Instrument Maintenance

When you’re buying an instrument, you need to ensure that instructions on how to maintain it are included in any paperwork you receive.
If you are buying second-hand, it’s just as important to ask for instructions on how to maintain your instrument.
At Skwiix, we strongly recommend that you use a qualified repairer to maintain your instrument.
An unqualified/inexperienced repairer can cause your instrument considerable damage.

The proposed options to consider when looking to maintain your musical instrument are:

  • Follow the instructions that come with your instrument
  • Ask your music teacher to recommend a reputable repairer
  • Speak to friends who play similar instruments, as they may know a repairer or have had their instrument repaired or serviced by someone they can recommend
  • Visit a music shop and ask for or check the advertisement boards for details of a reputable repairer. Some music shops have resident repairers
  • Browse the Skwiix Notice Board for advertisements by repairers who can help with your instrument’s maintenance
  • Visit the Skwiix Forum and post a request for guidance or information on finding a repairer to maintain your instrument
  • Visit the Shop for the Teach Yourself Repair and Maintenance books that help you maintain your instrument - Skwiix strongly recommends that you use a qualified repairer at all times to maintain your instrument


Buying Guide

The Cost of Learning to Play an Instrument
Learning to play an instrument can be viewed as a sound investment. However, there are always additional costs to this that you should be aware of.

These will include:

- Instrument and Accessories
- Music Tuition
- Maintenance
- Insurance

Your Instrument and other Equipment
Your instrument is likely to be an expensive investment so it’s critical that you choose the right instrument with the right quality for you. You also need to consider the ongoing costs of replacing strings, reeds, drum sticks and the like - they may not necessarily be expensive in the short term but could incur long term costs. Extra one-off costs range from music stands and metronomes to musical books or guides.

It’s always wise to seek advice and guidance that matches your specific needs and budget. Visit the Skwiix Forum for opinion and guidance on what to get and the Shop to view instruments, equipment and other accessories.

New or Second Hand Instruments
First choice for most people wanting to buy an instrument is to buy something new. A great alternative option is to ask music stores if they have an instrument rental programme. Buying a second hand musical instrument is another option for people on a tight budget. Car boot sales, auctions, home clearances and markets are other ways to find yourself a reasonably priced first instrument. You can come across good quality instruments at reasonably low prices at pretty much any of these locations. Buying a good quality second hand instrument is better than buying a poor quality new instrument.

There are some great advantages to buying a used musical instrument. However, some risks are involved. One downside is that you will not receive any warranties, unless the used instrument is from a reputable dealer. Visit the Skwiix Notice Board to browse our selection of second hand musical instruments, explore the Shop for our selection of new instruments or search.

The cost of tuition varies, depending on whether you learn one-to-one or in a group. Private tuition is more expensive, but offers focused attention and one-on-one instruction. Group tuition is less expensive. It can be great fun to learn with other people of a similar standard in a collective musical environment – and it can speed up the learning process. Visit Learning to Play for information on music tuition

Instrument Maintenance
Ensuring your instrument is always in good playing condition is important to compliment your learning process. Visit the Instrument Maintenance page to view Skwiix recommendations on maintaining your instrument.

It’s always prudent to take out insurance cover for your instrument in the event of an accident, damage or theft. Your normal home contents insurance may cover any such occurrence, but please do check this.

It’s also important to insure your instrument, as it is an expensive piece of equipment and may be tricky to replace. Access the Insurance tool to compare and buy insurance that covers your instrument.

General Guidelines

  • Make yourself familiar with the instructions that come with your instrument, so that you are comfortable with its handling and storage environment. Maintenance
  • Always refer to an expert technician for repairs, unless you are very sure of what to do. 
    Skwiix strongly recommends that you use a qualified repairer at all times to maintain your instrument
  • For DIY repairs,, visit the Shop for Teach Yourself Repair and Maintenance books
    Skwiix strongly recommends that you use a qualified repairer at all times to maintain your instrument
  • Always ensure you have Insurance cover for your instrument in the event of accident, damage or theft


Tips - Buying Guide

Tips on buying a used instrument
  • You can buy second hand instruments from many music instrument shops, via the small ads in your local newspapers or by browsing the Skwiix Notice Board
  • Look at specialist magazines and websites to get an idea of prices
  • If you have a friend who knows about instruments, ask their advice, or ask a teacher
  • You can browse the Shop to review the instruments and their prices
  • Ensure the seller gives you all the relevant paperwork for the instrument
  • Have costly instruments checked by a specialist first
  • Ask about the maintenance history of the instrument. For a larger instrument, such as a piano, check if it has been serviced or repaired in the past ten years
  • Check for damage - knocks or dents can affect the resale value
  • Try your local instrument shop - your child’s teacher should be able to recommend some good places to start
  • Musical instruments may sometimes be bought through school music services at very reasonable prices
  • You may be able to rent an instrument through a shop, sometimes referred to as “hire and try” - often with the option of buying
  • Buying your child a beginner’s instrument can be a good option. The sound quality might not match that of professional models, but is good enough for a child to get the basics. Beware however of cheap instruments which are “unplayable”
  • With string instruments, your child can start off renting a quarter or half size model until they are old enough to play a full sized instrument. Go for the very best you can afford - if you’re aiming to interest your child in the sound of the instrument, then it must be a good sound!
  • Buying a second hand brass or woodwind instrument can be tricky. They may need repairs that even an expert may not notice. Again, consider a reliable beginner model
  • Second hand electric guitars can be a good option to start with. Beginner models can be good value too. Remember that you will need a suitable practice amplifier
  • Pianos can be expensive to buy new. A decent second hand piano usually costs far less, but seek specialist advice before you buy. Most piano tuners will agree to look at a piano and give you an opinion. A digital piano is a good alternative, as it is much cheaper and smaller and does not need to be tuned


Learning to Play

To get a sound grounding in basic music skills and to develop good musicianship and knowledge of music, you need to learn the fundamental techniques for your instrument.

