Tips for buying a string instrument
Trying to Decide if You Should Purchase/Rent?
In 6th grade, students who play violin and viola will need to supply their own instrument. Students who play cello may continue renting a school-owned instrument in middle school and high school.
There are advantages to providing your own instrument as opposed to renting from the school. Students will most likely find an instrument in better shape than what the school district is able to provide. Additionally, students and their families tend to put greater effort and emphasis into working on their musical craft when they provide their own instrument.
(BTW, if your child wants to play in middle school, they should sign up for orchestra. There are school-funded programs that can help those who may not be able to provide their own instrument.)
If you would like to plan ahead and get your child an instrument now or make plans to rent/purchase during the summer between 5th and 6th grade, here are some points to consider during this decision making process.
5 Tips for Finding a String Instrument
Tip #1: Use the phone, save the gas. Find local stores in the phone book. Call and ask about their availability of new and new used instruments or “rental return” instruments. Ask about their rental programs. Often stores will offer rent-to-own programs with trade-in or trade-up options when your child needs a larger size instrument.
Tip #2: Know your source. The internet can be a great resource, but there are a lot of instruments available that are not worth your money. One reliable source is <www.sharmusic.com>. They offer student-level instruments at reasonable prices and have a knowledgeable staff. They have an instrument trial policy where you can try the instrument before you buy.
Tip#3: Know what features you are looking for. Here is a short list of features that are worth the money:
• Ebony Fingerboard (not painted wood)
• Instruments made with a varnish finish. (A blue painted violin may look cool, but the paint deadens the vibrations and degrades the quality of sound.)
• Carbon fiber bow
• Carved top (for cellos)
Tip #4: Know what size instrument fits your child. Most 5th graders are not tall enough for a full-sized, adult instrument. Your child’s teacher can measure your child for the correct size. Music stores should also be able to do this.
Tip#5: Ask a teacher’s opinion before you make a choice. They see instruments from different sources and can help answer questions. If your child will be taking private lessons, your private lesson teacher will also be able to offer guidance and may even have a preferred brand of instrument.