Author Topic: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?  (Read 8236 times)

Frizhand

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Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« on: June 27, 2014, 12:50:03 PM »
I'm hoping someone here can help or is in the same situation as me!

My son has been playing the trumpet for about 18 months in the school band.  When he started we began renting a trumpet for $36 per month (didn't want to buy in case he stopped after the first few months).

He seems to enjoy playing and wants to stick with it but I hate seeing the money leave my account every month.  So, I'm trying to decide what to do. I have a few options:

1) continue to rent at $36 per month. This includes a warranty at $6 per month that covers any repair. We already had it sent in to fix a stuck valve which 'saved' us a repair bill.

2)continue to rent but cancel the warranty payments, reducing the monthly cost to about $30.

3) Buy the instrument from the company for $476 (amount remaining on the contract).  If we want to continue the warranty for 2 years that would be an additional $138.

4)Buy a used instrument off Craigslist. There are 2 for sale near me now for about $375.  The down side is that we would be responsible for repairs. I would have my son play it before we hand over the cash, to make sure it's in working order.

I'm leaning toward option #4 but my wife likes the idea of having it covered for all repairs.   Does anyone have experience with instruments/trumpets?  Having already repaired the trumpet once, am I going to spend a lot of money to have it repaired every year? My son seems to think a stuck valve is a regular occurrence! I can't believe there would be many issues but I know nothing about trumpets! 

Left

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2014, 01:44:12 PM »
brass instruments rarely break down if they are taken care of :S make sure the coating is fine so there isn't rust but aside from dropping it, there isn't much that damages the instrument. The valves come apart so you can clean/grease them, easy to learn and takes a few minutes

I'd get a new mouth piece or keep the one he has :S sanitary issue for me but it's a piece of metal, just clean it well between uses and it'd be okay used too but I prefer not to :S

I played the trombone though, didn't want to learn dexterity of pressing keys :S

But at $30/month, he's paid for it by playing it for 18 months already and more. It's also not like you can't resell it later either so the valve doesn't drop to zero if you buy it and he quits
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 01:52:12 PM by eyem »

keepitsimple

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2014, 01:56:45 PM »
We bought out our son's lease for about $1000 after renting it for 8 months.  Not very mustachian and wasn't planned but we had an issue with the rental company and they wanted the instrument back unless we bought it.  He had an upcoming concert so we just wanted the issue taken care of.  If we had the time I would have shopped and bought used, even if it was from another music shop selling off former rentals (have you looked into this?).  Of course he has played it for 3 years so far so I feel less badly as time goes on...

nordlead

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2014, 02:08:51 PM »
If your son will probably play for another 10 months, then buy, either one will work at this point. If he doesn't want to play any more after, then sell it and recoup some costs.

Honestly, most instruments will last for many years (brass or otherwise). I know a sax player who's been playing the same two for at least 14 years now. I have a Nord Lead 3 synthesizer from ~2000 (can't remember exactly when I bought it), and a digital piano from 2006. I have guitars that are 15+ years old and still in great shape. All my cousins played trumbone in highschool, so those are all over 10 years old now, and my Uncle still has his and it's over 40 years old now. Just a bit of maintenance and they'll last a lifetime.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2014, 02:27:59 PM »
brass instruments rarely break down if they are taken care of :S make sure the coating is fine so there isn't rust but aside from dropping it, there isn't much that damages the instrument. The valves come apart so you can clean/grease them, easy to learn and takes a few minutes

I'd get a new mouth piece or keep the one he has :S sanitary issue for me but it's a piece of metal, just clean it well between uses and it'd be okay used too but I prefer not to :S

I played the trombone though, didn't want to learn dexterity of pressing keys :S

But at $30/month, he's paid for it by playing it for 18 months already and more. It's also not like you can't resell it later either so the valve doesn't drop to zero if you buy it and he quits
I'm a former trumpet player and I will +1 that they shouldn't break down if cared for. They need a good bath every now and then, which your son can do himself (soap, water, and a rag) and the valves need to be oiled regularly. Short of dropping it (which I did, but continued to play with a bent bell), the thing should last for decades without too many problems. Maybe your son could talk to his band teacher about learning how to do regular maintenance and minor repairs himself?
So I'd say go ahead and buy a good used trumpet--do research on the brand beforehand as not all things are created equal in trumpet fabrication.
P.S. Glad to hear he's enjoying playing! Trumpet is such a fun instrument!

