The Cost of Repairing an Instrument verses the Cost of Buying an Instrument!

I know that school has just ended and your aspiring instrumentalist will most likely pitch their instrument in the closet and not think of it until the fall. In actuality we only have about 3 months before school starts again. Whether you will have a new child starting band or they have already played a year or more here are some things to consider. Musical instruments like cars need perodic adjustment/regulation. Your car gets the oil changed, the tires rotated, belts, windshield wipers and lights replaced. I always like the car anology. For some reason it seems less abstract than musical instruments. So, you need a student model, plastic clarinet repaired. These are the least expensive clarinet made. They are made more durable than a professional model instrument because, quite frankly, most kids beat the fire out of instruments. Instruments can come from many different sources: 1) It was yours when you were in school                                                                                              2) It was your parents or grandparents when they were in school                                                 3) You bought it, new or used, for another kid in your family and then they quit playing it  4) You bought it from a neighbor because their kid quit playing                                                 5) You bought it from eBay, Reverb or CraigsList hoping to save some money                      6) You bought it new from a music store or online                                                                   Now it’s late August or early September and you remember that you haven’t gotten little Bobby’s horn fixed for the new school year. By the way, I use the terms “horn” and “instrument” interchangebly. You bring little Bobby’s clarinet to my shop and I look it over in order to give you an accurate estimate of the cost to repair it. And let’s assume that this was your clarinet that you played 20 years ago. You think that it probably won’t cost much to fix it, I mean, it’s just a little horn. How many things can be wrong with something that small. Let’s also assume that for the past 20 years that it has been sitting on a shelf in the basement. Oh yea, it’s also damp in the basement. Now, after carefully looking over the instrument I tell you that it needs a complete overhaul and that will cost you $210.00! Why does it need a complete overhaul? Well, all the pads are shot and won’t seal over the tone holes anymore. Plus, the keys are badly tarnished. These are vague, foreign terms that mean nothing to you. Then you say, “I can buy a new instrument for $210.00”. Au contraire! Here is what a complete overhaul is and what $210.00 gets you. I completely disassemble the instrument meaning all the keys are removed from the horn. The old pads are removed from the keys and all the key corks are removed. Corks are on a majority of the keys. You normally don’t notice them. Also there are tenon corks (joint corks) that must be changed. They are the corks that help hold the individual sections of the clarinet body together. After everything is disassembled then everything is washed. If keys are bent then they are straightened. Next we buff all the keys. There are a plethora of other things that could be wrong with the horn but for simplicities sake let’s say nothing catastrophic has happened to it. Now I’m ready to reassemble, repad and re-cork the instrument. Timewise I’ve already got 2, maybe 3 hours of time into the project, referencing the aforementioned disassembly, washing and buffing. Now, the reassembly, repadding, re-corking and adjusting will take about another 4 – 6 hours. So, it takes 7 to maybe as much as 10 hours of work to overhaul a simple clarinet for a cost of $210.00. Listed directly below is pricing that I found on the internet mostly for new instruments and a few used. Keep in mind, used instruments rarely are in good playing condition which means, besides the price you just paid for the instrument you might have to pay as much as $210.00 to get it playing correctly. If someone at eBay, Reverb or CraigsList tells you that their instrument plays like new well, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. The prices listed below are as of 5/23/17.

Two things to bare in mind, 1) these repair prices are all for student model instruments. The cost to repair intermediate model and professional model instruments is higher, which is a topic for another day, another post. 2) Chinese made instruments, I have a list as long as my arm of horns made in China that are absolutely awful. They start out looking good which I refer to as The High Shine Factor but they go down hill quickly. I’ll re-post that list soon or if you want to see it just e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.

Again, an overhaul on a student model clarinet is $210.00. I also sell instruments. The used/previously owned clarinets that I sell range in price from $275.00 to around $475.00. They all play as good as they did when they were new.

Yamaha YCL-255 Clarinet

Musician’s Friend – $987.00 – new
Music & Arts – $987.00 – new
Woodwind & Brasswind – $987.00 – new
Sam Ash – $987.00 – new
Reverb – $987.00 new to $489.00 – used
eBay – $300.00 – $430.00 – used
Amazon – $620.00 – new

Same scenario with student model flutes. My price to overhaul one is $210.00. Compare that with the cost of new student model flutes. The used/previously owned flutes that I sell range in price from $300.00 to around $575.00.

