Stradivarius, Fender, Gibson, Steinway. Such names are music to the ears of investors. The rarity and quality of various types of musical instruments, especially violins made by Antonio Stradivari, are often worth millions. Stradivari made 1,100 violins in the 17th century; 650 still survive. A 1699 Stradivarius sold at a public auction in 2005 for $2.03 million. The amount could have been higher had the sale been private [source: Roney].
If a Stradivarius is too high-end, a good provenance can make any ordinary instrument worth thousands. Anyone can buy a Fender or Les Paul for a song, but put that same guitar in the hands of a rock star, and the price balloons. For example, Eric Clapton paid a few hundred dollars and put together a makeshift guitar using parts from other guitars. The instrument sold for $959,500 in 2004 [source: Roney]. In 2000, British pop star George Michael bought the Steinway piano that John Lennon used to compose his hit "Imagine." Michael paid $2.08 million. In 2004, Christie's London auctioned a part of The Who's Keith Moon's drum set for $252,487 [source: Roney].
When buying an instrument keep these things in mind: the maker; the quality; the condition; and the history. The return on your investment will be melodious [source: Roney].