Advice on selling relatively inexpensive instruments

August 2, 2018, 9:21 AM · As I have gotten better as a musician, though I am still a relatively intermediate player at best, I have been upgrading my instruments. It is time to say good bye to two violins and a viola or two. Naturally I want to get a reasonable amount for them, close to what I payed for them, minus any upgrades that I might have made.

As a public school teacher my first instinct was to reach out to colleagues to gauge interest; but they are mostly band teachers that teach a section of orchestra and have little desire to learn the instruments.(Don't get me started!) I was a band teacher once, but have thoroughly embraced violin and the string family; hence the intermediate player at best.

Other than this, I lament to say it, I was thinking Craigslist and perhaps Reverb. Are their any other avenues that you would recommend? Most music shops would not want these instruments as they sell more expensive in-house ones. I am hoping to get about $400 for the violins: Chinese handmade Stainer copy & German Factory Amati that has some issues, but once was a purely lovely instrument. This is about what I paid for them.

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Replies (8)

August 2, 2018, 9:36 AM · If you itemize your income tax you might do better to donate to a music charity or local school and write off the current retail value.
August 2, 2018, 9:57 AM · Getting rid of instruments at ANY price point is difficult. As I always say, they're like sailboats and horses.

Reach out to local teachers. Kids are always upgrading to different sizes, and parents would appreciate not paying full retail.

Any youth orchestras where you can spread the word?

Your band teacher colleagues don't have to learn about violins, but if they are teaching string players as you imply, ask if you can just post an ad or make an announcement in class.

Local college? String teachers there often teach privately on the side and might know of kids needing instruments.

August 2, 2018, 11:36 AM · This is the price range in which most people choose to rent instead. I'd suggest a donation to charity would probably be best.
August 2, 2018, 12:20 PM · Donation is best. If you sell any instrument for which you've paid less than $5,000, be prepared to take a significant loss (FSBO) or to suffer a dealer's commission (consignment). Very often the dealer will only consign the violin, not the bow and case too.
Edited: August 2, 2018, 2:03 PM · I don’t think dealers will even consign instruments at this price level. There isn’t enough in it for them, and they’d be competing against themselves.

If you really want cash in hand, your best bet is to go through the local private teachers who might know of a student looking for an instrument and ask half of what you paid. Otherwise, donate and take the tax deduction.

August 3, 2018, 4:38 PM · I put a few of mine up on letgo. I don't recommend that. I had some interest but they tried to low ball me. I don't mean just a little bit. It was almost embarrassing.I'm willing to take a hit, but I'm not giving them away.
My teacher offered to take them and see if there was interest. I think I'm going to do that.
Edited: August 10, 2018, 11:12 AM · Low end instruments do not appreciate, they depreciate. You probably won't get anywhere near what you paid for student instruments. If you're fortunate you will get half what you paid. If you're spending $400 for your kid's first violin, you might as well buy new, so that's what people do.

I have found Craigslist a waste of time. You don't get serious buyers, you get junk-shoppers who will waste your time and then MAYBE offer you a fraction of your price. Ordinary people don't use Craigslist any more because the listings are too numerous and disorganized.

Ebay works if the instruments are recognizable labels in good condition. You can search sold listings on Ebay to see if anybody's buying them and what price. It HAS to be much lower than new -- maybe 40% lower -- to attract buyers.

The disadvantage is shipping is expensive, Ebay takes 10 percent, and you really have to offer return privileges -- so it's a lot of rigamarole for not a lot of money in the end.

I agree, given you won't get much and it will be a big hassle to sell, you might as well donate.

Edited: August 11, 2018, 11:36 AM · Hello,
Not sure where you live but you may be aware there is a strong fiddling tradition in parts of the Appalachias. Many of the communities in Appalachia are very poor but have strong supportive music programs focused on string instruments. These programs are ALWAYS looking for instrument donations. It would be a great thing to provide a poor child who otherwise could not participate in these Music programs a chance to play.

Two such program are:
Madison County, North Carolina Arts Council.

Surry County, North Carolina Arts Council (Home of Andy Griffin :)).

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