Tips – 6/11 – Musical Gear

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One Man Band

The Beatles formed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, gradually adding one cultural icon after another until it finally resolved into a lineup of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr – three of which are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as solo artists.

Okay, so maybe you don’t have that kind of luck with band mates. But that doesn’t mean you have to be limited by your less-than-active social life: you can still record and perform like a one-man show.

Doing so requires a good amount of technical knowledge and musical skill, so let’s start with the basics.

Why it’s important to learn piano: if you’re going to record songs like a one-man band, then you need to learn how to use a keyboard like a champion. That means understanding the piano and how to play chords and melodies. These days, just about any musical instrument can be synthetically reproduced through a keyboard and a nice music production software program, so knowing your way around a keyboard can allow you to essentially play all types of instruments at the same time.

If you don’t have much of a background in music, learning the piano will also give you a good fundamental understanding of key concepts like harmonies, melodies, timing, rhythm, and chord progressions. It may not be as sexy as playing the guitar, but you’ll get a lot more versatility out of mastering the piano. Failing that, a basic knowledge of a musical keyboard is a must-have.

Okay. So you’re all set with – at the very  least – some rudimentary music knowledge. So where do you start for equipment?

Having the right equipment is key: You don’t have to have the fanciest electric guitar in the world to reproduce an electric guitar sound, so let’s focus on having the right equipment so that you can spend as little money as possible when putting together your one-man production effort.

  • MIDI Keyboard – An electronic keyboard known as a MIDI keyboard capitalizes on the first tip we gave you: it allows you to feed information into a computer program and hear different instrument sounds reproduced. You can also record what you play on a MIDI keyboard if it’s linked up with the right kind of software program. A basic MIDI keyboard, without a lot of options or even a wide range of keys (like the one we link to here), will only set you back some $50 or so.

  • Music production software – There are a lot of music production programs out there, but something simple like Fruity Loops can produce sophisticated sounds while incorporating your own recorded music. A free trial version is available if you want to get the hang of it before buying the full product.
  • Sweet headphones – Okay, so it’s not totally necessary to have the best headphones on earth, but you’ll hear the quality of your own production better if you check out headphones like Beats by Dre
  • A nice microphone. Expect to shell out at least $50 or so for a quality microphone that captures your voice with as little interference as possible.

If you get creative enough, you can use all of the equipment above to create a “band”-like effect. Setting up music on your MySpace page, you might be surprised to see exactly how close you can look to a live, functioning band all by yourself.

Why be your own band? Why not? If you don’t enjoy working with others on your music, there’s no reason you should have to. Your own private “band,” or even your own private musical “brand,” can be entirely under your control if you want it to be.

Craigslist Musical Instruments

Buying a musical instrument online can be an odd process.

Some possessions don’t feel like they’re best bought “used,” do they?

There are, however, plenty of musical instruments you can find online that won’t be run-down or sullied by someone else’s use, and if you’re adventurous enough, you might even consider checking out Craigslist for some bargain-basement-level prices.

The problem? Many people are a little skeptical of Craigslist.

That’s why this article will push you through that fear and help you discover the cheap-but-high-quality used instruments you’ve been after all this time.

Have No Fear: Craigslist is Here

If you’re new to the ways of the World Wide Web, then Craigslist might sound a little scary to you. After all, all of these people are simply posting up rudimentary-looking classified ads, with little-to-no regulation monitoring each transaction!

It does sound scary, but you’d be surprised what a large marketplace is capable of when everyone is looking out for their own interest. With many of the sellers on Craigslist, you’re just looking at someone who wants to ditch something they don’t use any more and maybe make a decent – and fair – price for it. Sure, there are the “sketchy” areas of Craigslist, but if you’re just looking for an old accordion, you probably don’t have too much to be afraid of.