FIPurpose

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2014, 02:44:41 PM »
I played Trombone in middle/high school and I currently play the Baritone in the community band in my town.

I've done the buying used on craigslist, and I've also played the baritone that I bought at about $1100. If your son ends up really liking to play, playing a poor instrument used can be a real drag on the learning experience. I think from fear that I wouldn't continue playing I went through about 4 Trombones in 7 years. Buy a good brand that will last, because a second rate instrument can take away a lot of the enjoyment of playing a instrument.

dandarc

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2014, 03:13:18 PM »
Answer: buying is cheaper almost every time for this, and in your case looks like even after 18 months you are still better off buying - either from the store, or finding another used horn.

How I know: Worked at one of the largest band/orchestra rental stores in the country for 5 years - the commission structure when I was there was such that it behooved us salesmen to sell a used trumpet for $250-350 rather than rent a similarly used one that would get the company about $1,000 over a 3 or 4 year period.  Also was an easier sale - much less paperwork.  This was obviously not aligned with the best interest of the company, so they took us off of commission after I was there for about 4 years to make us indifferent to the rent vs. buy decision - can't tell you how many people I talked into buying a used student horn because it was clearly better for them (and me).  Needless to say, staff turnover increased dramatically when that no-commission decision was made.

Anyway, I digress - I probably would stick with a major brand, even if you go through another channel - Yamaha, Bach, Conn, etc. - the REALLY cheap instruments are often almost un-repairable, and we are talking about kids here - there will be a dent or two, even if you start with a brand new horn.  At the store I worked at, you could put any major brand instrument on the same maintenance agreement as came with the rental for $59 per year (at that time - may have changed in the 8 years since I've been there).  If you didn't buy it from us, you just had to put it through any necessary repairs first - had to start in "working order".

Edit: Probably better than any maintenance plan is to just teach your kid to take of the horn.  Brass in particular are pretty robust instruments, if you take care of them.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 03:18:31 PM by dandarc »

GuitarStv

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2014, 04:28:24 PM »
If you know exactly what you're looking for, used is always better than new for musical instruments.  Learning to care for your instrument is part of being a (cheap) musician.

okashira

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2014, 04:31:49 PM »
Seems like buying is the answer, because you can always sell it if your son doesn't continue playing.

teen persuasion

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2014, 08:51:28 PM »
For DS4, who started in band, we bought a used trumpet off craigslist for about $100.  Actually, we got 2 trumpets for that price.  The guy selling them was probably early twenties, and no longer played, so he just wanted to get rid of them.  So DS4 could have one that stayed at school and one for home.  Repairs have been minor.

Now for the others that began in orchestra, we rented violins and violas, because they needed different sizes as they grew.  The shop would cover all repairs, and a percentage of the rental fees was put towards future purchases.  DD1 got her own violin in HS thru the shop.  DS2 eventually switched from viola to bass, so we stopped renting since the school provides the larger instruments like bass, tuba, trombone (DS2 played all those).  He later bought his own viola off eBay after researching makes to avoid (apparently anything from China sold as "student instruments") and makes to prize.

DH bought a cello, but it was DS4 who has ultimately learned to play it.  He's determined to get double music honors; he took music theory this year.

cchrissyy

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2014, 07:51:44 PM »
I played trumpet seriously from about ages 10-22.  I never once had to pay for a repair. 

Maybe your son just didn't know yet how to care for it.
Maybe being a rental, it hadn't been properly maintained by prior users or the shop.
Maybe this one was just poor quality.

In any case, I think you could come out way ahead by buying used - not this one, but research and make sure you're buying real quality. 

