Searching for a used trumpet; what to look for

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by akinsgre, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. akinsgre

    akinsgre Pianissimo User

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    Nov 16, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've been keeping an eye on eBay and am curious why trumpets get valued as they do.

    This link Vintage Olds Ambassador Trumpet | eBay is for an Olds Ambassador.

    The Ambassador seems to be in demand. But this horn, which has "good" serial number and appear to be in decent condition didn't get sold (the original listing bid up to $46; this link is a re-list)

    Can some one give me some insight as to what clues to look for when buying a trumpet on eBay? I'd have bid on this one, but minus any information on playability, I was watching for other bids before I made mine.
     
  2. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    It's a great horn even with the dent for the price. You can get the dent taken out by a good tech for $30 leaving you with a $180 investment if you hit the Buy it Now button. OR send it to Tom Green and for 4x the cost of this horn, you can make it look like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

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    I don't know. I was in your boat, and it is frustrating. What bugged me was that so many horns were listed with a "no returns or exchanges" provision. I can understand a "no returns" policy from the seller's point of view, but from mine, it now means no deal.

    I don't care how many photos are provided, if the light isn't up to snuff (or is over snuff) and the horn surface appears shiny or blurred on your monitor, what can you tell? Next to nothing. (and the more the image is blown up, the blurrier many of them get) And what is the seller's description worth? What does "normal wear", "normal scratches", "normal dents from normal use" mean? What does "horn is playable and the valves go up and down with compression" mean? What does, "protected by ebay protection" mean? (it could mean you are in a fight with the seller over what "normal" means and whether the photos revealed or obscured the dents, scratches, and wear and tear.)

    I bought a used flute for my daughter on ebay. The flute was described as barely played, nearly new, and in perfect condition. The photos showed a shiny, pretty flute that looked barely played, nearly new, and in perfect condition. It was listed with a "no returns or exchanges" attachment. So what, I thought as I entered my bid. It is a nearly new, barely played, flute and the photos look wonderful. But, I received a flute that was corroded, had a large dent in the mouthpiece, and had sticky keys with worn padding. It looked like the heavily used, poorly maintained thirty-year-old flute with a large dent in the mouthpiece it was.

    I called my credit card company and initiated a dispute process and I initiated the ebay dispute deal and contacted the seller. The seller claimed not to know about the dent... said they had barely played the flute, themselves, but it had been purchased used... and the seller said they weren't flute experts so they thought the condition was normal. I told the seller I had photographed the flute, shown it to a music store repair shop, initiated a dispute claim with my credit card company (a paypal card) and the flute was now on the way back to them, USPS Confirmed Delivery.

    The seller refunded the purchase. But, I wonder just how much of a hassel it would have been if the seller had been intransigent or if the description hadn't been quite so out of whack with the actual condition.

    A couple days later, I bought another flute on ebay, one described very much the same (barely played, nearly new, student changed her mind and switched to a clarinet, etc, etc.). Photos looked great. But, this one had a 14 day inspection/return policy. (or I wouldn't have bid). The flute arrived and it was just it was described. To me, it looked new, even the case showed no sign of use. Everything worked, and a flute playing friend gave it a thumbs up.

    I don't know what to think about buying horns on ebay. My experience is very limited. This post is just intended to get the ball rolling. But, as far as I am currently concerned, if the horn ad says "no returns accepted", I'm not interested. Descriptions can be imprecise and photos can hide as well as reveal. Put the right light and focus on a horn and it can outshine and obscure any flaws.


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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  4. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

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    I have sold a few dozen trumpets and a few pro saxes on eBay in the past 3 years. I have always had the recommended return policy that eBay suggests ( now it's 14 days ). I don't know why some people stick up for those sellers with a " no return " policy. If ANY item is significantly different than the photo or description, then it should be returned for false advertising......we have to keep those types in check you know.
     
  5. mgcoleman

    mgcoleman Mezzo Forte User

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    Jun 22, 2010
    Iowa
    As for valuation, I don't think it follows anything that is unique to trumpets. Rarity, quality of materials, quality of construction, age, condition, reputation, etc. There are also niche markets based on manufacturer, just like for cars. Some will go great lengths to procure a particular make/model while paying little heed to very similar horns from another manufacturer. It is just people being people.

    Return policies are definitely something to consider. Pictures can help understand the lineage of a horn (good quality pics, closeups, assembled, disassembled, serial numbers, valves, etc.). Lastly, you can always find at least several TM members who have played a particular horn - stick with providing make, model, year, general condition, etc when seeking input and recommendations....if you start posting eBay/Craigslist/Goodwill links, you potentially risk having it sniped out from underneath you by lurkers on this site.
     
  6. akinsgre

    akinsgre Pianissimo User

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    Nov 16, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks.

    If I'm willing to pay for that kind of refurbishing, what things should I look for to rule out the instrument (Maybe making the horn unusable) Bend Valve casings? Previous solder work? Pinholes?
     
  7. akinsgre

    akinsgre Pianissimo User

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    Nov 16, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks.. that scares me. I'd hope a good history of reviews, that I can avoid scumbags that would intentionally mis-represent the product. I'm lucky to have never had a bad experience, but know people who have. Definitely "Buyer beware".
     
  8. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

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    Greenfield WI
    The one major risk I've found in buying horns on ebay are worn out valves. I think I might have gotten exactly one horn with tight valves, and all of the rest had to be rebuilt, say goodbye to $400 off the top.

    Tom
     
  9. paultandberg

    paultandberg New Friend

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    Nov 25, 2006
    Well, the flip side is, if you can get it for $100, and photos and seller ratings look good, there isn't all that much to be scared of. I was just expressing some frustration over all the listings with "no returns accepted" policies. Being nicked for return shipping and the hassel of repacking and mailing should be enough to keep frivolous returns down. The more money I have to come up with for something, the more I appreciate the opportunity for a "hands on" inspection.

    Assuming integrity on the part of the seller, I don't know what determines the value of a used instrument on ebay, other than how many people want to buy it and what they are willing to pay. Value can be capricious. Is a 1962 Barbie Doll in the original box worth $973.42? It is if someone pays that much for it.


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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  10. oldhorncrazy

    oldhorncrazy New Friend

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    I bought at least 4 horns via ebay and I never encountered problems like that. But I generally ask some questions before bidding. One is the valve compression as mentioned by Tom. The other one is red rot which is equally dangerous because it is irreversible and probably hidden beneath a silver surface finish. You only can hand the horn to a craftsman to put a stamp on it. I got a very nice Schuster trumpet here (a real peashooter with a wonderful sound) with a mostly intact silver finish. But under it there is quite a lot red rot so I do not play the trumpet any more.
    Then there are stuck slides, but I did never have any problems with them, got them out by myself. Dings and dents generally can be removed if the horn is not too old. If the brass is very old and worn it may crack while getting the dent out of it. But for most of the horns offered on ebay this will not be the case.
    So trust your eyes while looking at the pictures. A trustworthy seller puts on more than only one picture and offers a detailed description of the horn. Then ask him about red rot, valve compression and stuck slides. And finally: If you only want to pay $50 for a trumpet you will get a $50 quality. If you want a better quality bid more.
     

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