Johnson String Instruments vs Southwest Strings

When my students ask where to buy strings, music stands, or other music-related things online, I usually direct them to Southwest Strings in general and Johnson String Instrument if I am directing them to purchase an adjustable cello or harp chair. JSI has a bigger selection, but Southwest Strings has better sales and pricing.

This year, 2019, I noticed a lot of JSI coupons for random things. Should I start directly my students to JSI instead? I decided to try one of the coupons because I sent my favorite folding stand, a Manhasset Voyager, with my youngest cousin to Taiwan. He was still using a regular folding stand with holes for his home practice, which I do not think is best.

I chose some products and then applied the code:

Johnson String Instrument offered a 20% discount with a weekend code which turned into… nothing. Apparently because the items I chose were already on sale.

I was a little disappointed to realize that the coupon was off the regular price for anything I chose. This does make sense, but is also means that Southwest still wins at pricing and sales. Southwest Strings regularly has 10%/15%/20% off certain categories or with certain minimum purchases (usually $50/$100/$150), and these stack with any existing sale prices. I can usually get the 15% without much effort but usually go for the 20% or occasional rare 25%.

For example, the Voyager folding stand I love so much. JSI says their original price is $66.95 and their current sale price is $60.25— and the 20% off would be $53.56. Southwest Strings’ original price is $59.99 and 15% off would be $50.99.

For another example, I frequently recommend the soft shoulder rests for younger students. The Big Softie at Southwest Strings is $7.99 and 15% off would be $6.79. I did not try to buy the identical product under a different name at JSI (They call if the “Super-Sensitive Violin or Viola Shoulder Rest”), which is $9.50 for the thick version and $8.50 for the thin version, and comes to $7.60 and $6.80 respectively with a 20% off.

Those small pieces of change can add up— and I can usually get to 20% off at Southwest Strings, which makes the differences bigger. I have not had to use the customer service from JSI, but I can report that Southwest Strings had good customer service.

I still recommend Southwest Strings over Johnson Strings except in the case of cello/harp chairs.

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