Cello Renting vs. Buying: Which is Right for You?

Cello Rental or Purchase

If you’re interested in learning to play the cello, or have a child that’s an aspiring cellist, you may be asking yourself whether it makes more sense to buy or rent the instrument. Often times, parents choose to rent an instrument because they know their daughter or son may not be as dedicated to learning to play as they initially seem to be. Sometimes, people believe that making the financial investment in purchasing an instrument will help to cement their own dedication. In their minds, making an expensive purchase will demonstrate a commitment to learning.

One important consideration, especially for parents looking to acquire a cello for their child to learn with, is whether or not they’re going to grow out of it. Obviously, if your child requires a ¼ or ½ size cello, then you’ll probably want to avoid having to repeatedly shell out a great deal of money every time they require an upgrade. Whether you’re interested in learning to play or have a child that’s interested, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of buying vs. renting before making any serious financial commitments. In most cases, renting tends to be the best option for players who are just starting out. However, if you’re not sure about which choice is right for you, this guide can help.

When Does Buying Make Sense?

If you or your child has been playing a rented cello for several years and demonstrated a real commitment to the instrument, it may be time to buy one. Instruments like the cello can prove to be solid financial investments because they can last for many years, provided that they’ve been properly maintained and cared for. For parents, purchasing an instrument also provides an opportunity to teach children an important lesson in responsibility. Still, it’s best to hold off on making the purchase until after your child has already demonstrated some level of responsibility as well as a genuine interest in sticking with the instrument for years to come. Before you make the decision, you should also consult with your child’s music teacher for advice. Your child’s teacher will have a better sense of their skill level and needs which can help you determine when the best time is.

When Does Renting Make Sense?

There are several scenarios in which renting a cello is the clear choice. If, for example, you or your child has never played a cello before, it’s smarter to make less of a financial commitment as you might find that the instrument simply isn’t right for you. Another case where renting should be the first choice would be if your child requires an undersized instrument. It’s much less expensive to upgrade your rentals than it is to try to purchase upgrades every time your child needs one.

Sometimes, people try to get around this problem by purchasing an instrument that’s too large in the hopes that their child might grow into it. This is a mistake, as any music teacher will tell you that it’s very difficult to learn to play on an instrument that’s too large. Doing so could actually cause physical damage as well as potentially sabotaging a child’s interest in playing! Additionally, it’s a good idea to make use of rent-to-own programs. Many instrument retailers offer these programs, which help mitigate the high cost of new instruments but allow students to earn credit towards their own instrument.

What Are Rent-To-Own Programs?

Rent-to-own programs are deals offered by instrument retailers which allow students to rent an instrument and earn credit with each monthly payment. Once the student has earned enough credit, they can choose to own the instrument that they’ve played on or apply their credit towards the purchase of a different instrument. These plans often include some insurance for the instrument, so if any maintenance is required during the learning period, it’s much more easily taken care of. This is important for parents, because accidents are a fact of life, and there’s no need to compound a simple accident with the high cost of instrument repairs. Rent-to-own programs also solve the problem of having to upgrade instruments as a child grows. If you have the ability to take advantage of a rent-to-own program, then you generally should.

Is The Sound Quality of Rentals Different?

One reason some individuals prefer to purchase a new instrument instead of renting one is the notion that the sound quality of rentals is lacking. While this is a valid concern, for anyone who is brand new to the instrument, it shouldn’t make a noticeable difference. Also, because rentals are covered by insurance and can often be swapped out, it’s not too much trouble to deal with an instrument that’s not up to the desired quality. It’s true that rental instruments aren’t always cared for the way that they need to be, and given that cellos are especially susceptible to temperature and humidity, damage which can affect sound quality is certainly possible. If you have the experience necessary to detect significant problems with sound quality, you may have reached the point of considering the purchase of your own instrument.

How Much Will a Rental Save Me?

Obviously, the main benefit of renting an instrument is saving money. It’s important to remember, though, that over time the costs associated with renting can add up, especially when you factor in insurance and fees. If you’re not taking advantage of a rent-to-own program, it’s a good idea to keep track of the total costs of your rentals so that you can evaluate when you’ve reached the point that renting is no longer saving you money, but actually costing you more than purchasing.


Regardless of your decision, properly caring for and maintaining your cello is key. If you do decide to purchase, here’s more info about how to buy your child’s first cello.

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