Need instrumental advice...

United States
September 21, 2011 8:02am CST
So my twins are in 4th grade now and are able to start learning musical instruments. Both of them have decided to play the clarinet. I went to a band meeting at the school yesterday where the teacher discussed expectations etc. with the kids playing instruments. There was also a music company there that rents and sells instruments. For about $20 a month per instrument I can rent the clarinets, and after awhile if I choose to buy the instrument, every rental payment goes towards the purchase of a new or "like new" instrument through this company. The instructer warned against buying cheaper versions of the instruments. She said many times companies will not repair or maintain "cheaper" quality instruments. She said the best bet is to go through this company which only deals in name brand instruments. Being the skeptic that I am, I am not sure if she's just trying to help this company make some money, or if it's true that cheaper brands won't hold up as well and won't be repairable. I completely understand that you get what you pay for.. but is there honestly a difference in musical instruments? I've found a few clarinets on Craigslist going for around $50 on up to around $200. I was seriously debating buying 2 of the $50 ones for the kids. But after the meeting I'm wondering if that's really a good idea. I want my kids to be able to learn on an instrument that works well. I don't want it to cause them any problems because that will just make it frustrating for them.. and as we all know kids tend to give up when something becomes frustrating. So I'm looking for some advice from someone who really knows their musical instruments. Are they all the same? Will a Craigslist instrument be just as good as a name brand one purchased through this company? Or should I play it safe and just rent the decent instruments to ensure my kids can play properly and not get frustrated? BTW- through this company I can also purchase insurance on the instrument so that if anything happens to it while I'm renting it I am not liable and they will replace the instrument or repair it for free.. just another bonus. If I buy a $50 instrument and it breaks I'm out of luck untill I can pay to repair it or buy them another.
10 responses
@bounce58 (17527)
• Canada
23 Sep 11
Last year, my 5th-grade son also joined band and picked up the clarinet as the instrument he wanted to learn. The teacher also pointed us towards a local store that sold and rented musical instrment. I did not want to buy, as I wasn't so sure about this, as the year before that I enrolled him in guitar lessons, but it never really stuck. So, I just rented. I think it was just about $14 a month including insurance. It would be $20 a month, if I wanted to buy it after the year. Over the months that I saw him go to band practice, I realized I made a wise move! This year he has not even thought about joining band anymore.
@bounce58 (17527)
• Canada
23 Sep 11
Rent
• United States
23 Sep 11
I did end up buying 1 clarinet for $50, and at the moment I'm renting the other. Worst case scenario.. I'm out $50 if either the instrument breaks beyond repair or they both decide next year that they don't want to play anymore.
@bounce58 (17527)
• Canada
24 Sep 11
And best scenario is you only spent $50 on one. Wise move!
@TheCatLady (4695)
• Israel
21 Sep 11
I'd rent one first to see if the kids want to play. If the company puts your rental towards purchase it's a great deal. I am learning piano, actually keyboard, and borrowed a small cheep one at first about $30. It didn't have good sound or any of the features a keyboard should have. It was a loaner, so I can't complain. Then I bought a nice high quality mid priced used one from my teacher for $150. It would have been more new. There was a huge difference between the two. I love my keyboard. In a perfect world were money isn't a problem, I'd like one that's several thousand dollars or a real piano. But money is tight. The one I have will be more than sufficient until I'm an expert. Price is everything in an instrument. You really do get what you pay for. Name brands have a reputation. I learned that each brand has it's strong and week points. I discovered all the week points in my cheep loaner. I then knew what to look for in buying one. The no name instruments and the low end cheep ones aren't worth buying except as a toy. Go with the rental. After the first year or so, your kids will know exactly what they want in a clarinet. Then you can buy the right instrument(s). One that will last them a lifetime.
• United States
22 Sep 11
I'm buying one off Craigslist for $50 but it's a good brand that I know I can have repaired anywhere. If it doesn't work out I'm not out a ton of money. Seems like a good deal to me.
• Israel
1 Oct 11
If shipping is reasonable, go for it. $50 isn't much money. A Xmas toy could easily run you that much. At $50 they can use it as a beginner and you can sell it next year and buy them a better one if need be.
@rocketj1 (6957)
• United States
21 Sep 11
Renting for a while can be a good idea. Or even buying a cheap instrument. Your kids may not want to stick with this. Many kids drop out after only a year or two. You could also try local music stores to check out used instruments. They are generally re-conditioned by the store for resale and are often very good deals.
@rocketj1 (6957)
• United States
21 Sep 11
Oh! and No! Not all musical instruments are the same. Some are very cheaply made. But you don't have to have top quality for them to learn how to play. Better quality is necessary later on when they are trying to achieve a more polished sound.
• United States
22 Sep 11
I'm going to pick one up today for $50 and cancel one rental. Overall I think the $50 is a good price, and even if in awhile one of them decides they're not going to play the clarinet anymore, at least I'm not out too much money.
@GardenGerty (92232)
• Marion, Kansas
21 Sep 11
I was in your kids shoes almost fifty years ago. My dad bought the cheap instrument and we had nothing but trouble, just like the company said. Okay, I made a deal with my daughter. She wanted to play Cello. We started out rental. She worked hard and when she got to 8th grade and I could tell that she was going to stick with it, I bought her a good cello. She had use of it four years at high school, five years in college, and she has been married for six years and plays with a community orchestra at holidays. I think it was worth it to rent for a while to let her make up her mind.
