As a professional musician, I never imagined I’d one day purchase an instrument online. It’s my trade, after all; I need an instrument sure to be the right fit for me, that sings to me when I touch it, that resonates with me personally. And while I still wouldn’t buy a top-of-the-line instrument on the Internet (read: expensive), when it comes to purchasing workable, daily-use instruments online, I’ve definitely changed my tune.
People ask guitarists, especially, why we have to have so many guitars. I just laugh. I’m rather tame with only six guitars to my name (some of my friends have dozens), but for those still surprised by that number, I always point out that a new instrument comes with new songs in it! As songwriters, how can we resist coaxing them out from new wood?
I have recently been teaching some guitar and ukulele lessons to kids and adults, which brought me to purchase the “guitalele,” (otherwise known as the kiku), a cross between a classical guitar and a baritone ukulele—small and tuned up a fourth, but still with six strings. I bought this instrument on Taobao for under RMB 300 and its voice is clear and bright. I love it. What a great option for travelling, too.
I followed up that purchase with a very basic ukulele, again under RMB 300, in order to play alongside my students, and then helped my guitar student purchase a classical guitar from a Yamaha vendor on Taobao for RMB 899. My student is thrilled with her instrument and the guitar is solid and well made. Each of these purchases came with free case, tuner and extra strings; nice bonuses!
There’s really nothing like cruising down to Gulou Dong Dajie and going in and out of the instrument shops, but now that I have a toddler and a pre-schooler, opportunities to cruise just about anywhere, uninterrupted by runny noses or the need to go "pee pee," have been reduced to once or twice a year. So, thank you Taobao, for helping me continue the tradition of discovering new songs tucked inside the wood of new instruments! This musician mom shall play on.
Photos: Ember Swift