What to do with old unneeded musical instruments

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Selling used music gear[This article was written by Martin Wells, a musician and writer who covers lifestyle topics including home improvement and life hacks.]

Whether you just bought a new guitar and you’re ready to part with the old one, or you’ve decided it’s time to stop playing the drums, every musician has to unload instruments from time to time. But it’s not always an easy thing to do; your instruments hold value, both physical and sentimental, so it’s important to make the right decision about how (and when) to part ways. Here are six methods for handling unneeded instruments.

1. Sell Them Through Social Media

One of the best ways to dispose of unneeded musical instruments is through your social media channels. If you’re connected with other music professionals, you’re likely to find a knowledgeable buyer with ease.

Post a picture of your instrument with its details and your asking price, and ask your friends to share it around. Even if you don’t have a buyer within your immediate social circles, a friend-of-a-friend might be the perfect buyer.

2. List Them on a Reseller Website

You can also list your musical instrument for sale through a reseller website, such as Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon. When selling through Craigslist, make sure you’re willing to drive to meet the buyer in a public place, and on eBay and Amazon, understand that you might have to list your instrument at the lowest available price to make a sale. This is especially true if you’ve never sold through these outlets before, and don’t have a high feedback rating.

3. Donate for a Tax Deduction

If you donate your musical instruments to an IRS-approved charity, you can qualify for a tax deduction. When making a donation, ask for a receipt and file it with your records. Then value your instrument by checking out IRS Publication 561.

4. Give Them to a Local School or Church

You can also donate your instruments to a local school or church. The donation might not qualify for the tax deduction, but you’ll feel good about helping a child in need. Giving back to students who can’t afford instruments of their own is a great way to encourage future musicians and promote the love of music in your community.

5. Keep Them

If you’re having a hard time giving away an instrument, maybe it’s just not time. You might want to keep an instrument for sentimental reasons, or maybe it would be nice to have a backup when your current model needs a tune up. Either way, think carefully before unloading your unused instruments.

6. Have Them Appraised

Before you sell any of your musical instruments, have them appraised — they might be worth more than you think. To find qualified musical instrument appraisers, check the website Skinner.

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After selling an instrument, think carefully about how to spend the money you make. Instead of purchasing new musical software or an expensive accessory, consider devoting the money to your credit card debts or your kids’ 529 college savings programs. Unless you sold your instrument to free up money for a specific item, it makes sense to put this “found cash” to work for you.

What do you do with old or unused instruments? Let us know in the comments below.

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[Pawn shop photo from Shutterstock.]

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  • Just wait, I always want to replace instruments I sell.

  • This was a great article for me because I am contemplating selling one piece of equipment now but it is very difficult to do because of the sentimental value. I paid over $2,000.00 for this peace of equipment at the time but that was ten years ago. But I cut my first master on it and I am having a hard time letting go.

  • I have the same issue with a giant reel-to-reel recorder that I never use anymore, but it has sentimental value. I guess I should focus on: 1) how much space it takes up without ever getting used, and 2) what I could do with the money from selling it.

    @ChrisRobley

    • I know what your saying but I think ok if I don’t buy another piece of equipment and just blow the money, I’m going to feel bad afterward, I’m still looking at it, it’s over ten years old!!!!