• United States
22 Sep 11
I've decided to purchase a cheap one off Craigslist, but the brand name is something that I've seen on the rental company's website, so I assume it's a good brand that I can get repaired almost anywhere. If it turns out that the instrument is no good I can go back to the rental company and start over, and I'm not out a whole ton of money for the one I purchased. In the long run this will save me more money if it works well.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (92232)
• Marion, Kansas
22 Sep 11
Comparing the name brand before buying is smart. I hope it works out well for you.
@talfonso (246)
• United States
21 Sep 11
If your intention is to rent your band instruments first then own, a rent-to-own payment plan may be the thing for you. You pay for the instruments each month until they are finally theirs to keep. You can ask for that in your music store if they have it. As for "cheaper" quality ones, the instructor is mostly right. I, as well as many professional musicians, band directors, and repairmen, call them "instrument-shaped objects" (ISOs). A lot of them are made of pot metal and perhaps the reeds for them are made of bamboo instead of the Arundo donax cane. When I was a 6th grader, I eyed a display of band instruments. I wanted a clarinet from them, but shrugged it as too expensive. It wasn't until later when I found out that they were ISOs, not something made by LeBlanc or Jupiter. I bet that there are a lot of them on Craigslist. So, renting or renting-to-own from a music store is a good option for your kids and budget. The instruments can be effectively repaired and they are better quality.
@jazzsue58 (2672)
21 Sep 11
Apparently, the cheapest clarinets aren't even black wood - they're resin!
@talfonso (246)
• United States
22 Sep 11
True, but good-quality clarinets that are worth your cash are made of higher-quality resin. I know that not all clarinets are made of wood, but I'm not telling your kids to buy some high-end, professional instrument. Again, renting or even renting-to-own is your best bet in getting the most out of your kids' school band experience as well as your wallet.
@jazzsue58 (2672)
21 Sep 11
My son learned trumpet (then gave up when he left for college, natch) and for the first few terms he used a rented school-grade one. We later invested in a Yamaha, at a music auction. I don't know about where you are, but here we often get auctions of musical instruments. We re-padded the horn and bought a new mouthpiece but it really made a difference. For sure, quality is paramount to learning a new instrument. I gave up guitar at school as the instrument my mum bought was so cheap and nasty I couldn't press my fingers down on the frets!
• United States
21 Sep 11
As I said, the company we're renting from only deals in good name brands. The instruments I rent will be top notch instruments. I just don't know honestly which is the better option, to rent or to buy. I wish I knew more about playing instruments so that I could tell whether or not these Craigslist ones are good enough.
@jazzsue58 (2672)
21 Sep 11
We were fortunate in finding an almost-new Yamaha horn (worth around £2000) at auction. we got it for £300. Unfortunately, Surrey Arts instruments are rented at low cost, but are student quality. And now, son-of-mine is at uni and I'm contemplating selling the horn or learning to play it myself. I'd say, rent for now and then buy if the interest factor is still there a few months down the line. Kids take time to develop their lip anyway! (As true with music as everything else...)
• United States
27 Sep 11
Sorry I know nothing about this. I know my eldest was offered to try to play violin which I very much wanted one of my kids to try to do. I just don't know how much a rental would cost and if this is something she'd stick with as being a dyslexic and retention is her biggest problem will she get frustraited like I did trying to remember wich notes ment which fingerings?
• United States
27 Sep 11
Well I know you have the cost issue to deal with.. but I was thinking when you mentioned it that it might actually help her dyslexia if it ended up being something she liked. If she got into it she'd try harder to focus on getting the notes right and all that.. so it might benefit her. I would look into the cost of the rental. For us it is only like $20 a month, and when you buy the first month you get the next 2 for free, so it's only $20 for the first three months and you'll probably know by then if it's something she's going to want to stick with or not.
@cynthiann (18631)
• Jamaica
21 Sep 11
No time to chat or Mylot. Am under big pressure. My advice is to rent it first. Sounds like a good deal. Blessings
• United States
23 Sep 11
I hope things turn around for you soon! I am renting one, but I did buy a used one for $50. Worst case scenario.. I'm out $50 if it doesn't work out. Still overall cheaper than renting. Wish I could find another nice one for $50.. but I think for now I will rent for a little while and get the kids used to playing then try to find another cheap one. At least then the kids can tell me if the cheap one I buy is good or not.. because I honestly know nothing about instruments at all!
@jillhill (37354)
• United States
21 Sep 11
I actually rented them for my kids when they were interested in being in band. When they lost interest I wasn't stuck with having to try to find a buyer to pass it on to. Both situations have their advantages though...If a used one on craigs list is a brand name you might be getting a deal on a good clarinet. Hard to tell you what the best way to go is!
• United States
22 Sep 11
I would rent in a heartbeat if it weren't for the fact that it will cost me $50 a month! I found a decent, name brand Clarinet on Craigslist for $50 and I'm going to pick that up today.. then I will only need to rent 1 until I find another cheap but decent one on Craigslist.
• India
22 Sep 11
I also learned keyboard and veena.ofcourse i discontinued it,but i will star again soon,branded company instruments are good to play,because it gives a longer life and it can be repaired,they will get the parts.if its cheepers really your kids will be frusted if it doesn't work well.before you buy instrument just ask your kids that they are really intrested to learn music.