Risk vs. Reward: Buying a Used Edwards

March 24th, 2009 by Christan Griego

The recent banking woes have everyone worried about money (well, some people aren’t, but not many of them play music for a living). Many musicians that were thinking of buying an instrument have either put that thought aside or are considering buying used instead. Doing the latter will definitely save you some money, but be sure you weigh the risk vs. the reward.

We rarely have a day where we don’t hear from someone asking about a used horn they’ve just purchased. Usually, the call goes something like this:

Caller: “I’d like to ask some information about the Edwards I just purchased from Joe Schmoe.”

Christan: “Sure. Please tell me the model, serial number, bell markings, tuning slide color/shape, and slide markings.”

After receiving this information, I’ll be able to tell you quite a bit about the horn. But I probably can’t tell you how it was treated and maintained since it left our shop.

FYI, our serial numbers give you the year and month the valve section was built. For example, a bass valve section I just saw at ETW was 2904003. It was built in 1992 (I know, the year is backwards) on April 3rd.

The Edwards bass I mentioned above had very little lacquer left on it. It was clear that the horn could stand some TLC: valve work (and possible replacement), lacquer stripping, buffing, degreasing and re-lacquering. But the horn was purchased for $2500, so the buyer definitely saved some money.

If someone were to see the above horn and base their opinion of our company solely on it, they might think that Edwards quality is not what it should be. But once a horn is shipped, it is at the mercy of its owner. Many of our customers treat their horns like a member of the family, but we’ve seen more than a few coming back to us in desperate need of attention.

For the sake of argument, let’s say two T350’s were shipped the same day to “Richard” and “Linda”. Both players followed our advice and maintained their instruments properly. However, the two players couldn’t be more different…

“Richard”, a typical high school student, plays his instrument for 45-60 minutes day. We’ll round this to five hours a week. He takes summers and Christmas breaks off, so we’ll say he’s on the horn 37 weeks a year. Five hours a week for 37 weeks means “Richard” uses his horn 185 hours a year.

“Linda”, a professional trombonist, practices/performs on her instrument an average of 5 hours a day, or 30 hours a week (she gets Mondays off). Since “Linda” has to make a living on the horn, she’s off the horn far less than “Richard”, let’s say only four weeks out of the year. Thirty hours a week for 48 weeks a year means “Linda” is on the horn 1,440 hours a year.

“Richard’s” horn is the same age as “Linda’s”, but that doesn’t tell the complete story. It would take 7.8 years of the student’s practice schedule to equal one year of the professional’s. Let’s equate the student’s usage to a typical year driving a car (12,000 miles). By comparison, the professional’s car would have 93,600 miles after the first year.

Makes you wish we installed odometers!

Regardless, if you are purchasing a used Edwards that was made in 1992 — and it is now 2009 — you can be sure that there are a lot of miles on the horn. Some work may be needed to get it back to its original state. Our instruments are made to stand up to professionals, but no instrument will maintain it’s “like new” integrity with the normal usage of a pro. To current Edwards owners, you can offset the wear and tear by adhering to our maintenance schedule. Here are some highlights:

  • Have your hand slide checked and (if needed) straightened once a year. Tubes that aren’t aligned properly are the main source of premature slide wear.
  • Have your valve(s) checked every 4 to 6 years.
  • Keep all your tuning slides lubed and push them in every time you put your instrument in the case.

If you notice something not quite right with your horn, take care of the issue(s) sooner rather than later. Your instrument will work for you much longer than that of someone that neglects to maintain his/her horn. Maintaining your instrument will also maintain its resale value.

Purchasing a used instrument boils down to risk vs. reward. We want you to be happy with your Edwards whether you purchase it from us or from a third party. Just do your research and try to make the best decision. Also, keep in mind that we’re always here to help you make that decision.

3 Responses to “Risk vs. Reward: Buying a Used Edwards”

  1. Jim Bermann Says:

    Risk vs. Reward: Buying a Used Edwards
    Christan and I have discussed this issue in the past and more often than not an Edwards
    player is selling their equipment be it a component or complete instrument simply due to
    updating their equipment. Wear and tear from daily use can also be a factor but I find not
    the primary reason. There’s no question that Edwards produces the finest products on the
    market but are constantly finding ways to improve on an already wonderful product. I feel
    there is nothing wrong with buying a used Edwards, I myself have aquired some of own
    equipment that way. As had been mentioned in the blog, there are people that take care
    of their instruments and others that do not. Ask questions and get pictures from a seller
    as well as a return option. One other point is what is a fair price. When driving a new car
    off the lot it immediately drops in value. This is also the case with a trombone. I have quite
    a few students who I have helped purchase used Edwards instruments and have followed
    that up with a purchase of a new bell, leadpipe or tuning slide from Edwards to enhance
    what they have gotten a great deal on. Definitely go for a new Edwards but there’s nothing
    wrong with a used one. Yes there are abused horns out there but use your common sense
    and lets keep these great horns both new and used on the road!

  2. Umberto Smith Says:

    I purchased a used Edwards trumpet and very happy. There is little risk if you find one in good operable order. It’s best to visually inspect the trumpet and most importantly give the valves a good workout.

    I’m not a horn technician. However I always careful inspect any instrument I’m looking at to buy.

  3. Connor Coffey Says:

    I play an Edwards T-350, and bought it directly from you about two years ago. I am a college music major so it gets quite a lot of “miles.” I read the post and was concerned about one thing…
    Pushing the tuning slides in every time you put the horn in the case. I just recently stopped doing this because putting a counter weight on my horn has caused my tuning slide to sink down constantly. I tried out “Hetmans” tuning slide grease and it helped but not completely. So i started leaving the slide pushed out whenever the horn was in the case and it seems to have solved my problem. The slide moves when i move it, however it no longer sinks.
    So basically, my question is, WHY is it so important to push my tuning slides in every time i put the horn away? am i seriously hurting my horn?

    -Connor Coffey

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