Is It Better To Buy New or Second-Hand?

As a general rule, it is always wise to buy technology new (eg. digital pianos, keyboards, effects pedals), as like computers, they are getting better and cheaper. You generally get a 5 year warranty new, and as new warranties are not transferable, you are exposed to potentially hefty repairs costs when buying second-hand. Morris Brothers is a Brisbane music store that only deals with brands that have proven reliability and easily accessible servicing locally.

Traditional instruments are in many cases worthy of considering second-hand, provided that the instrument was good quality when new, has been well maintained, and can be readily serviced if required.

What is the difference between an ex-rental instrument and a second-hand instrument?

A second-hand instrument from the private market can be many years, or even decades old. Often there is much deterioration, and an expensive repair may be required.

An ex-rental instrument is usually only one or two years old, and in many cases has had little use (“my child never practised”). They are serviced and sterilised, and come with a full 12 month warranty. With roughly 50% discount off normal price, it is a great way to save money, without the risks often associated with second-hand instruments. As the Brisbane music store that specialises in direct rental to students, there is usually a great choice and great value.

What are the main risks when buying second-hand?

As above, it is simply not advisable to buy electronic instruments second-hand. Summary of potential pitfalls of other instruments to watch for:

PIANOS: Many pianos 50+ years old will require expensive restoration, and in many cases, may be untenable or irreparable.  Some pianos have been rendered worthless from the 2011 floods, but the damage may be hard to spot. Look for corroded strings and insect damage. Ultimately, a warranty is your best protection. It is generally better to buy a new digital piano than an old, worn-out acoustic piano if your budget is less than $2,000. A bad piano will only handicap a child’s musical development.

TRUMPETS & TROMBONES: Many are seized up through lack of maintenance, or suffer red-rot (a near terminal metal corrosion that eats through from the inside) caused by lack of internal cleaning.  Watch for bent slides on trombones. As a Brisbane music store with a brass repair workshop and on-site brass technician, we can assist you, and help you avoid costly repairs.

FLUTES, CLARINETS & SAXOPHONES: The main problem is old, worn out pads and corks.  If you need to replace them, it will cost $400-$500; more than many new student instruments cost.

STRINGED INSTRUMENTS: Look for cracks in neck of violins, and broken bows. Look for cracks in the neck (close to body) and fallen sound posts in cellos.

GUITARS: High actions (makes guitar hard to learn on), warped necks, buzzing strings, electrical problems. Ultimately, given the high Australian dollar and ability today to bypass the brand name and buy from the actual maker, it is in many cases actually cheaper to get the same type of instrument new and have warranty protection.

How do you choose the most appropriate instrument to start a student on?

With school band instruments, the important things are:

  • Full working order.
  • Easy to blow.
  • Durability.

Avoid unknown internet brands – no child deserves to be handicapped by a poor quality instrument.

With keyboard instruments, the golden rules are:


  • Recognised brand.
  • Buy new.
  • As close to a piano as possible within your budget.


  • Plan to spend over $2,000.
  • A good used piano will outperform a poor new one.
  • Warranty and service backup.

Why doesn't Morris Brothers have a teaching studio?

Basically, we believe in supporting quality independent music teachers and teaching organisations.  It enables us to look after your and their needs without any conflict of interest, and provide better rental plans, repair facilities and better overall service.  We are a Brisbane music store that still believes in service, and old-fashioned family values.

Why does Morris Brothers school band instrument rental cost so little by comparison with other rental plans?

Put simply, there are no ‘middle men’.  At Morris Brothers, we buy direct and rent direct to you.  Most other rental plans are controlled by interstate organisations, through local commissioned agents.  All the ‘extra hands in the pie’ result in you paying more.  Recently, we had a customer who was paying $59/month for a trumpet.  Now she rents a trumpet, clarinet and a flute from us, and each only cost her $49 per school term!

How can you work out the right Ukulele to choose?

Buying a ukulele from the internet without playing it first is always a dangerous thing to do.  Many ukuleles have fret buzz, poor intonation or poor quality strings that don’t hold tune.  Choosing wisely involves talking with people who play and understand ukulele, hearing and seeing the best choices, and selecting one to suit your budget.  We can explain how wood selection changes the tone, whether soprano, concert, tenor or baritone will suit you better, and link you to clubs and teachers who will help you to get the best out of your new uke! Ukuleles are such a personal instrument: even if you don’t already play, being able to listen to our staff play them allows you to find the one that is just right for you.  It is great to be able to visit a Brisbane music store with the ability to compare, get genuine advice and never pay full price!

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