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Guest Post: How To Get The Best Deals On Audio Gear

This guest post comes in from Barry Gardner chief engineer at SafeandSound Mastering

How To Get The Best Deals On Audio Gear

The music industry is constantly changing and despite some promising positive signs on both sides of the Atlantic, we are still in a recession. However, I am not writing this to dwell on that matter, but to try and give some advice on saving money. Often saving money means buying at the lowest cost, so we will discuss that first. One thing is a fact, many in the music industry are in the same boat and that as a musician, producer, or engineer can be used to your advantage.

Buy right, buy once
Now buying a quality product at the lowest price is quite different from buying a lower quality product at a cheap price. Quality items are built better and last longer they will endure more wear and tear. Whilst initially a low cost item may seem like it is too good to be miss a high quality item will usually out live it many times over. It is often a false economy to to let your ‘gear lust’ get the better of you and spend rather than save that extra few months in order to get the right piece of kit first time which does not leave you wanting in following months.
It is worth considering other peoples impressions as well. When you identify yourself with industry standard equipment be it guitars, effects pedals, keyboards, and music tech equipment, people tend to have a different perception and even level of respect. It could be deemed as a bit shallow and ultimately the music produced is most important. However it does have a subtle effect on other people who you are likely to deal with in the music industry. You can see this as an an investment in your own skill set, confidence, reliability of your performance or work, and giving yourself the best chance by not letting substandard equipment get in your way. Professionals choose professional equipment.

We don’t all have piles of cash…

Find that deal online (and then phone!)
Search engines are a great way to seek the lowest price on any given item of equipment however this is not always the end of the matter. Do a search and try and find the best advertised prices on the equipment. It is worth knowing what the price for a second hand version of the item you are looking for, this can be brought into the conversation as you see fit. Double check what the delivery fees are, as they can vary, and you can even try and find out if importing a piece of equipment is an option (more on that later). Once you have a list of retailers then you can give them a call and start asking about any special deals they may be able to do, ex-demo items, shop soiled items and special discounts if you pay there and then. I am reasonably confident that you can expect to get a small discount if you are prepared to negotiate and play one retailer off against another to get the best price. A confident and friendly manner will serve you best. Ultimately retailers are there to make a profit of course thats fair, however you do not want to pay more than you need to. So some time invested in research and actually talking to a person in the shop with give you a personal leverage that a credit card and a shopping cart on a website will not.

Importing musical equipment
In some instances it may be possible to save money by importing items. You have to be very careful as there are some drawbacks and compromises that you must be aware of.

  1. Check warranty conditions and if they are honored by the distributor in your country, and know how much insured delivery back to origin will cost.
  2. Ensure the kit does not need to be modified to operate on your local mains voltage.
  3. Check you are fully informed of your local taxes and import duty percentages on items from different places in the word. Look for an online duty calculator to get clued up.
  4. Consider the costs of shipping back a DOA unit (dead on arrival)

It is possible to save money by importing but you must be fully aware of the above. I have found you win some, you lose some, but being informed can tip the odds.

Buying locally can pay off
Do not discount the local high street store, here you can pop in and actually test the exact items. This is especially important for guitarists and instrumentalists who pay great attention to the feel of any given instrument, which may be very different from instrument to instrument of the same model. Again in person you have personal leverage, keep it friendly and professional and you may well be able to steal a bargain which is even better than that on the internet.

Saving summary
Always provide contact details and get to know the name of the person you were talking to. Keep communications with this person unless a supervisor is asked to check what deals might be available.
Do not be afraid to make your best offer, worst case scenario is it will be refused, sometimes people will even give you a call back with a deal very close to what you wanted.
There is no reason not to try and get the equipment you want for a reasonable but discounted rate, ultimately it will be down to your tone, the exact day and which way the wind is blowing, but you can stack the odds in your favour by having the right attitude and driving a hard bargain. A great deal is something you and the retailer will benefit from and you may well be getting more than just a good price for a quality item of equipment.

What’s your favorite way to save money on gear? Let us know in the comments below.

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