Stringed Instruments: Rent or Buy?

Stringed Instruments: Rent or Buy?

Learning how to play a stringed instrument is an enjoyable and exciting experience. It can also be a time of uncertainty, especially if the musician is a student. And as you begin your research, you’ll find there are many factors to consider before even beginning to play – the most important perhaps being whether you should rent or purchase an instrument for your budding student. Below, we’ll discuss the perks of renting and buying, as well as discuss a few things to look for before you make your decision. Whether your aspiring musician has their sights set on the cello, violin, viola or bass, you should have a better idea of whether renting or buying is the best fit for your student.

The Perks of Renting

Want to switch instruments? No problem. For younger student musicians, renting makes more sense than buying. A child’s interest can change faster than you can say Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 1, and going the rental route gives them an opportunity see if playing a stringed instrument is something that they really want to do for an extended period of time.

 Room to grow. A rental instrument grows with your child. You simply can’t buy a full-sized instrument and expect your son or daughter to “grow” into it. To set a student up for musical success, their instrument must be suited to their body stature, which is why each instrument in the string family comes in a different size. With a rental, when your child outgrows their instrument, it can be traded in for the next size up.

 Cost effectiveness. Renting is typically the most cost-effective way to source a quality stringed instrument for your child. As mentioned previously, stringed instruments come in a variety of sizes, so buying one each time your child needs to “size up” just doesn’t make sense. Many companies also offer rent-to-own programs, so when you and your child decide they are ready to own their stringed instrument, a portion of the rental fees will often be applied to the purchase.

 All-in-one convenience. Rental outfits come with everything a musician needs and are ready to play the minute you bring them home. Instrument? Check. Case? Check. Bow, rosin, music stand? Triple check! If your knowledge of stringed instruments is limited, you may not know exactly what equipment is necessary to get started. With a rental outfit, it’s all provided and as part of your rental fee, the provider should be available to answer all your questions regarding any accessories and/or additional equipment you may need.

Questions to Ask your Rental Provider

  • What are the trade-in/up procedures?
  • What are the plan inclusions/terms of the agreement?
  • How much is the total cost of the rental agreement?
  • Is accidental/theft insurance available?
  • What happens if the instrument needs to be repaired or needs maintenance?

 The Perks of Buying

Great option for advanced students. Buying an instrument is a fantastic option for committed musicians and advanced students who are past the beginner stage. If your child has invested time and effort into developing their talent and is serious about continuing on with their music education, buying an instrument may be your best option. While rental quality instruments are completely fine (and recommended) for beginners, accomplished student musicians may benefit from a more professional-level stringed instrument.

 Pride and a sense of ownership. Your child is more likely to take playing seriously if they own their stringed instrument. Buying their instrument gives them a greater sense of commitment and because the financial investment is significant, you may find yourself more interested in their musical development – a win-win situation for both of you!

 Cost effectiveness. You’ll notice that cost is listed as a perk of both renting and buying.  When you decide to purchase a stringed instrument (whether new or used) it is a one-time expense. There is no monthly fee associated with buying an instrument outright. Some retailers offer trade-in programs, purchase plans and packages that offer more bang for your buck, so make sure to inquire about such programs while shopping around. Please keep in mind that there may be costs associated with repairs/instrument maintenance, so it’s important to ask the retailer questions regarding these costs before making a purchase.

 Things to Consider Before Buying

  • Always do your research before making an investment. Ask your child’s music teacher or a professional musician for their recommendations – they are an excellent source of information.
  • Find out what is included with your purchase – are you buying only the instrument or does it come with accessories like a bow and case? Take into consideration that you may have to budget for additional equipment costs.
  • Look into where the instrument can be repaired if needed. Does the retailer offer in-house repairs or does the instrument need to be sent elsewhere? How long do repairs typically take?

In the end, the decision to rent or buy a stringed instrument should be based on your own unique situation. Remember that finding the perfect instrument may take time, but it can still be a lot of fun. The whole shopping experience can be something you and your child do together and is a fantastic way to get them engaged, excited and enthusiastic about beginning (and hopefully continuing) their musical education.


For more information about renting vs. buying, check out Instrument Rental for Your Child and Should I Rent or Buy an Instrument for My Student? 


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