Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

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investingdad
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Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by investingdad » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:13 am

I'm curious if any BHs have bought an expensive musical instrument. I guess expensive is a subjective term so I'll leave it to responders to define relative to their own experience.

If you did, what was it and what was the purpose? Collect? Play? Gift? Other?

Do you still have it or did you sell it and recoup what you paid?

I've been on the lookout for a nicer violin for myself for about a year now. While I'm very much a newbie having only been playing for a year and a half, I would still like to "invest" in a finer instrument purely for personal satisfaction. The luthier that I bought from lets me try his rotating inventory when I get mine serviced (every six months) in the price range I'm looking, but I haven't found one I like yet.

For what it's worth, he complemented my patient approach until I find just the right one and not buy unless I'm sure it's the right fit. He's zero pressure.

Mine cost about $900 but I'm looking in the 5k to 6k range.

I'd be interested to hear other's experiences.
Last edited by investingdad on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

livesoft
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by livesoft » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:14 am

Pianos. Plural. My spouse was a music major.
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Dottie57
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:17 am

I wouldn’t look at it as an investment. The money is an investment in YOU. If you can easily afford it, go ahead and get it. I just bought 2 chairs and a side table for m patio. Price was $500.00. Lotta money for somerhing I use r months of the year, but I love it.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:29 am

When I picked guitar playing up again, I started with a nice, used acoustic, then an electric to go along with my old '69 Guild. As I played more, got in a band, I bought better instruments, usually selling the lower level ones. As most were craigslist buys, I could actually make a little money on each instrument. I did buy one new guitar for on the order of about $1500.

I do think you're doing the right thing by playing various ones from your luthier. I played literally thousands of guitars and when one hits me well, I buy it. Or I keep it in my mind and consider it for a later purchase.

I ended up getting into guitar modification, painting and restoring and even had craigslist people hunt me down to do work for them based on my descriptions of guitars for sale. I found that it really helped me understand why one guitar is $100 new and another that looks the same costs $1000 new.

I left my band and backed down on playing. I ended up selling off about 2 dozen guitars (almost all at a profit) and am down to one acoustic, my old guild, a Korean Dillion semi hollow and an American Music Man Sub 1 that's heavily modified to be like a Silhouette. My son plays and uses my guitars now.
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investingdad
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by investingdad » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:30 am

I called it an "investment" in quotations because while I am not expecting a return, at the same time I wouldn't expect it to lose 80% of value like a new car.

So don't get tripped up on my choice of wording.

RollTide31457
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by RollTide31457 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:39 am

Bought a guitar for around $700 - pretty pricey but it sounds good.

nimo956
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by nimo956 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:47 am

I play classical guitar. Like the violin, most high-end instruments are hand-built by a single luthier. Unlike the violin, a classical guitar is much more "affordable." I paid about $4k for mine, and prices seem to top out around $10k.

I don't play the violin, but from what I've heard from friends, $5k is probably still in the small shop factory range, meaning that there's a luthier overseeing the process, but much of the labor is streamlined/divided amongst other workers in the shop. The shops are also probably located in China or Eastern Europe, where the cost of labor is lower (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that).

To get a luthier-built instrument from start to finish, you are probably looking at at least $25k to start, going up to the $40k range. Then don't forget the bow on top of that, which probably runs another $5k - $10k.

Violin is an expensive instrument! By comparison, a Bosendorfer grand piano will probably run you $80k :)

For me, my purchase was totally worth it. When I just had my entry level guitar, I couldn't notice that it sounded muddled and dead until I played the luthier-built instrument. As soon as I did, my friend was just blown away, and said that the sound was night and day, and the projection was far greater. I really think it makes a difference to have an instrument built by someone who knows what they are doing.

Personally, I love playing music and think it's a wonderful hobby. I'd spend as much as I could reasonably afford. Just realize that whatever you buy, in a few years you'll be looking to upgrade to the next level! It's an endless cycle.
Last edited by nimo956 on Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:41 am, edited 4 times in total.
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cantos
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by cantos » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:59 am

40k grand piano. Well worth it.

4k acoustic guitar. Well worth it.

In fact, among the best buys I've ever made.

I don't have a collection of guitars/pianos, just the above. It's a world of difference between the nice stuff and the stuff below.

I don't know much about violins, but I knew some hardcore violinists in their day, and from what I gathered, $5k isn't really considered an expensive violin. You may want to try the $10k and $25k ones, and definitely from other stores/luthiers, to see if you can appreciate the difference. I think you would.

