As above, it is simply not advisable to buy electronic instruments second-hand. Summary of potential pitfalls of other instruments to watch for:
PIANOS: Many pianos 50+ years old will require expensive restoration, and in many cases, may be untenable or irreparable. Some pianos have been rendered worthless from the 2011 floods, but the damage may be hard to spot. Look for corroded strings and insect damage. Ultimately, a warranty is your best protection. It is generally better to buy a new digital piano than an old, worn-out acoustic piano if your budget is less than $2,000. A bad piano will only handicap a child’s musical development.
TRUMPETS & TROMBONES: Many are seized up through lack of maintenance, or suffer red-rot (a near terminal metal corrosion that eats through from the inside) caused by lack of internal cleaning. Watch for bent slides on trombones. As a Brisbane music store with a brass repair workshop and on-site brass technician, we can assist you, and help you avoid costly repairs.
FLUTES, CLARINETS & SAXOPHONES: The main problem is old, worn out pads and corks. If you need to replace them, it will cost $400-$500; more than many new student instruments cost.
STRINGED INSTRUMENTS: Look for cracks in neck of violins, and broken bows. Look for cracks in the neck (close to body) and fallen sound posts in cellos.
GUITARS: High actions (makes guitar hard to learn on), warped necks, buzzing strings, electrical problems. Ultimately, given the high Australian dollar and ability today to bypass the brand name and buy from the actual maker, it is in many cases actually cheaper to get the same type of instrument new and have warranty protection.