Renting Versus Purchasing an Instrument

No matter if it’s your first student instrument, or you’re stepping up to an intermediate or professional horn, it can be a huge headache deciding to rent or buy your musical instrument. With so many different options available for renting or buying, where do you even start? We’ve laid out some key things to keep in mind when choosing to rent or buy an instrument so you can make an informed choice that is a great fit for you!

Renting an Instrument

It is very common for people to rent an instrument when they are first starting out! Renting provides an opportunity for a small initial investment from the parents, but still allows the student the full experience of music. Additionally, most rental contracts provide an optional maintenance and replacement plan, adding an extra layer of security in case any accidents were to occur, like say… running over an instrument with a car (it happens more often than you’d think).

Many schools will only start beginners on a limited selection of instruments and allow them to change their instrument later to fill out the needs of the band. For example, students that are interested in playing the saxophone are sometimes required to play clarinet for their first semester or year. The lower commitment of renting an instrument, compared to purchasing an instrument, is perfect for this situation.

In other cases, the instrument a student starts out on isn’t the right fit! This is totally normal, since every instrument has its own unique sound and feel. Renting an instrument provides students with the freedom to explore what voice they want to have as a musician before making the commitment to an instrument.

Where to Rent an Instrument

Instrument rentals can be found at your local music stores, as well as online stores/dealers. While both of these are good options, they have different benefits.

Music stores allow you to talk face to face with a sales professional that can help provide the information you need to find an instrument that is a good fit for you. Music stores often partner with local band directors and private instructors to try to carry the instrument brands they trust.

When it comes to convenience, nothing beats shopping online. Online stores are easily accessible from the comfort of your home, and at any hour of the day. If you have questions while you are browsing, there will often be a phone line, email, or chat button listed on the website that allows you to get any further information that you may need.

How to Rent an Instrument

If you are interested in renting an instrument, we encourage you to start looking into different rental plans, and compare your choices!

Musical instrument rental plans are often “Rent To Own.” What is this? In a rent to own rental agreement, you will pay monthly for the instrument you choose, but a portion of the money goes towards the eventual purchase of the instrument you’ve been playing!

Depending on the rental plan and store you choose to go through, these are often very flexible, and may allow you to switch instruments or end your rental plan early if necessary. If you or your student are unsure about which instrument to choose, or want to try making music without any big commitments, these are things that you want to look for in a rental plan.

Purchasing an Instrument

Purchasing an instrument can be a big step. This is a good option if you have the money to purchase an instrument outright, or are certain that you are committed to sticking with music long-term.

Purchasing, whether it is outright or with a payment plan, often costs less overall than joining a rent-to-own program. Keep in mind that a lot of sales contracts for purchasing an instrument are hard to get out of, and will often penalize you if the contract has to be broken. Maintenance plans don’t typically accompany purchased instruments like they do with rental plans, so any damage to the instrument is the buyer’s responsibility.

One last thing to keep in mind is that similar to cars, instruments devalue quite a bit after they have been used, even if only briefly. If you are sure that you will be continuing to play, purchasing may be a good choice. If not, you may want to consider renting instead for the added flexibility.

How/Where can I Purchase an Instrument?

Instruments can be purchased in a few different locations:

  1. Music Stores
  2. Online Stores
  3. Pawn Shops
  4. Person to Person

Some key things to keep in mind when looking to buy an instrument:

  • Reputable dealers either locally or online will always offer the best quality and reliability.
  • Buying an instrument secondhand from pawn shops, someone you know, or on websites like eBay should be done cautiously. The initial price tag may look tempting, but unless you have enough experience to know what to look for, repairs to get the instrument working may become more of a hassle than it’s worth.
  • Talk to your band director or lesson instructor if you have any questions!

What To Do Now

Now for the fun part: it’s time to visit one of your local music stores or start browsing online!

Still stuck between the lower overall cost of buying and the flexibility of renting? Check out rent to own options! These offer the best of both worlds, especially if you decide you like playing and want to take advantage of the early purchase options that some music stores provide for their customers.

We’ve got you covered with a good place to start by getting more information on rental options at, or give us a call at 877-422-4705.

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