- When is the best time to buy musical instruments?
- When not to buy?
- How to find deals on new and used gear
I like to save money. Not going to lie. If I can get the same bass for less money, then that is what I am going to do. If you are reading this, I will assume that you feel the same.
So, this is a guide to how we will get some fancy new gear without having to take out a loan that our kid’s kids will need to pay back. For this endeavor, as with so much in music, timing is key.
Let’s look at the best and worst times to snag some gear.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, & Beyond!
I know this is going to sound obvious, but the best time to snag some deals on music gear, whether new or used, is the period from Black Friday through the festive season.
Retailers are looking to clear out the previous year’s inventory to make room for the new year’s gear. That means that there are loads of deals to be had right now.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy Musical Instruments?
I am one of those dudes that scours online marketplaces and auction sites almost as a hobby. I love to find a good deal on a beautiful, used piece of gear, and there is a ton of really cool and unusual music gear out there that you can incorporate into your sound. Plus, it never gets old.
Regarding gear, I find the words “No thank you” to be hard to reach for. So, if, like me, you will eventually need to justify the expense of that third Fender, let’s try to whittle down the best and worst time of year for you to indulge your need for gear.
Hands down, the best time of year to buy musical instruments is right now. The period running from Black Friday (25 November this year) through to the New Year is the best time to shop.
During this period, large retailers will often have significant sales as they try to clear inventory for stock in the new year. Other retailers may offer coupons or other discounts on their stock. Remember that the festive season is fiercely competitive for retailers, and competition means competitive pricing.
That competitive pricing extends to used gear as well. A lot of people will be looking to sell off their older gear during this period as well. There is a multitude of reasons people might do this. Whether it is to make room for new gear or to have a little extra dosh over the holiday season, people will be looking to sell quickly, and as a result, prices can be quite low. I have picked up some great deals during the holiday rush.
Where To Find Deals?
Well, your approach will change based on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for new gear, the best plan is to join mailing lists and set up alerts with your favorite retailers. That way, you know when special offers are available and can get to them early.
In fact, you can sign up to the Producer Hive newsletter below and get the best plugin and software discounts direct to your inbox every week!
Also, in the case of both new and used gear, I cannot overstate how useful a good relationship with your local music store is. These guys will know if major brands are having sales, might be able to get you better prices on demo gear, and have a good idea of what is available in your local used market.
Speaking of used gear, some old-fashioned internet sleuthing will go a long way here. Keep an eye on online marketplaces like reverb.com, Craigslist, or eBay. Set up alerts for these as well. Once you find that dream machine, don’t be afraid to haggle, but remember to be fair.
Offering an insultingly low amount below the asking price will fail every time. You might be looking for deals, but someone else is selling their gear to get some cash. Balance is everything, friends.
The Worst Time To Buy Gear?
Honestly, the period after the festive season will never be an ideal time to buy an instrument. Retailers know that people have just spent their holiday income and are unlikely to spend heavily.
If the market is not competitive because nobody is buying, you are unlikely to find competitive prices.
That is not to say that good deals can’t be had, though. If you desperately need to wait until the new year to get your new piece of gear, then buying second-hand could still give you some great (almost new) finds. There’s always the opportunity to benefit from someone else’s Festive gift, miss.
The trick is just to keep your eyes peeled. Check out Craigslist and Reverb for that sweet deal. Use search terms like “can’t return gifts” and you will likely find something almost brand new.
Obviously, certain times of year will be better to buy an instrument, but before you run off to your nearest retailer, just slow down a sec. It won’t do you any good to buy an instrument at a bargain price only to realize that you hate the sound of the thing when it arrives. Ask me who had to learn that the hard way. (Hint. It was me).
It’s important to consider whether whatever instrument you are buying works for you. Do you like the sound? Does it work with the kind of music you make? If you play a very specific genre of music, then you may want to look at an instrument made for that genre.
If you play acoustic indie, and you buy a high-gain, distortion-friendly guitar because it was a good deal, you will have a bad time.
Lastly, the instrument has to feel good. Something that feels and sounds good to you is much more likely to keep you returning to the woodshed.
So no matter when you buy an instrument, make sure that it is the right one for you.