Mastering these techniques is key to playing the instrument well. It’s therefore important that every aspiring musician learns to tackle the fundamental techniques from the beginning of their music-learning journey. Otherwise, they risk acquiring bad habits which will become more difficult to rectify later on.

» Read more: Learning to Play

Learning to Play

Tips to Master your music Instrument

  • Observe proper posture - ensure you are seated, standing or positioned correctly in relation to your musical instrument. Good posture not only prevents back and neck pains, but will also help you play your instrument more efficiently, with less strain
  • Handle your instrument properly - each musical instrument is handled differently. The techniques involved in holding a violin differ from those for a trumpet. Learning the correct playing position early on is vital, so that you can play your instrument properly and, most importantly, avoid injuries
  • Add-ons and accessories are acceptable - most of the time an instrument needs a specific accessory or add-on in order for it to be played and handled more easily. Determine if the size, weight or shape of the instrument is right for you. Decide whether you need an accessory to make playing your instrument more comfortable, such as a strap, cushioned stool or lighter strings, etc.
  • Know your instrument - before you start learning how to play an instrument, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different parts of the instrument and their names and particular functions
  • Learn proper fingering - music teachers often stress that the best way to stop bad playing habits is to not start having them. You must learn and be aware of correct positioning and playing techniques before playing your musical instrument. Ask your teacher, read books, research and familiarize yourself with these and practice them from the start to avoid developing bad playing techniques
  • Study your music piece - when learning a new music piece, study it closely before you begin to play it. See if there are certain notes that you are unsure of playing or symbols you are unfamiliar with. As you slowly begin to play the piece, determine and adjust certain finger positions as this will help you play the piece more comfortably and effectively
  • Develop sight-reading and tactile-playing skills - sight-reading is the ability to read a music piece without difficulty. It’s much like opening a book and reading it; the act is effortless and comes naturally. Tactile playing is the ability to play an instrument without looking at your hands. This means you have mastered your instrument so much so that you can play it even with your eyes closed
  • Keep on practicing - The bottom line is that, if you want to master your chosen instrument and become a good player, you should aim to practice it regularly. Nowadays, music teachers use new teaching techniques, in a way that is more motivating and enjoyable. There are also lots of good method books and practice books on the market to make a choice from.

Instrument Pages

Selecting your preferred instrument is a vital first step and one that must be taken with great care

In General

  • Research the instrument (Browse the Instrument pages)
  • If your questions are not answered through your research, Visit the Forum and post your questions there and you can get the knowledgeable response you need.
  • Visit a shop to view and sample some instruments. The shop attendant or sales person should also be able to offer advice on instruments
  • Consider how much you can afford to spend on the instrument
  • Consider buying new or second hand or maybe renting the instrument is a better option

Young Learners
  • Work together with your child to identify their best choice of instrument
  • Consider their level of enthusiasm. Some instruments require a greater level of dedication than others
  • Always keep in mind the weight and size of the instrument. Children have shorter arms and fingers and may not be able to lift a lot of weight – especially if they have to carry their instrument to lessons or practice sessions. Many instruments have been adapted for the smaller frame
  • Having decided on the instrument, you will be faced with a choice of makes and models in the range for a beginner. It is best to go for a mainstream make and a beginner’s model. If your child is a quick learner, very good with music or in their teens, you could go for the intermediary model

Adult Beginner
Adult beginners might want to start on an intermediary model in the instrument range. Adults are often more careful when learning to handle instruments and will appreciate the benefits of a well crafted instrument.

Returning Player
Returning Players have, after a long lay off period, decided to return to playing a musical instrument they played at some point in their past.
Returning players may have an inkling of what they want. There may, however, have been modifications to the instrument type which they will need to familiarise themselves with.

Tips for making the decision to learning an instrument

Tips for Choosing a Musical Instrument
  • Get yourself or your child familiar with the different instruments in the families of strings, woodwind, brass and percussion
  • Attend local band or orchestral concerts with your child. Discuss what they saw and heard
  • Listen to the timbres of different musical instruments and the different pieces and styles in which they are featured
  • Consider your physical restrictions when choosing an instrument. Some instruments may be too heavy or too large for a petite person, while others may require longer fingers or a certain level of facial dexterity
  • Ask a professional music instructor to help you analyze your potential. Professionals can assess facial, physical and even personal characteristics that affect people’s choice of instrument
  • Set a budget for your musical instrument. Some instruments may be a bit expensive, but school instrumental music departments usually have a small number of these instruments in their inventories
  • Try playing a few instruments by borrowing one from a friend, relative or acquaintance. You might find you have an aptitude for something unexpected
  • Think about your lifestyle. If you intend to move around quite a bit or have very little space in your apartment, a grand piano or harp is not the best choice - whereas a guitar, clarinet or trombone is portable
  • Consider the social aspect. Band and orchestral instruments allow people to join small or large performing groups. A piano can be rather isolating. Make a choice that gives you pleasure!