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TierArtz
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by TierArtz » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:40 am

4K electric guitar
1k acoustic guitar
1k tenor ukulele
1.8k baritone ukulele
Yamaha flute for my 5th grader (3 year break-even over a rental).

Hopefully, as soon as I retire, I'll find time to get better at playing my stringed instruments.

bert09
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by bert09 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:43 am

cantos wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:59 am
40k grand piano. Well worth it.

4k acoustic guitar. Well worth it.

In fact, among the best buys I've ever made.

I don't have a collection of guitars/pianos, just the above. It's a world of difference between the nice stuff and the stuff below.

I don't know much about violins, but I knew some hardcore violinists in their day, and from what I gathered, $5k isn't really considered an expensive violin. You may want to try the $10k and $25k ones, and definitely from other stores/luthiers, to see if you can appreciate the difference. I think you would.
I have played guitar for over 10 years and am pretty happy with my $400 Seagull - what about it makes yours particularly worth it to you, out of curiosity? I could never picture myself spending that much on a guitar.

PFInterest
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by PFInterest » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:50 am

investingdad wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:13 am
I'm curious if any BHs have bought an expensive musical instrument. I guess expensive is a subjective term so I'll leave it to responders to define relative to their own experience.

If you did, what was it and what was the purpose? Collect? Play? Gift? Other?

Do you still have it or did you sell it and recoup what you paid?

I've been on the lookout for a nicer violin for myself for about a year now. While I'm very much a newbie having only been playing for a year and a half, I would still like to "invest" in a finer instrument purely for personal satisfaction. The luthier that I bought from lets me try his rotating inventory when I get mine serviced (every six months) in the price range I'm looking, but I haven't found one I like yet.

For what it's worth, he complemented my patient approach until I find just the right one and not buy unless I'm sure it's the right fit. He's zero pressure.

Mine cost about $900 but I'm looking in the 5k to 6k range.

I'd be interested to hear other's experiences.
yes, actually bought oversees as after shipping was cheaper than outlets here. was not an antique or anything however.
still have it about 15 years later.
if you are a newbie then you do not need a nicer instrument, you need practice.

bert09
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by bert09 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:54 am

My personal opinion, at least for guitars and other stringed instruments (ukuleles, mandolins, etc.) is that there is sort of an "80-20" rule when it comes to how much money you spend. i.e. you can get 80% of the desired quality for 20% of the max cost. Take guitars for example, say there is generally a $5k "ceiling" to what you expect a reasonable person to pay for a guitar. I would argue that you can get a guitar with 80% of the level of quality of a $5k guitar for less than $1k, and then any money spent in addition to that is going to be in diminishing returns until you hit the "best guitar in the world."

I have a kit electric guitar that I built from parts with my Dad and have since tweaked and replaced parts, very DIY. I have probably not put more than $300-400 into it in the time that I have owned it, but it plays so comfortably and sounds good enough that you probably couldn't tell the difference on a recording from a $3k guitar of the some type. A lot of that came from both picking parts/type/etc. that was a good fit for me and personalizing it, and then also learning how to do a setup properly, neck adjustments, etc. You can have an expensive electric guitar with a bad setup that plays like garbage, and a cheap one with a perfect setup that feels great.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by lightheir » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:14 am

Italian 1905 violin now worth $50k, and a bow worth $20k from childhood. (Have played many violins $1k-$10 range which were since sold.)

PRS electric guitar $2k and a bunch of <$1k acoustic and electric guitars

Own a $1500 digital piano.


The $$$$ violin was an amazing LONG-term experience. I actually inherited it from my brother, who had an ever BETTER instrument (prices were lower back then - it appreciated a lot!) than me, and wanted to switch with me after he felt he had 'mastered' his instrument. (We were both in Juilliard precollege division, so not messing around.)

I was always a good violin player (won almost all local/regional competitions but def not pro world-class soloist talent) and I couldn't believe that the mere act of switching to a better instrument actually dramatically changed AND improved my violin skill. It literally took me to the next level, and it was definitely the instrument, not the teacher nor repertoire as I had already plateaud before that point at a good level.

I will add that it was very hard for me to tell his violin was markedly superior than mine at first - it took over 4 months to start appreciating the finer nuances of it and to have it draw skills out of myself to fully utilize it.

