Is It Time for an Instrument Upgrade?

If your child’s music studies concentrate on playing one specific instrument, such as the guitar or piano, the maintenance and costs associated with that instrument will make up the bulk of your expenses. One of the biggest debates surrounding enrolling a child in music lessons is how much– if any– are the parents willing to spend on an instrument. After all, it’s not uncommon for children to start playing a guitar, only to change their mind and switch to a trumpet after a few months.

Most of the time, music stores or teaching academies will offer beginning level instruments to rent or purchase for a discounted price. Although these instruments are acceptable in quality and sound, eventually you’ll want to upgrade to a higher-quality instrument that your child can call their “own”. If you’re unsure about whether or not the time is right for an upgrade, here are some guidelines to help you decide.

Give it Some Time

If your child has never played a musical instrument before, it’ll probably take them a year or so until they’ll play well enough to notice the difference in instrument quality as far as the improved tone an upgraded instrument will provide. Additionally, if your child still loves the instrument after taking lessons for a year, it’s a good sign that they’ll stick with the instrument long enough for an upgrade to be a good investment instead of a major mistake. When upgrading, you can either upgrade to a mid-range instrument or a professional model. Although it’s more expensive, some opt for the latter as it’ll ensure that they’ll never have to upgrade to a ‘better’ instrument again.

Has a Style Been Developed?

Another positive aspect of renting or purchasing a lower-quality instrument is that it’ll give your child some time to develop their personal style. For example, if your child takes a liking to playing rock music, you’d want to purchase them an electric guitar instead of a folk or acoustic guitar. Similarly, some musicians develop a preference for a certain brand or manufacturer over time, as they’re able to handle a variety of different instruments. Some guitarists prefer Gibson guitars, while others prefer Fender. Both are world-class instruments but have subtle differences in how they’re manufactured- something only a person who has had the time to handle both will notice.

Don’t Rush

As with purchasing a new car or laptop, finding the “perfect” instrument can take some time. Don’t go into the process expecting to purchase a new instrument right away. You’ll have to conduct research, contact sellers, or visit stores in-person. Even if you decide to purchase an instrument online, you should still visit a music store to test out the instrument in person- especially if the online retailer doesn’t offer hassle-free returns or exchanges. Many times an instrument will sound different when we play it ourselves as opposed to hearing it played while sitting in the audience at a recital.

Be Sensible

Before heading into a music store, do some initial research. How much does a full-size or professional grade instrument cost? What kinds of accessories will your child need? In some cases, parents upgrade to a higher quality instrument once they have enough money saved. Keep in mind that you’ll want to purchase an instrument that your child can grow into, which will also keep you from having to purchase another instrument a year or two down the line. If you’re still concerned about the price, some shops offer trade-in programs, purchase plans , or value packages that can help you stretch your dollar. If you plan on purchasing the instrument online, keep an eye out for any sales or discounts.

Looking for more info?

Head into your local Music & Arts, and if you play the acoustic guitar, check out Is It Time to Upgrade Your Acoustic Guitar?

Music & Arts

Music & Arts is a family owned and operated music resource for parents, students, educators and musicians. With over 140 stores in 23 states and the largest private lesson program in the United States, Music & Arts is an authority on music education and a resource for new and experienced musicians alike.

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