Everything You Need to Know About Pricing Your Musical Instrument

Saying goodbye to a well-loved musical instrument can be hard but it can also give you an influx of cash to buy a new instrument, pay your bills or build up your emergency savings. However, pricing musical instruments can be a bit complicated. You’ll need to consider a variety of factors to set a suitable price for your instrument. Here’s how to go about it.

musical instrument pricing

Let Go of Sentimentality

Over the years, you’ve likely built up a sentimental attachment to your instrument, and that is perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, your love for your instrument can cloud your judgment when it comes to setting an appropriate price at which to sell it.

Of course, you believe that your prized instrument is worth a fortune because it means so much to you. However, prospective buyers won’t have that same sentimental attachment. They’ll be looking for an affordable price on a secondhand instrument. If you want your instrument to sell, you need to take your emotions out of the equation so you can take an objective approach when pricing your musical instrument.

Set Realistic Expectations

You’ve likely heard stories of old violins and classic guitars selling for millions of dollars. It’s easy to get your hopes up and think yours might bring in an attractive amount. The truth of the matter is, those high-value instruments are few and far between. While your instrument may be similar in style to the million-dollar variety, it is unlikely that venerable greats like Jimi Hendrix or Yo-Yo Ma ever played your particular instrument. That’s often what increases the value of an instrument: its story, including the people who’ve played it, not the manufacturer or style.
Instead of trying to figure out how to sell your instrument for a boatload of cash, be realistic in setting your price. Most musical instruments don’t retain much value over the years as their quality and tone deteriorates. With realistic expectations, you won’t be disappointed when you can’t collect a fortune for your instrument, and you’ll likely be able to sell it faster as well.

Do Plenty of Research

When pricing musical instruments, you can’t just pick a price out of thin air. First, you need to do some research on your particular instrument. The internet can provide a wealth of information about manufacturers and the various models they sell. If you aren’t sure which specific model you have, that is the first thing you’ll need to find out. There’s no sense looking at average prices for instruments that aren’t the same as yours. To get the most accurate values, you need to be specific.

Once you know your specific model, you can begin to dig deeper with your research. Within your model’s listings, look for items that are similar in age and quality to your own instrument. Keep in mind, though, that an instrument’s age doesn’t tell you the whole story. The quality of a 10-year-old instrument that has been played every day will be markedly different from one that you only play a few times a year.

However, the opposite can also be true. An instrument that was played frequently may also have been meticulously cared for by a passionate musician. One that was stored in an attic for years will likely not have received the same care, which could diminish its quality, even though it hasn’t been handled frequently.

Try to look at the big picture of the instrument, weighing its various components to determine the overall quality. While you won’t be able to get a specific price for your instrument by searching online, you will be able to determine a typical range to guide you in pricing your instrument.

instrument pricing

The Type of Instrument Matters

Depending on the type of instrument you are looking to sell, the general pricing structure can range from straightforward to complex. For example, guitars, amps, electric keyboards and drum kits tend to be fairly easy to price. However, brass, woodwind and fine stringed instruments can be more complicated. This is because the quality can vary widely within each instrument category.

Orchestral instruments come in three standard tiers: student, intermediate and professional. It isn’t always easy to tell by looking at your instrument which category it belongs to, so if you don’t know, you need to find out. Professional instruments can sell for thousands of dollars, while student varieties may claim less than $100. That is quite a wide range so you can see how important it is to know exactly which type of instrument you have.

Get a Professional Appraisal

A professional appraisal is the most accurate method for pricing musical instruments. You may wish to have your instrument appraised to help you set an appropriate selling price. Make sure that the appraiser you choose specializes in musical instruments to get the most accurate price. A specialized appraiser will be an expert in this niche and can evaluate your instrument on a number of criteria.

It is important to note, though, that professional appraisals don’t come cheap, so be prepared to pay for the service. This is where the research you did will come in handy. You should have a general sense of what your instrument is worth before you visit an appraiser. This way, you’ll know the approximate value of your instrument so you can compare it to the cost of the appraisal. You don’t want to shell out for an appraisal when that service costs more than your instrument is worth.

You should only seek out a professional appraisal if you believe your instrument to be worth a large sum of money. The cost of the appraisal will eat into any profits you might make from selling your instrument so make sure it will be worth it before you have your instrument appraised.