The $$$$ violin bows were more of a 'wow- that's awesome' experience - I could tell right away which bows were $10-$20k and which were $1k (and which were much cheaper), although admittedly I played 95% as well on a $100 bow as the $20k bow!

I would have to grudgingly admit that if you have a realistic aspiration to be a high level professional CLASSICAL musician, it is of utmost importance to get the absolute best instrument you can get. Those tiny differences are critical at that high level. This is def not true for rock/pop/blues/jazz, although from someone who's walked the walk in both, it is undeniable that the principle of better instrument -> better skills is still absolutely true in these genres; it's just that top technical ability is not as critical to success and popularity in nonclassical realms, where you can literally suck technically and still be idolized for all the other stuff you bring to the table.

Right now my piano playing is literally stunted to a pathetic extent by my $1500 digital piano, which saddens me, but I'm also realistic in that with my current job, young kid who hATES when I practice piano and disrupts it every time I do so, and other life interests, the $$$$ digital grand will have to wait for at least 10 years and have time to really practice. And I'm ok with that!

Lastly, the skills you get from those $$$$$ instruments actually back-translate to cheaper ones (amazingly). The wider vibrato, more nuanced force application, and other things I picked up from that super-expensive Italian violin, were permanently acquired, and could be used even on $400 Chinese factory violins. Sure, they didn't sound anywhere as good as the $50k violin, but it would have been good enough to take 1st chair in at nearly every college orchestra in the US on a $400 violin and a $50 bow!

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MN-Investor
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by MN-Investor » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:23 am

lightheir wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:14 am
I was always a good violin player (won almost all local/regional competitions but def not pro world-class soloist talent) and I couldn't believe that the mere act of switching to a better instrument actually dramatically changed AND improved my violin skill. It literally took me to the next level, and it was definitely the instrument, not the teacher nor repertoire as I had already plateaud before that point at a good level.
My sister-in-law told me the very same thing with her daughter's cello experience.
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JupiterJones
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:46 am

My wife and I, both musicians (she's a violinist in fact), have purchased several instruments in the $3,500 - $6,000 range. These aren't collectors items, although some of them may appreciate or hold their value at least. In any case, we bought them to play, so that's the main goal. Yes, you can spend a lot more, and maybe one day we will, but for now the instruments are perfectly fine.

I'd say that, if you've been slugging along with a $900 violin, the next logical step probably would indeed be in up-to-$6,000 range. You'll probably want to include a bow upgrade in that budget. Don't worry about whether or not you're "good enough" to justify the price... You've proven that violin is something you're going to stick with, and that's really the main point.

Is that a lot of money to spend on a "hobby"? Maybe. But no worse than buying a used bass boat or sports car. Or nice set of ski gear or golf gear and the resultant vacations to go use it all. Or getting your pilot's certificate, etc.

If you've got the spare money, go for it!
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by psteinx » Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:52 am

Quick history:

3 kids (currently teenagers)

All played various instruments at various times. Mostly rented instruments for school. Not sure of exact rental costs, breakeven versus buying, especially used, etc.

Main PURCHASES (not rentals)

Cheap-ish electronic keyboard (~$220 including stand, bench) mainly for youngest kid, when she was ~7. Used for a few months, until she "outgrew" it.

Better electronic keyboard/piano (~1300ish?) for same kid. Her older sister used it too, for ~3 years, then dropped lessons/interest. Youngest is still going strong, after maybe 6 years. Not really a passion of hers, but she keeps taking the lessons, and sounds reasonably good.

Also picked up a trombone (rented it long enough that we got to keep it), and a cheap acoustic guitar, I think (trade with another family for original cheap-ish keyboard?) Both sit unused now.

I feel our investment in the physical instruments has been reasonable. Lessons kinda pricey I think, but also probably worthwhile...

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Just sayin...
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Just sayin... » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:21 pm

About a decade ago, I received a nice unexpected bonus for exceeding some random target at work. I took about half of the after-tax net and bought a new Martin D-28 Marquis Sunburst guitar. I’ve played for over forty years, but my skills do not begin to approach those which you would expect from somebody who has played for so long...but it gives me pleasure. In the evenings, while my wife is watching her shows on Acorn and pecking out messages on The Facebook, I’m usually just noodling on the guitar. The other half of said bonus was invested and has grown significantly, but the enjoyment I get from (poorly) playing a quality instrument seems to be a worthwhile trade off.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by bondsr4me » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:24 pm

It's been a while, but it seems to me I paid somewhere between $1,500 - $2,000 for a Sho-Bud pedal steel.

