Buying vs. Renting a Musical Instrument: Which is Better

The use of a good instrument during practice is vital to the success of every music student. Thousands of parents each year face decisions like whether to buy or rent an instrument, and whether to obtain a new or used one. The answer isn’t simple, and it’s important to consider the monetary cost as well as whether or not the player will play for years to come.

Finding an instrument is an important decision – and it can have a big impact on your kid’s chances of success. Used or new instruments are often good to check out, so if you’ve got some time, it may be worth considering these options.

Another issue to be aware of is what kind of instrument your child wants to learn. Once you’ve decided on a beginner/student model, ask your music teacher or friends in the know for advice about it. When buying or renting a space, consider the various market conditions and the specifics of your location. There are many different prices depending on where you are.

Buying a stringed instrument new can be really expensive because even beginner violins/violas/cellos can cost several hundred dollars and beginner double basses can even be in the thousands. There are going to be a lot of factors to consider when you’re considering renting or buying your next stringed instrument. So, we’ve gathered some information on the big and small expenses related to both options.

How Much Does Buying a Stringed Instrument Cost

Brand new beginner violin, viola, and cello outfits can be purchased on Amazon starting from $200 – $500 depending on the manufacturer. Used instruments are usually cheaper and can be found in your local music store or on eBay. In addition, talking to a store owner can’t hurt because they often buy lots of instruments for cheap and their inventory is shifting, too.

When you buy a stringed instrument instead of renting it, the cost is spread out over time which means there’s less of an impact on your budget. This also means that renting instruments can be much more affordable and one way of financing the purchase.

A good introductory cello kit usually includes a:

  • A student model cello ($100-$300 value)
  • A beginner cello bow ($15-$50 value depending on whether it’s fiberglass or wood)
  • A cello case ($100 value)
  • Extra strings ($50 value)
  • Extra bridge ($20 value)

That’s a total value of $400-500 (depending on the make/model) and since you can buy some beginner cello sets for $200-300, you’re getting an additional $100-200 in value.

It’s better to buy an entire cello outfit than getting individual parts since the sum totals will be much more affordable.

How Much Does Renting a Stringed Instrument Cost

To get a guitar, violin or other stringed instrument, you can rent one. This generally happens at your local music store and is usually made of a monthly fee.

We’ll use cellos as a reference again. The music shop I used to work at charges $10-$20 per month for used cellos and $18-$25 for new ones. It’s not your instrument, so the music shop charges a monthly fee of $4.50 to protect it against damages. This cost is for stringing only and doesn’t include strings or accessories.

Renting an instrument can be great because you aren’t the one who owns it. So if it gets damaged or your student wants to quit, you just give it back. No need to pay a repair bill or find a buyer!

Music stores usually have really good deals with instruments. For example, Foxes gives you 100% of the monthly rental amount if you sign up for a year and 50% per month after that. They also have packages where you get credits toward the instrument of your choice, which takes away the hassle of saving up money to buy one.

To Buy or to Rent Music Instruments: an Example

Let’s say you rent a $35 cello for your student. After one year, the total cost to buy and re-sell the instrument will be $474, which includes $4.5 in monthly insurance premiums and a monthly rental penalty of $35. You now have $420 in rental credits for you to put towards a new cello of the same or greater value. But if your student no longer wants to play it, you’ve spent that money for nothing!

If a student chooses to play the cello for 1 year and you decide to buy your instrument from Amazon: if you pay upfront for the instrument, you should buy at least 2 years protection. If you pay $215, you own the instrument and will have more protection than if it was just rented. Plus, you’ll have an instrument worth about $190 that may be recycled for an upgrade or sold back for cash.

If you still don’t get it, here’s a table that shows what the 1-year costs would be:

Buying Renting
Total Cost $215 $474


t’s true, the purchase option is cheaper in this case. But how does it compare to trade-in and resale values after one year of playing?

