from Mike's Desk

Whether you are having repair on your tuba, baritone, euphonium, trombone, trumpet, cornet, french horn, saxophone, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, flute or even your boy scout bugle, this information will serve you greatly.


Parents !! - If you are currently renting an instrument, for more than one year, you are losing money. We have used instruments in great shape, in most cases, for the same price you are paying for one years’ rental. These instruments are in great shape and are great brands so they will last a long time.


We now offer a vastly different rental program that offers you the opportunity to purchase the instrument, after your first payment, for half the remaining balance.

IF you cannot afford to buy one, we understand. We also offer a lay away program to help you. 25% down and four months to pay off the other 75%. When you rent, ONLY the rental portion of the payment goes towards the RETAIL price of the instrument. They are not ripping you off, they are doing business and have to make money to keep the doors open. However, you can save a bundle by buying used or new today.


Ok, so you need your instrument fixed. You don’t know what it is worth, what it needs to make it play or even if it is worth repairing. The following questions should help you decide whether or not the shop will even be able to answer you in an honest fashion without trying to rip you off or sell you something different.

1) Who is the Tech that will be working on my horn and how long have they been repairing? Probably don’t need to explain this one. If they have repaired less than 3 years, who will be checking and verifying their work. If they have repaired less than 5 years and are in a shop alone,. run away as fast as you can.

2) Is the Tech or are you a NAPBIRT member? If they are not NAPBIRT members, do they attend ANY continuation classes of any sort? If a Tech has 20 years of experience, but does not further their education, they do not know any better tools, techniques or anything of value more than they learned in school. In short, they do not have 20 years of experience, they have 1 year of experience 20 times.

3) What is the value of the used instrument in its current shape and what will its value be when you are done? How much is a new one? This is important as you decide what to spend. MORE important is to shop around, as there are local shops that will charge you clearly more than the instrument is worth to repair it, and do so all the time.

One last piece of advice. Call around to Band Directors or others who are in the know for who does good work and who is fair with their prices and honest with their customers.


I get many calls each week for repairs, and many times it involves overhauling a student level instrument. After weighing options, the conversation wanders towards renting versus overhauling versus buying. For the sake of this conversation, we will use a Bundy student clarinet as the instrument in question. Mom played it and it needs new pads and corks. An overhaul runs between $250-$300 on average. The instrument is worth $25 in its current condition, and will be worth $275-$300 when finished. It is worth overhauling, compared to the price of a new one, as new ones retail over $500. So if you can afford the money OR if it has family value (Grandpa played it) you should always overhaul it.

IF you cannot afford it, then renting would be a great option. Renting in the Valley comes in many forms and tons of options.

The +PLUS+ side:
  • If the player changes their mind, you take the old horn back and walk out with a different one.
  • If it gets damaged, you take it back to get repaired. This is anywhere from free to $30, depending on who it is rented from.
  • You can use a portion of the rental for some portion of the RETAIL price of a new horn. This varies per store.
  • Some stores have a rent to own THAT instrument. This is much like making payments to buy the instrument, and is usually towards the retail price of a horn.
The -MINUS- side:
  • With careful shopping you can save up to 35% off the retail price so if you can afford it, and you know the child is committed, it is time to buy. I ALWAYS recommend you give your local store an opportunity to serve your needs and find a new instrument.
  • Depending on the store, the instruments can be quite old and a bit challenging to play.
  • Taxes, insurance and other charges are money out the door, if the child sticks to it.

Bottom line for me is, once you know the child is committed to playing that horn, either trade up then, or just buy a new one then. One way is to save up those zero interest credit offers and use of those to buy an instrument. Be sure to pay it off before the term of the contract expires.


Student - versus - Semi Pro - versus - Pro instruments

Ok, so your child is now been playing for 2 years, their teacher says they are the most awesome thing since Gore created the internet and the band director says it’s time for a better horn. What to do?

A student instrument usually has less keywork, is built to be mostly in tune and be easy to play. A step up horn will have some more keywork and sometimes be built heavier. A Pro level horn is usually built the best, with the best quality of build and parts, as well as offer the player the most flexibility of tone.

Think of it this way. A super player will reach a point where the student level instrument holds them back. I would seriously bypass a mid-level horn as it’s a waste of time and money, unless you cannot afford a Pro line horn. I am the type that wants to spend money only once.

Once that player is an amazing adult player, then it won’t matter what you put in their hands, they will sound amazing on it.

We can help you pick out the appropriate instrument for you, your child AND your budget.