Yamaha YFL222 Flute

Musician’s Friend – $923.00 – new
Music & Arts – $923.00
Woodwind & Brasswind – $923.00 – new
Sam Ash – $943.00
Reverb – $943.00 – new
eBay – $467.00 – $489.00 – (These appear to be new and also knock-offs from Seoul, South Korea)
Amazon – $449.00 (This is probably a Chinese or Korean knock-off version meaning not a real Yamaha)

 

Student model trumpet repairs vary in price from $60.00 to $200.00 or more. It’s not the same as with woodwind instruments like clarinets, flutes and saxes. I sell Student model trumpets from $250.00 to around $450.00. Noticably less expensive than buying a new horn.

Yamaha YTR-2335 Trumpet

Musician’s Friend – $1233.00 – new
Music & Arts – $1233.00
Woodwind & Brasswind – $1,233.00 – $1,383.00 – new
Sam Ash – $1233.00 – new
Reverb – $1233.00 – new
– $499.00 – $750.00 – used
eBay – $350.00 – $650.00 – used

 

Student model trombone repairs vary in price from $60.00 to $200.00 or more. It’s not the same as with woodwind instruments like clarinets, flutes and saxes. I sell Student model trombones from $250.00 to around $450.00. Noticably less expensive than buying a new horn.

Yamaha YSL-354 Trombone

Musician’s Friend – $1,233.00 – $1,461.00 – new
Music & Arts – $1,233.00 – $1,538.00 – new
Woodwind & Brasswind – $1233.00 – new
Sam Ash – $699.99 to $859.99 – new & used I assume.
Reverb – $1197.00 – new
eBay – $199.00 – $380.00 – used

 

Student model alto saxophone complete repad is $550.00. The horn is disassembled, washed, all pads and corks are replaced, the sax is adjusted and regulated. It should play as good as when it was new. If there are other problems like dents in the body, the neck is bent, the body is bent or posts are knocked off and need resoldering, etc., etc, then there would be additional charges. I normally sell alto saxes that I have overhaulled for $650.00 to $900.00. Quite a difference than the prices listed below. Feel free to Google your heart away and verify these prices.

Yamaha YAS-26 Alto Sax
Musician’s Friend – $2124.00 – new
Music & Arts – $2,080.00 – $2,256.00 – new
Woodwind Brasswind – $2124.00 – new
Amazon – $1788.00 – new
– $1610.00 – used
Reverb – $885.00 – used
eBay – $700.00 – $1400.00 – used

 

Student model tenor saxophone complete repad is $650.00. The horn is disassembled, washed, all pads and corks are replaced, the sax is adjusted and regulated. It should play as good as when it was new. If there are other problems like dents in the body, the neck is bent, the body is bent or posts are knocked off and need resoldering, etc., etc, then there would be additional charges. I normally sell alto saxes that I have overhaulled for $1475.00 to $1800.00. Quite a difference than the prices listed below. Feel free to Google your heart away and verify these prices.

Yamaha YTS-26 Tenor Sax

Musician’s Friend – $2680.00 – new
Music & Arts – $2,630.00 – $2,886.00 – new
Sam Ash – $2680.00 – new
Woodwind Brasswind – $2,680.00 – $2,886.00 – new
Reverb – $1795.00 + $60.00 shipping – new
eBay – $1100.00 – $1300.00 – used
Amazon – $2499.00 – new
– $2200.00 – used
eBay – $1100.00 – $1300.00 – used

I’m sure that I haven’t covered every possible scenario of acquiring new and used instruments for your child. Plus, I’ve only mentioned clarinets, flutes, trumpets, trombones, alto and tenor saxes. There are certainly other instruments in a beginning band program so the details and cost can vary depending on the instrument. Again, call me if you have questions, 434-973-4299, and I do mean call me. Trying to answer these type of questions via email is way too cumbersome and time consuming.

 

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