Advice on Buying Instruments Online

Buying online is wonderfully convenient. Bernies Music Land has put great time and effort into this website to make our instruments widely available in Australia. Each item available for purchase is as described, with all the information that you need to make a confident purchase. This site is backed by a high level of security, together with top payment security. However not all the goods you buy online are this safe, especially musical instruments from overseas.

Our suggestion is to talk to your local reputed music store, who often will go out on a limb to look after you. These days, stores can also check out the prices that are online and make sure to be very competitive on price. And you might find benefits and extras that make it really worthwhile to purchase through your local music store. So, why not give them a go!

Here are 10 guidelines from the Australian Music Association to note before buying musical instruments online, especially from outside Australia:

1: Warranty and customer service:

What warranty is offered and how do they handle complaints or questions? Australia’s consumer protection laws are very strong, but that’s not the case in India, China or many of the countries you can buy from online. There is no such thing as an international warranty. Whoever supplies the goods into Australia is responsible for the warranty and if you purchase outside Australia, no warranty may apply.

2: Does the online seller have a street address that you can go to if things go wrong? Or do they only have a PO Box or an overseas address? If they won’t resolve your problem by email or phone, where can you reach them?

Australian best practice is that an online seller should provide their ABN (Australian Business Number), physical address, and phone and email address for support.

3. How will the instruments be supplied?

Many instruments sold online are like flat-pack furniture – you have to assemble them. So please factor in the cost of set up, especially if you’re buying orchestral strings or guitars. A full set up will cost from $80-$500, depending on the instrument.

4. Are you buying more than one instrument?

If so, we strongly recommend you buy just one instrument to test the quality before investing more money into the unknown. The Australian Music Association has regularly heard of schools spending $6,000 – $8,000 only to find they have received objects resembling instruments – the trumpet valves are soldered closed, the trombone slide won’t move, and the violin bridge and tuning pins are so unstable they won’t hold the note, and many more horrors.

5. Payment

Buy through a reputed payment gateway with a credit card, PayPal or, if you are spending a large sum of money, use an escrow service. PayPal has some limited ability to recover your money. Your credit card company may assist in helping you recover your money (check with them before you buy). An escrow service is like putting money in trust – you put the money into the escrow account, the supplier sends you the goods and if you’re happy with them you direct the escrow firm to release the money to the seller. If the goods aren’t right, you return the goods to the seller and the escrow service gives you your money back.(Check the Terms and conditions of the escrow service before you use it.) If the supplier won’t allow you to use a reputed payment gateway, then we recommend you walk away.

6. Is it a genuine musical instrument or a toy?

Many toys are accurate reproductions of a genuine instrument to look at. But the tuning and size of the instrument isn’t right and your child won’t be able to learn to play on them. If you’re buying from a grocery store, toy store or department store ask the sales people specifically “is this a toy or a genuine musical instrument” and if they say it’s a genuine instrument ask them to show you what makes it genuine and not a toy. If they can’t tell you, how do they know it’s not a toy?

7. Does it meet Australian Standards?

Australia has very high emission and electronic standards, which we are very grateful for. Australian importers are responsible for making sure we meet these standards, and that musical instruments in Aussie stores are safe and reputable. We certainly can’t guarantee that from your online purchase, so once again, we encourage you to visit your local music store for your instrument needs.

8. Is it a high tech product that normally comes with tech support and/or free upgrades?

If so, unless you buy from an authorised retailer in Australia you wont qualify for that support or those upgrades. You may decide that the price difference is worth not having those services thats your call. But make an informed choice: check that you are comparing like with like when you get an online price. 

9. Check the power supplies.

If you’re buying an instrument that plugs in, check what power supply it comes with. Converters can end up costing more than the cost of buying the instrument here and this will also affect the warranty.

10. Are they members of the Australian Music Association ?

If they are, you can rest assured they’re a genuine business, with an office or store in Australia. We recommend that our members always use our logo on their website and we take strong action against anyone who uses our logo and who isn’t a member. Bernies Music Land is proudly a member of the Australian Music Association and contributes to AMA programs that support our industry.

Further Australian music industry information:

Australian Music Association (AMA)

The Australian Music Association represents and furthers the interests of the music products industry. It is involved with many progressive initiatives to promote music in Australian schools and homes. The Association conducts an annual conference, showcasing the developments and exciting atmosphere of this fantastic industry.

The AMA is also very active in getting music back in to our schools through its “Music Makers” program, and has made some huge achievements so far. Bernies Music Land is a proud member of the Australian Music Association and a contributor to the Music Makers program through its wholesale company, Musico Pty Ltd. Bernie Capicchiano has served on the board of the Australian Music Association and is a progressive and passionate member.

To find out more, please or phone the AMA on (03) 9535 7019.

Victorian Music Teachers Association (VMTA)

The recognised body for qualified music teachers. Includes a reference listing of music teachers Victoria wide for all instruments.

Call the Victorian Music Teachers Association on 03 7006 5220  or visit

Australian Piano Tuners and Technicians Association (APTTA)

The recognised body for qualified piano tuners and technicians, who hold a progressive conference bi-annually and aim to introduce ethics and standards for piano tuning. Includes a listing of registered piano tuners and technicians Australia wide.