the risk of getting an instrument that is in poor condition or one that is not what it seems when purchasing through an individual seller. Do your research and read reviews on the seller before purchasing from a person instead of an actual company.

5. Look for Cheaper Alternatives to Big Brand-Name Products

Sometimes brand name companies charge more than what their products are actually worth. If you don't have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars on musical gear, you may want to consider finding some inexpensive alternatives. You may find that cheaper brands do the same job as the traditional brands, but run at a fraction of the cost.

With that said, buying a cheap guitar or keyboard may seem like a good idea because you can save some money. However, you may end up spending more money on repairs or replacements should something go wrong. This takes us back to the importance of researching the gear and brand before you make a purchase.

6. Quality over Quantity

It's tempting to buy something cheaper over a more expensive option but do keep in mind, this can end up costing you much more overall when something needs fixing or replacing. By spending more upfront for a quality product, you may be able to avoid having to buy several different instruments and accessories in the future. 

You could easily save hundreds of dollars and be more satisfied with your gear by spending a little more in the beginning and having fewer problems down the road. The saying is often true, “you get what you pay for”.

7. Layaway or Payment Plans

Another great way to get quality equipment without having to come out of pocket all at once is through layaway or payment plans. With layaway, you can put down a deposit on the gear you want and make payments at your leisure. Once you pay off the entire amount, you can then take the equipment home. You can find layaway options at most major music stores and if not, you can go through websites and apps like Klarna and Afterpay.

The great thing about payment plans such as these is that it has no effect on your credit score and most of the time it is interest free. This allows you flexibility to get the gear you want and pay it off at your convenience.

Tips on Buying Musical Equipment on a Budget

Buying musical equipment can be overwhelming for newer musicians. After all, there are so many instruments and accessories out there that you might not even know where to start. There are also several options when it comes to buying used versus new, online versus in-store, brand name products versus cheaper alternatives.

As we mentioned above, it’s important to do your research and have in mind exactly what you want and determine what you can afford in your price range before you even start shopping around.

Once you get started down the path of buying musical gear, there's no going back! It's exciting to get new equipment and often easy to make rash decisions when shopping. In store salesmen are also trained to recommend the most expensive products and will hype up additional accessories that you may not actually need. Keep this in mind when you go to buy and keep your eye on only the gear you truly need. 

A cheap instrument may be inexpensive compared to a new one, but it might be much more expensive if it requires extensive repairs in the future. If you are unsure of what to buy your first time around and don't have a lot of money to spend, it might be a good idea to start with cheapest instruments or accessories first, then you can always upgrade later if the item you bought performs well.

Wrapping Up

Buying the cheapest equipment you can afford is not always the best option, even if you're on a tight budget. Consider all your options, shop around for the best new deals, look at second-hand options, do your research, ask friends for recommendations, and be prepared to wait for seasonal sales to get the equipment you want at the best price.


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