Lighting the music within
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“Should I Buy or Rent?”

When choosing an instrument for your student, it is important to remember that they will have a better chance of success if they have a well-adjusted, quality-made instrument. This does not mean that you have to buy (or rent) the most expensive instrument, but you will help their chances of success if you stay with the quality brand-name instruments. So many of the lower priced instruments are so poorly made that even a good musician cannot play them. Imagine your child’s chances of succeeding on an instrument like this! They will think that the reason they cannot play is because of their lack of skill, when actually the problem is with the instrument. It’s hard enough to learn how to play a musical instrument; your student should not have to fight with it as well.

Another reason it is best to get a brand-name instrument is that the lower-priced imports (usually from China, Taiwan, Indonesia or the Czech Republic) have no parts distributors in the United States. This makes them difficult (more expensive) and sometimes impossible to repair. Even though these instruments appear to have a lower up-front cost, you will end up with an instrument that will be frustrating for your child, have maintenance problems that can cause expensive repairs, will have almost no resale value, and will usually wear out within a year. Beware!

Rent-to-own plans are an affordable way to start your child in instrumental music. If your child enjoys playing the instrument and continues to have an active interest, most or all of the rent you have paid will apply to the purchase of the instrument if you have a good rent-to-own plan. Many plans also have a step-up option allowing you to apply your rent credit from a used instrument to the purchase of a new one. However, if your child decides the instrument is not for them, then you have only invested a few months of rent as opposed to purchasing an instrument.

Some rent-to-own plans are better than others. The following information will help you make a better decision.

Questions to ask when shopping around for rental plans.

“How reputable are the instrument brands the store sells?”

A: Stay with quality brand-name instruments. Here is a list.

“Do all or part of my rental payments apply to purchase?”

A: The more the better. Ideally you want to have a rental plan with no or minimal interest that applies all of your rental payments towards purchase.

“Is maintenance for normal wear and tear problems part of the rental agreement?”

A: If you can find a rent-to-own contract that includes this for free or as an inexpensive add-on, it would be highly recommended. This will save you money in the long run if something happens with the instrument or if you need to take it in to be cleaned.

“Does the store carry their own contracts with their own inventory or are they a middleman for another company?”

A: Any store that carries their own rental contracts will be better than one that uses another company that they go through. This way if there are any problems, you can go directly through the store rather than having to deal with whatever company owns the instrument as well.

“Does the store allow you to apply your rent credit to purchase a step up (or for string players a next size up) instrument?”

A: It’s better for you if they do. If your child progresses fast enough that they “outgrow” their rental instrument, this will save you quite a bit of money as you will not need to start a new rent-to-own plan from scratch.

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