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Blog: Pam's Pennypinching With STYLE

Tales of My Instruments

Friday, August 10, 2012

I am somewhat of a musician - and the story goes that musicians spend more on their instruments than their cars - because they have to have good ones to play with!

I get around that by sharp shopping for good used instruments. Just acquired the best lap harp I have ever had and am playing harp again.  We found it in a shop that deals mostly in guitars and drums, altho I have gotten two weird autoharp-like instruments there that are collectables.

Last visit a few months ago, I came across a BEAUTIFUL Dusty Strings lap harp, in almost new condition, with a nice padded carrying case and strings for $350.  Now, that sound like a lot of money, but I have seen similar lap harps new for nearly $700, so I knew it was a great deal.  We put money down on it, and only now have we had the money to pay it off and pick it up. I immediately went home and checked the new list price on the internet and sure enough, it was about $700 - so I got it for half the price! What a lovely instrument and just the right size to pick up and play.

I also am back playing clarinet, which I had played in high school.  I had been pretty good then, and still have my classic clarinet from then - that's worth a bit of money nowadays, I could never afford it! today I also was given a RED band instrument, and found a nice wooden clarinet, old & probably French, at a thrift shop for $80.

Now clarinets are high-tech 19th Century instruments, with lots of springs and so on - and the red clarinet, despite being done over, blew a spring & I can't play the upper part - but I WAS able to put the UPPER part of the red one with the LOWER part of the old French one (which needs overhauling & that costs $) - Together it has made a playable instrument for now, as I practice daily to get my "lip" back. !5 minutes is about as much as I can do! Oh, and I practice from my 1891 Langey clarinet tutor, which I found in a secondhand book store for $12 (less than the new edition - it's still in print!)

So, you see my musical frugality! That and buying Celtic music from McCabe's music store from the bargain section (I also bought a new harp book.)

Is that too obscure for you?  Just remember that there are often great deals in used instruments, some of which are better than new ones of today. I bought some recorders on eBay at one point, and got some from a noted but obscure maker.

Do your research! I bought the French clarinet impulsively and then while researching it, found all about the history of small French clarinet shops which made "label" clarinets (Mine has the label of a very old L.A. music store)  - they were made just before the war and into the 50's - I have to get the money together & shop around for a deal to get its 19th C. mechanism overhauled! I also am going to get the broke part of the red clarinet fixed. Perhaps a place that does a lot of band instruments can help me.

So, once again, knowledge is power!  It's just like recognizing good labels on clothes at the thrift shops (all my designer clothes are thrift shop purchases)....So keep your eyes peeled!

P.S. a friend of mine found an almost new spinet piano in a thrift shop and alerted a friend who was looking for one and that was a super deal, too

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