That was probably 10+ years ago.

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dgm
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by dgm » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:53 pm

I also played violin from a young age and have been around a lot of violins.

as far as sound and playing, my opinion is that the 80-20 rule applies as the other poster mentioned. however making the jump from 900 -> 5-6k range I think will be a noticeable jump in quality.

there are some studies to indicate some modern violins may be just as good that pros can't tell
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/scie ... -new-ones/
however, the study was done by a violin maker called Curtin so...take it with a grain of salt...as a reference his violins seem to be in the 25k and up range.

As far as valuation/investment: Just like art, I believe only the top eschelon of violins appreciate in value, so you won't lose too much but I would consider it to be more of a depreciating asset than an appreciating one. I wouldn't expect it to lose 80% of its value but I wouldn't hold high hopes for it appreciating in value. Maybe a conservative estimate is you can sell it for 70% of the price?
Last edited by dgm on Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rjbraun
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by rjbraun » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:31 pm

Yes. I bought a piano to play myself. It was the most money I have ever spent on a single purchase apart from my home. I took lessons as a kid (no prodigy, at all) and realized that as an adult music (listening, primarily) provided considerable enjoyment.

Yes, I still own the piano. While I did not buy the instrument as an investment per se, my understanding was that, as with cars, one incurs a significant financial hit in value, basically after taking possession. Steinway pianos were reputed to hold their value more than others, so that, I suppose, made it easier to "pull the trigger" on the purchase (>$50k, 6' "grand").

Happy with the purchase decision, though it hasn't worked out exactly as intended (basically, living in an apartment building has its challenges). At the time and also now I kind of feel as if there was a *window* when it felt right to buy, and I did. While I have larger net worth today, I can't say for sure whether I would make the same decision now, but I am satisfied that I did at the time.

As an aside, I played violin as a kid (again, no prodigy), starting with a 1/2-size instrument. My parents (presumably after relentless pestering by me) bought me a full-size violin later from what was a very reputable shop in nearby Washington, DC. I would think they probably paid a couple of hundred dollars at the time, likely the minimum price for an entry-level violin at the shop (and not an insignificant amount of money for my frugal parents).

I took the violin to a luthier a few years ago, just to have it looked at when I considered perhaps taking up the instrument again (I haven't ... see piano purchase). I went ahead and accepted the luthier's offer to appraise the instrument, in part to give him some business and also out of curiosity. My recollection was that he appraised the violin at something like $6000! I was pretty surprised (and shared the favorable news with my parents, in an effort to commend them for supporting my childhood interest). I suspect that there were probably two contributing factors to the (presumed) appreciation: USD strength vs the Deustche mark (circa 1970s) and a shift in entry-level violin production from Europe to Asia - in particular, China.

I also bought a classical guitar when I was in high school. Still have it.

Piano and violin (but not guitar) are covered in a rider to my homeowner's insurance policy.

ETA: I am forever grateful to my parents for having given me the chance to take music lessons as a kid. My mother actually on her own signed me up initially for the piano lessons, but I did ask for some of the other lessons later on. Given that they had to be careful about spending money and that I could be kind of lax about practicing piano or violin :shock: , I am all the more appreciative that they were willing to support (well enough) my desire to play. I have made a point to tell them this as an adult, too.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by rjbraun » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:49 pm

MN-Investor wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:23 am
lightheir wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:14 am
I was always a good violin player (won almost all local/regional competitions but def not pro world-class soloist talent) and I couldn't believe that the mere act of switching to a better instrument actually dramatically changed AND improved my violin skill. It literally took me to the next level, and it was definitely the instrument, not the teacher nor repertoire as I had already plateaud before that point at a good level.
My sister-in-law told me the very same thing with her daughter's cello experience.
+1. I considered getting a "used" piano for minimal cost when I was in the market. I figured that would allow me to test the waters with limited financial exposure. While that sounds rational enough, I'm not sure it really works. The risk is that the piano doesn't play as well or sound as good as a better piano, and I would get discouraged. Granted, there are plenty of people who play mediocre instruments and excel more than I ever have or will, but if you can afford a better instrument and feel that you will play and enjoy it, I think it's definitely worth considering seriously.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by GmanJeff » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:52 pm

Martin D-45. Retail price is $11,299. Purchased to play it; it is the only dreadnought-bodied instrument I own, and so is different in that respect from my other guitars. I have no expectation that it will necessarily retain or appreciate in value, but would not expect it to lose too much in value over time if undamaged, given the desirability and popularity of the brand and model.

