Renting or Buying an Instrument for My Child’s Lessons

Wondering about whether you should rent an instrument or buy?

This is a great question, especially for younger students. Unless you are convinced your child is going to stick with an instrument, why go to all the expense of purchasing one, right? Well, according to our guitar teacher, Johnny Walters, it all depends. 


Walters explains that whether it’s for the guitar, the banjo, the violin, the bass, or the ukulele–size makes all the difference.

“When kids starts with the wrong sized instrument, it’s highly likely that they will become extremely frustrated and feel that the problem is with their ability, and not the guitar itself. Therefore, it’s a really good idea to invest in the right sized instrument, 1/2 to 3/4 size for younger students, depending on your child’s height.”

Smaller sized guitars come in a wide range of quality, from the toy guitars found in department store toy aisles to higher quality guitars found in music centers. If there is a question of how long the student is going to stick with the instrument vs. multiple siblings who could use the guitar (or other instrument) for years to come, renting is an option–especially since like your child outgrows shoes, he or she will outgrow smaller instruments, too. But if your child plans on taking lessons and playing for more than several months, it’s a much better investment to purchase a higher quality guitar than to simply rent.


Another source of frustration for students is the quality of the guitar. Although they obviously cost more money than one you can find in the toy department of many stores such as WalMart or Toys R Us, they generally don’t hold their tune for very long. Students can mistakenly think they are not making progress on a cheaper guitar, when in actuality, the problem isn’t with the student; it’s with the instrument. In general, Walters does not recommend that students start with a cheap, affordable “toy” guitar that, while less expensive, can lead to more frustration than it’s worth.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

Bottom line: whether you should buy or rent is really a question of duration. If you plan for your child to take lessons for a couple of months, renting is the way to go. If you are looking at semester or more, purchasing a higher quality, size-appropriate guitar is the best way to go. In the long run, it will lead to greater satisfaction and simply last longer. And that is the end goal: to help students achieve proficiency with their instrument that will produce a lifetime of enjoyment.

If you have questions about which guitar is right for your child, feel free to drop Johnny an email via the contact page.

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