Renting or buying a violin?
Many parents with hopeful young musicians struggle with whether to buy a violin or to have their child get started with a rental instrument. The logic being that your son or daughter may want to change to a different instrument after the first year or give up. Or, if your child is very young, the thought of having to buy multiple instruments until he or she is ready for a full size violin might make renting seem like the attractive solution.
And although there are a variety of reasons why buying a violin, as opposed to renting one, is simply a much better option for many new students, renting your violin can often present many attractive benefits as well, depending on your particular situation. This information can help you make the best decision for your budding musician.
When Renting Makes Sense
There are three key criteria involved when renting a violin makes since for beginners.
- Your child needs a violin size that is less than 1/4
- The dealer offers credits for upgrades in size, or on a future purchase
- Your child is uncertain about the instrument he or she wants to play
However, remember, it’s extremely important that you don’t go ahead and purchase too large a violin, expecting your child to “grow into it.” This is a huge mistake that can cause all sorts of problems from poor execution to dangerous physical injuries.
Your child will play better and improve faster on a violin that is correctly sized. Therefore, renting a quality instrument that is sized correctly may offer the right solution for you.
The violin, like many stringed instruments, is highly susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature. Since it is crafted from organic materials, changes in the atmospheric pressure cause expansion and contraction, which can (if the change is significant) lead to costly damage. Some rental agreements include insurance to guard against accidental damage.
However, sometimes rental property just isn’t cared for with the same dedication that ownership instills, which is why many rental violins don’t offer the same sound quality as those available for purchase. Poor intonation can cause your child to become frustrated with lessons, or create and aversion to playing altogether. New learners need encouragement. A rental instrument with poor resonance makes it difficult to learn the subtle differences between tones and is just no fun to play.
That being said, there are a number of great dealers who offer well-maintained violins for rental. The trick here is to rely on the reputation of the dealer: Great dealers will offer excellent rental instruments.
Notably, the most common reason for choosing a rental violin pertains to the imagined expense of a new purchase. Too frequently, the misconception concerning price will influence parents. Plan accordingly.
You may be surprised to learn that the rental fees, insurance, set-up costs, and other fees associated with renting a violin can add up swiftly. Over the course of one year, the costs typically equal what you would spend to buy a quality manufactured violin that has been set-up properly by a professional Luthier.
On the other hand, renting an instrument for 3-6 months can be a great alternative for those students who are experimenting with the right instrument.
However, if your child is sure about his choice, a well-cared for beginner violin will retain a good portion of its purchased value, so that when your child is ready to upgrade to an intermediate or lifetime instrument, the resale or trade-in value can help defer the price.
Another misconception that many parents have about buying a violin involves the belief that affordable, new instruments that offer great quality craftsmanship and beautiful sound are too scarce. They mistakenly assume that if the instrument is mass-manufactured, it won’t play well or be durable.
And, while that is certainly true for many inferior instruments, a reputable violin dealer will offer violins for purchase or rent that have been constructed of quality tonewoods and manufactured with a superior attention to detail.
Playing the violin offers many advantages for students. If you spend a little time while choosing your child’s violin, your rental or purchase investment will pay off in huge dividends in your child’s achievement and enjoyment.