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Selecting an instrument is like buying a prom dress for a musician.
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Choosing Music Equipment • Selecting an instrument is like buying a prom dress for a musician. It’s about the feel of the keys under the fingers, the ease of slapping the bass, to the number and types of sounds that are in the file bank. Sometimes it’s the price versus the budget, but most musicians would play a million gigs and/or do other odd jobs just to be able to buy their favourite instrument or piece of music gear. • Depending on the genre the musician plays will lead them to what it is that they would like to purchase. There is a difference between a pop keyboard player and classical pianist. The keyboard player loves the feel of real piano keys but loves the sounds of a synthesizer (and a synthesizer is lighter in weight for transportation), whereas a pianist just about cannot live without real weighted keys and the sound of a grand piano. • Part of a musician’s job is to have their own equipment and it is not cheap, by any means. The price of a fully-weighted digital piano is approximately £600.00 ranging up to £4000.00, whereas a midi keyboard (without a sound bank, not weighted and 41 keys) can cost as low at £140.00 – but remember without sound it’s not audible. • When buying for the first time, read reviews from Sounds on Sound or Music Radar, as well as pop into local or major city music store. The bigger the store the more you will have to choose from, and bear in mind that smaller stores only stock certain lines of products. To stock Roland for instance, the store needs to build a good rapport before they are considered. The reason being is that one piece of equipment is equivalent to most people’s mortgages and even some pieces equate to one month’s salary. So head for the big stores – you’ll be exposed to more products and they will probably offer better discounts. The other alternative is second-hand gear off eBay – but be sure that the product is boxed and still under warranty – unless it’s a vintage piece you have been dying to get your hands on! • For bands that travel frequently, especially in territories out of USA, Canada, Australia and the UK – ensure you buy your preferred guitar strings, pick-ups and have a spare power-plug before you leave. Better be prepared for the fact that you will most likely find what you are used to buying on foreign shores. For those in music jobsabroad, beware that most exclusive music equipment is shipped from western countries, because the range is not as current as in Asia for instance. Although shipping is a bug-bear, if you do have a spare instrument you can take with you, do it. Shipping costs, custom checks, lost goods in transit can be problems you might face – although rarely. • Whatever your instrument is, take time to choose correctly and be comfortable with the weight, feel and sounds. If you can spend a few more £££ to have the right instrument (that is durable when transporting it from one gig to another), you will also be a lot happier playing it for longer and less eager to replace it in a short space of time (unless you have a collection, of course!). Choose carefully and spend wisely.