In last week’s post on pricing when you buy musical instruments, I mentioned that you need to negotiate when you purchase instruments and accessories.  It’s important to think of the retail price in a music store the same way you’d think of the sticker price of a new car: an imaginary number that has nothing whatsoever to do with the price you will actually pay.

There are tactics that can help when you’re in the negotiation process.  Here are a few bargaining approaches you can try:

1.  Do your homework.  Before you start bargaining, know the pricing available online for the instrument you’re buying.  Print out pricing you see at websites like,, or, and take the printout with you to your local music store.  See if your local store can match this price or come close to it.  Even if they can’t exactly match the price, it may still be worthwhile to buy from them since they’re there to let you see the product in person, give you advice on how to use it, and repair it if needed.

2.  Ask for a specific discount.  Once you see the retail price listed on a product, you can ask for 25 – 30% off this price.  For instance, if something is $1000, ask for a 30% discount and say you’re willing to pay $700.

3.  Have the store cover sales tax.  If you are given a price that is less than retail price, but still not as low as you’d like to pay, ask the store to pay the sales tax.  Depending on where you are, this could save you 5 – 10% more.

4.  Ask for the “street price.”  For this tactic, look the salesperson directly in the eye, and simply ask, “What’s the street price for this?”  You’ll be amazed at how often they’ll tell you the street price and sell to you for that price.

For any of these approaches to be successful, you’ll first have to be willing to negotiate.  Just realize that negotiating is a normal part of buying a musical instrument, stay relaxed, and ask for what you want!

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