Consider Your Timing

Choosing the right timing for your sale can have a big impact on the price you are able to claim. For example, if in the course of your research, you find that there are hundreds of your particular instrument on the market, you’ll likely need to lower your price to accommodate the high supply. If there are only a handful of your instrument available for sale around the world, you may be able to bump up your price a bit. When supply is low, buyers can often be convinced to pay a higher price for the same item.

You may also wish to wait until the beginning of the school year to sell your musical instrument. When children head back to school in the fall, many of them play in their school’s band or orchestra. However, not all students can afford to buy a brand-new instrument so there will be increased demand for used band and orchestra instruments during this time of the year. Because the demand is high, you may be able to set your price higher.

The same goes for the holiday season. Many children ask for musical instruments as holiday gifts, increasing the demand for these items towards the end of the year. People are also mentally primed to spend money around the holidays. They may not even notice that your price is a bit higher than average for your instrument class.


Choose Where You’ll Sell Your Instrument

Where you choose to sell your instrument will play a big role in your final selling price. Here are a few of the best options you have available to you.


More and more people are turning to the internet to shop, making this a great opportunity for you to sell your musical instrument. However, in order to make the most of this method, you’ll need to put together an attractive product listing for your instrument. This listing should include all relevant information about your instrument, including the brand and model, age, overall quality and other important details.

If your instrument is damaged in any way, even if it is just a minor scratch on the surface, you should note this in your listing as well. The last thing you want is to ship your instrument to a buyer, only to have them return it because the quality wasn’t as described. Take plenty of pictures of your instrument from all angles, making sure to capture any damage or defects in your photos. Of course, you want to show your instrument in the best possible light but you also want to be transparent in the process.

With selling online, you’ll likely have to ship your instrument to the buyer, which can add to your costs and diminish your income. Be sure to pack your instrument carefully. Also, don’t skimp on protective materials. You don’t want it to sustain any damage in transit. It is also a good idea to require a signature upon delivery so that you know your package was delivered successfully to your buyer. Finally, you’ll need to purchase insurance for your package to protect you in the event that the shipping company damages it.

Despite the drawbacks, online selling does have a few key benefits that make it stand out from other methods. For starters, you’ll be able to set your own price and keep all of the money for yourself. You’ll also get your instrument in front of the widest audience, making it easier to sell quickly.

Local Music Stores and Instrument Repair Shops

If you have any brick-and-mortar music shops in your area, it is a pretty safe bet that they are honest and reputable. With the rise of online shopping, many smaller retailers like music shops were forced to shut down. The fact that yours is still standing means they likely provide high-quality products and services.

Keep in mind, though, that the store will have to resell your instrument. They’ll lower the price they will pay you to ensure they’ll be able to make a profit from it later on. This means that you won’t be able to collect nearly as much money for your instrument as you would if you sold it privately. However, you won’t have to deal with advertising or shipping your instrument as the store will handle this for you. You’ll also be able to get paid for your instrument right away.

Pawn Shops

If you don’t have a dedicated music shop in your area, pawn shops are another great option for selling your musical instrument. As with the music stores, the price will be lower as the pawn shop still needs to make a profit when they sell the instrument to someone else.
Take care to evaluate the items that the pawn shop currently has in stock. If it already has five guitars, it is unlikely that the shop owner will want to purchase another one, unless it is truly unique and special. On the other hand, if there are no guitars in the shop but the store does buy and sell them, you’ll likely be able to collect a higher price to meet the demand.

Another benefit of unloading your old musical instrument at a pawn shop is that you also have the option to pawn it rather than sell it. This way, you can buy it back at a later date if you have second thoughts about saying goodbye to your instrument. You won’t collect as much money this way, but you’ll have greater flexibility should you change your mind.

Sell Your Musical Instrument at Monte de Piedad Today

Here at Monte de Piedad, we buy and pawn all kinds of musical instruments. Our associates will work closely with you to determine a price for your instrument that is beneficial for you and our shop. We have several locations throughout San Diego to serve you, and we welcome you to bring your instrument to us today to get a free price quote.

We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about how pawn shops work and whether selling or pawning makes the most sense for you. We do everything we can to make the process as easy and straightforward for you as possible. Stop by and see us today to find out how much money you could get from selling your old musical instrument.