Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ultimate Instrument Rental Guide: What All Parents Should Know

Everything you ever wanted to know about renting an instrument, before you rent your instrument

It’s that time of year again, when kids are going back to school, band camp memories have already been made and summer is winding down. According the government census, each year 77 million people enroll in school, and the number of new 5th graders is estimated to be more than 4 million kids in the US alone. Did you know that 1 in 3 kids play a musical instrument? This means more than 1 million kids will be playing in their school band or orchestra!
When it comes to buying a car, usually someone has seen plenty of advertisements on TV, or has researched many websites to compare where to get the best deal. Even your friends or co-workers have recommendations as to where to go to get a car. When someone makes the decision to get a new car, often times they have plenty of months of preparation to know the costs, or how to be an educated consumer. Even car dealerships have admitted that because of the internet, consumers are smarter and more equipped to make a decision than ever before.
If time and resources make it easy to buy a car, it’s the lack of time and lack of resources that make buying an instrument or renting an instrument a daunting task for most consumers. Usually a band director recommends some long standing local music stores, or provides a list of approved vendors to the parents so they can pick up the right instrument. Some of the music stores carry their own instruments to rent, while others offer a rental program from a national instrument rental company such as We encourage people to support and use their local music stores for a number of items – from sheet music, to music lessons, to reeds and mouthpieces, for instrument repair, and a whole host of other services. There are thousands of music stores nationwide that provide these services, but when it comes to an affordable high quality instrument rental option, the “best place” is not a crowded position.
Parents who have chosen to support and invest in their student to play a musical instrument will always get unlimited high fives from us – we love these kids of parents. The benefits of music education are vast and highly proven (and we have many more of those articles on our blog and Facebook pages). For parents who have decided to commit to helping get their son or daughter an instrument, they usually have a small window of time, usually days or a couple weeks to decipher where to get their instrument. Throw in typical schedules like working, it’s not always easy for parents to go to different music stores and compare programs. Parents also compete with thousands of other parents which puts a stress on music stores in terms of their variety of instruments in stock. Many parents find out the hard way, that last minute shopping often results in fewer choices. Thankfully at, our warehouse is full of band director approved instruments and we're always ready to fulfill any order processed on our website. 
To make it harder, parents are often at a disadvantage because they are confused with the options. It's not uncommon to be unsure of going with an open holed flute or not, or one of those funky U shaped flute heads when they need to rent a flute, or to go with Grenadilla wood when considering to rent a clarinet. There are so many brands, brands that you may or may not have heard of, and brands that music stores tend to push for various reasons. Parents also are aware that a pawnshop, craigslist, ebay and are all places to look for an instrument, however, the #1 advice is buyer beware. Sure some of these places have good deals, but band directors will be quick to tell you the horror stories of the pitfalls of cheap instruments, or knock off look-a-likes. Bad tone quality, or cosmetic defects, or a lack of a warranty on an instrument turns into a lot of expensive love and repair that end up costing a parent tons more than the original low price tag (not to mention more time). Lastly, occasional outlets selling instruments or offering rental programs just don’t always have the band director approved instruments nor the student or parents’ best interest at heart. Sometimes parents are forced into a “Band Night” lured by vendors offering a free music stand, in exchange for the parent to sign their life away with a complex long-term contract designed to make that music vendor money.
Here are some simple tips to remember:

Avoid the $10/month rental – Companies attempt to lure you in with an introduction price, or tell you they have a $10 rental, then attempt to upsell you into an expensive rental. We don’t believe in this kind of advertising.
Don’t pay for shipping – If the company you’re talking to is making you pay for shipping, you’re paying too much. With, shipping is always free!
Make sure you have some type of maintenance or repair program - Let’s face it, things happen …ever dropped your cell phone? Well, kids do sit on instruments, an instrument occasionally is dropped while playing, siblings tend to try other siblings instruments (oops) and our repair technicians can tell you 100 different ways instruments need repaired. Our rent-to-own plan includes a maintenance and repair program so that your instrument is covered and you aren't suddenly faced with an expensive repair down the road.
ONLY Choose Band Director Approved Instruments - There are some random companies out there trying to push random brands. Sometimes Band Directors even send kids home and won’t except an instrument that isn’t Band Director approved. has spoken extensively with band directors across the nation, getting their feedback, to help us refine our instrument selection. Our selection has the brands and models of beginning band instruments that band directors prefer.
No Long term Contracts - Make sure you’re not getting roped into some long term contract. With it’s month to month. Just like when a son or daughter promises to always walk the dog, feed the dog, pick up after the dog...eventually commitment can dwindle. If your student's interest in playing a musical instrument never turns into a commitment, or they become disinterested, you can return your instrument at any given time, no questions asked!