The instrument provides me with aesthetic pleasure, both aurally and visually, but I do not consider it an investment.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by MN-Investor » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:06 pm

In my adult life, we've only financed three things: Our house, our first used car, and my piano.

My piano is a nice Yamaha studio upright bought in the late '70s. I was a tax accountant in a Big 8 accounting firm and stressed to the max. The physical action of playing some intense piano pieces was great for my stress level.
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by sport » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:15 pm

I bought a professional quality trumpet for DS and a professional quality clarinet for DD. Bought both of them used for a fraction of the new price. DD's music teacher steered us to the clarinet. Found the trumpet in a newspaper ad.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by hfj » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:17 pm

My daughter started with a Craigslist flute, then upgraged to a approx. 1.3K intermediate flute, and about a year ago after a fair bit of shopping and testing, got her a flute that was 9K+ after all the options. She also picked up a piccolo that I've forgotten how much it costs...about 1K I think. We've since donated the Craigslist flute, but the two flutes and pic get a fair bit of use for various things between orchestra, wind ensembles, musical pit orchestras, and some tutoring. She's not planning on being a music major, but this is a pretty serious hobby right now, and her high school and college years will have a lot of performance opportunities.

We also have a grand piano for myself, a decidedly mediocre player, but it's fun to play with a good action, and looks good in our living room. When I was growing up my parents were pretty much in the "all pianos are basically the same" camp, and we had a cheap spinet with a very weak action; when I to visit them now it's like playing on a toy piano.

investor997
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by investor997 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:19 pm

Recently spent upwards of $15K restoring a 70-year old Steinway grand piano. It's been in the family forever, no plans to sell it so probably won't ever recoup the "investment". Even if I did, I doubt I'd get every dollar back. It doesn't really matter. It's an heirloom, and now it looks and plays like a new one.

eldinerocheapo
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by eldinerocheapo » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:44 pm

Purchased a Ovation Applause some 40 years ago while in college, for around $130. The use of D'Addario light strings made it sound incredible, but it fell apart despite being in AC while not in use. Replaced it with a Luna flat top for just over $300, and it sounds great.

music_man
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by music_man » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:49 pm

I bought a 12-string guitar back in high school (20+ years ago) for $300 and an Ovation Acoustic /Electric guitar for $600. Within the last 8 years I've bought a Taylor Acoustic / Electric and a Fender Strat electric guitar for $1,000 each. I really love the sound of my latter 2 purchases.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by MathWizard » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:54 pm

We bought a trumpet (relatively cheap) and a violin (about $1200) for our boys.

We rented the French Horn (was quite expensive to buy if I recall, $4-5K minimum)

Strangely, they quit the instrument we bought, and kept with the one we rented.

Our younger son was in orchestra with violin, and when he talked to the orchestra teacher
about quitting the violin, she talked him into playing french horn for the orchestra.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by le_sacre » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:03 pm

OP, it sounds like this might be slightly under your price range, but a couple years ago I was in a similar position of shopping to upgrade from a cheap cello (our intensely respected local repair guy once tried to dissuade me from spending any money on it even to glue a seam shut) to a "real" instrument. I did a fair amount of research and trials, and concluded that at least for cellos, there's an excellent bang-for-your-buck value in the L'ancienne line made by Jay Haide. It seemed to me like the price point was an elbow in a graph of the diminishing returns, and instrument a clear step above others at that price. YMMV! But I've been very satisfied. Unless market returns are a lot more generous than I'm planning on, it may well be the last cello I ever buy.

http://www.jayhaide.com/Violins/Lancienne-Model-Violin

I'm actually about to make another, bigger purchase, on either a much better digital piano (though I've been happy with my $1.5k one for nearly 15 years now), or a harp, which I don't even know how to play yet! To a certain point of view it looks tremendously silly I'm sure. But though music doesn't bring me income it brings me tremendous joy. If I retire 6 months later because I spent exorbitant money on an instrument, and my years to retirement is X, that means I'm enjoying my after-work hours during those X.5 years a lot more, and I consider that a solid investment. Life is short, so if you're making a lifelong purchase it makes sense to do it sooner rather than later, provided you've done your homework and aren't acting impulsively.

Just be sure you've got good insurance coverage!

