Before renting a stringed instrument for your beginning player, know what you're getting ... and getting into.
Depending on your beginning violin student’s personality, level of commitment, maturity and other factors, you may decide that you would like to rent your child an instrument rather than purchasing a new one. There are pluses and minuses to both scenarios. If you do decide to go the rental route, there are very important things to know and understand before actually renting the instrument for your child.
Renting a violin for your child can be advantageous if you are unsure of your child’s commitment to learning the violin. Renting a student violin allows the child to become acquainted with the violin before investing in a higher-quality student violin. Many children become frustrated or uninterested in music and quit lessons (if the parent allows it) and in many cases, a student who starts off on violin decides he or she would rather learn cello or piano. In these cases, it’s a good idea to begin by renting, even though higher quality student violins, violas and cellos hold their value for resale.
If your child is beginning lessons at an early age, between 5 and 12 years old, then renting an instrument may make sense due to the fact that smaller children need smaller instruments. Larger instruments are needed as the child grows. For some parents, it is easier to rent and allow for appropriate size exchanges before settling on purchasing a full size instrument when the student is ready for one.
May shops will apply the first three months of rental costs towards the purchase of a new instrument. You may purchase the instrument and continue to trade in the instruments as your child grows from size to size. Some shops will offer customers 75% of the value back towards the purchase of the next size up violin. In that sense, it really does make more financial sense to buy and trade up.
It is never advisable to rent instruments online. It is always advisable to visit your local violin shop that provides low-cost violin rental programs for students and children. A violin shop with experienced makers is a better choice than a large music chain or band store. A violin shop with experienced luthiers will know how to properly set up student violins for maximum ease of playability. Installing the correct stings, adjusting the bridge and sound post makes all the difference in the world to how a violin sounds. You’ll want your child to possess an instrument that sounds good and is easy to play. Student violins usually will come with a bow, a case and the minimal accessories needed, such as violin rosin.
Some violin shops offer comprehensive insurance plans for their rental instruments to cover repairs in the event that your child damages his instrument. Always purchase the insurance when available. It’s worth it if only to provide you, as the parent, the peace of mind knowing that you will not be financially responsible if something happens to one of these delicate instruments.
As stated before, many violin shops that rent will allow at least a portion (usually the first three months) of your rental payments to be applied to the price of a new student instrument. This is a great benefit for students who “stick with it” until they need or “deserve” their own full-sized instrument. Most shops constantly replenish their stable of rentals with new violins each year.