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A new guitar or an amplifier? You can save money by purchasing abroad

Do you wish to buy an instrument? Check out the offers from the foreign online stores. You can save a lot of money, and buy things unavailable in our market.

People involved in music performance, even at an amateur level, are convinced that it is better to buy instruments abroad. The reason is quite obvious – they are much cheaper there. Music equipment beyond Poland's western border is not only less expensive, but you can also find instruments there which are unavailable in Polish stores. We present you with a few practical pieces of advice, and select prices (currency exchange rates as given by Cinkciarz.pl on March 10th 2016) which will help you buy your dream guitar, keyboard or drum kit.

Blues or rock guitar?

When buying a guitar it is important to define the type of music you want to play. Some guitars are better for blues or jazz, and others are a better fit for rock, or even heavier types of music. However, this choice seems to be the easiest one. After all, even beginner musicians know what genre of music they’d like to play. This decision definitely gets more difficult later on. And it is not just about the choice of the producer of the guitar. More crucial decisions are; whether the instrument has a maple or ebony body? Does it have on-coil or humbucker pickups? These elements (especially pickups - which send the signal from the instrument to the amplifier), determine the quality of an electric guitar's sound.

The situation is decisively easier when it comes to the choice between classical, acoustic, and electric-acoustic guitars. These instruments are not that diverse in respect of models and specifications like electric guitars are. Their sound is dependent on the strings, and the size of soundbox. Most of the time, these are very similar. When it comes to strings, classical guitars have nylon strings and acoustic and electric-acoustic have steel strings.

What amplifier should you choose?

When buying an electric guitar, you will also need a good amplifier. To purchase one you will need to be familiar with the topic, because even the best guitar will not sound very good if it is connected to a poor amplifier.

“Amps” are separated into transistor amplifiers, hybrid amplifiers, and tube amplifiers, as well as combo and stack versions. What do these terms mean? The first group defines the equipment's sound. Tube amplifiers are the best in this matter, although their power and sound quality is determined by the level of volume – the louder, the better. The sound quality of transistor amplifiers are the same, regardless of the level of volume. Hybrid amplifiers, on the other hand, have a tube preamplifier and a transistor power amplifier. Its sound is more similar to tube amplifiers.

The second group defines whether the amplifier and the speaker are in one casing (combo), or in two separate casings (stack). The second option gives you more sound possibilities. However, if you decide on the stack type, you’ll need to choose a proper speaker cabinet. It should be compatible with the head amplifier in regards to power. It is also worth noting the size of the speakers. The most universal choice are 12-inch speakers.

What is interesting is many stores will offer you sets; including a guitar, an amplifier, and of course, cables. Their prices are truly quite attractive (such a set can be bought for approximately 102 euro, which is approximately 441 PLN). However, this option is dedicated to the users who would prefer to have a combo type amplifier. This is because this type appears in sets most often. They were created for the sake of the beginner guitarist, in order to make their first steps in gaining the equipment easier. The combo type amplifiers are sufficient enough for the beginner.

Functionality of keyboards

Keyboards are a perfect device for those who have always dreamed of playing the piano, but never had enough space for such a large instrument. Moreover, keyboards give more sound possibilities. Keyboards usually have a few hundred sound samples stored in their memory. The most technologically advanced devices have up to 600 samples. This is one of the most crucial things you need to take note of when buying a keyboard. Another one is the capacity of a keyboard's hard drive. This is where you will be able to save your music. A sequencer is also an important element of a keyboard. It's a device which generates previously created and loaded background music from the instrument, while you are able to simultaneously play a new and separate melody. The endurance of the battery is also important.

When choosing a keyboard, you need to think of how technologically advanced an instrument you need. This is important because the price of the device increases along with the amount of its options. Top shelf keyboards can cost more than ten thousand PLN. Of course, you are paying for an instrument with higher production standards. However, it is possible that a cheaper one may be sufficient enough for your needs.

