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Author Topic: Thoughts on current instrument market?  (Read 1867 times)

Offline GrumpyMiddleAgedMan

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Thoughts on current instrument market?
« on: August 23, 2023, 04:10:17 PM »
I have been perusing the used horns available for sale on the various sites.  To me, it seems that the premium on older horns is increasing.  Is this because of people getting back out and about listening to live music and life kind of resuming as it was?  Or is the market drying up from collectors draining the available stock?  Not sure how large the refurbished market is and the volume they are moving. 
I do not think that 'inflation' is as much a factor, maybe with new instruments. 
Is anyone else noticing this or is it just me?
Only happy mistakes here.

Offline philpedler

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2023, 05:02:29 PM »
Hi Grumpy,

I'm 73, so older than you. I'm not grumpy most of the time, but I am grumpy about the instrument market. I have to admit that I am not looking at eBay or Reverb very often.

I find that eBay is a very crazy place for sellers. I think the changes have probably shut out a lot of people who used to buy, fix up, and sell instruments as a hobby. It's not fun nowadays to deal with eBay.

The Chinese instruments have probably continued to improve. They are probably good for beginners, and not so good for intermediate and advanced players. There are few repair places for instruments, but that's no longer a problem. Band parents who buy Chinese instruments can just buy a new one when the old one gets hard to play. I would appreciate more input from others on this!

But this means that the market is harder for those wanting to buy and sell used professional level horns.

Many local music stores have gone out of business, so that leaves the big online dealers. With the local music stores closing, that also means less instrument repair technicians working. Many used instruments, even good ones, will be thrown away. Stores who have repair departments are now only located in big cities in the US. (Someone tell me if I am wrong on this!)

Our culture in the USA has changed. Kids look at screens all day, and they are not interested in learning to play an instrument. Band programs are different than they were when I was a kid. The local program teaches enough for kids to be able to march around the football field tooting on something, but few kids are interested in taking private lessons to get really proficient. I think that even private piano lessons have had a big downturn. I never thought that would happen!

Students in Asian countries are playing circles around USA students these days. And we see many more Asian faces in professional symphonies world-wide these days. Clarinet playing is more popular in European countries than in the USA, I think. They like to play jazz. But who plays jazz in the USA now?

Anyway, those are the trends I see.

Offline el gitano

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2023, 07:51:49 AM »
I am looking  every day in ebay, but my concentration is now more in the saxophones of the XIX century. And you are right, the prices the buyer are paying for these old and nice instruments is much higher then one or two years ago. Sometimes out of reasons.
Claus
« Last Edit: August 24, 2023, 07:54:19 AM by el gitano »

Offline Tarh331_Dad

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2023, 03:42:25 PM »

There's no doubt but that there has been a huge surge in eBay auction "hammer" prices.

It's difficult to discuss these trends without p-o-l-i-t-i-c-s rearing its ugly head, but it's safe to say that the rich haven't been getting any poorer due to the COVID shutdowns.

And the inflation of the currency here in the USA certainly didn't help the poor folk.

As bad as eBay is, Reverb is simply nuts.

There must be some seriously wealthy parents wanting to burn five or ten pounds of Benjamins so that their kids can have the most expensive instrument in the band or the youth orchestra.

I'm also now strongly suspecting that excess Chinese money is being invested in Western "antiques" [such as the vintage clarinets we all so enjoy].

And if my suspicion is correct, then the Chinese could be stockpiling entire warehouses of the stuff.

[The other thing the Chinese can do with vintage instruments is to start counterfeiting all the classic Western musical instrument designs.]



Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2023, 05:36:53 PM »
Oddly enough, in my experience it's always been hard for me to sell instruments at a level that it's worth my time. If I'm spending 10 hours on a restoration and can only sell something for $500, but I bought it for $200, at that point it's not really a money-maker.

That being said, it's probably been about 3 years since I've sold anything, so maybe things have changed.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline Windsong

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2023, 01:06:14 PM »
I have seen a market shift too.  The really exotic pieces are few and far between, post COVID, and expensive, typically.  I suspect that collecting quality antique clarinets will never be a losing proposition, and will always pay dividends, with patience.

Phil--you make a good point that making music and developing musicians in the U.S. is no longer regarded as nearly as important as it once was, and the proliferation of cheap instruments that parents can purchase on a whim and toss once little Johnny or Suzy loses interest is on the rise. I no longer see much innovation in clarinets, nor do I see manufacturers who take the same level of pride in their keywork or finishwork as was once common among the high end firms.

I have failed to impress upon my own kids the importance of developing their musical talent, despite the fact that they possess talent.  They simply lack the interest or desire--but love music;  a real head scratcher.

I suspect like so many things, that interest will ebb and flow, but I dearly hope that the inherant desire for creating music will not diminish to the point where we lose generations of players.

