To Rent or To Buy, That is The Question!

Michelle Soulliere


Spending time chatting to people out in our community who are interested in music lessons, I often ask them 'Do you have an instrument to learn with?'

I get mixed answers. Some students are ready to go with a piano, keyboard, violin, guitar, drum kit, or a set of lungs to sing with. Haha. Others are not sure of their level of commitment to playing an instrument, or they are unfamiliar with how to shop for musical instruments within their budget. 

Often I’m asked by curious future students if they should rent or buy an instrument to start learning. There are pros and cons to both as a student, and most folks I’m talking to haven’t played anything since grade school or at all. I know that when I find myself getting into unfamiliar waters, the first thing I want to do is get as much information as possible when making the decision. 

Honing the art of playing any instrument is often a much more time consuming activity than you realize at first, some of us decide quickly that the instrument we thought we were interested in is just not for us after all. Then, there’s the hurdle of the price tag associated with playing music. The thing is, you don’t absolutely have to purchase your instrument, especially at first, or if it’s not reasonable for you to do it. That being said, sometimes it is well worth it to make the investment yourself, and buy. 

"Renting an instrument makes it easy to return and exchange it which is beneficial for a number of reasons."

As students explore, parents are not required to purchase new instruments their children may not decide to continue using. Students will grow out of certain instruments like guitars and violins until about age 12, so renting allows you to simply swap out to a bigger size when needed. With renting, you aren’t stuck with trying to figure out how to sell an unwanted instrument, or letting it collect dust.

In most instances, buying an instrument is a pretty large commitment, but regardless of who actually spent the money, that commitment can translate straight through to the student as well. Whether you are buying for yourself, your child, or whoever, making that commitment shows that you are confident in whoever is playing to learn and develop into a musician. This confidence boost is fantastic for learning, encouraging the beginner musician to make the most of the expense, even if the beginner is you.

The expense of buying an instrument straight off the bat will be cheaper in the long run than renting. Your instrument could be an investment. Accepting that even student-level instruments are going to cost a bit of money, you can still find quite a number of them at relatively inexpensive price points. While shopping around you may be looking at sites like amazon and costco. You probably don’t really know what you’re looking at. And that’s okay, as a beginner or a parent of a student, you really shouldn’t, but the instrument you end up with may not be of the best quality. 

"When it comes buying to music instruments, just like music lessons, you really get what you pay for."

Say you’re looking for a violin, and you find one under $100. You might get excited by this, but if it isn’t a name brand you’re likely to end up with an instrument that produces poor sound quality, bad intonations, and breaks easily. Trust an expert that isn’t looking to make a commission. You also don’t want to walk into a fancy music instrument store and get upsold into buying a whole lot of gear that you don’t need. Our school carries good quality instruments at a decent price point for students that we’ve tested ourselves and sent out into the world with wonderful results. We’ll also give you a solid recommendation for instruments and gear that we may not carry. 

A few musical instrument rental options:


In the end you simply have to try to use your best judgement when deciding on renting or buying a musical instrument. Generally speaking, it’s best to start with renting. This allows a student to try out an instrument with very little pressure to stick with it if they don’t like it. It saves money during the beginning stage of learning, while keeping you in a low risk situation. Once a commitment has been made to the instrument, however, it’s usually better to return the rental and spend the money to buy one. With continued interest and practice, making the investment will save you lots of money in the long run.

Hey, this is still a big decision. We can help! At South Windsor School of Music we have instruments for sale and for rent to suit your needs. We’ve helped a lot of folks make this decision in the past, and would be very happy to answer your questions! 

Free Music Lesson 


Let's set aside a few moments to find the perfect booking. 
Ask about teacher recommendations, our other services like string changes, camps and group lessons, the process of learning an instrument, goals and expectations, learning paths for different instruments, our curriculum, performance opportunities, school updates, booking options, anything!

Questions about music lessons? 

Send us a note below.