Many musicians especially those of an amateur persuasion, consider at some length the pros and cons of buying a particular instrument. As many instruments can cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds, it is probably fair to say that most amateur musicians seek value for money. If you consider that to be a euphemism for getting the best instrument (whatever that might mean) at the cheapest price then that is fine by me. Modern manufacturing techniques mean that the hand made instruments of just 30 or 40 years ago can be faithfully reproduced (and often exceeded in quality) for just a fraction of the price of so called handmade instruments. Having said that, it is necessary to be discriminative there is also a lot of cheaper rubbish around. The question is how to sort out the wheat from the chaff or to put it another way find a hidden gem. Many turn to good old google and when it comers up with the goods read a review on the particular instrument(s) under consideration a sensible and reasonable approach, especially if they are buying online sight unseen and sound unheard. But what is questionable is: a) The motives behind the reviewer and b) The knowledge and experience of the reviewer. The motives of the reviewer is the subject for discussion on another day but lets look for a short while at the knowledge and experience of the reviewer. Bear in mind the reviews most of the time are simply other individuals like yourself who have taken the plunge and bought something. Having bought it they then decide to tell the rest of the world. This prompts the following questions (and I expect plenty more): What sort of musician are they? Do they just want a cheapie to try out? Or is it a rich flash guy that wants to impress his mates by getting the big name? What other instruments does the reviewer own how many instruments have they picked up and played? What other instruments have they played? i.e. what are they comparing it with? What research (if any) led them to selecting a particular instrument? And probably more importantly, are they really going to admit that they MIGHT have done the wrong thing? So are reviews valuable or should they all be taken with a pinch of salt. Have you been let down or delighted? Come on be honest! Z.