Buying Renting
Trade-in Value $190 $420
Resale Value $190 $0

Your student might quit after the first few months, but since the “buying” option has a higher resale value, you’ll ideally be able to sell it and get at least 80% of what you paid back. Even though the trade-in price for a used guitar is higher, if your student decides not to continue playing, then you won’t really be earning anything from it.


If you’re not sure your student will continue playing, renting an instrument might be the best option.

If you’re into stringed instruments and are looking to buy rather than rent, then buying is a better option in most cases. Even if the student leaves or you decide to stop playing, you can always re-sell for a price close to the initial cost.

So, renting a stringed instrument can be valuable if…

  • Your company will pay monthly instead of up-front.
  • The violin student isn’t sure whether they’ll keep playing their instrument.
  • You don’t want to take on the responsibility of owning an instrument outright.
  • Your student is exploring different instruments and wants to take chord as they think they might like it.

Buying a stringed instrument is worth it if…

  • You can be confident about buying a stringed instrument up front.
  • You can start buying a musical instrument if you’d like- I don’t mind.
  • You are fairly confident that your student will continue to play over the course of the next year.

Renting or buying a stringed instrument is a personal decision and we hope this guide helps.

FAQ  for Buying vs. Renting Instrument

Is renting an instrument a good idea for beginners?

Renting an instrument is a good idea as it can be used to try different instruments. This way you can figure out which instrument suits you the best. Renting an instrument doesn’t mean you can’t buy it later because many contracts allow for a purchase option.

What is the cost of buying an instrument?

Buying an instrument like a violin can be expensive. But that all depends on what you’re willing to pay. For example, some cost more than others. The cost of buying an instrument also depends on whether you are buying it new or a used one. New ones are more expensive than used ones.

Which is better renting or buying instruments?

It can be hard to figure out if you’re going to stick with playing an instrument. A really smart way of going about it is by renting the instrument for a while. This not only gives you a chance to see if it sticks but also does not make any commitment that could hurt your financial situation in the future.

A rented musical instrument can be returned at any time, often much sooner than the rental period would have ended. Renting an instrument rather than purchasing it can save money and provide access to instruments that you could otherwise only get by ordering, waiting for delivery and paying extra shipping costs!

If you want to buy a musical instrument, it may make your money go further if you pay for the instrument outright instead of having monthly payments. Also, you will have more control over when and how often you sell or return it compared to those who finance their purchase.

What are the benefits of renting an instrument?

If you are looking for an instrument for your child to learn on, it can be frustrating to find the one that is just right. Renting a new saxophone or clarinet from The Music Den might be a good choice – they have a wide selection of instruments and great prices.

Renting a musical instrument is a good way to get started with playing an instrument without buying anything. This can also be useful for professionals who need access to different instruments for performing at various gigs.

Renting a drum kit is often preferred by musicians as they only have to worry about the equipment for their performance, and not having to worry about paying for upkeep or maintenance costs.

Rental is the perfect option if you’re looking for an instrument to use occasionally without ruining your wallet. You can return it whenever you want and focus on important aspects of your business that need more attention with such instruments like the quality of your product, building a better team, etc.

What drawbacks of renting or buying an instruments?

Buying an instrument can be difficult and expensive, so you’ll need to save a bit of money and commit yourself entirely to caring for it in the future. With a short-term goal of only a few months, you might be better off renting an instrument from a music store. It’ll eventually cost less than buying one and it’ll give you the flexibility to let go of the instrument at the end.

Renting instruments is one of the more affordable options when you’re just starting out or not too experienced with playing. It’s a more temporary and inexpensive solution, allowing you to try different instruments before deciding what to buy. A musician who wants to try out a more expensive instrument might want to rent first.

Why would I want to buy a used instrument?

It’s a great idea to buy any musical instruments second-hand, as it can help you save money and get started with quality gear. There are many reasons why people choose to do this!

You should consider buying a used musical instrument. This is a good way for amateur players to get the instrument they want without having to spend too much money on it. Experienced players might want to opt for an old, vintage model which may no longer be available in stores. Perhaps you’re just an inexperienced player and want to try out various instruments before investing in the one you think suits you best.

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