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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 Czechoslovakia) 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. Most rental plans have many options available. 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. 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.

“Does the store rent quality student-model instruments?”

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

“Does all or part of my rent 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 free maintenance for normal wear and tear problems part of the rental agreement?”

A: It’s better for you if it is. This will save you money in the long run.

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

A: It’s better for you if they carry their own rental contracts. This way it will be easier if you have any problems.

“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.

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