If you have an old musical instrument and are wondering about its value, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Prepare yourself for the very strong possibility that it has little or no monetary value. The vast majority of musical instruments don’t increase in value over time.
- For most instruments there’s not a reliable “blue book” kind of value. The monetary value is what you can get someone to pay for it.
- You can check an auction site like eBay to see what people are paying for instruments like yours. (Search for auction listings that actually sold.)
- Note that sometimes brand and model names get reused over time, and your instrument that has a similar name to an expensive one might not really be the same thing.
- Condition is very, very important. In the extremely rare case that you have a model that has some significant value, that value usually drops a lot if the instrument isn’t in playing condition. High-level players will usually want to try the instrument before buying, and if it’s not playable then they can’t make sure it’s worth the price.
- Note that an instrument’s condition may require more than a visual inspection—just because it’s shiny and not visibly damaged doesn’t mean it’s ready to play.
- Donating an instrument to a school, etc. might be possible if the instrument is of decent quality and in playable condition. If it’s going to require a few hundred dollars’ worth of repair before a student can play it, it may not be worth it to your school’s band program. In other words, if you can’t sell it, it probably doesn’t have value as a donation, either.
An instrument that can’t be sold or donated for playing might be destined for the garbage. (They often can’t be easily recycled.) If you’re determined to find a new life for it, a local theater might want it as a prop, a thrift shop might accept it as a decorative item, or an instrument repair shop might throw it on their scrap pile to scavenge for parts.