I have seen a huge increase in professional clarinet restoration prices lately.  What once could be sorted for $400.00 and change, pre--COVID, now costs north of $800.00 in my area.  I am glad to see technicians charge what they are worth, finally, but with such steep rapid increases, it drives parents further from wanting anything but a throw-away.  The problem is not primarily an economic one, but more a social one as I see it.  We invest in that which we value, and our value in quality and longevity has changed considerably.
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2023, 01:24:58 PM »
Hey, maybe when I get out of the Navy I can start to charge more than $150 a pop!  ;D
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline Windsong

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2023, 05:42:32 PM »
You absolutely should Dave--especially with your experience.
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Offline kurth83

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2023, 12:24:14 PM »
WRT to developing your kids, I was told when I was young that I "must" play an instrument, and take private lessons.  My only choice was which one.  I chose trumpet cuz my dad played it.

I didn't become voluntarily committed to music until a few years into it when band (and eventually orchestra) became fun.  So personally I am a fan of this draconian method - might not work on all kids though. :-)


Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2023, 11:59:22 AM »
WRT to developing your kids, I was told when I was young that I "must" play an instrument, and take private lessons.  My only choice was which one.  I chose trumpet cuz my dad played it.

I didn't become voluntarily committed to music until a few years into it when band (and eventually orchestra) became fun.  So personally I am a fan of this draconian method - might not work on all kids though. :-)

I got started with soprano clarinet because when I was a kid, my dad pulled out this old metal stick that he said belonged to his grandfather. I wanted it, so he said he'd give it to me if I learned how to play the clarinet. And so, I did.

Funny enough, despite my multiple offers to restore it, he kind of wants to keep it in the old dingy state. I suppose it's kind of nice to keep it as a time-capsule of sorts, perhaps memories fade when things are made new.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline Windsong

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2023, 07:43:26 PM »
I love the history of your segway into playing, Dave.
I got started because I was told that the band in my very small school was lacking a clarinetist, and I was summarily "strongly encouraged" to consider how I might remedy this.  My great-uncle had been a professional bandstand Sax player in the 40s, and encouraged me to take the open slot, that I could work towards sax after I had the basics.
I spent the 5 years I played clarinet despising it, anxious to get to the sax.

The news flash for me was that the clarinet was a more complex instrument, and the only woodwind (to my knowledge) in 12ths, and dare I say more difficult to play than saxophone.  I loved sax, and I still play,  (yet I will never forget my band teacher telling me my "Baker Street" rendition sounded like dying cows), but my one great love in the musical world is the clarinet.

I suppose I'll always be glad for that opening in the 4th grade band.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2023, 07:54:09 PM by Windsong »
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Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2023, 08:54:20 AM »
Thanks for sharing your story! Nothing like "filling in a gap" to turn into a lifelong passion.

In middle school, the band was missing a bass clarinet. It looked big and the music was easier, so I volunteered. Most times you had to rent instruments from the school for like $100/trimester or whatever, but since I was a "needed" instrument, I got it for free. Oddly, this continued all the way to college, when bass was always a "needed" instrument so I always managed to finagle my way into a free bass.

Eventually, I decided that if the college band needed a bass, then they'd REALLY need a contra alto. So, I got myself one of those. This was also how I managed to get my paws on a beautiful Selmer rosewood contra for a few months, for free of course, courtesy of the university. I could have bought a car for the price of that thing.
When I returned it, I had polished the keys, oiled the wood, and gilded the logos, least I could do for such a pretty instrument.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Offline brigaltman

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2023, 08:09:39 PM »
How sad it is that we now live in a disposable, instant satisfaction society. Sixty years ago, I won a scholarship to the Interlochen Music Camp. It was a life changing experience for me. The music club no longer gives scholarships, not because of a lack of money, but there is no interest from the students to audition for a summer music camp. I guess they're too busy learning a 12 minute half time show.
SW Michigan Clarinets

Offline Windsong

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2023, 02:00:30 PM »
True, true words.  Sad, indeed.
How is it that we got so lop-sided here? I wax on about this in another recent post, but I am with you.
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Offline Tarh331_Dad

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Re: Thoughts on current instrument market?
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2024, 11:53:52 AM »
.
It's almost as if there's been a collapse in confidence that we [as a people] still possess the intelligence & the grit & the determination & the stick-to-it-ive-ness necessary to continue to be able to manufacture quality musical instruments.

As though the cavalry isn't going to come riding in to save us from an impending musical instrument Dark Ages, and now it's every man for himself.

Grab your own museum piece while the grabbing's good?

Honestly, it feels kinda scary.

And as rapidly as "A.I." seems to be taking over the visual arts, maybe we in the audio arts should be scared?

.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2024, 12:06:18 PM by Tarh331_Dad »