Patience Is Key

If you’ve never bought online before, you might be tempted to look at what’s available on Craigslist and make an offer based on what you see. But if you really want to find the best deals, you’ll do better to practice a little patience. Here’s two ways to do it:

  1. Contact the seller, but monitor the market. You can’t be too patient when it comes to making the seller an offer for their musical instrument, so you’ll want to at least get in contact with a seller to find out what the demand for their instrument has been like and what price they might be driven down to. In the meantime, it helps to continually monitor the ads on Craigslist to see if any better deals pop up. Don’t always buy the first deal you see.
  2. Be willing to walk away. You may think that you’ll never find a deal like this again – and you may even be right – but it’s the power to walk away that gives you a lot of leverage in the negotiation process. You shouldn’t threaten to “walk away” outright, but you should be willing to. This will give you an edge and a reason not to go over your maximum price.

Search the Right Way

If you’ve been paying attention, then you know it’s important not to look at Craigslist listings and make an offer based on what you immediately see. You’ll want to contact sellers, scope out the best deals, and check Craigslist daily to see if any new, interesting potential leads pop up.

Make sure you search for musical instruments that are of good quality, as well: be very discerning. Try to find pictures of instruments, and if a model name is giving, enter a Google search for that model to get more information about it. It’s also a good idea to make sure that any musical instrument you is safe and sanitary. If you’re too wary about this to go on Craigslist for musical instruments, it might not be the option for you.

If you really want to diversify your search for the best deal, check out Musical Instruments On eBay while you’re conducting a Craigslist search. If you’re persistent, you can find some amazing deals on musical instruments.

Musical Instruments

If you’re an astute shopper, you probably have no problem turning to eBay when there are no other options on the table. Heck, you probably don’t mind turning to eBay first so you can find bargains on used and new items before you ever try to find an item available on retail.

But is there any merchandise that you will always want to buy new – like musical instruments?

The prospect of buying a used musical instrument isn’t always an attractive one – particularly if you play an instrument that requires contact with your lips. But if you put in some time to research buying a used musical instrument of your specific variety, you should arrive at one particular conclusion: to buy used or not to buy used.

If you do decide that you can buy a used instrument , here are some tips to guide you along the way.

1. Check seller feedback religiously. The first major indicator of whether or not you’ll have a successful interaction is simple: seller feedback. When someone is selling a product, they are forced to display their seller feedback – which is like checking a particular seller’s recommendation. You’ll see references, recommendations, and negative views in many cases: one good rule of thumb is to stick to someone who has a very high feedback rating, somewhere in the upper 90%.

The reason to check for this is because each seller can only earn good feedback with a relatively solid interaction with a buyer. Remember one more thing: it’s important to check the amount of feedback this seller has received, as well. It’s not exactly impressive to have 100% positive feedback when there’s only one review. But if a seller has 1,000 reviews with a 98% positive feedback rating, then you know you’re working with someone with a solid reputation.

2. Place items on your watch list before you buy them. Buying can mean great prices, but it’s easy to post a “bid” for your desired object up front and forget about the rest. But if you set the item to your “watch” list instead, you might not inspire anyone else to compete with you – you may actually find that there are only a few bids by the time the product is nearing its sale deadline. This is a great time to place a bid because you give your fellow bidders less time to beat your price. Many times, you can win an auction by being the only one to bid.

3. Consider the instrument you’re buying. There are a lot of questions to ask (see tip #4), but most of them center around the type of instrument you’re buying. If you’re buying an electronic keyboard, for example, you’ll probably ask very different questions than if you’re only buying a bass kick.

4. Ask the seller a lot of questions. Before you ask questions, be sure to read the description of the instrument – you don’t want to ask the seller something that they’ve already worked to answer. But if you still can’t find an answer to your question, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and ask the seller your question directly. Don’t be afraid to ask about the condition of the product, either. It’s your money that’s on the line here.

5. Bid low. Remember: you came to eBay to get a low price on your musical instrument. You might think that this one product is once-in-a-lifetime, but you never know when a similar deal might show up. So don’t be willing to go past a certain (low) price for what you’re buying.

If you want more tips on buying instruments , check out this eBay Forum Post that covers the topic in greater detail.

