If you or your child are thinking about learning a string instrument, one of your first worries might be the cost. Of course you'll also have to think about lessons, camps, workshops, and the ongoing upkeep of your instrument (i.e. strings, bow re-hair, rosin, repairs, general maintenance, etc). In this article, we'll focus on the on the initial cost of the instrument itself.
Renting versus Buying
Renting is only logical in a few situations:
- You're a growing child, starting out with 1/2 size or smaller.
- You're just trying out the instrument and not sure if it's the instrument you'll stick with for the long haul.
- The shop applies the rental rate to the overall purchase of the instrument - like a layaway plan.
- It's only for a short time period -- maximum six months -- and the rental cost and time does not exceed the value of the instrument.
If your circumstance is not any of the listed, it's better to purchase an instrument you know you'll be playing for a long while. Remember, with a rental, unless it's a layaway plan, all the money you've put in is lost when you finally return the instrument to the shop.
If you were renting a student violin with a total value of $650 at $35 per month for two years, you've paid $840 for an instrument you won't get to keep. If you purchase the instrument and decide not to continue lessons later or purchase a different instrument, you can always try to sell your current instrument or trade it in for an upgrade; this can't be done with a rental.
However, renting does make sense if the instrument has a much higher value and the rental fee can be applied to the purchase. For example, if you want to try out a $4,500 violin, but you can't afford the full cost upfront, a rental agreement with layaway benefits might come in handy.