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Tortuga » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:32 pm

About 7 years ago I spent over $6000 on a 1931 Gibson Mastertone 5-string conversion banjo. The conversion replaces the original 4-string tenor neck with a newly carved, finished and inlaid 5-string neck. The conversion works well because the sound quality is mostly due to the tone ring and rim of the original instrument. The sound and play-ability of this instrument are far superior to any of my other banjos and I can't bring myself to pick up the other ones any more. The purchase was made in North Carolina from a well-known bluegrass banjo player and afforded me the chance to meet him and spend a morning in his bluegrass banjo museum. One of my better splurges and worth every penny for travel and cost.

tortuga

jalbert
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by jalbert » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:34 pm

Upgrade an instrument when the one you have is neither responsive enough nor capable of producing the sound or tone you are aiming for. You should be able to articulate the limitations of the current instrument clearly.

If you upgrade before that happens you may find that you instead run into the same limitations on the upgraded instrument as you would have with the original, and you’ll still want a different instrument.

Pianos used to hold their value well, but that is no longer true of most. I have seen vintage Knabe and Chickering grands in good, well-serviced condition for under $2000 on Craigslist, unthinkable 25 years ago. I assume the used market for violins is better.
Risk is not a guarantor of return.

investingdad
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by investingdad » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:38 pm

Thanks for the good replies.

I probably should not have said this was an investment, as to me... it's more about buying a quality piece of workmanship that I can play. Rather than something that may appreciate.

But it is an investment in my personal enjoyment and growth.

TSR
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by TSR » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:20 pm

I have purchased a nice studio upright piano. I have also purchased numerous guitars in the $2,000-$3,500 range (I don't collect, but I do tend to rotate through). A few thoughts:

1. I have always bought used, almost always from respected stores. That's where the value is to me.

2. I get a great deal of pleasure from the physical "existence" of these instruments, not just the improvements in play and sound from them, although that pleasure declines somewhat over time.

3. At the price you're talking about for violins, and at the price I'm talking about for guitars/pianos above, you get a lot of value for the money. Spend too much more and you're starting to get into some really "subjective" benefits, but you get real tangible benefits for spending up to that point.

4. I'm glad you're talking to a luthier, but there may be more value to be had from buying a used instrument from a quality store. It may be you value this relationship more than the benefit of buying somewhere else, which I understand.

5. Instruments are great purchases because if we assume nothing terrible happens to them, then they keep their value well (with the exception of pianos for different reasons). Spend a little more and you will still "have" that money. (At least this is what I tell myself. :wink: ) Invest in humidifiers and other maintenance devices.

6. None of us "deserves" the various blessings of this life. Don't worry if you're "good enough" for this purchase.

I say go for it. You won't regret it!

TBillT
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by TBillT » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:50 pm

Violins more like fine wine, can increase value with time.

Clarinet here, and they are more prone to moisture impact and probably less time value. Got my Pete Fountain clarinet used off EBay, supposedly it was orignally selected by the late Buddy DeFranco as a gift for someone. Good enough for me, but usually on a clarinet you want a pro to try to it, bless it.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by fourwheelcycle » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:40 pm

When we began working and bought our first house, in 1977, my wife wanted to buy a Yamaha Conservatory Grand piano. The piano cost almost half of her annual income at that time. She agreed to help pay for it by giving piano lessons. I looked up the tax rules for personal businesses vs. hobbies and found you could post repeated annual losses as long as you made money in at least one year out of five (I think; it was a long time ago). I also learned a little accounting - enough to understand double declining balance depreciation. My wife taught piano, with recitals in our living room, in addition to her full time professional job, for five years. We did not claim any home office expenses; I only claimed double declining balance depreciation on the piano. During the first four years I was able to show losses which more than offset her piano teaching income. By the fifth year her income exceeded the depreciation on the piano and we owed a small amount of tax on her business.

At the end of the fifth year the sum of all her piano teaching income almost equalled the cost of the piano and she stopped teaching piano. Also, her full time career was getting busier and she was expecting our first child, so it was a good time to call it quits on piano teaching. We still have the piano.

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tuningfork
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by tuningfork » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:32 pm

About 50 years ago my parents bought me an expensive trumpet. About $500 then as I recall. Similar models now seem to be $3000 to $4000 new. That trumpet played so much better than the cheaper cornet I learned on. I'm sure I became a better player because of that trumpet. It was a good investment.