Make sure it’s a rent-to-own program - We believe in making music ownership possibly for more families, so we make sure your instrument is automatically on pace to be yours free and clear.
Make sure you have some trade in value on any instrument you're renting - applies a portion of your rental towards a step up instrument, and this helps any consumers wallet :) This is a great feature for those who have a son or daughter advancing. Typically in year one, two or three of playing an instrument, possibly under a band director's guidance, it might be time to get a step up or professional level instrument. Our program provides some financial relief from transitioning from a beginner level instrument to the more advanced model.
Early Purchase Discount - Make sure you get a good discount if you choose to buy your instrument that you’re renting. Some programs make it difficult to decide when you can go from renting to purchasing your instrument, such as “only in the 13th month of the contract” or “you must rent a minimum of X amount of months before you can buy the instrument.” At, we have no minimum months, so if after even one month you want to buy the instrument, you can, and we provide a 50% discount at ANYTIME. Everyone’s finances are different, and maybe you want to make sure your son or daughter is truly interested in the long run before you buy your instrument, so you might want to rent for 3, 4 or 9 months before buying the instrument. If you're renting a saxophone, getting 50% off can literally save you hundreds of dollars and even thousands. Many stores offer a discount, from 10% up to 30%, but our 50% discount is a key driver into our program making instrument ownership more affordable with than anywhere else nationwide.
Make sure the instrument you’re getting is New or Like New - Kids tend to become disinterested when an instrument looks old or smells funny. At, we only provide top quality instruments that are checked by quality control before they go out. We even do this with brand new instruments, because, if one customer gets a bad instrument from us, that is one customer too many!
Be safe, don’t gamble, use a company that people trust - not only supports music education, but is a member of the American String Teacher association, National Association for Music Education, the NAMM Foundation, Kansas Music Educations Association, Nebraska Music Educators Association and the Midwest Clinic to name a few. You might see us on National TV, or local news stations, and our customers are in all 50 states. We’re an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, and proud sponsors of the Kansas City Chiefs. We're fortunate that happy consumers send us emails, that band directors provide us video testimonials, and we have positive reviews on sites like
Don’t just upgrade, just because you’re told to upgrade - Some music store rental programs push parents within a month or two of joining band, that they should already step up to an intermediate model instrument. Talk with your Band Director before making that decision. One of the common pieces of advice from long term musicians is this: if you’re going to play for many years, you’ll probably have more than one instrument… having a backup, or one for marching band, or one for parades is nice, so you can reserve your step up model and solo model for performances.

In summary:
Are we biased about rental program at Of course we are, however, we created our program out of a need to fix a problem that was facing millions every year. We wanted to empower parents to put them on the most affordable path towards owning a musical instrument. We created a flexible program, with repair and maintenance included, and we provide the consumer competitive pricing without and hidden gimmicks or traps. We designed our rental program because we’ve been parents before, we have internal employees who were band directors and music educators and ran music stores for 30+ years, so we’ve seen it all. We designed to be the most convenient way for you to get a high quality instrument. We wish all students the best of luck as they pursue beginning band, and we have nothing but praise for all parents who support their kids in any music endeavor.


  1. My agency had a big ground breaking ceremony planned this week and we had to rent some canopies to house 200+ attendees. After going through some pricing process, we decided on Stuart Rental Company. Landlord Manager Software

  2. I was glad to find that when renting my instrument, it was a rent to own program. My son really enjoyed playing and was glad to find out the instrument would be his after a while. Hopefully, being able to play instruments will help children enjoy music for a long time.