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CONSUMER GUIDE on “Off-Brand” Instrument Hazards
In the past few years, discount stores, the Internet, and third-world manufacturers
without musical experience have begun to provide “cheap” copies of decent instruments
in hopes of snaring unwary customers. In past years at Lowell Middle School, we have
had families buy instruments through the Internet. The instruments looked great on the
computer screen, but were of very poor quality and were unrepairable by local stores.
There was no way to return the instruments, and the families simply lost their money,
then had to buy a new instrument of better quality so their students could continue to play
in band. Here is a list of dangers which “off-brand” instruments present:
Repair is often extremely difficult on “off-brand” instruments. Parts are
usually not available, or the original manufacturer cannot be reached. Even
small repairs are difficult or impossible.
Sometimes parts of the instrument (such as keys and pads) are manufactured
in such a way that they are completely non-adjustable or repairable.
Often the configuration of tone holes, keys, valves, and slides, etc., is so poor
that the instrument will never play in tune, regardless of any adjustment.
Many of these instruments are made of inferior woods or metals more prone
to cracking, rot, or corrosion. Posts and screws may be of non-standard
configuration, and seams and solder joints of poor quality.
Instruments not purchased from a music dealer are generally not warranted,
shop-adjusted or tested in any way (no repair technicians), and may be
configured improperly. There is no local reputable dealer who will back the
instrument and it is usually non-returnable.
Instruments purchased without being evaluated by the music teacher or a
reputable repair shop may need more repairs than the value of the
WE RECOMMEND: Get your instrument at a local music store. If you are looking at
an instrument from another source, follow the list of brands on the other side of this
sheet. Call Mrs. Bredwell if you are looking at a brand that is not listed.
PLEASE AVOID: Don’t shop online. Also, don’t buy your instrument at Wal-Mart,
Sam’s Club, Meijer, Penney’s, or other discount stores. Some brands you will see there
are “First Act” and possibly “Maxtone”, among many others. These are poorly
constructed, with many of the problems listed above.
Respected brands of instruments rented or purchased through a reputable school
music dealer will have none of the above problems. They come with full exchange and
return privileges, are adjustable and repairable by qualified on-site repair technicians,
covered by all warranties, and backed by the guarantee of experienced school music
specialists. Remember: you get what you pay for – let the buyer beware!
If you are looking at buying a new instrument, whether a student model or a ‘step-up’
model, please consult Mrs. Bredwell. She is familiar with the brands that are out there
and can help you make a good investment in a quality instrument.