As an adult I have spent oodles of money on electronic musical instruments: keyboards, rack mount synthesizers, samplers, mixers, amps, software, computers, interfaces, more software. While the individual items were never particularly expensive, the sum total over my lifetime would be astonishing if I added it up. Well into 5 figures. That trumpet was a bargain!

telecaster
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by telecaster » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:42 pm

Yeah, I've definitely done this. I spent 3K on an acoustic guitar that I fell in love with.
I've spent around 1.5k on an electric, and a little less on vintage amps that made the hair on the back of my head stand up.

I never sold any of the expensive stuff I bought. I've sold plenty of cheaper instruments that I have purchased that didn't do it for me in the long run.

Is it worth it?
I definitely agree that real cheap introductory instruments are pretty awful, and usually will turn someone away from playing.
Mid-priced stuff usually plays well and sounds good enough.
Expensive stuff ... if you can afford it and you can appreciate it, then definitely. Its like any other passion. If you work wood, a well made sharp tool is a joy to work with. Same thing for an instrument. There's also a sex appeal and a connection between a musician and a special instrument that speaks to them. I guess its hard to explain if you haven't had that relationship with an inanimate object, but those that do will get it :).

lightheir
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by lightheir » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:45 pm

tuningfork wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:32 pm
About 50 years ago my parents bought me an expensive trumpet. About $500 then as I recall. Similar models now seem to be $3000 to $4000 new. That trumpet played so much better than the cheaper cornet I learned on. I'm sure I became a better player because of that trumpet. It was a good investment.

As an adult I have spent oodles of money on electronic musical instruments: keyboards, rack mount synthesizers, samplers, mixers, amps, software, computers, interfaces, more software. While the individual items were never particularly expensive, the sum total over my lifetime would be astonishing if I added it up. Well into 5 figures. That trumpet was a bargain!
I almost bought all that digital stuff - just got too busy to do so (fortunately.)

Now you can spend $500 and a pure software program can do almost everything that $20k setup in the 90s would have done - and a LOT better! Ironically, I'm STILL too busy to mess with it...

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whodidntante
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by whodidntante » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:05 pm

Yes, I have. The sweet spot is personal. My pricey instrument might be your garbage.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:20 pm

High end guitars, Taylor, Martin, etc.
High end ukuleles.
High end stage gear.
"Pricey" is relative to personal value and so forth. Inexpensive in the hands of a concert performer is beautiful as well.
It's more the matter of finding the right "sound" regardless of price. :D
j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by cantos » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:23 pm

bert09 wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:43 am
cantos wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:59 am
40k grand piano. Well worth it.

4k acoustic guitar. Well worth it.
I have played guitar for over 10 years and am pretty happy with my $400 Seagull - what about it makes yours particularly worth it to you, out of curiosity? I could never picture myself spending that much on a guitar.
Just so happens I also had a Seagull S6 which I played for 20 years. Then I got my Taylor and appreciate it so much more. Go to your local music store and check out the 614, 814. It's hard to describe. But when you play them it's a different feeling and sound. The whole guitar reverberates and vibrates as I play it. Just a world of difference. Stays in tune much longer, sounds way better, neck/fretboard is easier to play. In fact, I had the means to get my Taylor 10 years earlier. When I finally bought it, one of my thoughts was, oh man, I shoulda done this way sooner.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by jabberwockOG » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:40 pm

I have owned vintage acoustic guitars for 40+ years, some of them worth in excess of $10k. Buying used instruments and always buying high quality guitars, over the years buying and selling various guitars, in addition to the joy of playing amazing instruments, it became a profitable hobby (especially a few years back when vintage Gibsons and Martins jumped in value). Over all these years when I roughly net it out, having reduced the "herd" down to just two keepers at this point, by always buying used and high quality, I currently own a couple of wonderful old guitars at close to zero cost.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by DarthSage » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:08 am

Well, for my strings kids, we just bought student-quality instruments. My son plays violin--he has potential, but his playing is immature at this time. He has no interest in pursuing the violin seriously, so I'm not putting money there (well, beyond the basic instrument and lessons).

My DD15 is serious about the cello, and has the talent to go pro--but, she won't. She's not willing to put in the time necessary to become a prefessional. We're okay with that. We were willing to spend several thousand on a decent cello for her, but she balked--she didn't want the implied pressure that a pricier instrument could bring. And for those who haven't shopped cellos recently, $5-6k is on the very low end of what you could pay. But, she's happy with her ~$1k student instrument, it has a nice sound, she doesn't feel pressured. And just as someone said older doesn't equal better, price doesn't always equal better, either.

