In this guide, we are going to talk about instrument rental vs. purchase, we are going to see whether and when it is okay to rent a trumpet, and when it better to buy one outright.
The purpose of this guide is to talk about the pros and cons of both rental and instrument ownership.
This information is specific to the trumpet but may also apply to other instruments.
Let’s dive right in.
Renting a trumpet
Back in the day, the common path to learning to play an instrument was to rent the instrument. I am surprised how many affordable instruments are available on the market today.
Let’s start with the benefits fo instrument rental.
The pros of renting a trumpet
If you are renting an instrument it’s probably from your local music store. Naturally, they are going to want you to be happy and content playing the instrument, so you bring them more business.
Here’s what you can expect, for the most part.
#1 — You get good local support
They are going to provide you with good local support. They may help connect you with a trumpet teacher, for instance.
#2 — Repairs and defects are taken care of
If the instrument has a manufacturing defect or a problem of some sort, like if it was to dent in some way, they’re going to repair the instrument.
If the instrument is damaged, chances are that they are the ones who are going to take the instrument to to get a repair.
#3 — You get to try a different instrument for the same price
If you begin playing an instrument, and you decide it’s not for you, most music stores will let you switch to a different instrument under the same rental contract.
You get the ability to switch brands, makes, or even instruments.
That’s a really nice option if you aren’t 100% sure you want to play a specific instrument.
#4 — You get a rent-to-buy option
Another benefit is a lot of music stores will offer a rent-to-buy option when renting an instrument.
The idea of rent-to-buy is that you rent the instrument for a long enough period of time that at the end of that rental contract you would own the instrument.
That’s a great benefit is you don’t have money to come up with upfront to purchase an instrument.
However, in most cases, in the end you’ll have paid a lot more for the instrument in a rent-to-buy option than the instrument would cost outright.
But, if you don’t have the money upfront, it is a good option to keep in mind to get an instrument.
#5 — You get a known brand instrument
The instruments from most music stores are the recognisable brand instruments.
If testing out or playing a particular brand is important to you, a rental would probably be the way to go.
The cons of renting a trumpet
Obviously, renting a trumpet has some cons as well. Let’s look at those now.
#1 — Renting a trumpet is a more expensive option in the long run
Renting a trumpet can be a more expensive option in the long run.
Most rental contracts on trumpets are about US$ 30 a month for a 12 month period. So in a year, the rental contract of that trumpet comes in at about US$ 60. A quality import trumpet can be found on the internet for sometimes as cheap as US $200.
So if you are willing to spend some money upfront, purchasing an instrument may actually save you money is a really short period of time.
#2 — If you lose interest you’ll be on the hook for the entire rental period
If you lose interest in playing the instrument, you’ll be on the hook for whatever rental period you agreed to on the rental contract.
Most rental contracts are 12 months. So you’ll be on the hook to somewhere in the vicinity of US $ 360.
#3 — They will charge you for dents, dings on the instrument
At the end of the rental period, they’re going to charge you for any dents and dings on that instrument. That’s something you need to be aware of with instrument rentals.
#4 — Rental instruments might have show a bit of wear on them
If you a germophobe, with rental, the instruments are well used. It may be hard to tell (some of them may show quite a bit of wear, however) but don’t be surprised to discover that the instrument was used someone prior to you.
Purchasing a trumpet
The next thing we are going to talk about are the benefits of purchasing a trumpet outright, as opposed to renting, because there are some benefits here too.
The pros of purchasing a trumpet
If you are looking to purchase a trumpet, you can actually find some pretty decent quality, which will save you money, especially when you are getting started.
Purchasing a trumpet outright may actually save you money.
#1 — You’ll have a sellable asset
If you end up quiting playing the instrument, you’ll have an asset that, hopefully, you can sell and recoup some of your investment.
That’s obviously not the case with renting.
This is particularly relevant if you quit after playing for a long time. Renting any instrument for an extended period of time without an owernship plan in place will be costly, and you’ll have to way to recoup any of that cost.
#2 — You’ll know how to take better care of your trumpet
I feel like students who own their instruments know how to take better care of them.
When you are a student and have a trumpet that isn’t yours, you, maybe, won’t be quite as careful with it, but once you get your own instrument you’ll know you need to take better care of it if you expect to have it for a long period of time.
Ownership alone encourages you to find ways of taking better care of it, from cleaning to repairing to handling and so on and so forth. You’ll likely learn much more about instrument care, maintenance and repair that you would have by renting.
The cons of purchasing a trumpet
Purchasing a trumpet also has some cons as well. Let’s look at those now.
#1 — If it’s not a name brand instrument, your local music store may decline repairs
If the instrument you own is not a name brand instrument, your local music may not be willing to repair the instrument.
That could be for any number of reasons — maybe they can’t get parts, maybe they are not familiar with the brand etc.
Whatever the case may be, if the instrument is damaged, your local music store may or may not be able to repair the instrument.
With the piston trumpet this may be less of an issue than, say, the rotary trumpet, saxophone, clarinet or flute which have a lot of moving parts.
For the piston trumpet, we only have the slides and valves that are moving so it’s probably less of a factor but is is something to keep in mind if the instrument were to be dropped and damaged.
#2 — You might be stuck with a low quality purchase
This point is particularly important when purchasing the instrument.
Some of the instruments available for purchase may be suprisingly good quality for what you pay for them, others are not.
Try to get your hands on as many student and intermediate level instruments as you can before commiting to an outright purchase. Hopefully, this will be less of an issue.