A New Life for Your Old Instrument

Plenty of us have been using this strange time to de-clutter our lives, and have a good old Spring clean. We wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve stumbled across a long-forgotten musical instrument in the back of a cupboard. We’d like to think that everyone in this situation might take this as an opportunity to get playing again, but we appreciate this is not the reality for many. This blog post gives you some ideas of what to do with the musical treasures you may uncover in your pursuit for a tidier home, and how to give a new life to your old instrument.

Selling or Passing Down Your Old Instrument

Whether you decided to not continue playing? Or perhaps you’ve already upgraded? Many people give their musical instruments to someone else to give them a new lease of life, such as family or friends. People often pass down their student level instrument to younger musicians at the beginning of their musical journey.

Another option is to sell your instrument on. This can be a great way of helping fund a new instrument for yourself (if you’re still playing), or something else that you’re passionate about. Selling your second-hand instrument is also great, as it might allow someone to buy an instrument they otherwise might not have been able to afford. There are plenty of ways that you can do this:

  • Advertising your instrument on local selling groups
  • Listing your instrument on online marketplaces
  • Approach your local music shop – some may offer to buy the instrument from you, or perhaps sell it on your behalf for a small commission!
little boy running with musical instrument

Donate Your Old Instrument

Perhaps you don’t know anyone to pass your instrument on to? Or perhaps you don’t fancy the hassle of selling it? Or are you just keen for it to go to a deserving home and not bothered about any monetary reward? If any of these apply, we’d highly recommend donating your musical instrument.

New life can be breathed into your instrument by giving it to someone else who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy the gift of music. Schools, music services, and charitable organisations across the UK gratefully accept instrument donations. They’ll ensure it is regularly and lovingly played by someone excited by the opportunity to learn an instrument, and take part in ensemble music-making. Some charities work together with musical instrument repairers, so your donation doesn’t necessarily have to be in working condition.

Such UK charities include, but aren’t limited to:

You could also ask local schools, or charity shops whether they might be interested. That way, someone might be able to get a good bargain on a new instrument, and you’ve supported a cause dear to your heart.

little boy playing musical instrument

[Please note that several organisations are not currently accepting donations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please do not leave instruments outside charity shops – they will either be disposed of, stolen, or damaged in hot weather or rain). However, if you are planning on passing your instrument on to someone else, either by selling or donating it, we recommend that it is left untouched for 72 hours, and a sanitiser spray is used before playing. Check out our blog on Keeping You and Your Instrument Healthy for some recommendations.]

Recycling Your Old Instrument

It’s also important to acknowledge that the lifetime of most musical instruments isn’t infinite. However well we take care of them, sometimes they do reach a point where repairing isn’t possible or cost-effective. So, what can we do with them and their constituent parts?

For string instruments, TerraCycle® and D’Addario have partnered to create a free recycling program for all types of instrument strings and clippings. This includes nylon, steel, and orchestral strings. More than 1.5 million lbs. of string metal could be put into landfill every year. D’Addario’s goal is to help facilitate 100% recycling and upcycling of strings to minimise the impact of the entire industry. As if saving the planet wasn’t enough of an incentive, D’Addario also allow string-recycling musicians to redeem Players Circle points. Click here for more information on Playback, the world’s first-ever industry-wide string recycling program.⠀

For musical products made out of natural materials, such as drumsticks, it is worth researching your local recycling services and centres. Some organisations allow drumsticks to be placed in curbside compost!

Try contacting your local repairer to see if they could make any use of your instrument for spare parts. Make sure that it couldn’t be given a new life in it’s entirety first, before being broken down. You never know, your repairer may give you a discount of a repair. Or they might offer to make a couple of tweaks to your current instrument, as a thank you!

close-up of musical instrument and guitar strings

Getting Creative

Your instrument has reached the end of it’s life and you’ve recycled the parts that you can.

What now?

Well…why not use some of your newly found free time to get creative? Upcycle what remains into something really innovative! Here are some of our favourite idea, of varying difficulty:

  • Drumsticks: gardening stakes, houseplant support posts, kindling, bound together to make bug hotels, tape holders
  • Cymbals: clocks
  • Reeds: allotment vegetable labels, houseplant labels, kindling
  • Keywork: jewellery
  • All instruments: tables, lampshades, plant pots
  • Sheet music: wrapping paper, Christmas decorations

In case you’d like any more inspiration, or can’t visualise how these might look, we’ve put together a Pinterest board of other people’s projects for you to admire.

making DIY crafts from musical instruments

If you do decide to create anything yourself, please do share it with us by either dropping us an email (edgware@bbico.com), tagging us on Instagram or tagging us on Facebook.

Hannah Williams

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