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Riverboat Music Buyers' Guides
Banjos
5-string - 6-string - 4-string
Others - Accessories
Acoustic Guitars
Dreadnoughts - Archtops
Classical - Parlor
Starter - Jumbo - Tenor
Winds
Saxophones
Mandolin
Autoharp
Appalachian Dulcimer
Harmonica
Hammered Dulcimer
Ukelele (future)

Written by Paul D. Race for , , and

Welcome to Riverboat Music(tm), A "Buyers' Guide" for folks interested in learning and playing acoustic and Americana music.

In the last few years, we have been expanding our sites that support acoustic-based roots and Americana music. We've also answered lots of reader questions about specific instruments, even specific models of instruments.

In fact, we've answered so many reader questions that we thought it was time to set up a site just to publish our comparisons and recommendations, rather than letting them continue to accumulate willy-nilly in various places.

So we started RiverboatMusic.com, and started plugging information into the various categories. At first, I figured I'd document the instruments I've already written about in depth, like guitar and five-string banjo, and work my out from there. Then I realized that a number of other instruments that I play and have started other folks on are either neglected on the Internet or subject to so much misinformation that a first-time buyer is more likely to get the wrong thing than the right thing. So our "coverage" may seem a little uneven as we strive to "fill the gap" for those instruments first.

In the meantime, please contact us if you have a question that we haven't addressed yet. Also, the following "caveats" should help your efforts to get the instrument you need from a vendor you can trust.

- Paul Race


Note about Suppliers: While we try to help you get the instruments and other products you want by recommending suppliers with a good record of customer service, all transactions between you and the supplier you chose are governed by the published policies on the supplier's web site. So please print off any order confirmation screens and save copies of invoices, etc., so you can contact the appropriate supplier or invoke the product warranty should any problems occur.*

Note about Ordering Musical Instruments Online: Buy only from folks with a reasonable return policy and be sure to have any musical instrument you ordered online checked over by a professional as soon as you receive it. Every musical instrument has the potential for being damaged in shipment, even if the box looks fine when you get it. In addition, musical instruments shipped across the Pacific have a very high percentage of manufacturing defects. If you look at online reviews, a surprising percentage of the one-star reviews say something like "By the time I realized it was damaged (or had a critical manufacturing defect), the period for returns had run out, so now I'm stuck with a useless piece of . . . . " Yes, the manufacturer should have better quality control, and the store should pack things better. But in the end, you are responsible for making certain that an instrument or product will serve your needs while you still have time to return it.

Consider Buying Used: Before you spend $2000 on an instrument that will be worth $800 once you get it home, check out the used market for that sort of instrument in your area. Depending on where you live, or what kind of instrument you're looking for, it may not be an option. But if you can get a used professional instrument for the same price as a new student instrument, it is often worth taking the risk. Especially if you have a knowledgeable friend who can go along and check it out for you. In fact, many of our pages include links to articles on how to shop for used instruments of various types. However, we recognize that many folks have limited access to good used instruments, and everyone needs to see what is available in the various price ranges. So we do list, when possible, live links to real vendors with a good return policy, in case they're your best choice for getting what you want. Again, once you buy something, your satisfaction is between you and the seller.

Note about Availability and Pricing: Although I try to keep an eye on things and to recommend products that are reasonably available, the musical instrument does fluctuate, and any product on this page may change price or become unavailable without prior notice. If you "click through" to see details on a product, and nothing happens at all, or you are routed to a supplier's home page, please let me know and I will remove the product from the online listing until I can find a replacement or another supplier.

*Here's an irony: every year, I receive about a dozen complaints from folks who have never been to my sites before, angry that a deal between that person and a vendor or manufacturer I recommend went south (in their opinion). They "googled" the product, saw my recommendation or review, then e-mailed me to tell me they were going to sue me or report me to the Better Business Bureau for personally ripping them off by recommending a product they had bought from someone else. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the problem is really because the customer didn't read the whole ad, or ordered the wrong thing, or threw away his paperwork and doesn't know where he bought it from, etc. I'm always polite, and sometimes I can even help them get things straightened out with the vendor, but it's not, technically, my problem.

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All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted ? 2014, 2015 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.

For questions, comments, suggestions, trouble reports, etc. about this play or about this web page, please contact us.


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