Do not buy cheap musical instruments

Over the last decade, more and more cheap musical instruments have been flooding the markets from Asia and other countries offering cheap labour. These inexpensive musical instruments are made in a way that maximises the quantity made, rather than the quality. A factory in China is known to produce over 15,000 guitars a month in addition to pianos, violins and many other types of musical instruments.

Some of these large manufacturers can produce superb quality musical instruments that are just as good as those produced in North America and Europe. Brands such as Jinyin and Eastman have factories in china and use tonewoods for instruments such as violins. They at least have a hand carved finished, even though they are produced on production lines. Jinyin states that "Jinyin's 800 employees make 15,000 Saxophones, 25,000 Flutes, 20,000 Clarinets , 7,000 Piccolos, 50,000 violins and many thousands of French horns, Trumpets and Trombones each year". In the US, these instruments are commonly sold as inexpensive student models.

Many of the cheaper musical instrument manufacturers are not as careful about the quality of the products that they are creating. With violins as an example, this can mean:

  • Low quality materials

  • Poor quality coatings and finishes

  • Badly fitting parts

  • Compromised tone quality

For brass instruments this can mean:

  • Thin metal parts

  • Poor quality coatings and finishes

  • Cheap metal that breaks easily

  • Misaligned keys

These types of instruments can be found under many unknown brand names. Many of the brand names try to give a European feel to the instrument. Even the descriptions that they are sold with can be misleading hype. Examples of such misleading advertising are:

  • "German Engineered"

  • "The Original"

Parents looking for a child's first instrument should look into the differences between brands that are available. If you do not buy a well known brand, the instrument may cost you more in the long term. You need to remember that unknown brands and cheap musical instruments are:

Harder to fix
If something goes wrong with your cheap or unknown brand musical instrument, you might not be able to do anything about it. Local repairmen might not be able to fix substandard instruments and the replacement parts may not be available.
Harder to play and have a lower quality sound
Instruments that are not produced with much care can lack the expected sound quality. This can frustrate students and cause them to give up.
Not an investment
Good quality instruments are an investment and should retain value. Poor quality instruments will not keep their value and will cost you more in the long run.
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