The value of a musical instrument

Photo, Fabrice ROSE

My instruments are valuable. Here’s why:

  1. Most of them cost a lot of money. Replacing any of them would be expensive, possibly even prohibitively so. (If you haven’t already, get a good insurance policy from a company that specializes in musical instruments!)
  2. I worked hard at choosing them. When I bought my oboe, I went to the IDRS conference and tried over 50, maybe 100 of them. Finding a replacement oboe that I’m really happy with could mean trying another 50 or 100. Even if you’ve got the time, opportunities to do something like that are rare.
  3. I have invested a lot of time developing personal relationships with my instruments—getting to know their intonation and response tendencies, getting comfortable with the feel of the keywork, finding out how to coax “my” sound from them. Even replacing one with another of the same make and model means starting fresh with a stranger.

2 thoughts on “The value of a musical instrument”

  1. Yup. A pro horn is an investment. A lifetime investment. So, take your time and try a bunch out. And don’t be swayed by “brand names”. If you are looking for an Oboe, don’t assume you are going to get a Loree, try ALL them out.

  2. Value is highly subjective. Here is an example: I learned saxophone on a 2933 Selmer Super Saxophone tenor, which I bought from the original owner in 1958. In about 1994, I had a chance to buy a Mid 1960’s Selmer Mark VI alto, to replace a 1920 “stencil” Martin I had bought in a pawn shop. I paid $4000.00 for the Mark Vi, and it was a great instrument. BUT, in five years of playing on it, I never did get used to the left hand pinky finger plateau system. Whenever I went for any note requiring the left hand pinky, I was never sure what key I was going to press. In 2005, I had a chance to trade it to someone for a 1932 Selmer “cigar cutter” alto. Normally, that instrument would only be considered to be worth about $1500.00, because it has been relacquered. But to me, because I can play on it, it is worth more than the Mark VI.


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