Cheap Musical Instruments

There are a lot of people out there who consider themselves deal-seekers and voracious customers: these are the people who love talking to customer service representatives, haggling with individual retailers, and shopping around for the best price.

If you’ve never been that kind of proactive consumer but still enjoy a good discount on a musical instrument, it’s time to brush up on some great buying strategies.  Buy musical instruments for less and you’ll wonder why you ever paid full price.

But where does one start, especially if you’ve never bought a musical instrument before?  Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.  Here are just a few tips for getting the musical instruments you want at the price you determine.

Tip #1:  eBay is your friend.

There’s truly no site on the Internet like eBay, the world’s largest marketplace for what you’re about to do.  Whether you want to buy musical instruments or find a nice used Aston Martin to drive around town, eBay’s got just about everything.  This is a great place to start even if you don’t plan on buying anything here – you’ll find out about how low prices can get for the used musical instruments you’re seeking.  (And, yes, you should consider buying used instruments; as long as you know what you’re doing, you can ensure they’ll be high-quality). Better yet, we’ve brought all the best deals , about to end, right to this very site. Have a browse around.

Tip #2:  Reputation is your reference.

One reason we encourage you to use eBay is that it really helps you to prevent fraud – all you have to do is peruse each individual seller’s profile and you’ll see what kind of customer feedback they’ve been getting.  In other words, to succeed as a seller , you’ve got to provide products that are actually close to what people think they’re buying – otherwise you’ll just get hammered in the user ratings section.  If you’re a new buyer, don’t work with anyone who doesn’t have an overwhelmingly positive user feedback rating.  And make sure you avoid new sellers without any rating at all.

Tip #3:  Haggle.

Other sites like Craigslist (caveat emptor!) will allow you to haggle with sellers in order to bring the price down – you might even consider trades and barters in order to secure the musical instrument you’re looking for.  If you’ve never been much of a haggler, just remember this simple principle:  the negotiator who is more willing to say “no” generally wins the day.  If you’re willing to walk away because you don’t get a price you like, then you’ll be in the position to haggle effectively.  Buy musical instruments with a keen eye on protecting your wallet in the process.

Musical Keyboard

Musical Keyboards Are Perhaps The Best Way To Learn Music.

Between seeing all of the notes laid out in front of you and the choices of hearing different synthesized instruments, you basically are granted total access to create just about any sound you like.  Any good recording studio will have a musical keyboard ready to go, and even live bands will tug them around from show to show.  Why?  Because they’re so versatile.

But you already know this, which is why you’re looking to buy one of your own.  There’s just one problem: with so many out there, where on earth do you start?  Here are a few tips.

Start with a Price in Mind

They say that every man has his price, so be one of those men (or women) and set your budget ahead of time.  If you want a larger, more capable keyboard, save up your money for a longer period of time.  If you simply want a keyboard that can spit out sounds on command, you can go cheaper.  A great place to start is somewhere like this simple Casio mini keyboard, a mere $50 or so, depending on shipping.  If your budget is so limited that you’re ecstatic at the thought of having a keyboard for $50, you’re on the right track.  If you take one look at that keyboard and think “Hmm – that’s not enough,” then you’ve got some more work to do.  Start with the price in mind and everything will flow from there.

Head to a Music Hub or Marketplace

Sites like Andy’s Music Online are great for browsing.  You don’t have to be limited to one keyboard product – instead, you can look at a few and try to examine exactly what features make each keyboard different.  As you do a little research, you’ll find that some features will matter to you more than others – for example, if you don’t have headphones, you’ll probably want to find a keyboard with headphones included.

Another great site is eBay, which is always an option if you’re looking for a cheap product of just about any sort.  Musical keyboards can be found on discount because they’re often used or sold at wholesale prices.


Still interested in finding a musical keyboard that actually delivers on its many promises?  Then you’ll want to use the links in this article and get started searching for musical keyboards that strike the right chord with you.

