Searching for the perfect instrument and/or bow can be a daunting and stressful task for families and musicians. At Sam's Strings, however, we find it an exciting opportunity to pair a functional work of art with the performer, regardless of their level.
This article is meant to detail how we can help you with your search!
Step 1 - Investigation - What do we mean by this? This is a multi-tiered process...
1a. Budget - Of course, a person must consider their budget, but even that is not always a solid variable, as one considers the wide implications of purchasing. Within a certain price range, instruments are essentially beautiful tools for making music, but as the prices increase, they begin to add a new property, investment/resell. Also, parents often have to consider what the long term commitment of their young musician is going to be, and what kind of tool they will need to be successful and/or competitive if that is in their sights. Depending on price points, affordable financing becomes a factor to consider as well. Because our staff is comprised of professional musicians (who have been in your shoes before) and makers, we are in a unique position to provide guidance and suggestions regarding the most effective use of your budget, regardless of whether it is a modest or a large one.
1b Tone Quality. What kind of voice are you looking for? Perhaps one of the best lessons I learned from one of my conservatory professors, was that the key to finding your sound, was to begin looking for it! We know that everyone has a different idea of what their ideal sound should be, therefore we do our best to provide access to as many instruments as possible, with a wide tonal spectrum. Sometimes, we, as consumers, gravitate towards things we are used to, rather than those that we need. Once again, this is an area, where we can help create an objective dialogue, translating what you need into clear terms that can help identify the perfect instrument or bow for you!
1c Physical Aspects/Setup - Not all instruments and bows physically feel the same. When searching for your next instrument, it is a great opportunity to reassess if the size/shape/weight of your current instrument is the same you wish for your next one! Feeling comfortable with your instrument goes a long way towards helping you produce the best sound. In addition to carrying instruments of varying patterns and sizes, we have the ability to tweak and modify many aspects of instruments, customizing them to your specific needs and desires.
Step 2 - In-home trial
In our shop, we have various rooms, including a large recital room, which helps to provide our customers with different tonal environments to hear instruments. However, it is very valuable to have the opportunity to play your future instrument on your own home turf. Also, having an opportunity to play an instrument for a week, also takes away the pressure of making a big decision quickly. Finally, we encourage customers to play instruments for their colleagues, teachers, and other individuals who do not have a financial stake in the purchase. We run a very straight and honest operation at Sam's Strings, and truly try our best to provide customers with the most sincere advice. However, we acknowledge that we are not the only people with experience and opinions, and having people you trust provide input is valuable. One bit of advice, which I think sometimes gets forgotten, especially when getting multiple viewpoints - is that this is your investigation, your search for your musical voice or tool. So, in the end, trust your research and your instinct, as ultimately, it will be your instrument.
Step 3 - Time to Purchase
How to pay for the new found musical instrument? Some families may find it acceptable to write a check or use their credit card to purchase their new instrument or bow. However, that is not always the case, and sometimes obtaining financing is needed to get the instrument into the hands of the user. While we are not a financial lending institution, we do try to work with our customers, and are usually able to offer a short term payment plan, at no cost to the buyer. Outside of that, we usually recommend customers speak to their personal bankers, as there may be personal lines of credit and/or other options they can utilize to reach a monthly payment which makes sense to them.
Step 4 - After Purchase Relationship
Almost as important as picking the right instrument, is picking the right shop to provide years of support and service for your new tool. Instruments are made from natural products, expanding/contracting and changing over time. They require care and maintenance to play at their optimal state, and knowing that you have a life-long partner in your musical journey is extremely valuable. At Sam's Strings, we warranty manufacturer construction issues on all new instruments we sell, for as long as you own your instrument. In addition, we provide free adjustments for as long as you own your instrument. You become part of our Sam's Strings family!
Another thing to consider is what kinds of upgrade options you may have in the future. If you are purchasing a beginning or intermediate level instrument, there is a strong likelihood that if you continue and advance in your musical studies you will need to upgrade to a finer instrument. Sam's Strings carries a very wide range of instruments and bows, and welcome customer trade-ins of their previous instrument purchased from us for 100% of the price paid (assuming it is in good condition and minus a small reconditioning fee)*, as they move up to a more advanced instrument. In addition, we have a substantial network of professional connections across the USA and abroad, to help bring in rare instruments for your approval, should you be looking for something very unique and special.
Have more questions? Want to begin a conversation about finding your next instrument or bow? Give us a call or send us an e-mail - we can't wait to help you find your perfect musical partner.
-Sam Matthews, Sam's Strings Violin Shop
*We are not able to offer trade-in for consignment instruments