Since your kid has only been playing 18 months, I don't think his opinion matters much in the shopping / test drive situation - do you have any more-experienced kids who could come along to test drive for him? Or can the band teacher help you? Somebody who knows more than you or him what to look for.

Frizhand

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2014, 08:30:19 AM »
I played trumpet seriously from about ages 10-22.  I never once had to pay for a repair. 

Maybe your son just didn't know yet how to care for it.
Maybe being a rental, it hadn't been properly maintained by prior users or the shop.
Maybe this one was just poor quality.

In any case, I think you could come out way ahead by buying used - not this one, but research and make sure you're buying real quality. 

Since your kid has only been playing 18 months, I don't think his opinion matters much in the shopping / test drive situation - do you have any more-experienced kids who could come along to test drive for him? Or can the band teacher help you? Somebody who knows more than you or him what to look for.

Thanks.  I don't know anyone more experience who can help with shopping and his band teacher doesn't want us to buy used off of Craigslist, she wants them to use the rental company we are paying currently.  I've found (basically) the same trumpet on Craigslist that he plays now (I think it's a year older).  My son really wants to keep the one he has...so, I may end up buying the one I'm currently renting even tough it will cost me more. If he's happy and likes the instrument I'd hate to buy him one that he may not like.   seems like a good compromise.

thanks for all the input, everyone.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 10:22:55 AM »
I played trumpet seriously from about ages 10-22.  I never once had to pay for a repair. 

Maybe your son just didn't know yet how to care for it.
Maybe being a rental, it hadn't been properly maintained by prior users or the shop.
Maybe this one was just poor quality.

In any case, I think you could come out way ahead by buying used - not this one, but research and make sure you're buying real quality. 

Since your kid has only been playing 18 months, I don't think his opinion matters much in the shopping / test drive situation - do you have any more-experienced kids who could come along to test drive for him? Or can the band teacher help you? Somebody who knows more than you or him what to look for.

Thanks.  I don't know anyone more experience who can help with shopping and his band teacher doesn't want us to buy used off of Craigslist, she wants them to use the rental company we are paying currently.  I've found (basically) the same trumpet on Craigslist that he plays now (I think it's a year older).  My son really wants to keep the one he has...so, I may end up buying the one I'm currently renting even tough it will cost me more. If he's happy and likes the instrument I'd hate to buy him one that he may not like.   seems like a good compromise.

thanks for all the input, everyone.

Why is the band teacher so adamant about buying new from that company? That just seems odd to me...

Used musical instruments (on the lower to mid end) seem to drastically lose value on resale (when buying from a music store). I had a violin that was priced at something like $1,200 (on sale!) that I later found out was basically a cheap $400 violin (wholesale price) that was re-branded by the music store. idk, maybe that's just string instruments, but I'd be wary.

Can you find out more why the band instructor wants you to buy that particular trumpet from that particular store?

dandarc

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2014, 11:40:27 AM »
I played trumpet seriously from about ages 10-22.  I never once had to pay for a repair. 

Maybe your son just didn't know yet how to care for it.
Maybe being a rental, it hadn't been properly maintained by prior users or the shop.
Maybe this one was just poor quality.

In any case, I think you could come out way ahead by buying used - not this one, but research and make sure you're buying real quality. 

Since your kid has only been playing 18 months, I don't think his opinion matters much in the shopping / test drive situation - do you have any more-experienced kids who could come along to test drive for him? Or can the band teacher help you? Somebody who knows more than you or him what to look for.

Thanks.  I don't know anyone more experience who can help with shopping and his band teacher doesn't want us to buy used off of Craigslist, she wants them to use the rental company we are paying currently.  I've found (basically) the same trumpet on Craigslist that he plays now (I think it's a year older).  My son really wants to keep the one he has...so, I may end up buying the one I'm currently renting even tough it will cost me more. If he's happy and likes the instrument I'd hate to buy him one that he may not like.   seems like a good compromise.

thanks for all the input, everyone.

Why is the band teacher so adamant about buying new from that company? That just seems odd to me...