Maton Guitar

Never heard of the Maton Guitar?  Then you’re probably not from Australia.  Maton has been building guitars since the 1940’s, and now has a reach in countries as far as the U.S., Germany, and the U.K.  But what exactly makes the Maton guitar so special, and such an iconic part of Australian guitar music culture?

There’s a reason Bill May, the founder of Maton Guitars, was inducted to the Australian Music Association Awards hall of fame: the impact these Maton Guitars have had on Australia as a whole.  Let’s take a look at that impact and learn a little more about this unique brand.

Maton Influence

Maton guitar’s influence has reached as far as the Beatles, with George Harrison owning a MS500 model.  As you might imagine, they’ve also played a significant role on this side of the pond with firm footing in Melbourne.

A guitar’s influence starts with who uses it, which serves as a gauge for the kind of craftsmanship the guitar offers.  In the case of the Maton guitar, various models have appeared with the aforementioned-Beatles, the Kooks, children band The Wiggles, and even Queens of the Stone Age.  The variety of bands the Maton guitar has touched suggests not only its widespread influence, but its influence over time as well.

Guitar Models and Types

Okay, so what exactly makes a Maton guitar a Maton guitar?  You’ll find the usual suspects at the Maton web site, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, mini Matons, and even an “Australian” series bent on making the Australian influence on music both unique and pronounced.

Maton guitars also offers custom guitars that you can’t find anywhere else, and for the true music buff who loves an individual sense of style to go along with his or her musical instruments, the investment is well worth the upfront cost.  How many people can say they have a custom-made Australian Maton guitar in their collection of musical instruments? (Note:  To get a comprehensive view of the different makes and models of Maton guitar, check out their site map).

For the window shopper, it’s interesting to note that Maton offers tours of their facilities, so make sure that you contact Maton in advance to learn more about these tours. They can also make a nice experience for someone who’s visiting Australia.

Even if you’re not in Australia, you can possibly find a Maton Guitar near your hometown, as their presence extends to Europe, Asia, and North America.

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Electric Acoustic Guitars

The electric acoustic guitar is a unique entry in the field of guitars, precisely because it’s a little difficult to define. If you’ve ever used an electric guitar, you know that it’s not in the same ballpark as an acoustic, and vice versa. So how exactly do the two meet in the middle, and what kind of sound does an electric acoustic guitar create?

Defining the Electric Acoustic Guitar

An electric guitar is easier to define because of its reliance on electronics and sound equipment in order to generate its full sound. Likewise, an acoustic guitar is a guitar that relies strictly on the sound it generates – without any plugins – to play to the ear of the listener. So if the two types of guitars are so different, where does an electric acoustic guitar come in?

Quite simply, an electric acoustic guitar is an acoustic guitar that is “rigged” up in order to modify and enhance the sound an otherwise acoustic guitar would generate. (If you want to see one in action, check out this YouTube video).

A good way of looking at an electric acoustic guitar is to imagine an acoustic guitar hooked up in the same was an electric guitar. It’s still capable of producing acoustic sounds, but it can also generate sounds an electric guitar wouldn’t be equipped for.

Elements of the Electric Acoustic

If you’re separating guitars by types, then you’d want a new category devoted to the electric acoustic. Why? Isn’t the electric acoustic just a glorified acoustic? As you saw in the video, this isn’t the case: an electric acoustic is instead equipped specifically for plug-in capabilities.

These capabilities include elements like transducers, microphones, and pickups. An electric acoustic guitar is capable of plugging into speakers without the need for microphones, which is essentially what makes it an “electric” acoustic in the first place.

How much do Electric Acoustic Guitars Cost?

After a quick search on Google, you’ll find that an electric acoustic guitar will generally run you around several hundred dollars – if you’re paying much less, then you’re probably buying it used or even possibly being scammed out of some money. When you look for electric acoustic guitars you can purchase, make sure that you order them with all of the equipment you’d expect from a guitar that’s plugin-ready. Don’t settle for anything less and you’ll soon find that you have a unique sound that many guitarists haven’t even pursued!

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