Build yourself a sun-powered musical instrument

It's a competition: "Each entrant must design, build, and demonstrate a system that performs music using solar thermal energy." The competition page has loads of interesting information about singing tubes and the Statue of Memnon, and links to a site where you can buy an acoustic laser for $12.

The Basics of Purchasing an Instrument
Ok, I know that I’m usually dealing with musicians here, so here are a few tips on how you can buy an instrument with out spending a ton of dough. Also, if you do not purchase instruments regularly, here are a couple tips to help you out with the process.

Buying a Musical Instrument as a Gift.
First of all, do not buy a person a musical instrument for a birthday or holiday without finding out from them personally what they want. Musicians are usually very touchy about what type of instrument they use. I personally prefer to play on a professional level trombone, usually a Bach Stradavarious 42 series professional instrument. I also like to use a 6 1/2 AL mouthpiece. The point of all of this is that without having specific information you should never purchase a instrument for someone else.

Having said that, there are of course other gifts that you could easily purchase for musicians though, such as the music apparel at our Web site. (

New or Used ?

Before you do anything, sit down and think about who you are buying for. If you are buying a musical instrument for a person who has been playing for awhile, you can then consider buying a more professional model. As I stated before, you may need to sit down and discuss with the person you are buying for what type of model and make they would like to have.

Of course, if you're buying for yourself you already know this information. The question then becomes, should I buy a new instrument or a used instrument? Even if you have been playing for awhile and would like a decent instrument, you should consider buying a used one.

I have a personal story about how I was thumbing through the newspaper and came upon a brand-new Bach trombone. Now, I don't know why I drug my feet on contacting the people that were selling the instrument, but I did not pursue the instrument for couple days. When I called the lady to selling the trombone, I found out that the floor was brand-new. And to make matters even worse, she had just sold the before I called her. When I asked her how much she let the instrument go for, she replied $600! I was absolutely stunned and upset that I did not call her sooner. When I went on eBay later on that day, I saw the same model trombone being sold for $1800! Oh, how I wanted to kick myself!

So you can find good instruments that are in excellent shape, for very reasonable prices. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the advent of eBay has changed everything. You can now go on eBay and look at all kinds of different musical instruments being sold for very reasonable prices.

Here's a technique I use for purchasing things on eBay that help me get great bargains. Whenever I am looking for an item on eBay, the first place I check of the newly listed instruments. Many times on auction sites people who do not understand what they are doing, list items at a very cheap price. Sometimes they put them at BUY IT NOW prices, which are prices that you can purchase immediately the item you want without waiting for the auction to end. These BUY IT NOW items that are sold by people who really don't know what they are doing yet, are where you will find your bargains.

I have bought cell phones this way as well as many other things and dirt cheap prices. So by watching the BUY IT NOW prices, you can many times find a good sale.

If you really want to find bargain music instruments, go to a lot of yard sales and even off-line regular auctions. Many times businesses will go bankrupt go to sleep and had and they will auction off their wares and this is a great place to find good musical instruments which are high-quality at unusually low prices

How Much do You Want to Spend?

Here is the Ellis method for spending money on musical instruments. First of all, if I am buying for a young person who is just learning, I will try to purchase a used instrument. The reason for doing this is because you do not know if a beginner is going to continue on with music or not. Kids have a very romantic idea of what it takes to be a musician. They see the instrument, whether it is a shiny new trumpet or a neat looking Drum set and their eyes get extremely wide and their pulse starts to race. But, once they set their tailfeathers into a chair and begin to practice and do the work that is required, the honeymoon is over, so to speak. Kids get very discouraged, and for whatever reason fall of love with the instrument. If you have purchased a brand-new instrument now your task is to sell that instrument again as much money back as you can. However, I have bought clarinets that are good-quality for beginners off of eBay or out of the newspaper at a fraction of the cost of a new instrument. Later, when the student does not want the instrument anymore, I can sell it and get most of my money back.

If you're looking for a musical instrument for yourself as a professional model, depending on what instrument you are performing on, things can get very expensive very quickly. As I said before there are different channels for finding instruments. But, be that as it may, if you're purchasing an instrument for serious musician or yourself you can expect to pay anywhere from $2000-$5000 for breast instrument (unless it's a large instrument like a tuba ). If you're playing a bassoon you can actually get into the $20-$30000 range very quickly.

Manufacturer & Model
Since musical instruments are significant purchases that can last a lifetime, researching the quality of the manufacturer and model is imperative. Asking experienced musicians in person and in online music communities are the best means of gathering information. The reviews available from retailers are also useful, although they sometimes downplay negative features.
Where To Buy
There are three primary sources of musical equipment: retailers, auctions, and one-on-one sales like newspaper classifieds. If you're willing to spend some time sifting through auction or personal listings for a diamond in the rough, you are likely to find a good deal. If you need the gear now and want to go retail, a price-comparison service like MySimon is invaluable.
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