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Trying Merchandise Out: Pros and Cons


Rue
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I realize most establishments allow for try-outs. And with large music stores and less expensive merchandise I don't see a huge problem, but with more expensive items? I dunno.

I also wonder at what point "new" becomes "used"?

Are returned items stilled considered brand new? Are they discounted?

I know, as a consumer, if I buy some sold as new, I don't want an item that has been returned previously by one or more others.

I was a little appalled at how common this is with the guitar crowd. They routinely "buy" guitars, play them for the trial period, then return them - curiosity satisfied.

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The other post the deal with the subject was, I think, dealing with the idea of mailing product to a prospective buyer. I’ve had people send bows to me. Barry Kolstein was very kind and sent me a total of 24 bows, 12 at a time, and I was regretful about returning them.

The A440 Shop listened to my request very carefully, sent me six bows, none of which was remotely aligned with my request, and then ignored me when I returned them and politely requested a sampling closer to what I had requested.

But bows are relatively easy to ship back-and-forth.

As far as I’m concerned, a bow is in perfect condition if it’s in perfect condition. I don’t care whether it’s been played.

A cello too. Strings last a long time, and the store has a good idea at what point they need to be changed, and for a serious buyer they would probably be willing to put on the preferred set if they thought it would seal the deal.

So as far as I’m concerned, mint is mint, Even if it is not unused.

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I'm glad you're content with pristine. And maybe that's a good condition for a bona fide "used" instrument to be in.

But when does new become used?

Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against used. Just wondering where the line is.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I'm glad you're content with pristine. And maybe that's a good condition for a bona fide "used" instrument to be in.

But when does new become used?

Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against used. Just wondering where the line is.

In the truest sense of the word, used is used if it’s been used. Realistically, used is used if it shows signs of use.

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

I'm glad you're content with pristine. And maybe that's a good condition for a bona fide "used" instrument to be in.

But when does new become used?

Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against used. Just wondering where the line is.

The line falls somewhere between a violin which has never been played (if someone has fantasies about de-flowering a virgin), and older much-used instruments such as Strads which supposedly carry the most positive essences of the most famous people who have played them. :)

Where do  think your preferences lie on that sliding scale?

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I considered myself to be gently aged.

But back to instruments; if I  was paying $33K for a "new" Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition George Harrison Rocky Stratocaster, but then found out it had been sent out for some ten trials beforehand, I would be irked.

At that point should it become a "floor model"? As in never having been officially purchased, but has been handled quite a bit by tire-kickers?

I suppose, personally, intent comes into play. If someone was sincere about trying it out, and it didn't fit, it would bother me less than if it had been out just for fun, with no serious intent to purchase on the part of the customer. But that's also a different topic.

I don't know what a good definition would be.

 

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

If something has been tried a lot, and rejected, I would take that as something to consider. But it would also highly depend on who those "tire-kickers" were, and how much they knew.

IMHO, if the tire kickers were the consumer equivalent of ""the usual", you'd mark it down.  If the tire kickers were big names, you note "Played by so-and-so" in the ad, and mark it up.  :lol:  ;)

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26 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

IMHO, if the tire kickers were the consumer equivalent of ""the usual", you'd mark it down.  If the tire kickers were big names, you note "Played by so-and-so" in the ad, and mark it up.  :lol:  ;)

How much of a premium did the Hills attach to the thoroughly hammered and well-used bows that Kreisler returned...

I just sold a nice modern cello from a newer maker that he made in 2019. It had been to 3 shops before, never sold, so it's still new, right. 

 

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Yes, in the one sense that no one had officially owned it before. But if it had gone out on a kazillion trials? What then?

There's also new, old stock. How old does it have to be to qualify as that?

What about when stores eventually sell rentals? No one technically owned them, but they are definitely used.

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When I purchased my bow (a superb new one by John Anniano) I tried about 40 over a 2 hour period, took 3 home for 2 weeks and returned the 2 I did not want. This was the standard way the dealer allowed people to buy bows. Many of the bows had been tried by dozens of others. It improved the experience immensely.

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19 hours ago, Rue said:

I realize most establishments allow for try-outs. And with large music stores and less expensive merchandise I don't see a huge problem, but with more expensive items? I dunno.

I also wonder at what point "new" becomes "used"?

Are returned items stilled considered brand new? Are they discounted?

I know, as a consumer, if I buy some sold as new, I don't want an item that has been returned previously by one or more others.

I was a little appalled at how common this is with the guitar crowd. They routinely "buy" guitars, play them for the trial period, then return them - curiosity satisfied.

Stores are being very generous by allowing people to try instruments at home on trial. With many other things you can buy, this option simply doesn't exist. You don't get to try a washing machine at home for 2 weeks, and then send it back, or have a new heating system installed, then send it back.