Difficult choice of a drum kit

Buying a drum kit is definitely more complicated than purchasing a guitar or keyboard. Drum kits consist of many elements, of which each one has its own characteristics. Thus, the first decision you need to make is how big of a set you want to buy. The most basic version of a drum kit consists of a snare drum, bass drum, two toms, one floor tom, and cymbals (one hi-hat, one ride, and one crash are sufficient enough). Additional elements are; stands for the cymbals and pedals with attached hammers for hitting the bass drum. Depending on your musical preferences, you can use one pedal, or two pedals connected with gear (this option is the best for genres such as jazz or heavier types of rock or metal).

There are many factors determining the sound of a drum kit – the size of particular drums, the quality of their tensions, and the quality of the cymbals. The level of your playing abilities should very much determine your decision when buying a drum kit. The beginner drummer who decides to buy a big set, consisting of a lot of elements, is definitely throwing the money down the drain. This is because he may not even end up using a lot of its parts. A beginning drummer should start with a simple drum kit. It can always be enriched with new elements as the drummer’s playing abilities increase.

Shopping abroad

Western music stores offer us a wide choice of instruments from leading global producers. There is absolutely no problem in finding the instruments produced by notarized companies such as: Gibson, Fender, Ibanez, B.C.Rich, Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Yamaha, Korg, Roland, Pearl, Zildjian, and Tama at the German Music Store, British Guitar Guitar, or the American Guitar Center. However, you have to keep in mind that the brand has a significant impact on the price of the equipment. Thus, the reason behind the above remarks on which parameters of the instrument the consumer needs to focus on. Very often, a cheaper product may appear that is just as good as one that is priced higher.

The range of instruments' prices are very wide. Electric guitars in the western online stores cost between a few hundred and a few thousand euro. The cost of acoustic guitars is quite similar. On the other hand, the cheapest classical guitars cost as low as 60 euro (approximately 259 PLN). The purchase of a stack type amplifier is an expense of at least 226 euro (approximately 977 PLN), but a combo type amplifier can be bought for 38 euro (164 PLN). The prices of keyboards depend on their technological advancement, and these instruments cost is between several dozen and a few thousand euro. You may buy a basic drum kit for 139 euro (600 PLN). Of course, the larger the drum kit, the higher the price.

Another matter is the shipment of the purchased product to Poland. The price includes the VAT. The rules are very clear in the Music Store (www.musicstore.de) – all additional costs are included in the final price and the shipment is free of charge.

The British Guitar Guitar (www.guitarguitar.co.uk) works a bit differently. You need to include approximately 20 pounds (approximately 112 PLN) of shipping costs in the price of any purchase. However, if you wish to receive the package the next day, you will need to pay 50 pounds (approximately 280 PLN) for shipment.

The costs are even bigger when buying an instrument from the American Guitar Center (www.guitarcenter.com). Additional costs are approximately 47 dollars (approximately 186 PLN) for shipping, 20 dollars (approximately 79 PLN) for handling, approximately 12 dollars (approximately 47 PLN) for duty taxes, and approximately 87 dollars (approximately 344 PLN) for the VAT.

Despite these additional costs, a purchase of an instrument abroad still seems more advantageous. As an example, we will compare the prices of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar, model Less Plus 2015 FI Fireburst. Gibson is one of the most popular and most esteemed guitar producers in the world, and their guitars in the Les Paul line are true classics. Their biggest qualities are a noble shape and an organic, warm sound. Of course, their price is proportionally high. If you wish to buy this instrument, you will have to prepare yourself for an expense of 1750 euro (approximately 7567 PLN) including additional fees. The same guitar costs approximately 500 PLN more in Polish stores.

Shopping in foreign music stores online can be even cheaper if you make a profitable currency exchange. You can do this on online currency exchange services’ websites, which offer more favorable exchange rates than stationary currency exchange offices as well as banks. It is worth taking a look at our website to compare our rates with the ones offered by banks, in the currency converter. This will make it easier to find out how much you can save on currency exchange – says Piotr Kicinski, Cinkciarz.pl vice-chairman of the Board.

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