When a child takes an interest in music, one concern that parents often have is whether they’ll be able to afford an expensive instrument and music lessons. All parents want to encourage their children to pursue their creative interests, but the fact is that some musical instruments require a significant investment of time and money. Parents might fear that their kids only have a passing interest in learning to play a musical instrument and that, once they find out that it involves a lot of hard work and dedication, they’ll quickly lose interest.
This concern is reasonable, and fortunately, there are several options for parents who want to make sure they are getting the most for the money they spend on their children’s musical education. For example, parents can purchase a used instrument, rent an instrument from a local music store, or pick up a starter pack which contains everything their child will need to get started.
What is a Starter Pack?
The purpose of a starter pack is to put together in one package everything that a child or new music student will need to get started. Electric guitar starter packs are as popular as they are useful because they contain a starter model guitar, a simple amp, some guitar picks, a cable, headphones, and an instruction book or instructional DVD. All of the top guitar manufacturers offer starter packs because they understand that people who are new to the instrument might not know everything that they’ll need and may not want to spend as much as it costs to buy everything separately. They want to remove any barriers which prevent people from learning to play their instruments. Starter packs are helpful because the process of buying a new instrument for a new player could seem impossible otherwise.
How do Starter Packs Make Buying a New Instrument Easier?
Starter packs make buying a new instrument easier by providing only what’s necessary to learn to play an instrument. Consider the example of the previously-mentioned electric guitar. If a child expresses an interest in playing the electric guitar, and you take her or him to a music store to look at different kinds, it’s unlikely they’ll know which one they should get or why. Electric guitars come in a wide range of different styles, colors, and feature a variety of different options for altering the sound the instrument produces that professional musicians understand. Children, on the other hand, do not need all of the fancy bells and whistles, and parents probably aren’t excited about paying for them.
Starter packs offer a basic model of an electric guitar that contains only the features that are important for children to learn. Is this model going to be the one they play throughout their musical journey? Probably not, but it serves an incredibly important purpose regardless. This is also true, in the case of electric guitar starter packs, with amps. There are many different kinds of amps available for electric guitar players. Amps come in various shapes and sizes and different ones serve different purposes. You wouldn’t want to purchase an amp for a student that’s very large and extremely loud because it’s going to be used to practice with, not perform in front of large crowds. Amps in starter packs are smaller, simpler, and, again, serve to help those new to the instrument with learning to play.
Are Instruments in Starter Packs Lower Quality?
One reason that some are often inclined to avoid starter packs is that they assume the instruments and accessories included are poor quality. To be fair, instrument manufacturers are not putting their best instruments in starter packs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the instrument and accessories included are poor quality. They are simpler intentionally as students do not need advanced features which only serve to inflate the price when the player is unable to use them.
Additionally, students can become discouraged by instruments that have a ton of features because they may not know where to start. It’s fair to say that the instruments and accessories in starter packs are of sufficient quality to use for learning and practice. Once a student has learned the basics and has a greater understanding of the instrument that they are playing, then parents can begin to consider a more fully-featured or sophisticated instrument.
Starter Pack or Instrument Rental?
You may be wondering if it’s more cost-efficient to get a starter pack or to rent an instrument from a local music store. That decision will ultimately depend on your specific circumstances, but there are several important things to consider. Typically, music stores which offer rental programs do not provide all of the necessary accessories; they just provide the instrument itself. Some instruments, like the electric guitar, require many accessories over time. Since they are not provided, you have to purchase them on top of paying for the rental. Unless your local music store offers a rent-to-own program which allows you to keep the instrument your child has been learning on or apply some credit to a new instrument, you can end up spending a lot of money on a starter instrument before having to spend the full amount on a new one anyway.
Another thing to consider is that rental instruments are often used. Although they are well-maintained and often insured by the store, they are susceptible to problems from years of use. On the other hand, starter packs are often much cheaper than rentals end up being over time. Starter packs contain all of the necessary accessories, so you don’t have to spend more buying them separately to start with, although with instruments like the guitar you will eventually have to buy new strings and picks. Again, the decision depends on the specifics of your circumstances.
There are advantages and disadvantages to rental programs and starter packs. One great way of determining which choice to make, if the price doesn’t already do it for you, is to talk to your child’s music teacher. They may have more insight into local rental programs or the relative quality of the starter instrument that comes in a pack.