Should You Buy or Rent a Musical Instrument?

Every year, school music programs start a new group of beginning students. At that time, a representative from a music store may visit the schools to give a presentation of the services they offer. Usually, this involves some kind of rental program for a period of 3-12 months. Some also offer rent-to-own services, so that some or all of your rental fee is applied to the purchase price if you decide to buy the instrument.

Many people like to rent because they don’t have to lay out a large sum of money. Also, if their child decides not to continue in band or orchestra, they don’t have to think about what to do with the unused instrument. Those rental fees can add up in a hurry though, and soon enough you will have spent enough money in rental fees to have purchased a good used instrument.

A better option would be to buy a used instrument in the first place. Parents are reluctant to do this because they don’t know anything about musical instruments, and are afraid to buy one that doesn’t play well. Music teachers are reluctant too, because they know that the quality of the instrument will play a large role in whether or not the child has a successful experience.

Nevertheless, this is still the best option if you go about it in the right way. Unless you know what you’re doing or have an expert on call, buying from yard sales or newspaper ads are probably not the best idea, unless you can find a way to buy it on condition of the music teacher’s approval. Music stores sometimes sell used instruments, and these quite often come with a limited guarantee. Another option would be to buy from a reputable online dealer, such as, where you can return the instrument if it is not as advertised.

If your child decides not to continue, instead of returning a rental for no return on your investment, you have a quality used instrument that can be saved for a sibling or sold to another beginning band or orchestra student. Contact your child’s music teacher and let them know that you have one available for a very reasonable price.

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