Monday, April 30, 2012

Instruments--Rent or Buy?

My daughter has almost completed her first school year having "strings" class in school.  She rents (well, we pay the bill :) a viola for this purpose.  We are a little unsure of the next step we should take.  She still really enjoys the viola and would like to stick with playing it.  We didn't think that would happen which was one big reason we were renting.  Also, for next year, it would appear she needs the next bigger size.  If we keep renting from the same company, we will just turn this one in and get the next size and continue to pay our 37.99/month.

Here's the thing:  my hubby found some new violas for sale online for around $100 (in bright, fun colors!).  So doesn't it seem logical to just purchase one of those in the next size and it'll be paid for in only a few months of not renting?

Well, I'm not mom said if the quality is too low sometimes the instrument cannot be tuned properly. The rental store will apply what we've spent on rent for this one to the purchase of a new high quality instrument from them.  But their brand new retail price is around $ even with our credit we'd still be looking at $400ish to purchase a "good" one.

Since neither my husband or I play musical instruments we are a little lost on this decision.  Do any of you musical readers have words of advice for us?


  1. I would look on Craigslist and Ebay for a good used instrument. Ask around for an expert among your friends to help you determine if the instrument available is decent quality. I would buy a used one if you can find something that is in your price range. To buy a good quality instrument new, will cost you a lot.

  2. Do you think she will still want to play over a year from now? At $38/mo. you're already paying a little over $450 for a full year of rental, so you'd possibly save money in the long run by buying. Additionally, buy a decent quality one if you decide to go that way. Fun colors are cool, but it's probably not the best quality at that price point, which means that it may not sound as nice if she's playing in a concert with someone else with a better quality instrument. Also, it's possible that a) she'll decide down the line she doesn't like the color or it's not "cool" to have a colorful instrument or b) that her school may not let her use it at recitals and such- I know that we couldn't in my school when I used to play (although that was early 90's). You could also ask your rental company if they sell their rentals or have a yearly sale- our rental company had a sale every year of their used instruments, which is where I got mine. I played flute and got a good quality one at that sale for like $100-200 I think, which was much cheaper than buying new. Leave the new instruments until she gets really serious about playing long term!

  3.! :) They don't sell junk. :)

    And in my opinion, a $100 viola would most likely be "junk" unless we're talking a special garage sale treasure type of find. ;) And it's so hard to learn without a good instrument! :)

  4. We got Tannen's Clarinet and McKenna's guitar from (after a recommendation from 2 very musical friends) Super fast shipping, and so far we've not had issues with either one. I did the math and thought that even if Tannen fizzled out after this first year, we would come out ahead over renting (which we did at first, over $100 spent to make sure he liked it)

    We figured we'd spend more on rent for the remainder of this year than if we just plunked down the $150 for his own clarinet, so we opted to buy. We also figured that if down the line, he is still playing, his teacher could be the one to decide if the quality wasn't up to par for performing...Still, we would be "not up to par" with a long-since-paid-for instrument, and could then invest again when we knew he was really really serious! (and same with McKenna's guitar, tho she is just casually learning, not doing it at school :) )

    Good luck! :)

  5. Ditto on what swedemom said. NOW is the time to be watching Craigslist - all the kids dropping out of their orchestras for next year are selling their instruments. Ask her instructor for brand recommendations. We bought Becky's flute that way and ended up with (according to her flute instructor) a great instrument at a great price. I know, with violins, Brett's instructor favored Yamahas and Glaesels. He started on a full-sized violin, so, when he wanted to continue after the first year, we paid off his rent-to-own Glaesel. If she still isn't full-size, I wouldn't buy unless you find a good Craigslist deal.


Thanks for your comments~!