In the string world, it has been the case for centuries that instruments and bow can be taken on approval, but it cannot be seen as the fault of the shop, if the person trying it decides not to buy it. As you have pointed out, it's hard to know how serious any prospective customer might be (tyre kickers), therefore it could be tried numerous times, before someone remotely serious come along.
Provided it still looks "as new" and the shop have checked it, I don't see a problem.

I think it's also unfair to expect a shop to discount a new product simply because one or more people have tried it, and did not buy.
No shop could afford to do business like that, and the ultimate resolution in this case would be for the shops to refuse to let anyone try an item.

With antique instruments and bows, this becomes less of an issue, as there is already bound to be some wear, however it is unrealistic to think that strings should be replaced, or bows rehaired before every trial, for example.

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The guitar world is strange. Custom shop guitars should not be played if purchased by a collector. Better shops will not unbox an instrument if it was a special order. The box is opened with the customer present. The customer "loses" the deposit if they do not complete the purchase, making the instrument, less than "new," but it is new to the actual purchaser. 

If the instrument was previously sold, It was used unless it remains in the box. But the condition, mint or like new is important. Yes, many instruments get banged up being in the shop. Some shop owners realize this and live with their reality. Other high-end shops filter their clients.

The last two bows and violas I purchased had no rosin or were not "set up." I was on a waiting list and they were shipped from the makers. The violas were clearly played and adjusted by the maker but sent as presentable when the instrument satisfied the makers expectations.

It would not have mattered to me who had played them, as the bows could have been rehaired after someone spent months playing them, or the instrument after a season. I have tested instruments for friends who are makers, but at that point, these makers consider the instrument unfinished. The process, whatever it might be, is to be respected. Some makers like their instruments to be ready to go out of the box. Others see changes in their instruments, many for the better.

 

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19 hours ago, Rue said:

Yes, in the one sense that no one had officially owned it before. But if it had gone out on a kazillion trials? What then?

Aside from the lowest end of the fiddle market (like when a former rental instrument comes up for resale), "newness" or having not been played does not seem to confer any monetary advantage. It's more like the opposite, with even many  cheap factory fiddles these days having faked wear.

None of this is anything new.

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It seems instruments don't quite "fit" under general new/used categories. ^_^

Which is fine.

I think the concept of antiquing though, is irrelevant to the new/used question. It's either "brand new" or it's not. The finish doesn't change that. Finish is a matter of personal preference.

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

I think the concept of antiquing though, is irrelevant to the new/used question. It's either "brand new" or it's not. The finish doesn't change that. Finish is a matter of personal preference.

I disagree. That some factories or makers will go to the extra trouble(?) of "antiquing" is an illustration that used is not necessarily less valuable than new, and is sometimes even considered to be more desirable.  I'm talkin' fiddles, not microwaves or TV sets. ;)

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Sure! We are visually driven to make decisions!

But whether one prefers an antiqued look over a brand spanking-new look to doesn't mean one actually wants a bona fide antique.

There are other factors, like condition, that come into play.

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This is a weird and interesting question!  

In the perishables/food/beverage sense, you don't want to be buying anything used.  LOL  

According to the US Treasury Code, a vehicle doesn't begin depreciating until someone buys it and drives off the lot.  So test drives to a certain extent don't make the car used.  But I would negotiate price if a car had more than 500 miles on it from test drives.

People try on clothing and you never know if the shirt or pants you are buying have been tried on, but retailers seldom mark a piece of clothing as second hand or used because people tried them on.

Instruments are a little different.  Someone mentioned a Fender guitar.  Guitars are also a little different from many other string instruments.  If the guitar is a collector's edition, I would definitely ask for an immediate discount if I found out it was loaned out on trial or a floor model.  But violins, lets say, are different.  Unless you are some inexperienced young student, it is hardly likely you are looking to buy a brand spanking new violin.  As some have already mentioned, some instruments benefit from being previously played on.  

But what about a violin case?  Some might argue that a case that was loaned out on trial has wear and tear that might affect its protectiveness.  I will give you an example.  I actually bought a nice Gewa case that I thought was brand new.  Brought it home and realized that some of the accessroies, like the backpack straps were not in plastic or rubber banded like my other new case.  I did not think much of it until I placed my instrument in the case, closed it, and one of the hinges broke.  The retailer, who I will not name, asked me how were they to assess whether I broke it or that someone else prior to my ownership broke it.  After hours, I got a refund.  

On antiquing...again, as pointed out by someone else, if antiquing is for asthetics and not to defraud, to each his own.  

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

Sure! We are visually driven to make decisions!

But whether one prefers an antiqued look over a brand spanking-new look to doesn't mean one actually wants a bona fide antique.

There are other factors, like condition, that come into play.

Sure, but my point is that having been tried numerous times, or even pre-owned, even if this has resulted in minor wear, will not be considered by many or most people to have devalued a violin. Some people even prefer a pre-owned violin, and some contemporary makers will send a new violin out with a player for the express purpose of having some playing time put on it. Again, a violin is not a washing machine or a tooth brush. ;)

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