My older two got by with used instruments--trumpet and saxophone. They did just fine for learning and up to HS band.

The most expensive instrument I've purchased was a set of bagpipes which had to be shipped in from Scotland. They were $1200. It gets loud at our house.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by SueG5123 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:58 am

Yes, mainly guitars (vintage Guild, Martin, Gretsch) -- although I also have a Martin tenor uke and a Kamaka concert uke, the latter is sort of the Lamborgini of ukuleles. Hubbie just gifted me a candy-apple-red Rickenbacker 330 for an anniversary gift! (Love that guy!) Since I am a proud southpaw, all my instruments are left-oriented, which sometimes adds 15% to their price and makes them hard to find. Take away: A quality instrument will add immensely to your pleasure in playing. My 30 year old Guild rings like a bell; my 00-18v Martin is my daily workhorse of instruments.

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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by sport » Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:47 am

Sometimes you can get lucky. When I was looking for a good trumpet for DS, I saw an add in the newspaper. When we went to the sellers house, it turned out they had two trumpets for sale, one professional horn and one for students. I had a good idea of the value of the instruments and made a reasonable offer for both, even though I only needed one. I put the student horn up on consignment with a local music store and got more than half of my money back, even after paying the commission on the sale. So, DS got a fine instrument and was able to use his first horn for marching band.

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tuningfork
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by tuningfork » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:54 am

lightheir wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:45 pm
tuningfork wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:32 pm
About 50 years ago my parents bought me an expensive trumpet. About $500 then as I recall. Similar models now seem to be $3000 to $4000 new. That trumpet played so much better than the cheaper cornet I learned on. I'm sure I became a better player because of that trumpet. It was a good investment.

As an adult I have spent oodles of money on electronic musical instruments: keyboards, rack mount synthesizers, samplers, mixers, amps, software, computers, interfaces, more software. While the individual items were never particularly expensive, the sum total over my lifetime would be astonishing if I added it up. Well into 5 figures. That trumpet was a bargain!
I almost bought all that digital stuff - just got too busy to do so (fortunately.)

Now you can spend $500 and a pure software program can do almost everything that $20k setup in the 90s would have done - and a LOT better! Ironically, I'm STILL too busy to mess with it...
Mostly true. But in general I find it easier to preview patches by pressing keys or twisting knobs on a hardware synth than using a mouse to select from a poorly thought out dropdown list, or even worse, a skeumorphic softsynth.

randomguy
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by randomguy » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:25 am

bert09 wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:54 am
My personal opinion, at least for guitars and other stringed instruments (ukuleles, mandolins, etc.) is that there is sort of an "80-20" rule when it comes to how much money you spend. i.e. you can get 80% of the desired quality for 20% of the max cost. Take guitars for example, say there is generally a $5k "ceiling" to what you expect a reasonable person to pay for a guitar. I would argue that you can get a guitar with 80% of the level of quality of a $5k guitar for less than $1k, and then any money spent in addition to that is going to be in diminishing returns until you hit the "best guitar in the world."
The question is always is that last 20% worth it or not to you. If you care about the subject, it often is from a reward point of view.

And from some goods there is a gap where the cheap stuff(<1k) is good and the expensive stuff is good(>5k) but the middle ground isn't worth it.

With something like a violin, the question is do you buy the 5k one now or do you go right to the 15k one. If you are somewhat serious and can afford it, at some point that is where you will end up.😁

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vitaflo
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by vitaflo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:09 am

The snare drum in my avatar is a $1,000 snare drum, so you can imagine how much the rest of my drum set costs. Is it worth it? I think this is highly personal. I get a smile on my face every time I play my kit, so there's that. I also know I could sell it at any time and get most of my investment back so there's that too.

I'm not sure the kit makes me play any better, but it makes playing more fun, and really that's what it's all about. That said I chose the kit I did because it is a well known brand that holds its value (Sonor). I've played boutique drum kits that sound just as good but finding a buyer if/when I choose to move on to something else would be more difficult. May be something to think about if your'e on the fence about one instrument vs another.

Small Law Survivor
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Re: Have you ever purchased a pricy musical instrument?

Post by Small Law Survivor » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:30 am

Have bought and sold so many guitars (acoustic, electric) and amps over the years, I couldn't even begin to count them. Always thinking about getting more.

Thinking about a Gibson ES339 right now.

Just wish I'd never sold that Fender twin reverb I owned back in 1968. :oops:

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