Used musical instruments (on the lower to mid end) seem to drastically lose value on resale (when buying from a music store). I had a violin that was priced at something like $1,200 (on sale!) that I later found out was basically a cheap $400 violin (wholesale price) that was re-branded by the music store. idk, maybe that's just string instruments, but I'd be wary.

Can you find out more why the band instructor wants you to buy that particular trumpet from that particular store?
Late to the game here, but that is a good question:

Usually the store is doing a hell of a lot to help out the band directors.  Providing free music folders.  Selling equipment and supplies to the school near cost (sometimes lower).  Showing up every week to  pick up / drop off repairs - which are done for very cheap for the school.  Putting on seminars, providing scholarships for conferences (to both students and teachers).  Goes on and on.  The guy that goes to the school every week is almost always a former band director himself - implies the store might find you a job if and when you need one.  Once a school band room in our state was destroyed by vandals - the store I worked at replaced the entire band room's worth of instruments and equipment - great PR and didn't cost as much as you might think.  This is all basic marketing in this industry.

The pay off is simple - every school that lets you have an exclusive rental meeting is hand-delivering 50+ new rental customers every year on average.  Even if you're forced into a non-exclusive meeting (larger school districts often insist on this), it works out pretty good most times.  That rental program is a cash-cow, once it is up and running.  The store buys the trumpet for ~$300 from a manufacturer (which the store can do only because it buys hundreds at a time) and rents it out for $25 / month for 4 - 15 years.  In practice it's more complicated than that, but that's the short version.  Takes a lot of capital to get rolling properly, but once that machine is humming it just spits out money like a broken slot machine.

And for some end customers, the rental program probably is a good deal - if you are really not sure the kid will stick with it for more than a couple months, or if you don't have $300-500 but really want your kid in band now, it is not necessarily a bad move.  The stores also provide very good value for the school / band director himself - a truly independent band program has a lot of hassle to deal with that a music store could provide at no or at least very reduced cost.  So, even though it isn't optimal for you as an individual, you can see how the system gets to be the way that it is.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2014, 11:50:53 AM »
Yeah, trumpets are cheap enough that buying will probably win out over renting if your child will be in band for more than a year or two. Even if he quits, you should be able to sell the instrument to a new band student and get most of your money back.

Stuck valves requiring professional repair should not be a regular occurrence! All you need to do to avoid this is oil the valves regularly. It's quite easy and the band director should be able to teach your son how to do this.

dandarc

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2014, 11:52:48 AM »
So that rant explains the 'that particular store' - the 'that particular trumpet' is basically so he knows you're getting a decent horn.  Some of the really cheap instruments will greatly hinder your child's development - some are little better than paperweights (insert viola joke here).  Your band director probably wants to spend his time teaching your kid to play the trumpet - not fixing broken instruments, sometimes only to find out it really can't be fixed.  It is a lot easier to tell everyone they need to have a 'Bach 300' trumpet than to make a personalized recommendation or even maintain a list of good manufacturers.  For that matter, most parents don't know the first thing about any of this, and want an answer like 'buy this model trumpet' - means they don't have to think.

dandarc

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2014, 12:10:14 PM »
Oh, and the markups are high on lower-end instruments because the company can only turn inventory 1 time per year - virtually all sales happen in August / September for instruments.  Gotta keep the lights on all year round.  Grocery stores get away with a 10% markup because they turn their inventory weekly or faster for most of their products.  On high-end band instruments the markups are much, much lower - more competition at the retail level, and often less at the whole-sale level means the retailer gets squeezed.  Mail-order is big in this area - locally you might not sell that many pro trumpets, but nationally there is a sizable market, and someone looking to spend thousands of dollars on an instrument is usually willing to shop around.

We've been using trumpets as an example, but pretty much any band or orchestra instrument would fit here.

zhelud

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Re: Continue to rent or buy my son's trumpet?
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2014, 12:33:58 PM »
We bought our son his trumpet for about $100 on Amazon. I am sure that it's not a top quality trumpet, but I wasn't going to pay a ton of money for an instrument for a 10 year old. It seemed to work fine. (You can always buy a higher quality instrument once your kid has shown that he is really committed.)